Can a person’s handwriting reveal their aptitude for a job based on their personality? Many handwriting experts known as ‘graphologists’ claim that you can. This practice may be costing people their jobs.
Graphology differs from forensic handwriting analysis, which is used in investigations to authenticate historical documents, or in court settings, such as determining if a signature has been forged.
Graphologists assert that they are able to identify a person’s personality traits and mental status from their handwriting. For example, if a person writes with a forward slant, that means he has an outgoing personality. A backward slant reveals a person to be shy and reserved. Therefore, graphology can be an effective means of figuring out a person’s behavior, and that is why it’s being used more and more in the recruitment process, interviews, and career planning.
In the late 1990s, a lot of American organizations and company used graphology for their hiring process, motivation and personnel testing, a method that they have continued to use. In 1988, The Wall Street Journal published that in Western Europe, around 80% of the fastest growing companies used handwriting analysis as part of their HR procedures, hiring full-time graphology experts.
A bad hire can have a negative impact and high monetary cost, so HR departments, recruiters, and managers are constantly looking for new ways to get some insight into what the candidate will be like and how they will fit into the company before they are hired. Cover letters, resumes, and interviews are helpful screening tools, but they are not always capable of revealing the candidate’s real personality. This is where graphology comes into play, as stated by industry leader Margaret White, who says that “when graphology is used correctly, it gives a good indication of the personality structure, growth and development abilities of the candidate”.
Principles of Graphology
In simple terms, graphology is the study of handwriting and its uses as a tool for evaluating job performance and personality. Its practitioners measure a person’s handwriting components, which include the amount of pressure used when writing, the slanting angles and degrees and the spacing between the letters and words. Graphology believes that a person’s handwriting traits betray personality aspects, and they use this to achieve insight into a person’s motivations and behaviors.
The Science Behind Graphology
The concept is built on the following premise: handwriting analysis works, as handwriting is essentially the brain writing. The writing instrument such as a pen or pencil is merely a tool, which is directed through the arms movement, impulsed by the cerebral cortex. The message is delivered via the nervous system to your arm and hand muscles, which motivate the pen to write.
When analyzing a sampling of handwriting, graphologists take some assertions into consideration, including:
- The person’s ego is always active when they are writing, although the level of activity can change, depending on the level of effort the writer is excerpting.
- The muscular movements involved in writing, which controlled by the central nervous system can be altered by the dynamical systems principles.
- A person’s writing can be modified, if they experience a change in their central nervous system, be it transient or long-term.
- A person’s emotions and muscle stiffness affect their handwriting.
According to Tutoring for Excellence, handwriting has also been found to improve cognitive skills, the development of fine motor skills while also leading to the expression of more ideas, which means that your future employee with nice handwriting will have a good character development, and it will help you bring together compatible people to a team or organization, while understanding how they work and alleviating conflicts. When analyzing a potential employee’s handwriting, a recruiter can study that person’s qualities, and they can be given a job according to their capability, which benefits the company in the long run.
The Characteristics of Handwriting
Graphology believes that a person that has cursive and fast writing is oriented towards results, has excellent communication skills and is most suited for sales or front office jobs. If a person has disconnected letters, they are calculating, and these traits are useful for planning purposes, meaning they are suited for management jobs. A candidate with small letters is a quick thinker, and their characteristics are useful for backstage jobs and think tanks.
Other characteristics which graphologists interpret are the following:
- Emotional expressiveness is suggested by a forward slant
- Emotional withdrawal is indicated by a backward slant
- Emotional restraint is specified by upright letters
Angles of Lines on Unlined Paper
- Optimism is indicated by an upward slant
- Low energy is suggested by a downward slant
Shape of the Strokes
- An easy-going nature is suggested by circular handwriting
- Aggression and high energy are indicated by angular writing
- Practicality is specified by square handwriting
- Creativity is shown by irregular strokes
- The more pressure that is applied, the more intense the writer’s emotions, and the higher level of stress they are experiencing
Reasons Behind Using Graphology as a Personnel Selection Method
Graphology can help prospective employers have a comprehensive personality profile of the candidate that cannot be found by using other methods. The company can find out potentially negative traits that will be detrimental in the long run. Graphology can be used at every level of hiring, from non-skilled jobs to clerical, middle and top management jobs.
Another significant benefit of graphology during the recruitment process is that it weeds out undesirable employees at the outset. There is also another reason why handwriting analysis can be used, and that is finances. Graphology is a great deal less expensive than interviews and psychometric tests, and it’s considered a cost-effective screening method.
Even after the hiring process, graphology can still be useful. Handwriting analysis can be used in the promotion process, as you will be aware of your employee’s dedication, skills, and commitment, but you might not be aware of without the help of graphology if they can handle new or more responsibility. A graphological screening can answer if the employee is a good leader or if he’s able to handle high-pressure situations.
As organizations become even more aware of the high costs they encounter with lengthy recruitment processes, graphology is here to stay.