The Positives of Personality Profiling

Natalie Limerick 31.07.2014

Having recently been trained in DISC behavioural profiling, which we use to assist with the interview process of candidates coming into Morgan McKinley, I am keen to share the benefits of this tool.

What is DISC profiling?

According to Wikipedia, it is “a behavioural assessment tool created by William Marston. Marston's theory centres on four different personality traits: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance, however he did not set out to use it as an assessment tool, his theory was developed into a personality profile test by industrial psychologist Walter Vernon Clarke” .

I was recently trained in Thomas International Personal Profile Analysis (PPA), which was developed in the late 1950s by Dr Thomas Hendrickson using Marston's findings. The assessment is used by many companies to screen potential employees, with the view that certain jobs are better suited to certain behavioural traits. The assessment is used by many companies to screen potential employees, with the view that certain jobs are better suited to certain behavioural traits.
The outcome of selecting two adjectives from a series of four (one which you feel most represents you and one which is least like you) 24 times - generates a series of letters which give the employer an insight into your personality type. Marston’s view was that most people will show all four of these dimensions at times but will generally display one or more of the basic characteristics consistently in the working environment.

What are the four personality types of DISC profiling?  

  • “D” stands for dominance.

People displaying a high D will be driven by results. They are competitive, forceful and assertive, they are not happy with just being part of an organisation they want to lead. They tend to be blunt and direct and won’t hold back, they can also be seen as critical and fault finding. They are not bothered if the environment they are working in is hostile, unfriendly or antagonistic. Some examples of people who display characteristics of a high D are Richard Branson, Alex Ferguson, Alan Sugar and Steve Jobs, successful leaders who aren’t afraid of working in a negative working environment.  Currently, a high D is the least common personality type in the UK.

  • “I” represents influence.

A candidate who has a high I is usually a people’s person.  They love building relationships and are very positive, friendly and sociable. High Is like to be liked, they dislike conflict and rejection and are motivated by praise and recognition. A high Is prefers to work in a friendly favourable situation. A few examples of roles which will be a good fit for a high I would be an HR Director, Politicians or TV Presenters,  people who are forward facing in an organisation. David Cameron, Tony Blair and Ant and Dec are all likely to be high. A high I is the most commonly occurring personality type in the UK.

  • “S” is for steadiness.

The strengths of an individual who have a high S are the levels of service and support they can deliver. They are dependable and always finish tasks; they are known to be the most genuine of the four DISC profiles. They dislike change even if it positive and like a high I only like working in a friendly favourable working environment. Examples of roles you may find a high S in are people working in the public sector like GP’s, teachers, nurses – who have a clearly defined career path mapped out ahead of them. At present a high S is the third most common personality type in the UK.

  • “C” stands for compliance.  

These people have a focus on accuracy and precision and have little or no time for people. They have a black and white approach to their working role, they come to work to get their jobs done and complete them to a high standard and that is it. They are motivated by standard operating procedures and are not creative outside of these. The roles a high C tend to work in are in support for example IT and legal type positions,  as well as pilots. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are good examples of high C’s – highly intelligent technical people who dislike being in the limelight. A high C is the second most occurring personality type in the UK.

*Statistics from Thomas International - multiple letter profiles taken into consideration.

What are the positives of knowing a candidate's personality profile?

  • It will assist you in recruiting a person who is not just a fit for the role you are working on, but also a fit for your organisation and a fit for the dynamics of the team you are looking to place them into.
  • Profiling is able to detect frustrations or problems that the candidate may have in their current role, so this can be prevented in their new position.
  • The manager of the candidate will have a much clearer idea of how to manage their candidate because of a deeper understanding of what makes them “tick”. This can mean target setting, giving feedback and conducting appraisals are executed with a smoother approach, in a communication style which works best for the candidate lending to more productivity and engagement.
  • Candidates who have an understanding of their own profiles will be able to utilise their strengths and use this to their advantage. They will also be able to address their own areas for development.
  • Personality profiling can assist with benchmarking within an organisation to help understand what good looks like and why.

Which behavioural style do you most identify with? If you’ve taken the PPA test, do you agree with your results? Feel free to leave your comments below.

Natalie Limerick's picture


HRIS Workday Support Analyst - 12 month FTC
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