Hiring senior executives is a conservative affair, even more so in the legal world. Rightly, emphasis is given to skill set, qualifications and experience. Pretty much all our clients say there is a skills shortage and it is hard to recruit quality staff. It is therefore understandable that many employers hire the first candidate who ticks all the boxes.
Most of the job specs we receive from clients don’t even mention personality. However any organisation when hiring, ultimately wants to recruit an employee who will make a lasting and positive contribution. To do this, hiring managers must look beyond a job seekers experience and technical skills. They must dig into the personality of their respective hire. There is nothing more important for a business than hiring the right team. If you get the perfect mix of people working for your company, you have a far greater chance of success. How many times have you heard the saying in sports circles of “punching above your weight”. This is purely down to team work, all the individual components coming together to achieve something far greater than what can be achieved individually. On the downside, if you get hiring wrong, mistakes can be costly.
Having a team of people whose personalities gel will produce fantastic results, but personality is actually quite difficult to assess at an interview. All candidates should be prepared for an interview and of course will know how to positively spin any answer, making it tough to assess character. The easiest way to test personality, is to put candidates outside of their comfort zone. If they are outside of their comfort zone, personality will come to the surface. Some examples would be unexpected challenging questions or role play scenarios. More extreme examples would be taking candidates on survival courses or even asking a candidate to do a stand-up comedy act in front of his potential future employer and team. It is important to remember to make a candidate feel relaxed before pushing them outside of their comfort zone.
So what should you be looking for in personality when searching for a great employee? Firstly they must fit with your company culture. Secondly you must be honest about the personality of the hiring manager and who would work best with them. Thirdly you need to be clear about the personality for each role, some may require a loyal team player, others for example may require a pushy, aggressive type to drag the team forward. Finally never be afraid of hiring mavericks. Motivated mavericks who perhaps have a chequered history can be amazing hires. In sports circles, think of some of the “hires” that Sir Alex Ferguson made at Manchester United, including the likes of Eric Cantona.
From my experience in recruitment, skills can be taught. If someone falls short of some of the skills required for a job but has a winning personality, then hire them! These are the people that over the long term will get the results for your company. So if you are a hiring manager and seek to make changes in 2016, put more emphasis on personality in recruitment.