What does your handwriting look like 1

Graphology: What handwriting reveals about applicants

It may now be the exception rather than the rule, but the handwritten résumé is far from extinct. On the contrary: Graphology - the teaching of handwriting - is currently back on trend. How so? Because the HR manager can read a lot from an applicant's handwriting with a little know-how. What? We'll tell you!

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1. Definition: graphology - read between the lines in handwriting
2. Handwritten curriculum vitae - when, how and above all: why?
3. Handwriting sample: the alternative to a handwritten résumé
4. Graphology: What do HR managers look out for?
5. Examples: Graphological interpretation of handwriting!
6. So what does it look like - the signature of a “successful person”?
7. Conclusion: How meaningful is the graphology really?

Definition: graphology - read between the lines in handwriting

Graphology is the study of handwriting. A person's writing is just as individual as his personality - and it reveals a lot about it. Anyone who has mastered graphology can gain important knowledge about a person from handwriting. It goes without saying that some HR managers would also like to take advantage of this when selecting applicants.

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Scientific studies on the subject are controversial and a clear connection between the handwriting and the personality of a person has not yet been conclusively proven, but experienced graphologists repeatedly make amazingly accurate statements about the personality of an actually completely unknown person - based solely on his handwriting . Whether you “believe” in graphology or not is ultimately a matter of attitude. But the fact is: More and more HR managers are (again) relying on handwritten CVs and their graphological evaluationto better assess an applicant.

Handwritten curriculum vitae - when, how and above all: why?

In principle, applicants should only submit a handwritten résumé if this was explicitly requested in the job advertisement. A handwritten curriculum vitae is always a fully formulated one, never a tabular curriculum vitae. Many applicants feel reminded of their school essays when they request a handwritten résumé, and in fact a certain similarity cannot be denied. Even with a handwritten résumé, the applicant should make sure to write a legible and rhetorically beautiful text. "And then, and then, and then ..." or similarly boring formulations that do not necessarily indicate the qualities of a writer should be avoided at all costs.


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However, your rhetorical skills are usually not the reason why a handwritten résumé is required in a job advertisement - unless these are relevant to the position to be filled. More often, however, this requirement only aims at one thing: a graphological evaluation by an internal or external expert. If a handwritten résumé is required in the job posting, the application is usually submitted in paper form. Scanning in and sending the documents via e-mail or online form is rather unusual.

Handwriting sample: the alternative to a handwritten résumé

In order to minimize the effort for both the applicant and the HR manager, who would have to read all handwritten CVs, the job advertisement sometimes asks for a so-called handwriting sample instead. This also serves the purpose of being able to better assess the applicant's personality using a graphological evaluation. However, many applicants are unsure what to write in such a handwriting sample. Although the content is only a minor matter here, you cannot simply fill the A4 page with "Blah blah ...".

Reading tip: "Handwriting sample"

Experts advise: Applicants should write a neutral text and not (!) Repeat their information from the cover letter or résumé or even make a letter of motivation from the handwriting sample. Instead, it is entirely permissible to simply copy a newspaper article on a harmless topic, for example from the business section of a well-known daily newspaper. The manuscript sample does not have to make a positive impression in terms of content - but of course it should not be negative.

Graphology: What do HR managers look out for?

As a rule, of course, it is not the HR staff who carry out the graphological evaluation of the handwritten résumés or the handwriting sample, but rather specially trained and experienced internal or external graphologists - depending on the size of the company. In order to get an idea of ​​the author's personality, they usually pay attention to five different components:

  1. How is the typeface? This includes the movement, form, space and line image. These are usually classified according to different characteristics, for example powerful, dynamic, round, wide-meshed, three-dimensional and and and ...
  2. How is the rhythm? In this second step, the graphologists put the movement of the typeface (choppy, fluid, inconsistent, etc.) in connection with the shape, the so-called degree of stiffness and "degree of peculiarity" as well as the uniformity of the individual letters.
  3. What are the individual characteristics of the handwriting? Just as every person has their special talents but also quirks, graphologists find so-called individual features in their handwriting. These are individual features that differ from the crowd and for this reason jump straight into the eye of the graphologist, for example squiggly capital letters or missing i-dots.
  4. Which personality theories come into question? After recording the typeface and the special characteristics of the handwriting, the graphologist draws up a first theory about the personality structure of the author.
  5. Which expert opinion can be created from this? Finally, all recorded writing characteristics as well as the associated personality theories are summarized in the report and recorded in a final interpretation based on psychodiagnostic considerations.

A good graphologist therefore has sufficient experience on the one hand and a sound basic psychological knowledge on the other. However, there are also so-called "change writers" whose handwriting can have different characteristics depending on the current mood. With them in particular, the graphologist's interpretation can lead to difficulties in that the author's personality is either incorrectly or incompletely captured.

"The moods of our mind are even stranger than those of fate."
(François VI. Duc de La Rochefoucauld)

The graphological evaluation is therefore always most effective when it takes place in addition to getting to know each other personally - for example during an interview. HR managers should therefore have a good knowledge of human nature and should exchange ideas with the expert after (!) Creating the graphological report. This is the only way to create a really meaningful picture of the applicant's personality structure with a high degree of probability.

Examples: Graphological interpretation of handwriting

Is the writing slanted to the right or to the left? Curved or angular? Uniform or disrupted? Not only for HR managers, but also for everyone else, it is certainly exciting to know what one's own handwriting or someone else's handwriting says about the personality of the author. Unfortunately, it would be impossible to present the graphology in its entirety here. Nevertheless, we would like to give you an exemplary insight into the teaching of handwriting:

  • large font: generosity
  • small font: reliability
  • Initial emphasis on words: self-confidence to selfishness
  • Final stress on words: ambition
  • simplified typeface: intelligence
  • ornate typeface: vanity
  • Font inclined to the right: ability to communicate, extroversion, impulsiveness
  • straight font: self-control, “head person”, introvertedness
  • Font inclined to the left: restraint or dishonesty
  • at least five connected letters: logical thinking
  • unrelated font: productivity and creativity

But of course numerous other factors also play a role in the graphological evaluation. If you would like to get a first impression of the process of a graphological examination, you can do a 20-page self-test at www.graphologies.de, However, it is still not (!) a complete report, as is the case, for example, with application processes.

So what does it look like - the signature of a “successful person”?

Depending on the applicant profile and vacant position, HR managers naturally look for different characteristics in application processes via handwritten résumés or handwriting samples: Should the ideal cast be more creative? Extrovert? Confident? Disciplined? Nevertheless, there are classic soft skills that are associated with a “typical successful person” in a managerial career. These include

And what does the writing of such a “successful person” look like? The graphologists are primarily looking for one in this applicant profile

  • uniform,
  • straight,
  • no frills,
  • simplified as well
  • right-hand handwriting.

Conclusion: How meaningful is the graphology really?

You can now find around 50 dissertations in German-speaking countries on the subject of the validity of graphology. However, not all of them are considered to be empirically meaningful, which is partly due to the experimental design or the incorrect implementation of the investigation. Nevertheless, Hans Jürgen Eysenck was able to draw the conclusion as early as 1945 in the "British Journal of Psychology":

"Taken together, these results seem to show fairly conclusively that it is possible for a skilled graphologist to diagnose personality traits from handwriting with better-than-chance success."
(Source: Graphologie.de)

114 graphological reports, all of which were produced at the Institute for Psychology at the University of Freiburg, also provided the result after many years of observation and sufficient control groups: 79 percent of the employers' assessment of the personality of the analyzed employee coincided with the graphological results. The prognostic value of a graphological report is therefore considered to be very high in personnel decisions.

Or what do you think? Are you skeptical about graphology or have you already had experience with a graphological report as a personnel manager, appraiser or applicant? We look forward to your discussion on the topic in the comments!

Photo credit: Andrzej Wilusz / Shutterstock.com

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