Should You Hire for Skills or for Personality?

One of the most difficult decisions a company has to make when hiring a new employee is whether they should be hired for skills or personality. On the one hand—skills are critical to job success. On the other, a great personality can lead to better team cohesion and long term career development. Both aspects are positive.

Companies deal with this issue each time they have a position come available and begin to search for a new employee. There are varying views within a company from top to bottom of the management chain, but we will discuss both sides of the argument here.

Hire for Skills

The first side we will look at is that companies should hire based on the skills of the candidate. Candidates who have all of the skills companies require for an open position are likely to shoot right to the top of the list. What companies must look for is whether or not these candidates have skills outside of the set required by the company for the available job. The best candidate for a job should exhibit skills that are required for the job and ones on top of those required.

When a company hires based on skill set, it can lead to a bad hire. The reason for this is that the candidate might not fit in with the culture of the company. When this occurs, the company will wind up replacing that employee, which will cost them more time and more money to find someone new.

Hire for Personality

As we look at the other end of the argument, many companies like to hire based on personality. They will look at a candidate and their overall abilities, but will take into account the skills and the personality equally.

Companies that look at personality are more concerned about how the employee will fit into their culture with their co-workers. This is, in some instances, more important than the skills the candidate has to work the job in question. Candidates can be stars at any company, but not all of them will have the drive or commitment needed to perform the job.

Even candidates with a lesser skill set, who have a better personality, will succeed when hired for a new job. The reason for this is that they have the drive and motivation needed to learn the required skills for the job and will not have trouble asking their co-workers or supervisors for help when it is needed.

As companies begin to fill open jobs, it is necessary to determine which method will be used to separate the good candidates from the bad ones. An excellent way is to determine if the company will hire based on skills or hire based on personality. The best way to hire a new employee is to do so based on their personality. You will want the candidate to fit-in nicely with their co-workers and the culture of the company.

The best of both worlds means hiring for skills AND personality, for a better recruitment results and higher employee productivity.

Portico Staffing, based in West Des Moines, has been connecting Des Moines professionals and employers for nine years. Learn more at