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When to Hire for Personality Over Skill

Posted February 27, 2018

The perfect hire is a perfect mix of the right personality and a great skill set. But perfect hires are hard to come by, and sometimes it makes sense to let personality outweigh skills during the hiring process.

Rehiring can cost a company up to 30% of the job’s first-year earnings, so bad fits are bad business. In fact, poor personality/culture matches are the #1 reason for job turnover in the U.S., and one of the top complaints among persistently unhappy employees.

Here are some indicators that you’re hiring for a position where a personality match is more important than the candidate’s skills.


You Have Time to Train

First, look at the position realistically in terms of training time. Do you have any hours available to train someone to meet the basic job demands?

If the answer is no, go ahead and hire the person with the deepest skill set, setting aside questions about their personality. With zero hours available to train, you must hire someone who can hit the ground running without training.

On the flip side, if you have time for training, give more weight to personality. When you can hire someone with characteristics like confidence, flexibility and self-motivation, they’ll likely take the initiative to learn on the job.


It’s a High-Turnover Position

Turnover is also something to consider. Jobs have high turnover for all sorts of reasons, many of which are not the fault of the employer: low-paying industry, unskilled labor, unpredictable weather, market fluctuations.

If it’s a high-turnover position, extensive training will be wasted, time after time, as you lose employees. It’s better to hire people with great personalities and accept that turnover may just be part of your business.

This is true for all 5 of the industries that have the highest turnover according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: food service, hotels, hospitals, warehouses, and finance.

You’re a Seasonal Company

Similarly, companies with seasonal cycles should consider hiring for personality fit. It doesn’t make sense to invest too much in training if the calendar causes you to lose employees.

This seasonal effect is noticeable, for example, in college towns. Retail shops hire college students but face ongoing labor shortages during spring breaks, winter holidays, and summer vacations. They get more ROI by hiring for personality, rather than skills.


It’s a Sales Job

Any company that’s hiring for a sales job should be valuing personality over skills. Sales is a particularly personality-dependent role - one that also comes with major revenue responsibility. Hiring the wrong salesperson causes a cascade of problems across the company.

For a sales job, look for personality characteristics that bode well for success, like trustworthiness, conscientiousness, flexibility, and eagerness.


It’s a Tech Job

Here’s one that’s counterintuitive: valuing personality over skills for tech jobs. It seems like you’d want to hire the tech person with the biggest skill set, right?

Wrong. Tech jobs have one of the highest rates of skill obsolescence - skills going out of date - in the world. Experts say the skills of a tech worker begin to become obsolete within just 2 years of learning them.

For tech jobs, seek candidates who are problem solvers, good communicators, open to change, persistent, and passionate about what they do.


You Need a President, CEO or Board Member

Compelling research shows that the world’s most influential CEOs don’t need anything more on their resumes than the right personalities. This is worth noting if your company needs leaders.

As evidence, look at someone like Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook co-founder. He didn’t become the company’s CEO because of his computer programming skills. He dropped out of Harvard and founded Facebook with 4 other college buddies, none of whom became CEO.

Zuckerberg stood out because of his personality. Like him or hate him, he’s an assertive and charismatic leader who built a net worth of more than $70 billion. Wouldn’t it be great if your next company president was like that?

If your company needs help making great personality matches, reach out to GoGig today and learn how to make the right hire every time.

Click For The Jeff Bezos GoGig Personality Profile

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