Hiring tech talent is tricky when you’re not a tech person. A hiring manager is in the difficult position of identifying and screening candidates who speak a high-tech language they don’t always understand.
That’s why hiring managers accidentally screen out the best tech candidates. In trying to grasp the ever-changing mix of skills and credentials, they forget about the most important aspect of tech talent acquisition: personality.
Hiring for Personality, Training for Skills
It costs about $5,500 to hire someone, so making bad matches is an expensive problem. For tech jobs, poor hiring can also lead to security risks, website issues, order processing slowdowns, and public relations disasters.
Compounding the situation, the knowledge base for tech workers changes every 2 to 5 years. Tech work is constantly evolving. Someone who was an expert just a few years ago could be totally out of date today.
In response, hiring managers across the world are changing the way they acquire talent. The focus is flipping from skills to personality. Skills can be taught; personality can’t. Instead of simply asking “What programming languages do you know?” hiring screeners are asking things like, “How do you interact with non-tech people?”
Top Traits of Tech Talent
The Forbes Technology Council brought together some of the best minds in the field and found great tech hires have the following personality characteristics:
Patience— Tech experts are constantly put in frustrating and demanding situations. While an accountant might be given the time needed to track down a financial error, a tech worker is often expected to fix a website glitch instantly. It’s a lot of pressure. Your next tech hire will need patience and the ability to keep a cool head.
Passion— Although tech jobs are often held by very smart people, intelligence shouldn’t be valued more highly than passion. The best tech talent comes with a passion for learning, sharing new knowledge, and inspiring others to fulfill a vision. As Tigh Loughhead puts it, “Intelligence is necessary for what you need to do today, but passion is potential for what you can build tomorrow.”
Passion goes hand-in-hand with the trait of curiosity. Curious people come across as passionate because they ask lots of questions, embrace surprises, and don’t let small failures impact their drive to continue the mission.
Flexibility— If you interview someone who seems very attached to specific platforms or techniques, cross them off your list. Innovative companies can’t afford to hire tech talent that is too tied to a certain technology. The field is too changeable.
Self-Motivation— Tech workers are usually alone in front of computers for long periods. Their work requires an intense focus. Micromanaging these employees is usually a very bad idea, because constant interruptions reduce the quality of their work.
That’s why self-motivation is a critical personality trait for tech hires. Not only do they need the self-motivation to work independently for long stretches, but they also need the internal drive to meet new challenges posed by your organization.
Team Spirit— Your best tech workers don’t spend all their time in front of computers. They also attend meetings, socialize with coworkers, and participate in company-wide innovation. Make sure your next hire has some team spirit and off-screen personality.
How do you make sure a tech hire isn’t obsessed with personal glory? Look for indicators like:
- Involvement in committees
- Tendency to share credit and act humble
- Awards for group efforts
- Participation in team sports
- Charitable giving
Using The Right Screening Tool
So, how you do find tech talent with these top-notch personality traits? It’s all about using the right tools and methods to screen applicants.