Define ‘Qualified’

Hire for personality, train for skills.

This advice is becoming a standard hiring practice across industries. Hiring managers put less emphasis on a candidate’s degree or past experience and focus more on who they are as a person. This change is likely due to the growing trend of companies prioritizing strong internal cultures. According to Forbes, 89 percent of hiring failures are due to poor culture fit.

It’s wise for hiring managers to make culture fit a priority. New hires who don’t connect with their team or share the company’s values tend to stick around for only a short period. Considering it costs around $4,000 to hire a new employee, it makes sense for companies to invest in new hires who fit the company culture. However, it’s not always enough to hire someone just because their personality is aligned with your company. For a company to hire the best pool of applicants, the ideal candidates should have a balance of soft skills and hard skills.

Soft Skills
When someone says they “hire for personality,” what they really mean is that they are looking for candidates with certain soft skills. These are nontechnical skills that can’t be measured and aren’t easy to list on a resume. Here are some soft skills companies look for in new hires:
● Communication
● Flexibility
● Enthusiasm
● Work ethic
● Self-motivation
● Attention to detail
● Empathy
● Organization
● Creativity
● Team-orientation
● Responsibility
● Compassion

Hard Skills
Hard skills are teachable abilities that can be learned through training or experience. Necessary hard skills will vary depending on what industry you work in. An accountant needs hard skills in QuickBooks and mathematics, while someone who works in online marketing will need to be proficient in social media outreach and SEO best practices.

Here are some other examples of hard skills:
● Copywriting
● Foreign languages
● Data analysis
● Any certification, degree, or license

Which Is More Important?
Depending on the position you’re trying to fill, you may have flexibility when it comes to hard skills. If a dental office is hiring a front desk receptionist, it’s important this person be organized, friendly, self-motivated, and have strong communication skills. They might not have experience at a dentist’s office or know how to use the software, but if they have the right soft skills, they can learn and adapt quickly to the environment.

On the other hand, if you are hiring a computer programmer to run your website, you wouldn’t want to spend time teaching the person you hired how to code with HTML or CSS. The programmer you hire should come equipped with these skills.

Certain hard skills are essential to the job. That said, proficiency in hard skills should not be ranked above personality and culture fit. A candidate may come with a degree from a top school and a decade of experience, but that experience won’t make up for the problems that will arise if a new hire doesn’t click well with the rest of your team or isn’t eager to take care of your customers. When a job demands a set of hard skills, your strategy should be to hire for personality and skills.

Does this mean it will be harder to find the right person for the position? Absolutely. And while it can be stressful to have an open position for a long time, it’s always worth waiting to find the right person.

When hiring managers look only at academic background and technical prowess, they often overlook plenty of promising candidates who need only an opportunity to learn before they can excel. But it is perfectly reasonable to insist that candidates come to the table with certain skills needed to succeed in the position. Be sure your company is bringing in the right people by learning to balance soft skills and hard skills when evaluating candidates.