February 24, 2016

There is more to a candidate than skills.

Look past the CV and Cover Letter to recruit the best candidate for the job.

by Christian Høeg

Henry Ford once said: “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” The foundation of any successful company is the great people behind it, and the ability to work together towards building an empire.

HR managers and recruiters struggle to find the right candidates, often focusing on the hard skills. Soft skills, like personality, are as important as a degree from the top university or experience when finding the right fit for the company.

Personality directly influences performance.

Many companies have spotted that a connection and the ability to work together depends on the personality of people in the team. Nevertheless a large degree of companies still don’t hire for it. Instead they look for candidates who has graduated from top universities, got high grades and test scores, and have impressive technical skills.

And no wonder! For many years this has been the information that most companies found easiest to acquire and rank. As a result, recruiters select the candidates that seemingly stand out as the “best potential performers”.

Once a candidate has been hired, there’s the elephant in the room. They are not performing as hoped, and the balance in the team has been shaken. The missing aspect that many have been forgotten is the personality of the candidate and potential for a mismatch with the company’s own culture.

But if the chance of a company and its team to obtain success depends on the ability of the team to work together, then why do companies not include sorting and selecting candidates based on personality rather than only skills and grades?

The short answer is resources, both time and financial. The most well known personality test tools such as Myers Briggs and DISC are time-consuming, requires education, and can be fairly difficult to interpret.  

How do I screen candidates based on a personality with limited resources?

  • Define the company and team culture. In order to successfully select the right final candidates, you have to make sure you know what kind of personality profile will complement the existing culture. Look for overall personality traits like empathy, friendliness, and energy. They say a lot about how a person would affect the team, and how the candidate will go about learning the ropes.

  • Listen to the candidate’s own network. Candidates most times during the interviewing process present biased information. They are motivated to get the job, so will claim to be the person they believe you are looking for. Listen to the candidate’s network instead and don’t limit it to only three references. Use a platform, such as Praice, that allows a candidate’s network to submit their impressions of the person.

  • Look for an addition to the team, not another member of the same kind. Make sure you can benchmark the personality traits from the people in your team. Though empathy is seemingly a great trait, you do not want everyone in your team to be the same. Diversification is key to creativity, innovation, and positive results. Member of the team should successfully complement each other.

Where does this leave us?

Don’t be afraid if people you find when sorting on personality are people with medium grade-averages or little experience. As Arkadi Kuhlmann, founder and CEO of ING Direct USA, says: “Don’t hire people with skills from industry you are in. You’ve got to untrain them and then retrain them. I’d rather hire a jazz musician, a dancer, or a captain in the Israeli army. They can learn about banking. It’s much harder for bankers to unlearn their bad habits.”

If you are on a verge of building an empire, make sure your team is ready for it, and have a working synergy. Culture and company greatness comes from personalities, not the skills.

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