An HR Professional's prospective on hiring for character over skills
Lately, like some of my HR colleagues, I have been occupied with recruitment efforts. With the new wait-and-see job market, candidate selection has become even more of a pain point.
In a perfect world, the perfect candidate gets matched with the perfect job at the perfect time. But we do not live in a perfect world. And the advent of COVID-19 has made the job market even less ideal in certain regards. So in today’s job market, hiring managers and recruiters need to decipher what’s really important. Do you hire for character and culture or hire for the needed hard skills?
Hiring, just for skill, is a tempting prospect. You may need to hit the ground running quickly and want to spend minimal time on training someone. If you hire for skill set, you know you are guaranteed to get an employee who can do the job to your satisfaction. However, even if a candidate has the ideal skill set, they can be a detriment to the team and the business if they do not fit the company’s culture.
When recruiting, company culture fit must be prioritized. Most times, the hard skills can and should be taught – don’t undermine the power of training (both for the trainer and the trainee). But when it comes to culture fit, things are not as straight forward. Riddling for cultural fit involves the imprecise art of assessing and reading the non-technical charter and personality traits of potential hires.
Hiring for culture fit doesn’t mean hiring people who look, act, and think like everyone else in your company. Rather, it entails finding someone who shares your company’s missions and embodies the company’s values.
A good culture-fit hire is compatible with other members of their team, but that doesn’t mean they are the same. The best culture-fit hires are those who can bring new, diverse perspectives to your company, and you can leverage their unique insights for greater innovation and growth, while being committed to the company’s core goals and priorities.
That said, as with most things HR, we must be cautious when we talk about and define “fit”. Company culture fitness should be defined by factors that are key to success and the characteristics, traits, behaviors that are directly related to job performance. It should never be based on factors that intentionally or unintentionally lead to an outcome that systematically rejects candidates of a particular race, gender, age, etc. I suggest you talk to your employment attorneys about your interview questions and ensure you aren’t crossing or blurring any lines.
Hiring for fit over skill comes with additional benefits. Short term, the cost of a greener candidate is usually cheaper than your skilled labor. You can always train and mold your next superstar by hiring that diamond in the rough. Long term, it is also more cost effective to the business. Employees who fit into the culture of the company are more likely to stay on the job. Studies have shown that hiring for fit leads to higher job satisfaction and higher productivity which has a positive impact on the Company’s bottom line.
Fellow colleagues, business owners, and managers, as you paddle your way through the candidate pool, searching for the next perfect hire--- Hire for fit, train for skills. Go for attitude over aptitude.
...And may the odds ever be in your favor!