Hire for Character and Train Skills

leaders“Hire Character. Train Skill.” – Peter Schutz

In this hyper-competitive environment where employers are battling for talent, the desire to shortcut the process and make an offer to someone is intense. However, hiring a cultural misfit will end up costing you so much time and money, not to mention aggravation, it’s rarely worth it.

Peter Schutz says hire for character. I call it hiring for values, but it’s essentially the same thing. Most companies have identified their values but rarely actually use them in the hiring process. Hiring is exactly the time to put them to good use and to really embed them in your company culture.

The first step is to make sure your hiring manager or managers know what the values are and hopefully, they embrace them. If they don’t, you need to sort that out first because hiring more people who have opposing values or simply don’t share the values of the company is a problem. Next, create 4-7 values-based behavioral questions and use them in every interview, multiple times. A person can generally make something up once, repeating the same exact lie is difficult so it’s easy to spot when someone is not truthful.

It’s important to be clear that this is not the same as screening for introverts, strengths or other personality characteristics, this is questioning for values.  Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about (more available in my book, chapter 4 on Hiring):

  • Teamwork – Describe a situation where others who you were working with on a project disagreed with your ideas. What did you do?
  • Tenacity/Resilience – Tell me about a particular work-related setback you have faced – how did you deal with it?
  • Creativity – Tell me about a time when you solved a problem in a unique or unusual way? What was the outcome? How did you feel about it?
  • Integrity/Honesty – Tell me about a time when your integrity was challenged, how did you handle it?
  • Adaptability – Tell me about a situation in which you have had to adjust to changes over which you had no control, how did you handle it?

First, you will get an idea of what their definition of the value is and second you will get an understanding of whether they “fit” your organizational culture or not.

Values and character are at the heart of an employee “fitting” into an organization. Assuming they come with the basic understanding, training or pre-requisites for the job, you can teach them any skills they may lack. Values, on the other hand, are hard-wired. Someone either believes a certain way, or they don’t. You can’t change them and you will end up letting them go because they don’t fit if you don’t screen up front.

photo credit: Bestpicko Business Shaking hands via photopin (license)