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November 19, 2010 No Comments

Finding the Perfect Hire: Traits are More Important Than KSAs!

I was talking the other day to a friend about a recent hire their company made.

There were several highly skilled, knowledgeable people in the running for the position.  This position had been filled several times over the past few years and management was willing to take extra time in the process in order to find the right person who was willing to make a long-term commitment to the organization.  Having gone through several people they did not want to make the same mistakes they had in the past.

They conducted group interviews to get feedback from several team members throughout the organization; they did extensive reference checks on the individuals’ backgrounds; they put scenarios before the candidates and asked them how they would handle each situation; they posed real-life issues in the organization and asked the candidates if they had any solutions they might suggest; they had senior management spend considerable time with each candidate.  Sounds like a good plan, right?

The process took many months to complete and they finally chose who they thought was the “perfect” person.  Well, guess again.

After two months things are not what they seemed to be during the interview process.  Although the person possessed the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs), the person does not possess the traits that would make them compatible with the rest of the team.  They have great ideas but their approach on how to implement change is not cutting it.  Staff is finding the individual abrasive, offensive and not considerate of others.  I am not saying that the individual needs to be “warm and fuzzy” but there should be some consideration for those who have been in the trenches, dealing with the battles without a leader.  Someone once said that the only one who likes change is a wet baby.  Well there are ways to handle change that can make it more palatable for those involved.  This person just doesn’t have what it takes to bring the team together.  Rather than rallying the troops, they are alienating them. 

This is a common mistake made in the hiring process.  Possessing the right traits and personality is so much more important than knowledge, skills and abilities.  Traits are not as easily learned as KSAs.  When looking for the right person, it is so important to look at the whole person and not just segments of their constitution.  In the case of my friend and their current situation, they are now “stuck” with another bad hire.  They need to cut their losses and move on.  I only hope they’ll listen to some sound advice before making the next move.

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