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Sue Colton

Associate – Business Psychologist

Assessing personality traits provides a chance to gain richer and more objective evidence on which to base hiring decisions . For example, we can use trait assessment to look at an individual’s personality dimensions, their leadership styles, their development areas, their impact on team culture, the dynamics created between individuals as well as how the individual might fit within the wider organisation.

How did you become a Business Psychologist?   

You could say that I didn’t have the most conventional route into becoming a Business Psychologist.  I began my career at NatWest in strategic HR, progressing on to looking more specifically at the psychological contract at work.  I studied for my Masters in HR Management which embraced employee engagement philosophies and practices.  From NatWest I moved to KPMG as a Management Consultant, acquiring and deploying consultancy skills to clients across the Financial Services sector covering HR psychological mechanisms and principles.  Whilst there, I became an accredited Level B psychometric assessor with the British Psychological Society (BPS) and later continued my studies at Birkbeck looking at psychoanalytic psychology. 

I went on to set up my own business over 20 years ago devising methods, policies and processes to motivate employees, so for example I might devise a Building Capability programme for a client  which would incorporate a bespoke competency framework, job family modelling and career paths for all its employees. Other projects include measuring behaviour and aligning individual goals to the strategic intent and development of the business.  My collective experience and qualifications led me to become accredited as a behavioural psychologist through the Association of Business Psychology, fulfilling a long standing dream of mine.

Why do you think Assessment is so important in the context of recruitment, selection and development?

I believe assessment is a really important tool.  It can be used to map teams and individuals against organisational values and competencies.  Assessment can also help us understand a person’s drivers, strengths, their motivations and their derailers, their leadership styles, and their impact on team culture.  It can give us a sense of how the individual might fit within the wider organisation and if measured against any overarching competency framework, it can help to align and sustain the behaviours required throughout the employee life-cycle.  Through gaining an in depth understanding of the role and then examining a person’s traits, we can tease out the uniqueness of the candidate as well as the specific traits needed in a particular role.  For example, when assessing for leadership roles, we would look specifically for traits such as openness, curiosity and resilience.  Assessment helps to add weight to what has already been found by the hiring team in terms of an individual’s technical ability.  But it is important to remember that it is just one part of the jigsaw.

What do you like most about your role?

The Hogan is a performance predictive tool that is based on observation. It gives you insight about an individual based on how they behave and how the world sees them. There are many things that can be investigated but I often look for how self-confident someone is, how they behave when under stress and how they adapt to and/or lead during change. Of course, it’s much broader than this and there are many other aspects of their personality that can be id

Primarily I am really interested in why people do what they do, what motivates them and what lies beneath the surface.  I find it fascinating to understand individual’s backstories and narratives and how their early years have impacted them and shaped them into who they are.  I want to help them be the best they can be, matching them to roles and organisations which will allow them to thrive.  It is about finding the right person for the role.

I also get great satisfaction from candidates’ experience of the assessment process.  They often find it a really enjoyable experience and learn lots about themselves through taking part. Many of them feel the benefit of being able to have a conversation about themselves and who they really are.  It also helps them to better understand their own capabilities so they can establish their value fit within a business.

Sue is a Business Psychologist who has many years’ experience in talent management and development. Sue’s specialism lies in Strategic HR management and occupational psychology. She is an independent Business Psychologist and a qualified behaviour assessor and psychometric tester registered with The British Psychological Society (BPS). She has worked across a variety of industries and job levels, both in the UK and in the US including undertaking personality profiling and psychometric testing mainly for the recruitment and selection of C-suite level candidates, as well as developing and assessing leadership capability and team culture/dynamics.

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