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Skill and Personality: Integrating Factors in Hiring Decisions

Andrea Weir
Published December 13, 2016

integrating skill and personality in hiring the best employee

 

Can a personality assessment be of use in a heavily skills-based industry? Absolutely.

The perfect job candidate is not always made up of one skill or trait. Like many things in life, finding the ideal candidate fit is not a matter of black and white.

There has been an increase in conversation in the HR world on the topic of hiring for personality – and for good reason. One 2013 study of 500 CEO’s and Directors found that 78% of respondents identified personality as the most desirable quality in a worker As one leader put it, “Although you can teach a turkey to climb a tree, it’s much easier to hire a squirrel.” (Basically, skill can be trained – it’s harder to alter an inherent personality trait). 

But different roles have different requirements. Some are heavily behaviorally based; some rely substantially on concrete skills. An employer’s job is to assess what balance of these factors is needed for a role when considering potential new recruits. Even if a job is reliant on certain competencies, for example a computer programmer, it is worthwhile to also consider other dimensions. Will this person be able to work effectively with a team? How are their problem solving skills?

This can be a daunting task. Personality based characteristics have in the past been difficult to measure in an accurate, objective fashion. These soft skills aren’t as easily demonstrated as a proficiency in Microsoft Office might be. We can attempt to make judgments for ourselves, but this can be challenging in an interview setting, especially considering the high-pressure nature of the environment.  Luckily, advancements in assessment software help this process by making it easy to accurately assess the behavioral side of things.

The real issue arises when we become too binary in our thinking. Truly understanding a candidate and their potential fit into your workplace means forming a well rounded view of them as a person – and as a potential asset to your company.

Some roles may rely on proficiency in both hard and soft skills. This past blog discusses some of the traits which are (arguably) most important in a nursing role. A manager looking to hire a nurse would likely find the most success with a candidate who possesses both the necessary education and expertise to perform the role, as well as the “softer” traits that contribute to bedside manner.

As another example, take an IT employee – traditionally, a person in this role needs to have an abundance of technical knowledge. However, they also need to show adaptability and strong social skills to be truly successful, which is becoming increasingly recognized by decision makers in the field.

Next time you’re considering the requirements for a job opening, challenge yourself to consider both pieces of the puzzle while envisioning your perfect match. Personality and skill set cannot be two completely independent factors, and sometimes we cannot revert to relying on only one. The true finesse comes in integrating both components by using all the tools at your disposal to properly measure a candidate’s true potential.

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