When you recruit: are skills or personality more important?

In engineering and manufacturing recruitment these are questions we find employers often ask themselves:

Would you rather hire someone with the ideal skills or experience? Or would you prefer someone whose personality makes them the best fit for your organisation?

The case for personality over hard skills

Some employers are resolute that a new recruit must tick all of the required points on the job specification – and sometimes beyond – before they will even consider hiring.

Others recognise that you can teach a person new skills. But melding a difficult or divergent personality into your team? That’s much more difficult.

Of course, you are likely to have your “must-haves” for a new team member in terms of day-one hard skills. Especially if you are undertaking manufacturing or engineering recruitment for a role that needs to be filled and start operating at full output immediately.

Yet there’s a lot to be said for selecting a new hire whose personality and communication style fit well with your team, treating that as the perfect “base” to “build” your own ideal employee on when it comes to their skills.

Understanding employee motivation and performance

There’s another way to consider this question – and it’s based on one important fact:

When it boils down to it, what most employers are looking for from their new hires is great job performance over time. Great job performance is intrinsically tied to employee motivation.

Today, more people than ever before – especially younger generations – say they value jobs that offer them training and support above salary and benefits. Some estimates say that over 80% of the current job market feels this way.

That’s a brilliant opportunity for businesses that want to attract the best young talent. Show that personality and a desire to grow and receive training – to be “built” into the ideal team member – are most important to you when hiring and you could reap the rewards.

Before you know it, you could have built your team into an even more dedicated, eager and highly motivated group of workers.

Understanding employer goals and company culture

As a specialist manufacturing and engineering recruitment agency, Ernest Gordon has a great deal of experience working with employers with a wide variety of goals and company cultures.

This often means trying to dig past a straightforward job specification in order to understand an employer’s deeper values and objectives. Because otherwise, how can we be sure of delivering the kind of potential recruits that you are looking for?

Time and again, the success and happiness of new employees and their employers come down to accuracy of cultural fit.

For example, a company that has designed its own culture to be impeccably professional may not be the ideal place for a radical thinker. Equally, a company that values innovation at the expense of other factors might not be the right home for someone who values doing things by the book.

Hiring for the future

Each of the above scenarios is true no matter what a new hire’s skillset may say about them. This means that having your engineering or manufacturing recruitment process concentrate on personality at least as much as skills will stand you in the best stead.

You may have to commit some time or resources to get your new recruit’s hard skills to the exact point you want them to be at. Yet you will also have the opportunity to mould them into the skills configuration that’s perfect for your job role. Again, that’s something that an overwhelming majority of people in today’s job market see as being desirable.

The alternative is to focus on skills to the exclusion of personality. And personality, for all it sounds like it is something that should be much more malleable, usually turns out to be the one thing that is set in stone.

Are you trying to find the ideal candidate for a job role? Not sure whether to focus on skills or personality? Or both?

Let’s talk about it. Ernest Gordon is a specialist engineering and manufacturing recruitment company.

We find the right new team members for organisations up and down the UK every single day.