How to use the DISC when Hiring Assistants

If you think about it, the way we interview candidates is fraught with pitfalls. First of all, you put two strangers in a room, and one stranger asks the other stranger a long series of questions. And then in a relatively short amount of time, both people have to decide if they want to be in a long-term interdependent relationship.

Competition is fierce, and the stakes are high. And presumably, both sides are putting their best foot forward. Which means, neither side knows whether or not they're getting all of the information they need to make an informed decision. Add to that that hiring managers are busy and stressed and they're under a lot of pressure to make the right decision and to make it quickly.

All of this leads to hiring managers seeking out a magic bullet. It might be a skill test, a behavioral assessment, a series of interview questions, or some other best practice that they believe will help them ensure that they make the right hire. Unfortunately, it's just not that simple. People are not that simple. Some employees are amazing at one job, and they crash and burn at another position. So what is a hiring manager supposed to do?

I don't have a magic bullet for you, but I do have something that can help you identify the best fit for your job and your company and make your process a lot easier. It's called the DISC Behavioral Assessment.

Dr. William Moulton Marston developed the DISC behavioral assessment in the 1920s. He was a researcher at Harvard, and he was looking for a way to predict behavior in healthy, ordinary people. It was from that research that he developed the DISC behavioral assessment. The DISC is a definition of your behavioral style, and your style is broken into four components: D, I, S, and C.


By taking the DISC and looking at somebody's primary, secondary, and even their absent style traits, we can predict how they'll communicate, how they'll behave in certain situations, and also how they'll organize their work.

This is pretty fantastic right? Imagine if you could predict the behavior of your future hire and match the style that you need for the job to the right candidate. There are other behavioral assessments out there. However, the reason the DISC profile is so prevalent in the real estate industry is thanks to the work that Keller Williams Realty did more than ten years ago.

They had real estate agents, office managers, internal staff, and real estate assistants take the assessment and they developed "ideal DISC profiles" for each of those different job types within their organization. Thanks to their research, today we know that most successful real estate agents tend to be high DIs. And most successful real estate assistants tend to be SCs.


We'll talk more about the pros and cons of the DISC and why it's not always accurate a little bit later. But for now, let's just dig into what D I S and C really mean.

So again D is for dominance. So people who lead with their D tend to be drivers, they're competitive, they have a high sense of urgency, they move fast. Think about captains of industry, top-performing salespeople, and competitive athletes.

People with a high I score, these are your extroverts, your social butterflies. These are people who are optimistic and outgoing. And they tend to be the center of attention.

People with a high S score are caretakers. These are your nurses and teachers. These are people who are good listeners, they're nurturers, they value stability. They're probably good at following procedures and systems because they appreciate consistency.

Finally, people who lead with their C are detail oriented, accurate, they care about precision. Think about researchers or accountants. Those people tend to lead with their C.


When we describe somebody's DISC score, we only talk about the traits that score above the 50% line on the profile. So in this case, this person is a high SC. And they might on a good day be a high D as well. So they might be an SCD.

So what does this mean? We would presume that this person is a caretaker, they're a good listener, they value consistency and stability. They can probably be relied upon to follow procedures correctly. They probably have excellent attention to detail. They're accurate. They're careful in their work.

Their D is right at the line, so they're not extreme in either way, but they probably have a decent sense of urgency, they can make decisions on their own and move projects forward. But they don't have to be in charge. And finally they have a low I. This person is most likely an introvert. They don't need to be the center of attention. They're probably not a "Chatty Cathy," And they are comfortable working alone.

Three popular companies administer the DISC. The graph shown above is from Innermetrix. It's also called DISC Plus, and if you've ever taken a DISC behavioral profile on the Tony Robbins website, or if you use to post your job ads, this is the version that they use. Another popular assessment is the Abelson DISC. The Abelson DISC is main one that Keller Williams relied on for many years before they changed the behavioral assessment that they use within their company. And finally, there's PeopleKeys. This is another popular online version that you can purchase.

Pro REA Staffing has interviewed thousands of candidates over the last decade, and we have DISC tested every single one. We have used all three of these assessments. We currently use PeopleKeys. We find it's the most accurate.

We find that the Innermetrix tends to be the most inaccurate and it's more likely to give you extreme results. We stopped using the Abelson DISC because we discovered that it skewed high on I. Meaning people who were a low I were showing up as a high I on the DISC. And this was a consistent problem that we encountered. Finally, we went to PeopleKeys, and we found that overall it's the most accurate and were the most satisfied with their results.


As I said earlier, there's no magic bullet. With any assessment, there are pros and cons. On the pros side, this assessment can give you a quick down and dirty idea of how this person will probably behave in your office, how they'll communicate, and how they'll organize projects. That's a beneficial thing to know. It also is an excellent tool for opening up a conversation that you didn't think you needed to have. It prompts you to ask questions that you wouldn't have considered asking.

For example, if you're looking for somebody who is going to be alone in the office, they're not going to have a lot of interaction with other people, and their DISC profile shows that they're a high I, meaning that they are an extrovert, then you would want to talk to them about the work environment.

Explain that they're not going to have a lot of interaction. They're going to talk to people on the phone and talk to you, the agent. But that's pretty much it. And ask them how they feel about that. And ask if they've worked in similar situations in the past and how did that go for them. Your job may not be a good fit for them if they need a lot of social interaction. And this job is going to feel isolating for them. The DISC is an incredible tool in that regard.


Alright, let's talk about the cons. As we just discussed, the three different DISC profiles can generate different results. And, people's results change over time. A candidate who is in a bad work situation and is stressed and tired is going to show up differently on a DISC report than they will four months later once they've settled into their dream job. All of this means you can't take what you see on the DISC profile as gospel. That's incredibly important to keep in mind.

So if the DISC isn't perfect and people's scores change over time, and different assessments give you different results, what's the point? Well, the point is that the DISC prompts you to ask better questions. And for the most part, it's pretty accurate. So while it may not be 100%, it might be 70 or 80% correct. And if you validate the results correctly, you build a relationship with the candidate through that questioning process. And, if you share your DISC results with your candidate, they get to understand who you are and how you work, and how they can win with you.

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#1: Using the DISC as a disqualifier.

There are two big mistakes that I see hiring managers make when they use the DISC as part of their hiring process. First, they use it as a disqualifier. So for example, on candidates take the DISC when they apply to the job and candidates are ranked according to their DISC profile match to the position that you are trying to fill. I think this is a big mistake because the assessments are not always correct. We don't have candidates take the PeopleKeys DISC until we have met with them face-to-face over video. Then, at that point, we have them take the DISC. Now, we can look critically at the results and think for ourselves, does this line up with the person that we met? We already have some feedback from that candidate, we've formed an opinion about them and then we can use the DISC to either prove or disprove what we believe about the candidate.

#2 Blindly seeking out candidates in a narrow DISC profile range.

The second mistake to watch out for is not getting stuck on a specific DISC style for your job. For example, we have clients who say, "I need someone who is a DC because I need someone who is fast and accurate." Fair enough. But people can be fast and accurate and not be a high D. Also, just because someone is a high C does not mean that they're accurate.

People with a high C can still have poor attention to detail. That may not be one of their traits, even though as a whole, they behave like a high C. Therefore, if you keep a narrow focus on a specific style that you have to have in your office, you miss opportunities with good candidates, and you may be blinded by candidates who fit your profile but don't have those specific traits that you are seeking.

Keep in mind that the DISC shouldn't account for more than 20% of your hiring decision, and, it should be used as a way to learn more about the candidate. It should be part of your conversation with the candidate. It should never be a disqualifier.

If you would like to take the DISC or have your team take the DISC, you can order the PeopleKeys version on our website. We offer it at a small discount over what you can purchase it for on the PeopleKeys website.

Finally, make sure to check out our video on real estate assistant interview questions. This will give you more information about how to structure your interview process and how to use the DISC within that process.