Should My Company Hire for Personality and Train for Skills?

January 29th, 2016

In leading organizations that are changing the game in their fields, there is a broad range of business models and strategies. But, a majority of them agree on a common HR principle: Hire for attitude and train for skill.

Finding talent with the right technical skill set will probably not be your leading challenge. It is generally much more difficult to find candidates whose values and personality are in sync with your corporate culture. And even a single mismatch can cause a massive negative ripple throughout your company.

Expand Your Horizons

Arkadi Kuhlmann, founder and CEO of ING Direct USA, makes it a point to look outside the banking field for future company leaders. In his words, “If you want to renew and reenergize an industry, don’t hire people from that industry … I’d rather hire a jazz musician (or) a dancer … They can learn about banking. It’s much harder for bankers to unlearn their bad habits.”

In other words, by hiring for personality and cultural fit, you can shape new employees into the high-performing talent you need. Skills can be taught on the job, but attitude and passion can neither be taught nor bought.

Sherry Phelps, a top executive in the People Department at Southwest Airlines, echoes Kuhlmann’s philosophy. She encourages employers to embrace the “hire for attitude” philosophy. Southwest occasionally hires employees from other airlines, but Phelps emphasizes that “it doesn’t happen as often as you think.” She adds that “we would rather take an eager, hungry, customer-oriented mind and mold it into what works … than try to change the habits of someone who’s come up through an organization that views life differently.”

How to Hire for Personality

Bad hiring decisions are the most costly part of your business. Finding the right character and personality is important on all levels.

  • Prioritize soft skills. Weigh a candidate’s attitudinal characteristics heavily. These are soft skills, such as teamwork, communications, organization and an ongoing desire to learn new things. By focusing on these areas, you ensure that you reinforce your unique corporate culture with each new hire. The end result is a workforce that is happier, more engaged, and less likely to turn over. When your employees embrace the company brand, it differentiates the customer experience where it counts the most: in their one-on-one interactions with your employees.
  • Be clear about your expectations. Broadcast the specific qualities you are looking for as you hire. For instance, if you make it known that you’re in the market for extroverts, fewer introverts will apply. By defining the personal qualities you’re searching for up front, you will increase your likelihood that candidates with those attributes will throw their hats into the ring.
  • Be proactive. Don’t sit back and wait for people with the right personality to knock on your door. Instead, spot them in the marketplace and make your pitch. When you find someone who embodies the qualities that you want on your team, invite them to apply.

As you identify the best talent to fit your key positions in big data, QA, financial analytics and related specialty areas, call upon the experts at Select Group, Inc. We are extremely selective in the candidates we provide to you and will present a fresh approach to successful and effective recruiting. Set up an appointment with us today to learn more.

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