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Hiring personality vs skill

  • Publish Date: Posted over 7 years ago
  • Author: Sue Pallot

​As an employer, you have to make difficult decisions on a daily basis, but what do you do when you’re split between choosing two good but very different types of candidates for a job?

Picture a scenario in which the first candidate has the right skills and experience for the job but a less favourable attitude. On the other hand, the second candidate is ideal personality-wise but unfortunately doesn’t quite meet the requirements in terms of their experience. Do you prioritise personality or skillset? Both of course are important, but who do you hire when it comes down to making that all-important decision?

The right choice lies within the nature of the job and the type of business you own. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself that should help you to come to the right decision:​

What’s your company like?

Your company takes the time to nurture and train each employee individually through mentoring and management. Your company has a fast-paced and dynamic environment that expects employees to learn and adapt quickly.

What’s the role like?

Employees work closely with customers, clients and other team members. Developing strong relationships and team work is integral to the role. While a high-standard of work is expected, employees’ work ‘behind the scenes’ and are unlikely to have to deal with people face-to-face.

If you feel your company and the vacancy is more accurately described by options a, then you should consider hiring for personality over skill. This is because customer service is clearly an important aspect of your business and your employees are at the forefront of your brand. For companies like this personality usually takes precedent as employees must interact with customers and are representative of your brand values and the way you do business.

For a job where they’re less likely to have to deal with customers or clients, it’s more logical to go for someone with stronger skills and experience as they will require less training and are likely to adapt quickly despite the fast-paced environment.

Remember, regardless of their qualities, great employees are what makes companies truly successful and finding the right balance between personality and skills can be difficult. This said, there are tests out there which can help you to assess candidate suitability in terms of their personality, intelligence and skills, for example Rowlands offer DISCUS psychometric testing. These can help to identify traits in candidates, allowing employers to spot strengths and weaknesses in certain areas to come to a decision on whether the person is right for the job. However, while these tests are very useful, you will still have to rely on your own instincts and knowledge of your business and existing employees to some degree.

As culture and fit is becoming more and more important for both the employee and employer, defining the characteristics of your company and also the requirements of the specific role before interviewing is essential. This knowledge, combined with tests will be invaluable in helping you to make decisions like this much more easily in the future.