Why You Should Hire for Personality Over Skill

hire for personality

When hiring for most roles in commercial real estate, the primary considerations are of course previous experience and relevant skills. Many CRE professions require specialized knowledge and skills to succeed. However, you might be overlooking the most important hiring criteria: personality.

Making a bad hire can have a ripple effect through your whole organization, so it’s critical to hire for personality and train for skills. After all, you can teach skill. But character and attitude are forever.

Effective Interviewing

Hiring for personality is easier said than done. So, it’s important to start with an effective interviewing approach. Behavioral interviews are the best, because they reorient the focus on the personality and innate attitudes of the prospect rather than just data sets on a resume.

Setting aside the CV and stereotypical interview questions, you will be able to gauge the potential new hire’s character and ability to think on their feet. What sort of outlook do they have? Are they principled and honest? You can learn a lot from focusing less on the technical side of the interview and more on the way the interviewee responds to different scenarios.

This is important, because no employee is an island. Each interview should look at how this person will impact the team as a whole. Are they a bad apple? Or are they a good cultural fit? This matters far more than the number of years they have in a similar role.

Character Matters in Business

Often overlooked entirely or thrown out as a cliché, strong values and character in the workplace really are essential. CRE professionals who own up to their mistakes or provide transparency to the client or pull their share of the weight on a property are crucial. A highly experienced team member without integrity in the workplace will end up costing the company in the long run.

Working with professionals with a strong sense of ethics and character on the job are a pleasure to work with. They build team cohesion. Their attitude is contagious. And they create an environment of trust and growth that allow for greater achievements.

But character and integrity are a function of one’s personality, not training. You cannot teach this to a new hire, no matter how many seminars you send them to. A candidate may have the most experience and the longest list of applicable skills on their resume, but without the right personality, they will prove to be a bad hire and wind up costing you money.

Critical Personality Traits That Trump Skill

Still unsure if you should really hire for personality first and foremost? Consider the following personality traits and whether they’re more or less important than skills you can teach your new hire.

Positive: This means your new hire won’t complain and nag team members. Instead of dragging down office morale, they will boost others at crucial moments.

Open-Minded/Flexible: CRE is an ever changing and fast-paced industry. An employee who is flexible and open-minded will see the big picture and solve problems to get to the goal, taking risks when necessary.

Independent/Different: It might seem counterintuitive, but some candidates who seem different and an awkward cultural fit on the surface can actually be incredibly valuable employees. These independent types ask questions no one else is asking and strike out on their own when a fresh perspective is needed.

Collaborative: Teamwork is essential in any business. A candidate with an eagerness to collaborate with others and team up will prove invaluable.

It’s All About Perspective

Personality is important because of the following axioms:

    1. Skills can be trained.
    2. Experience can be gained.
    3. But DNA cannot be changed

When you have the right perspective and understand how personality builds a successful team, you will see the value of making a hire for personality and attitude.

Great hires have a coachable personality that allows them to learn fast and grow. Sir Richard Branson says most people can learn most everything about a job role in just three months anyway.

Great hires represent your company and demonstrate its corporate values and ethics. They are the face of your organization, so skill should be secondary to a winning personality and principled character.

Great hires inspire those around them to excel. Whereas a bad hire, no matter how qualified, can drag the team down, resulting in damaged corporate culture, wasted money, damaged reputation, etc.

It’s important to view the hiring process as an opportunity to add people to your team, not just skills to your team’s collective skillset. Of course, skills and experience are critical factors in a good hire. But great CRE companies are only as good as the people – and personalities – who make them up.

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