Do You Hire for Character or Skills? Four Thoughts

Situation: A small company has a candidate who seems a great fit for their culture and comes with excellent references. However, this candidate has little experience in their industry. They are struggling to assess which is more important – the quality and character of the person or their experience and skill set? What is your opinion – do you hire for character or skills?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Overall, personality, character and values consistent with the firm’s values outweigh skills. However, if the individual needs significant training to attain the skills required for their new role, you must assess the ability of your firm to provide that training. Either that or bring them in at a lower level and let them grow into their eventual role.
  • If the candidate will fill a business development role, put them across the table from you and others, one-on-one, in a sales role play. Can they sell you on hiring them for the position? If the candidate will have to develop their own leads, make selling you on their ability to do this part of the role-play exercise.
  • Open up the search to other possible candidates, and assess the current candidate vs. others who may want the position. See if this individual rises to the top in a competition for the position.
  • Large company experience may not be relevant to the needs of a small firm. Better to find an individual with experience in a firm more similar to your size than with only big company experience.

Key Words: Hire, Candidate, Character, Culture, Skills, Experience, Training, Business Development, Compete, Large, Small

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