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Hire Based on Traits

In our business, as probably with yours, we are always looking for talented people to fill key positions. Our scouting situation is more specifically created by growth, advancements within the company and retirements.

Over the last several months, several of our managers were looking to fill positions in their departments. Being an avid reader, I shared an article with two of those managers that I read in a trade magazine, Independent Dealer, written by Troy Harrison.

The paragraph that made this article notable to me was on “Hire based on the hiring hierarchy of Traits, then Skills, then Experience”. Both managers thought it was very helpful because we tend to weigh in heavily on experience first and skills second. “Most of the time, companies look for similar experience, test for job skills and ignore traits. Traits are those things that we just are.” said Troy.

How many do the same thing? It struck me when Troy noted, “American business has a 67% fail rate in hiring”. That doesn’t sound very good, does it?

Traits “are not coachable and teachable. I’m 5’10” tall” says Troy. “The best coach in the world isn’t going to make me seven feet tall so I’m probably not a good trait-fit for a job as a basketball center. That’s an extreme example, but hopefully the meaning comes across. A person who is a trait-fit for a job as an accountant is likely not to be trait-fit for a job as a salesperson, and vice versa.”

One of the managers started reviewing his best hires in the past couple of years. And guess what he found? The least experienced in that specific field but with personal traits that fit great with the position were outperforming those with experience but personal traits that were not quite the right fit. Now he has a template of traits to look for when hiring.

Moving forward, I expect hiring based on traits to continue within our company. Hopefully we find the right people to fit each position so it is a win for the employee, a win for our customers and a win for Eakes.