Human resources professionals have most likely experienced the following scenario:
The interview you conducted was terrific. The candidate has the right qualifications, is highly articulate and appears to fit into the client company’s corporate culture. But your reference checks only gave you a verification of employment dates as shown in the CV, and the job “tide”. You know you cannot make a decision based mainly on gut feelings and intuition. It is at times like these that you wish you had a reliable selection tool to round out the picture.
You may have heard colleagues talk about their success with handwriting analysis. Indeed, some highly qualified and experienced South African HR Professionals – all with a Masters Degree in Psychology - have this to say: “Whereas psychometric testing gives a picture of a person’s potential etc., and where personality questions may be answered according to what the person thinks you want to hear, handwriting analysis gives a picture of the person’s actual current personality and cannot be manipulated – perhaps explaining why it has been used in criminal courts for ages!” In the U.S.A. it is now even used as an aid to Jury selection.
Handwriting analysis has received much publicity in the past twenty years as an additional selection tool that is gaining acceptance in the corporate community, here in South Africa and throughout the world. Moreover, it has been found that additional information that it provides is extremely useful in decision-making when making a final choice on who to appoint, especially in KEY POSITIONS.
Human resource professionals regularly have a difficult time obtaining information about respective candidates. Often they cannot ask personal questions unrelated to the job, and only get limited, even frustrating, time consuming responses from references. The rights of the employee and must always be considered, but that is only part of their challenge.
Most companies in South Africa who use handwriting analysis, use it as an additional tool for the pre-employment screening of all levels of employees. Handwriting analysis cuts down on interviewing time for second and third interviews by helping the manager to focus questions more specifically. Furthermore, the analysis points towards questions that can be asked of previous employers.
A major headache is often encountered when there are a flood of applicants for a particular position, often filling the e-mail box to overflowing. However, handwriting analysis needs just as little as just ONE page of writing in ANY official language, and hundreds of applicants can very quickly and inexpensively be distilled down to just say, 10 people, without necessarily having to laboriously read each CV using what is called a “Quick Sort” mechanism. This is again, a groundbreaking approach.
Although companies primarily use handwriting analysis to help determine if the right person is matched to the right job, the technique has a variety of other very credible business applications. For example, Human resource professionals now often use handwriting analysis to:
1. Evaluate candidates for promotion, where personality nowadays plays a major role.
2. To determine their “fit” where they are being moved to another company branch or duty.
3. To assess their compatibility (or lack) with their new manager when they are transferred.
4. To determine the interaction (friction or not?) between members of a group or team.
5. Where the new position may involve considerable stress, whether they are likely to be able to cope with that challenge.
6. Whether they can, or indeed want to succeed at all. (believe it, some people are actually “scared” of success!)
7. Where they may just need some mentoring or coaching, and where it is indicated that they tend to procrastinate, fudge the facts or ignore the finer, important details of their jobs.
8. Determine the suitability in sales and marketing positions, and importantly, whether there is a strong MONEY motivation, which is critically important for success in this field.
Where the handwriting field is going
The handwriting analysis field is rapidly changing. Across the globe, more handwriting analysts are working in business than ever before. Many are involved with management development programs, life coaching and pre-employment testing. “Thinking” HR professionals and psychologists respect the wealth of information which can be gleaned from following this path.
Practitioners are coming to understand the importance of scientific studies and are not only becoming more familiar with the literature, but are interested in devising studies that meet the strict criteria of the scientific establishment. In the past most handwriting analysts were not acquainted with the psychometric techniques needed to validate employment predictors. But this is a rapidly changing. As far back as 1989, the annual Congress and Institute of the International Graphoanalysis Society began offering an introductory course in statistics. A number of Universities, the most noteworthy of which are Italy and Spain, which now offer the study of Graphology at degree level.
Latterly, the use of computers has added an exciting dimension to handwriting analysis, mainly because their use provides an accurate, unbiased benchmark for measuring the samples provided by clients. Although in its infancy, there is currently experimental work being undertaken by a Clinical Psychologist in Israel, which will lead to handwriting samples simply being scanned into a computer. Even more exciting is work with 3D Holographic techniques, again using computer technology. This has been primarily been used in the detection of forgeries up to now, but is being considered for applying to standard handwriting analysis.
Many Israelis see handwriting as true personality test: Graphology experts here say that up to 60% of Israeli companies use handwriting analysis to help identify unsuitable or untrustworthy job applicants. "Position Available" advertisements routinely request handwritten resumes.
In an interview, a spokesman for Bank Leumi, Israel's largest financial institution, seemed slightly embarrassed but confirmed that all potential employees must take a graphology test.
Throughout the world, handwriting analysis is an accepted criminal investigation tool. But its value as a mirror of personality is much more controversial. And in the United States, graphologists concede, their craft is often viewed as more fitting for a carnival sideshow than as serious psychological testing.
Academic institutions in the world that currently offer an accredited degree in handwriting analysis are:
? The University of Urbino, Italy: MA (Graphology)
? Emerson University College, Buenos Aires, Argentina: BA (Graphology)
? Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona: Spain: MA (Graphology)
Handwriting can reveal tell-tale signs of deception, according to a study published in the November issue of the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology. To see whether people's handwriting differed when they were writing true or false statements, a team of researchers the from Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences at Haifa University in Israel employed a complicated computer analysis program called the Computerized Penmanship Evaluation Tool (ComPET). They then had 34 subjects write true and false sentences on the tool's "digitizer," or electronic writing tablet, and measured all aspects of the penmanship—including the height and length of individual strokes, and the pressure applied while writing.
They found that, there were clear differences in all three of those measurements—average pressure applied, and length and height of individual strokes of the pen—when people were lying.