Should You Care About Graphology?

Low turnover is one trait shared by companies on CNNMoney's 100 Best Companies to Work For 2007, which is hardly surprising. Good companies not only appreciate the investment they make in you, but also the investment you make in them. Turnover is a lost return on these investments and a sign of failure. As a result, companies want more than ever to be sure of themselves when they recruit and are willing to try unconventional ways of evaluating candidates, like graphology.

What is Graphology?

Graphology is defined as the “study of handwriting especially for the purpose of character analysis” by Merriam-Webster's Dictionary. Many people tend to roll their eyes at the idea that their personalities can be deciphered from a few lines scribbled on paper and the fact is that there are numerous scientific studies both for and against the validity of graphology.

It can happen to you

Quick story. During my last job search, a recruiter arranged an interview for me with a top executive at a major hitech company in Israel. My qualifications seemed to fit the job description perfectly and the interview went well enough. Before a second interview could be scheduled, the company required that I write a letter in Hebrew for graphological analysis, which I did without hesitation. I did want the job after all, and I had never been asked to do this kind of thing in the past so I was intrigued albeit somewhat skeptical.

I failed the test and didn't get the job.

What happened?

I was a bit disappointed but not nearly as frustrated as my recruiter since I really did seem like a perfect match for the company. “Why would they do this to you?” she asked me. “You're not a native Israeli (my mother tongue is English and I was born in Montreal) so it doesn't make sense to test you in Hebrew. You couldn't have passed.”

Anna Koren is a world-renowned expert in graphology, having founded The Graphology Center in Haifa back in 1976. She also co-authored “The Secret Self: A Comprehensive Guide to Handwriting Analysis“. I asked Ms. Koren about the recruiter's reaction. She told me that the recruiter was”…absolutely right. It is very very important to write in the language you are used to.” So much for that.

The Test

My first brush with graphology could have gone better, but I was still curious about what my handwriting might reveal to a future company, government agency (they are among Anna Koren's clients), descendants, etc. I decided to see for myself by taking a test on You'll need to give an email address but the test only takes about 15 minutes. Here's some good sample text covering all the letters in the Latin alphabet to write out in cursive before you begin.

I was blown away. As an introspective person who knows himself pretty well, it would have been tough for me to write a description of my personality as well as the Wizard did. I laughed out loud a few times as I read things about my character that I knew but had never seen written.

Wrap up

Companies will try new filtering techniques and candidates need to anticipate them to be prepared. Although no longer new, graphology continues to gain popularity and you should test yourself first to avoid surprises later on. Try it, you may learn something.

Some food for thought- doing the test reminded me how long it had been since I had written any text longer than my signature. Will graphology die out as our children spend ever more time on computers? How long until children no longer learn to write cursive at all?

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