Should you Hire for Personality or Job Specific Skills?
Whether you’re in charge of hiring, or determining what to highlight on your next resume, it’s important to decide what skills are the most valuable. However, what talents are most valuable to a job is debatable.
The debate starts with a simple question; what’s more important to employers – hard or soft skills? In other words, are job-specific proficiencies or personality more valuable? While the question may be simple, the answer is not so cut and dry.
I think what makes the question so difficult is that hard and soft skills are viewed as binary opposites. Traditionally, hard skills, or job-specific skills were seen as more valuable – for many reasons, they’re much more measurable (a diploma, work experience, achievements), whereas soft skills, or personality, is much more subjective and hard to measure. After considerable research though, it seems there is a shift and employers are finding increasing value in their employees’ personalities.
In the eyes of Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, who places high priority on hiring – “personality always wins over book smarts. Company knowledge and job-specific skills can be learned, but you can’t train a personality.”
While it is often easier to consider job-specific abilities, as you look over a resume and see extensive experience and a degree in the role you are trying to fill, you may want to consider if that person is actually a good fit.
For example, while someone may have the skill set to do the job, if that position also requires working in a team environment – is this candidate a good team player? Can they effectively communicate, get along with others and bring a positive attitude to the table?
Positivity could seem like a trivial aptitude, but it is very important in the workplace. You don’t want your office to become a negative environment filled with complaints.
Deciding whether you should hire someone based on their job-specific skills or personality isn’t easy, but it may help to consider the nature of the role you’re filling, and your overall company culture. For instance, hiring someone for tech support – of course it’s appealing to have someone who has technical expertise, but are they friendly and helpful on the phone? If not, your customers aren’t going to care what school your tech supporter went to or what experience they have if they provide a nasty customer service experience on the phone.
So you see, it isn’t always so clear when deciding how to hire. Many Fortune 500 companies do their best to consider a candidate’s job-specific competency and personality by conducting a series of tests that focus on behavior, personality, emotional intelligence, cognitive and skills-based tests. On the other hand, you may want to highlight your job-specific skills, and what personal skills you have, and don’t just list your skills, explain how they will help you perform that job.