Management & HR

Recruiting: Personality or Skills?

When Hiring for Your Business Should Personality Trump Skill-Set?


My findings conclude that yes, most hiring personnel choose candidates with personality traits that mesh well with the company over candidates with a better skill-set when hiring. But, the majority of this preference is relatively dependent on the stage of the business and position being filled.

Personality vs. Skill-Set

Hyper Island– is a global learning institution that follows a “tried -and-tested methodology” to assists clients with growth in business. In 2013 Hyper Island conducted a study titled “Tomorrow’s Most Wanted,” containing 500 CEO’s, Managing Directors, and Creative Directors. These leaders were in the industries: communication, business development and tech development around the world.


  • This study found that these leaders all covet candidates with skill, but it’s of less importance when compared to their ability to collaborate, adapt quickly and be enjoyable at the company.
  • 78% of the participants in the study gave personality priority when hiring and 28% gave skill set the priority.
  • Additional interesting findings were: 58% gave cultural alignment priority, 7% ranked problem solving as top and 12% wanted creativity most.


Why do CEO’s Prefer Personality?

In addition to this study Forbes covered an article about hiring for start-ups that included the opinion of CEO’s who agree that personality does trump skills when hiring for a start-up. Here are a few of their views:

Jeb Banner, CEO of Boardable states: “Hiring by gut instinct has worked well for me in the two businesses I founded, but I think it is a result of maturing as a leader,” he says. “I’ve learned to check my biases about new hires on superficial things that we have in common, and make sure I’m reacting to an instinct that their personality and skills will mesh well with the rest of the team.” Banner also mentioned that hiring only for the skills of the job description is too limiting, because when you’re looking for a candidate you need someone that can assist in multiple areas of your business.

  • Marcus Franck, the co-founder of Smart Renewable Heat reiterates that skill should not be the top priority when hiring for a start-up. He quotes,”Gut instinct plays a role, but founders must set the recruitment process up to uncover things like lateral thinking, character, and potential … At this stage, you should be looking for people who can demonstrate they’ve taken risks by investing time, energy, or even money in something they’re passionate about … More than anything, early startup hires must have an entrepreneurial mindset.”


Is Skill-Set Even Still Important?  

On the contrary there are CEO’s that do prefer to hire for skill set instead. Even Banner, whom admitted that he does hire for personality as a priority. Also admitted that when you hire for personality traits you must invest in training for the skills needed. In this article, Forbes also highlighted CEO Travis Parigi of the company LiquidFrameworks. His thoughts about hiring is that talented and skillful people are essential to a company in order for it to grow.  He states, “For that reason, regardless of planned hiring objectives, you should always take the opportunity to bring on a superstar in the rare cases that you find them. And if the budget isn’t available, find the budget and figure out a way to make it happen; as an entrepreneur that’s your job!”



In conclusion, skills can be taught and building a prosperous, harmonic team is more important when hiring. But, someone on the team has to possess the talent to teach these skills and keep the company afloat. Therefore, when hiring that one position make sure you still consider the company or department as a collective. Make sure skills, and character are properly balanced within your team before you make the hiring decision.


Tiana Rogers

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