Experience vs personality: what wins the job?

Don’t write off candidates because they’re not perfect on paper, urges a recruitment expert

Experience vs personality: what wins the job?
Trying to fill a role when none of the applicants is a perfect fit is never an easy task for HR, but shifting your expectations might help reveal an unlikely yet ideal candidate.

A recruiting expert says instead of focusing on how the jobseeker looks on paper – especially their career history and experience – HR professionals should consider their personality, motivations and other skills.

They might just turn out to be a better fit for your company than someone who ticks all the other boxes, says Hays Canada president Rowan O'Grady.

“The number one reason a new hire doesn’t work out is a lack of fit: they don’t get on with the people in the team, they have a different perspective, they have a different work rate or work ethic … so trying to find a candidate who really does actually fit but maybe they’re a 65 or 70 percent match to the requirements of the role is very intelligent recruiting,” he told HRD.

“Trying to say ‘I want to get a guy who’s an 85 or 90 percent match’ and not being as focused on the actual fit is a mistake.”

O’Grady gives the example of a junior job applicant with just six months of relevant experience applying for a role seeking two to three years’ experience.

“You know what? If they’re the right fit and they’ve got the right attitude, personality, their expectations on work right, if that all matches with the company, really you shouldn’t not interview that person because they’ve only got six months’ experience and you’re looking for two years’. That’s a bad hiring decision.

“Being more flexible around the hiring stuff and more stringent on the soft stuff is a good approach.”

It’s important, too, that recruiters speak to hiring managers in-depth upfront about what they’re seeking – and where there’s room for flexibility.

“If they’ve got B and C, but they don’t have A, or if they have a lot of B and C and only a little bit of A, would you look at them?” he suggests asking.

“I’ve seen it many, many times in my career that if we have a candidate in front of a hiring manager who’s a 65 percent technical match or hired skills match, but they’re a really good fit and they get on well with the hiring manager, and he can see them fitting in with the team, they’ll hire them anyway and they’ll probably work out better than the guy who would have been a theoretical 85, 90 percent match on the job spec.”

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