Hiring for Success in SMEs: the Importance of Personal Qualities

“When you have the right people, they will require little motivation or management as they will work towards creating results on their own.”  – Jim Collins, “Good to Great”

Simply put, an organization is a network of people who have a common objective; it benefits by a structure of roles and responsibilities, and a distribution of authority that guarantees that the organization functions well.

Recruitment Advice #1

Clarify the role, its scope and position in the organization, and then consider the personal and professional qualities of its future incumbent.

For me, the first rule of successful hiring is about the role, not the person. It is paramount to define as well as possible the role and to clarify the expectations everyone will have from the person taking it over.  In my experience, the person is the most important factor of success; for the person is equally important to know what is expected from her.

Recruitment Advice #2

Invite for the interview those candidates that have the right skills, knowledge or experience for the role; make sure that you ask the same questions to all candidates and look for simple and relevant examples of how they have learned or used these skills in their previous jobs.

While personal abilities count a lot in making it simpler to integrate and feel integrated in a new organization, it is useful to make sure that the new employee has a minimum of professional competencies, skills or knowledge to perform her role.

Recruitment Advice #3

Look for the right person, not only for the right candidate for your company.

Make sure that the candidate is the right person for your company. Look for compatibility between the current atmosphere and the new employee’s personal style because it is so helpful for the future employee-company relationship and for a harmonious company culture. A good initial match helps a lot.

Recruitment Advice #4

The candidate projects a positive self-image, self-confidence and is credible? Look for signs of balance and competence beyond what a person says. Try to “read” between the lines.

The way we communicate about ourselves and we are understood by the others is more often non-verbal than verbal. We form an opinion about other people in 15 to 40 seconds, through thousands of acoustic and visual signs received. When hiring, the personal image overall, the capacity to listen well, as well as the willingness to offer honest and complete answers are important signs for a positive future relationship. Needs to be said, though, that those 15 to 40 seconds are not enough to truly know someone, so give up any preconception you may have.

Recruitment Advice #5

Ask specific questions about past professional experiences and personal assumptions in general. The answers should offer a glimpse into the candidate’s attitude towards work and life.

When Recruitment Advice #2 is not applicable, then it is worth and may be very successful to invest in the person as such, more than the person’s professional abilities. Some of the personal qualities that may compensate the lack of experience are: work motivation, self-responsibility, positive personal engagement and, more practically, adaptability, customer centricity, communication skills and the ability to understand the company culture and its relationships system.

Recruitment Advice #6

Work motivation and personal values are essential to a good working relationship, though not easy to verify during the recruitment process. As much as possible, invite the candidate to speak about her beliefs, decision-making style perception of life in general during the interview.

Work motivation is about the desire to be part of the company, to contribute to achieving the company objectives and, in the end, about coming to the office or at work each day. Modern behavioural theories show that motivation – and thus engagement, may be influenced, but is in large part intrinsic.

My final advice is about the need for structured interviews, which inform a compare & contrast approach between candidates as professionals, as well as people. It is advisable to ask all candidates similar questions, have all interviews in the same place and in equal time slots. Best success!


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