Who To Hire?

I’m perpetually surprised by how few companies seem to know the qualities they need in an employee.

Some can identify a skill or two, but often those are the exception rather than the rule. And the temptation in a time-consuming job search is to take a narrow/linear approach to finding ‘the right person’.

This is a mistake. Potentially costly. Possibly fatal.

The “hire for character, you can always teach skill” adage is a useful framework, particularly when hiring someone who will be responsible for critical deliverables like media relations, research or marketing strategies.

A balanced ego

Strong character hangs from the solid framework of a balanced ego, which includes all the positive “self” qualities: self-aware, self-motivated, self-restrained, self-confident.

The balance is maintained by a reasonable sense of judgment or perception – an ability to gauge oneself in relation to others in diverse situations.

Someone with a balanced ego won’t be right 100% of the time (because they can’t), but they should always be willing and able to self-correct.

On the other hand, an imbalanced ego creates a framework with potential weaknesses – all the negative “self” qualities: self-centred, self-seeking, self-righteous, selfish, and sometimes self-conscious. Unfortunately, these are often compounded by a lack of perception and an unwillingness to self-correct.

Character and company

With a balanced ego to anchor them all, desirable characteristics like curiosity, creativity, and eloquence become further assets for your company.

Candidates with these qualities are capable of focusing their curiosity and creativity on other people and their projects, not just their own. They bring their communication skills to bear as fluent interpreters between client and customer, or product and consumer.

A person with this kind of character doesn’t just work for your company—they are your company.

This post was edited for clarity on August 16, 2022.