Using Handwriting to Screen Job Applicants

by Joelle Steele

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Using graphology (handwriting analysis) to screen job applicants is considered controversial by some. This is because they so often mistakenly believe it to be discriminatory. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. A reputable graphologist is interested only in handwriting traits that identify the writer as having the skills necessary for a particular position. The employer provides the handwriting samples and a list of skills and abilities in the form of a job description. The handwriting is then analyzed to determine which candidate is best qualified for the job. Items such as age, race, gender, religion, physical appearance, etc., do not enter the picture and, in fact, cannot be detected with graphology. In this way, a graphologist is far more unbiased than any human resources interviewer could ever hope to be.

Graphology is a very effective tool for helping to make hiring decisions. But, it is only a part of, not a substitute for, a comprehensive hiring process that includes detailed employment applications, proficiency tests, well-written job descriptions, careful screening, verification of references, effective interviewing techniques, and good old-fashioned common sense. In fact, in order for graphology to be of any use at all in hiring decisions it must be part of an organized personnel system. Here's how this usually works.

No one can sit down and analyze the handwriting of every job applicant. And why would they? After all, some applicants will simply never be viable job candidates for a particular position. They may lack the skills or the experience, they may be unwilling to relocate, salary and benefit requirements may not match, etc. Nothing can take the place of an established human resources department, even a department that consists of one very busy person. So where does graphology come into the process?

For graphology to fit into the process, it must be considered when an employer first designs the employment application. Many companies ignore applications entirely and rely on resumes. Others have applications that merely duplicate what is on the resume. This is unfortunate, since a well-designed application can reveal far more than can any resume. And, the more the applicant has to write on the application, the more a graphologist has to work with. With more handwriting to analyze, the more accurate the assessment for suitability in a particular job. Including some "essay" questions in an application is very helpful not only for inviting discussion with an applicant and assessing how they think, but also provides a greater sample of handwriting to evaluate.

What kinds of essay questions? Try three that require anywhere from a 25 to 50 word response. Keep it simple, like: "What are your career goals with ABC Company?" "What do you see yourself doing five years from now?" "Ten years?" (this gives an idea of how far ahead the applicant is thinking and whether they have investigated the company to see how they might fit into it); or ask "What kinds of things do you like to do in your spare time, and how did you become interested in those pursuits?" (hobbies and interests are extremely valuable because certain ones show team player traits, other show attention to details, some creativity, high physical activity levels, sedentary pursuits, competitiveness, sociability, risk taker, etc.).

Other very valuable types of questions are those which require the applicant to solve a particular problem that is relevant to the type of position for which they are applying. For example, a question such as, "If you suspect that a co-worker is stealing from the floor, how would you handle that problem?" can generate responses that are often quite surprising.

If possible, always have applicants write with a good ballpoint pen in black or dark blue ink. And, always have them sign the application, leaving plenty of room for them to do so. With graphology, it is important to see if there are any differences between the text and the signature. Signatures represent the way people present themselves to others, while the text represents the way they actually are. In other words, the text shows their true nature. If an applicant's signature is completely different from the rest of their handwriting, they may only be showing the side of themselves that they want others to see.

After screening out applicants who are not qualified, be sure to fully interview the ones who are. A skilled interviewer asks questions and listens, letting the applicant do the talking. This ensures that enough information is gathered to narrow down the applicants to a very short list of possible hires. Those are the ones who will probably have second interviews, and those are the ones whose handwriting should be analyzed before then.

What can a graphologist tell you about a job applicant? Depends on what you want to know. The most common question asked is whether the person is honest, trustworthy, reliable, etc. Most graphologists check that automatically as there is not much sense in examining the handwriting any further if a prospective employee is a likely embezzler.

The second most common question is whether an applicant is suited to a particular type of position. This second question cannot be adequately and accurately answered without a detailed job description. Graphologists who do analyses for hiring already know what most jobs entail, but it is still up to the employer to verify the skills and traits they seek in employees by providing a very detailed job description for the graphologist to use.

This article last updated: 06/16/2015.