The Adaptive Agency Blog

Why Character Is The Most Important Attribute When Hiring

by | Jul 8, 2019 | Uncategorized

So it’s pretty unheard of in most companies to hire for character, not skills. It’s typically the opposite, right? Typically, you want to hire for skills and if their character is a little off, you can work with it. No, here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to fire them for their character, but not for their skills.

In any company, I would rather fire my employee because they can’t do their job than for their character. When their character is not good, it’s going to create this toxic environment in your office and it’s going to ruin all of your best employees. So when you’re hiring, you want to look at their character and make sure their character is good. You can never coach someone on their character. You can always coach skills.

If I hire someone with zero sales experience and they have incredible character and they have the motivation, they’re driven, they’re positive, that’s someone I can coach. But if someone is negative and toxic and doesn’t have any accountability, I can’t coach that because at the end of the day, that’s just who they are.

Now, I’m not saying skills are 100% irrelevant in hiring. I would be stupid if I said, “Yeah, come on in. You’ve never had a job before and you have no skills but you’re nice.” Skills are still relevant and that is something that is important. You want to make sure that they can do the job and do the job well. You don’t want to put them in a position where they’re going to be unhappy.

However, if their skills don’t match what you’re looking for or maybe their skills need some refining but their character is on point, then that person is going to flourish and that person is going to thrive and that’s a huge win for your company. If their character is there, they should be able to be trained and your trainer should be able to transfer those skills to them. No problem. So long as they have the character. 

If you pay close attention to certain things, it is easy to spot someone with good character versus bad character.  For example, when you call at your scheduled time for their phone interview and they blatantly miss your call and call back 15 minutes later and just say, “oh, I forgot,” that’s a good sign right there that this person probably isn’t going to be the best fit for your company. Or if you ask them a question about a time that they went out of their way to help a customer and they have no examples whatsoever, that person is likely not going to help your customers ever.

I have so many examples of times that I have hired people who have limited skills but have had great character, but there’s one that stands out to me in particular. This person had a career in food for five years and totally different skills set then what we do here. I could tell there was a little bit of struggle as far as making the phone calls go, but man, his character was incredible. The way that he just showed motivation. He had passion. I could tell that he was committed to this place. He really took the time to think out this interview. He went online and researched our company, wrote down our values, just knew everything about our company before even had a chance to tell him. I mean he interviewed me almost is what I felt like and I told him when I hired him, your skills are not 100% to where some other people are at, but your character is incredible and I’ll tell you that he is one of the most amazing employees I have right now and he’s going places.

So, I always try to address character when I am hiring. However, there have been times when I have just bypassed the character trait and just go right for the skills. Usually, these are the times that I am reminded of how important character truly is when hiring.

One example, in particular, the candidate legitimately said something to me that was scary, that it totally went against everything I look for when hiring. Even the person who interviewed with me looked at me and said, “Megan, this is not going to work.” And I said, “but the skills are there. Let’s just go for it.” Fast forward three weeks later, and I basically put poison in our water. This person just wasn’t showing up on time, wasn’t taking care of their work, and in turn was causing so much stress and harm to my staff that I should’ve just gone with my gut instinct at the time and said, that the character is not there and I have to pass. And so at the end of the day, it goes back to hiring for character and not 100% on skills.

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