Hiring talent can be a tricky and time-consuming process. Yet, according to Distinguished McKnight Professor Deniz Ones, it’s possible to hire the best person for the job, each and every time.
Thinking beyond the resume
The complex system behind each human being can be decoded in consistent ways to predict job performance. But these secrets can’t be uncovered in a traditional job interview: the questions required to get a true, full assessment of a candidate’s fit for a position number in the hundreds.
Ones, a human resources professional by training and a psychologist by trade, examines how people differ from one another in cognitive abilities and personality.
She has studied astronauts, medical doctors, managers, police officers, U.S. presidents, and dozens of other job categories. The distinct personal differences she’s unveiled can help predict the likelihood of productive, and counterproductive, behaviors in the workplace.
Her research has been instrumental in promoting the use of personality tests for employee selection, disproving previously held beliefs that such tests had little bearing on job performance. Her results have proven to be generalizable across companies, cultures and countries.
Labors of love
Often spending 18-24 hours on work, Ones says she enjoys what she does and is even glad to make sacrifices. She divides her work into three categories: research, teaching and service — contributing her expertise to the university, to the Department of Psychology, and to her field.
Extremely active in all of the above, she edits handbooks, papers and journals. She also responds to frequent queries from reporters and colleagues about her research. But for Ones, the best part of the job is mentoring students.
“The quality of students at the university is tremendously high,” she says. “Seeing students I have mentored come into their own has been so rewarding. Some of those students are really making a difference in the field.”
Funding new knowledge
The Distinguished McKnight grant will mean more support for Ones’ students and for her scholarly work in general. The funds are a welcome resource, since there aren’t any federal funders for the type of research Ones is pursuing.
To say she’s excited about her research is an understatement. When Ones discovers a piece of knowledge that’s new, she says she gets a literal rush.
“In my career, this has happened around a dozen times or so. When you know you’re looking at a set of results that will change the pool of knowledge for your field, it’s exhilarating.”