Skills vs personality: is there a clear winner?

Sponsored: David Ardis, business development manager at Talent Hive, helps you decide between skills and personality when recruiting for your next position

Which would you choose: good eye contact and a firm handshake or a CV packed full of qualifications? The answer in most cases would probably be ‘it depends’.

It depends on whether the role is public-facing or task-focused. It depends on the current team and what supports them to be at their best. But most importantly it depends on the culture of the school and what is the best fit.

Your employees are your brand; they are the embodiment of your culture and your reputation will be heavily impacted, positively and negatively, by the way that employees work and carry themselves on a daily basis.

In a world which is becoming more and more reliant on online tools, are we missing out on the future stars because we overlook more traditional techniques and processes?

Online recruitment tools most certainly play an important part in the initial search for relevant applicants, but is this the first point at which we could miss out on the perfect person?

The CV is a view of performance in past roles and there is a risk that they may never hit those dizzying heights with a different company, in a different environment, with a new team, different processes and software.

And should skills not be taught, even in a fast-paced environment? We now have more tools than ever at our disposal to support the search for our future colleagues:

● Behavioural or personality tests can support and assess some traits, perceptions and the likelihood of how an applicant would react in some situations.
● Emotional intelligence or psychological tests give a view of the ability to understand their own emotions as well as others’.
● Cognitive tests are used to measure intelligence through memory, reasoning, reading and mathematics.
● Skills-based tests are a direct test of the skills required for the role.

However, even with all of these scientific tools at our disposal, have we put enough in place to ensure that we recruit the best candidate?

I have recently reviewed a number of person specifications for roles within the independent education sector and the number of competency-based skills greatly outweighs the personality traits required. As an example, a recent specification contained 42 items required for the role. Only one of these items encompassed characteristics.

So how then do we get the right cultural fit for the position?

Conversation and clear communication are key to successful recruiting. If we do not tell the applicant about the culture, aspirations and goals of the school then they cannot make a conscious decision on whether they can be successful. Equally, if we do not ask about how they like to work, what their working relationships are like in their current employment and what their goals and aspirations are, then we cannot support an environment where our teams excel.

In a recruitment market where cultural fit, working environment and work/life balance are becoming an increasingly important factor when looking for a role, surely this should be high on the list?

There are varying figures surrounding the importance of good cultural fit, but most agree that around 73% of professionals have left a role because of a poor cultural fit – this is not to say that there was a poor business culture.

At Talent Hive our vision is simple – to make it enjoyable to recruit the right people. We understand that recruitment isn’t just a tick-box exercise and finding the right candidates can be a long and stressful process. For us, personality, working style and ambition are all important factors that go above and beyond a candidate’s CV.

Only by integrating these characteristics into our recruitment process can we work with our clients to establish which applicants fit your business the best.

For more information about this article or our services, please contact


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