Why Hiring for Personality Alone Is a Very Bad Idea

Making a Hiring MistakeDid you hire an employee based on personality only to realize they are not the right candidate for the job?

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Let’s say you are hiring an executive administrative assistant for a VP. The job posting reads: “I am looking for an employee who can work independently, multi-task, and stay organized. The employee should have a strong experience with spreadsheets, creating presentations, scheduling (including travel), and preparing for meetings.”

The top resumes are selected. The applicants are pre-screened and tested. The top five candidates are scheduled to interview. The selection process is about to begin.

When the Interview Goes Wrong

You greet the applicant, review the duties and ask the questions. You know this is the time to identify the applicant’s skills, availability, and ideal job in order to select the top two or three for the second round of interviews. You also know you need to find the candidate whose skills match the description the Vice President has outlined. But what happens if you find a personal connection with an applicant? Even as a recruiter, you might not even notice the applicant did not answer the questions adequately or that the personal connection turned the interview into a conversation. As a result, you hire the candidate and overlook that the decision was based on personality. You hope the new employee will impress the VP as much as the applicant impressed you during the interview, and you don’t realize realize this is the time to cross your fingers and hope for the best.

When hiring, sometimes an interview goes off track because of a common connection. It may be you attended the same college, live in the same area, or have similar likes and interest. As a recruiter you must be able to enjoy those moments when meeting an applicant, but remember when the VP’s new employee pops into your office and announces, “I really hate to leave you without notice, but I found something in my field and they want me to start Monday.” The recruiter is the one who has established a friendly connection with the employee, and now they have to inform the VP that their new employee just quit and is not giving notice.

Now What?

The recruiter may be shocked that the employee did not mention they were looking for a job in their field during the interview. They might even be surprised the employee is not giving any notice. The recruiter may feel upset that the employee is quitting without a care. The employee feels it is okay because the recruiter established a connection during the interview. The recruiter never asked if they were taking a summer vacation or if they were looking for a job in their field. The recruiter hired the employee based on personality and overlooked the important questions. This maybe the first time the recruiter pulls out the notes taken during the interview, and realizes the employee was not asked any of the questions. The recruiter allowed the connection to become a conversation. The applicant was not really interviewed, but the enjoyable conversation turned the applicant into an employee. The recruiter now has to pick up the phone and call the VP… Only to hear, “WHAT! Didn’t you cover that during the interview?”

A good recruiter will remember the other candidates who interviewed for the position. Grab the phone and call the candidate that should have be selected for the position. Confirm the candidate is available, check if they have any need for time off, review the policy and ask if they are still interested. A good recruiter will have a solution in place before they call the VP and share the news. This shows the VP the recruiter can create a solution, while making the disappointment of a new employee quitting less of an issue.

The Moral of the Story

As a recruiter you select the candidate. It is a reflection of your ability to perform your job. Any applicant can overlook mentioning a vacation. Any employee many be offered their dream job, and quit without notice. Employers face these issues daily, but a recruiter should focus on qualifying an applicant during the interview. Remember to ask the important questions during an interview. Establish the office protocol, and review the company policies with the applicant. Every recruiter wants to reduce turnover by hiring employees who want the position. Always create a professional relationship, enjoy the connection, but be in control of the interview, stay on track, and make sure to ask the question to identify the best candidate for the job. After all it is an interview — not a conversation with a friend.

About the Author
Diane Bogut is from Wexford, PA, and is a former manager of a staffing firm in Pittsburgh, PA. You may reach her by email at authorleximichaels@yahoo.com or on Facebook.

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