It can go a variety of ways.
EXHIBIT A – The daughter hangs on the shoulder of her beloved boyfriend who she has brought home to meet the parents. He stands there with his grungy outfit, unkempt haircut, and could-care-less grin. Small talk quickly reveals that he has no job, lives in his parent’s basement, and has several odd/annoying/borderline-alarming habits. This is mom and dad’s first time meeting their little girl’s latest obsession of the male persuasion, and they are less than impressed. After the boyfriend is gone, the mom cautiously brings up some of their concerns to the daughter. No job, no motivation, habits that seem to raise some red flags… the daughter stops mom right there. “But he’s so nice! He has a great personality!” [In this particular situation, this often translates into: But he’s hot! Or something of that sort.]
EXHIBIT B – “Go say hi to her! You two would get along so well!” The boy sighs, grudgingly turning his gaze to the young girl his mother has just pointed out at the church picnic. Awkward face, frumpy outfit, and more than a little overweight… he is 110% positive that she is “not his type”. But she’s a good girl, a much better girl than “his type” tends to be, so the mother persists. “You’re not even giving her a chance! She has a great personality!”
EXHIBIT C – The interview process has narrowed the group of hopefuls to two final candidates. The last step in the process is a personality profile test. This particular HR department chooses to administer the classic Myers Briggs assessment. Both candidates are relatively well qualified for the position. Their education, experience, and recommendations all place them on very equal levels. However, their personality profiles from the Myers Briggs assessment reveal that they are different “types”. Candidate A is offered the position while Candidate B is rejected. How does HR choose between two “equal candidates”? Candidate A “has a great personality”. Or, perhaps more accurately, the RIGHT personality.
So there you have it. Personality matters, especially in the eyes of HR departments or employers who administer any sort of personality profile as part of the interview process.
Personality profiles creep up in other places too, such as workplace teams, and my summer business class. Aaaand cue Dilbert: