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TecHR Interview with Dr. Bradley Smith, President and Co-Founder of PeopleKeys

An expert in the development of human behavioral and skills assessments for over two decades, Dr. Brad Smith serves as the President of PeopleKeys. Catch this interview where he talks about the importance of candidates’ core behavior and personality traits in hiring processes.


Dr. Smith, tell us about your journey so far, and what inspired PeopleKeys?

I became involved with behavioral materials in the 1990’s when I owned and operated a custom programming and software company. One of my clients, Dr. Sanford (Sandy) Kulkin, founder of the Institute for Motivational Living, happened to be a publisher of DISC and other psychometric assessments. These assessments made such a difference in my own life, business, and marriage I ended up selling my software company and partnered with Dr. Kulkin to co-found PeopleKeys. The combination of behavioral materials and technology has uniquely positioned ourselves in the industry. We now have DISC and other behavioral assessments available online, in 39 languages, and we have servers located on 3 continents, so we are up and running close to 100% of the time with incredible speeds. With us, you get your results instantaneously.

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How can a better understanding of a potential candidate’s core behavior and personality traits help hiring teams hire better and smarter? How would you advise more hiring teams to develop or inculcate this aspect into their overall recruitment process?

Here is an example of a recent hiring situation. I’m working with a company adding to their sales force. Their sales manager and top salespeople are very assertive, highly communicative, and successful at networking and getting deals in the pipeline. However, they have a low close rate. Through our behavioral assessments, we determined the sales team needed someone stronger in closing skills, so as we were training their existing sales force to be better, we brought in someone who was a good “closer” to supplement the team. The same goes for any industry; office, tech, medical, etc. You need team members who complement your current team’s strengths. If you were a pro football team you cannot only hire QBs and running backs. You need the line, defensive players, special team players, etc. A corporation is no different! We tend to want to hire people like ourselves, but revealing deeper than just the observable behaviors of candidates and current team members will help you hire smarter and build more diverse teams. 

Given the importance of behavioral skills assessment in today’s marketplace, how would you advise hiring teams to optimize their HR-Tech stack to include various aspects of the above into their overall recruitment strategy? 

DISC is a preferred tool you can legally use in pre-screening candidates since it focuses on normal behavior and job-specific behaviors. We recommend using it as early as possible in pre-screening, then maybe adding some other management and leadership components during the interview and final screening process. As one of our clients told us, “You show us things we wouldn’t otherwise know until people are on the job at least 6 months. You show us the real person we are dealing with in our interviews.”

Can you share 5 tips that can help hiring teams in the B2B/Tech marketplace hone in on a potential candidate’s personality traits to better understand them and place them in the best role?

  1. Use professionally validated assessments – you want to make sure you are measuring the right skill sets.
  2. Don’t think “one size fits all.” Every company is different and we like to look at other successful people in the company in developing a benchmark for successful hiring.
  3. Do behavioral and soft-skills interviewing. Don’t just focus on hard skill sets, focus on problem-solving abilities too. Ask behavioral type questions in the interview.
  4. The more information you have, the better the decision you will make. Remember to do your due diligence in reference checks, background history, etc. 
  5. Don’t forget to develop the talent you already have. PeopleKeys can help you hire, and we can also help make your existing team more productive and fluid.

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What are your views on the role of employee training and reskilling in building a future-ready workforce? How would you advise B2B teams to streamline these activities?

I am 100% in favor of this. There are four types of employees:

  • Those who are motivated and capable (trained) 
  • Those who are motivated but not capable 
  • Those who are not motivated but ARE capable
  • Those who are not motivated and not capable

You want the first, motivated and able. However, I would gladly take someone who is motivated but needs some training and invest in those employees. They can be your future superstars with the right mentoring. 

How do you envision AI re-shaping how HR Technologies are built in the future? 

It already is. Workforces are now global with more and more outsourcing and off-site employees. AI is being involved in initial recruitment, assessment, and many other forms of candidate selection. Employees need communication and common goals. AI can help to be a catalyst in these efforts. AI should not be the driving force of your business, but it should be used as a “business accelerator” in every way possible. 

Tag (or mention/write about) one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read.

I enjoy listening to our clients more than anyone else.  I love hearing their thoughts on where technology is moving in our everyday world. 

Any parting thoughts you’d like to share? It could be on anything, a motivational tip, work-life balance, etc.

Where there is agreement there is power. This is true in every aspect of life. We all need:

  • Common goals
  • Great communication
  • A pleasant environment in which to work
  • Mutual respect
  • Tolerance
  • Diversity (and embracing our differences)

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PeopleKeys logo

PeopleKeys has had success in behavioral analysis and Unlocking Human Potential for over 35 years. As a world leader in customized behavioral assessments and delivery systems, PeopleKeys prides itself on delivering excellent customer service, an international platform, and the most customizable and tailored solutions around.

Dr. Bradley Smith is well recognized as an expert in the development of human behavioral and skills assessments for over 20 years. He has served as the Director of Development for The Institute for Motivational Living since 1997 and also the President and Co-Founder of a sister company, Peoplekeys