When — and How — to Hire for Personality Instead of Skill

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The needs of your company are constantly changing — sometimes even before you realize it. The best way to handle these changes successfully is by building a workforce comprised of employees who can fearlessly face change head-on.

Unfortunately, courage in the face of change is not something you can teach, at least not directly. Employees who know how to anticipate and adapt to challenges did not learn to do so in school. Instead, they utilize a combination of hardwired emotional intelligence, intrinsic dedication, and courageous characteristics, all honed over many years of life and professional experience.

When you can’t train for the skills you need, your only choice is to hire people who already have those skills. But how can you tell whether a candidate has the attributes required to thrive in the face of change? Perhaps more importantly, how do you justify hiring a candidate with the perfect character traits but not all the technical skills you wanted?

What Does ‘Personality’ Entail?

Before we go any further in this discussion about hiring for personality, we need to clarify a few things.

First of all: “Personality” does not simply mean “first impressions.” While first impressions can offer hints about a candidate’s character traits, personality is much deeper. A candidate’s true personality entails all the different qualities that contribute to their thoughts and behaviors.

When hiring for personality, your job is to uncover insights about how a candidate’s character could contribute to the success of your company. These insights might include anything from how the candidate handles stressful situations to their desire for continuous learning. These insights can tell you whether or not a candidate has what it takes to grow and evolve with the company.

When It Makes Sense to Hire for Personality

Hiring for personality isn’t always the right choice. Sometimes, skills clearly take precedence. However, there are a few circumstances in which a personality-based hire is the right call.

For example, entry-level positions are often good places to hire based on personality. A candidate who fits with the culture and has the drive to learn and gain experience is likely to become the kind of employee who develops alongside your company. You’re not just filling a low-level seat: You’re investing in the future of your business.

Management roles often call for personality-based hires as well. Hiring a great leader with all the skills and experience you could ever want is nearly impossible. Finding a candidate with dedication and initiative built into their bones is a little bit easier. They may not have all the experience you may think you need, but a manager whose leadership style aligns with your culture can always be taught new skills, whereas it’s much harder to change someone’s ingrained beliefs about how to be a manager.

In general, regardless of the position you need to fill, it’s always a good idea to look for a candidate with determination, adaptability, and the will to learn. Candidates with these qualities are often the most susceptible to training and the most eager to assimilate into a new culture.

Hire, Then Train: 11 Useful Personality Assessments

Realistically, it takes time for a person to reveal their true self to you. Unfortunately, we don’t always have time to wait in the hiring process. We need to move quickly to fill seats and hire top talent before competitors do. As a result, it’s not uncommon for hiring managers to learn too late that the new hire was actually a bad fit.

You’re not alone in having a rotten egg or two at your company. However, having the right recruiting tools from the start can help you uncover a candidate’s personality faster — and make better hires overall.

Personality assessments are great tools for gathering unbiased information on candidates. Used correctly, they can help you uncover both a candidate’s hard skills and their more intangible qualities, like problem solving and critical thinking. Personality tests can also be utilized to bolster the employee experience. The information yielded by these tests can be used to tailor onboarding and training programs to better suit individual employees’ needs.

For more expert HR insights, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

Looking for the right personality test for your hiring process? Start by researching these options:

1. AcuMax Index

AcuMax helps determine how someone communicates, engages with, and processes information. It is best for employers looking to understand how candidates may respond to an array of different situations.

2. Athena Assessment

Athena Assessment focuses on evaluating judgment. It is best for employers who want to know a candidate’s ability to make the right call.

3. Berke Assessment

Berke Assessment allows employers to mix and match different tests to assess the personality traits and problem-solving skills of a candidate. It is best for employers who need some flexibility to tailor assessments to their needs and the needs of various roles.

4. Criteria Corp

Criteria Corp offers a variety of tests to help employers assess various skills and attributes. It is best for employers that want quick, data-packed results.

5. HR Avatar

HR Avatar creates simulated workplaces in which candidates reveal their abilities in a range of real-life situations. It is best for employers that need to know how a candidate will perform in certain real-world scenarios.

6. Saberr

Saberr helps determine if a candidate is a good fit for a company’s or team’s culture, allowing employers to cross-reference candidates’ traits with those of other members of the team.

7. SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire

The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire assesses how a candidate’s behavior impacts their performance. It is best for employers in search of a reliable, established assessment.

8. StaffGeek

StaffGeek uses candidate profiles to match people to work cultures and predict job fit. It is best for employers looking to ensure a long-term match between candidate and company.

9. The Predictive Index

The Predictive Index assesses workforce behavior and performance. It is best for employers that need quick insights into candidates’ natural motivators.

10. Traitify

Tratify uses images to reveal a candidate’s personality by asking users to assess whether certain images are “me” or “not me.” It is best for employers who want quick insight into candidates’ conceptions of themselves.

11. Indeed Assessments

Indeed Assessments allows employers to evaluate high-priority skills and dive deeper into candidates’ personalities. It is best for employers who need to gather a lot of information efficiently.

Character traits are not something you can teach, so when you need candidates with certain soft skills, your best bet is to hire based on personality and then teach the hard skills. Building a great team this way is hard, but by using these tools, you may have an easier time discerning candidates’ personalities and determining whether they will be good fits for your company.

Keysha Rolon is an account manager at Breezy HR.

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Working as an account manager at Breezy HR has allowed Keysha to dive into SaaS and leverage her background in recruiting, HR, and candidate experience management. She has worked with employees across all sectors and understands the importance of maintaining a people-over-profit mentality. Few things make her happier than facilitating a new path for someone, except maybe Taco Tuesday.