What's More Important When Hiring - Personality or Experience?

Posted April 28, 2015

It is a common question faced by many hiring managers: What is a more important trait for a candidate – personality or experience? Finding job applicants that boast both attributes simultaneously is the ultimate hope, but sometimes a decision between the two needs to be made. Ultimately, the answer truly depends on the type of work being performed.

Let's look more closely at the issue.

Technical Positions Require Experience and a Robust Skill Set

If your company is looking for a new employee to fill a technology-related role, then a candidate's experience and their technical skill set trump personality when it comes to making a final hiring decision. While a good personality helps out when working on a technology team requiring a lot of interaction, like with the Agile or DevOps methodologies, if that person can't actually do the work, they actually end up costing your company over time.

Make sure that any candidate is able to perform all technical duties of any job before taking any personality traits into account – even when not hiring for a technology position. Accountants need to know a variety of accounting software packages like the back of their hand; draftspersons must be able to use AutoCAD quickly and accurately.

Obviously, any senior-level positions definitely require a significant amount of professional experience performing the job duties for which you are hiring. This is an area where a good personality helps – especially in a managerial, supervisory, or team lead role – but it isn't an absolute requirement.

Jobs Where Personality May Be More Important than Experience

There are times, however, where personality trumps experience when interviewing a candidate. Positions that are primarily public-facing – most notably in the sales role within any industry – need employees with good personalities that are comfortable dealing with people. It probably isn't a good idea to hire a shy programming wizard to sell software applications in a B2B market.

Of course, that technical sales position described above needs a person with the personality to thrive on cold calls as well as the technical acumen to be able to fully understand and explain the application they are selling. In this situation, a relatively inexperienced person fresh out of school works well, provided they are sharp enough to understand their market and how the software makes a positive difference for interested businesses.

In short, when hiring for a public-facing position, primarily in sales, a candidate's personality is probably more important than their experience level. On the other hand, jobs that require a specific skill set or technical ability need experienced employees. Finding candidates with both traits is the Holy Grail for many hiring managers.

If your company needs additional advice on building a top-notch staff, talk to the experts at Ambassador Personnel. As one of the top full-service agencies in the country, we can help your organization succeed. Schedule some time with us today!