In Europe, graphology is widely used by large corporations to detect personality traits as varied as ego drive and risk aversion. Within the United States, it's the risk-taking entrepreneurs who use handwriting analysis to identify the best candidates for sales jobs. Tom Payette, for one, hires a graphologist to help him ferret out winners for his $30-million Jaguar and Suzuki dealership in Louisville, Ky. He claims the technique has significantly reduced his annual sales-force turnover rate, which at 36% is nearly half the industry average.
Payette didn't always feel that way. "Like most people, I thought handwriting analysis was a bunch of hocus-pocus," he recalls. Then Iris Hatfield, president of HuVista International, also based in Louisville, changed his mind after her incisive analysis of his own personality.
Hatfield, whose graphology business has more than 300 clients nationwide, devised "success profiles" for Payette's salespeople, based on a composite of the handwriting characteristics of the top performers. Payette invites job applicants to submit to the graphology test as a second or third screen, after reviewing résumés and holding initial interviews.
"I may develop a gut feeling about someone, but handwriting analysis gives me a standard by which to measure the person," observes Payette. It also enables him to spot undesirable qualities, such as excessive sensitivity to criticism. The auto dealer sends samples to HuVista; for $45 he gets back a "Quick-Screen Analysis"--one page on the writer's key traits, with a letter grade. If Payette questions something in the summary, he'll occasionally buy the full 12-page, $250 report on the candidate.