Recruitment & Retention Articles

After you've spent resources onboarding your new employees, the true task becomes retaining them. Finding top talent and keeping them around is what makes most growing businesses competitive. New technology and the changing workforce is shifting the age-old processes HR managers have relied on.

Employee Communications: Hiring for Qualification vs. Personality

24 May 2017
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Employee communication and talent is the lifeblood of any company. Sometimes the best thing a potential new employee can add to an organization is their personality and communication style. But qualifications are a huge part of any onboarding process. How do you balance personality with qualifications?

With how many variables there are defining whether any one person will be successful in any given role, figuring out what’s most important in a new hire is essential for any Human Resources professional or hiring manager. During the recruiting and onboarding process, figuring out whether it’s more important for an employee to be technically qualified or to be an excellent fit with the company’s corporate culture is key. This will ensure smooth sailing during employee training and with ongoing employee retention. Below are some things to consider when deciding which candidate is going to get the job.

Let’s consider a potential job opening with two imaginary and equally appealing, yet very different candidates. Our pretend job requires both human interaction and technical skills, and has the candidate working under who some consider a difficult boss. Employee A is highly technically qualified for the job, but doesn’t appear to have the people skills to flourish in the corporate culture at the company. Employee B is an amazing personality fit, but is a little behind Employee A when it comes to the technical know-how the job requires. Whom do you choose? Take a minute and think it over.

There are many questions in play when deciding who you want to bring into the recruiting and onboarding process, a few of which we’ll ask below.

How flexible is the job?

Does the job in question have some wiggle room on hours, boss interaction, time spent in the office, and participation in team building exercises? If so, then corporate culture is not as strong of a factor as whether the employee has the skills needed to be a true self-starter to hit the ground running in the role. If this is the case, I would go with Employee A over Employee B.

How difficult are the managers at your company?

Let’s be honest – people leave bosses, not jobs. You as a Human Resources professional have your finger right on the pulse of your company and know which managers are great and which are difficult to work with for various reasons. If you think that Employee A would simply not be able to get along with a crucial manager, Employee B is the way to go.

How difficult are the skills Employee B would need to learn?

It’s important to know the job position and its requirements well in order to answer this question. If Employee B is an amazing corporate culture fit and is already fluent in five of the six programming languages your job posting requires, than it makes sense to bring them on board over the more difficult Employee A who would take much longer to fit in than Employee B will to get up to speed technically.

Could Employee A have simply been nervous and come off badly?

Job interviews make even the best candidates nervous sometimes, and a great fit can often present themselves in a less than desirable way. If a candidate seems shy or not very well-spoken then it could just be a case of nerves. On the other hand, if said candidate is hostile or extremely uninterested, definitely look elsewhere for your new hire.

Could Employee B be understating their own qualifications?

A lot of highly qualified professionals, particularly in the field of technology, will tone their impressive resumes down in order to not be rejected from jobs for being ‘overqualified.’ If you suspect this is the case, then a long chat about their past work and portfolio is in order to sniff out whether they’re really unqualified or just modest.

What does your gut instinct say?

You know your company better than anyone, and you were hired for Human Resources because you know people. As long as you take the time to really understand your corporate culture, the job requirements, and any other important factors, you’ll always come to the right conclusion.

Elizabeth Woodard

Liz Woodard is an office veteran who's fascinated by office dynamics and believes that applied behavioral psychology can go far towards managing a company well. Find her at

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