Historically, recruitment was done in a very pragmatic way. Recruiters would fill roles based upon a candidate’s experience, skill set, and their match to the official job description. These days, companies are giving more value to soft skills - things like attitude, temperament, and personality - when considering potential employees.
Hiring based upon soft qualities (more on these below) has many benefits, including:
Broadening your hiring pool
In not limiting yourself solely to one candidate who matches a list of skills, you expand your reach in your search for someone to fill the role. The perfect Customer Service candidate for example may not be someone who has filled the same role within another company and who knows the software and processes, but instead is a person from an entirely different industry. This person would have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, with the ability to learn the technical aspects.
Developing the culture of your company
Hiring someone based on cultural fit - such as working pace, collaboration style, and general approach to the role and team - generally leads to a more cohesive team. Members tend to work together better as a collective when working styles are similar.
That said, it is possible to go too far in limiting to a cultural match. It’s one thing to seek someone with similar working styles for a collaborative environment, and another to seek to hire someone whose personality and outlook are similar to other team members. It’s good to keep in mind that diversity is important because it brings fresh ideas and perspectives. A study done by Northwestern University, revealed that teams with “outsiders” (those who didn’t fit the mold of an existing core group) introduced before undertaking an exercise, were significantly more successful in solving the presented equation than those without.
Sometimes, hiring based upon cultural fit means fitting a “cultural misfit” in to the team.
Hiring a candidate based on the current necessary skill set can be a limitation - just because a skill or understanding of a certain program or process is favourable now, does not mean it will be necessary later. In the ever-changing corporate environment, it is impossible to anticipate what will be necessary in a few years’ time. To have long-term employees with an understanding of various systems, increases their employment longevity.
As mentioned above, soft skills are important for the evaluation of candidates. But what sort of qualities should recruiters and hiring managers look out for? Forbes asked 14 members of their coaching council this question, and got a variety of answers, including:
Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
At its core, EQ is the “ability to identify and manage your emotions and those of others”. Ultimately, having team members with a high EQ can contribute heavily to a more harmonious workplace.
Curiosity and Adaptability
The business landscape is constantly changing, and with it, the need to innovate and adapt is crucial. With employees with a curious, explorational drive, a company can be sure to stay ahead of trends, develop new ideas, and move in a new direction with limited internal resistance to the change. This coupled with a learning mindset, means employees will be eager to pick up new skills and understanding when the need arises.
A great communicator is not only well-spoken, but possesses ability in the other forms of communication: listening (the ability to hear and understand others’ messages), non-verbal (such as body language), written, and visual (including using presentations to convey messages). A well-rounded communicator is a huge asset to any team.
There are many factors to finding the right employee, and many elements to consider. It can be tempting to look only for someone who matches the job description of the available role, but engaging candidates with this type of restriction is outdated and highly limits the ability to find great employees in unexpected places.
DPO Group are advocates of finding the right blend of soft and hard skills - by removing unconscious bias from their process, the group has hired extremely talented individuals across the continent.