Being liked can be a key to help people move along in their business careers.
When hiring and promoting, the key ingredients to those being hired are "likeability" and likelihood of fit. And it is unlikely that "fit" will be determined by testing, since it ranks as dead last in terms of what organizations rely on when hiring.
About two-thirds of executives and managers rely on personality and likeability when hiring or promoting, based on a worldwide survey by NFI Research. And slightly more than two-thirds look for likelihood of fit when hiring or promoting. Those same business leaders say that their entire organization also relies on likeability as well as interviews when hiring and promoting.
When considering hiring and promoting, the things that matter to the least number of managers are testing, diversity and knowledge of the organization.
"Applicants can interview extremely well, test well, and have great skills and yet not be a good fit with your department or the organization," said one survey respondent. "So many variables come into play and there are some things you can't test or measure, and sometimes it comes down to liking the person and that good old gut feeling."
"While skills can be learned, personality traits are at the core of each person. Hiring for fit and growing the person, if necessary, seems more logical in the long run," said another.
"When hiring, I am looking for the intellectual curiosity that makes people look beyond the just-make-it-work attitude," said one information technology manager. "I need people that enjoy doing what they do as much as getting a paycheque. Having fun is not taxable."
Being somewhat open-minded can also help a career move, since the majority of executives and managers rely on a job candidate's willingness to learn.
"A person who can grow in the company is one who has the willingness to learn," said one survey respondent.
"Expectations from professionals have become so varied and quickly changing, that ability to learn, grow and adapt is quickly overshadowing job-specific skills as a deciding factor in a hiring decision," said another respondent.
Whatever the factors used in the hiring process are, the interview remains at the top of most managers' lists of what they rely on.
"An interviewer who is able to establish a connection with the potential employee and ascertain whether or not they will fit into the company's culture is an invaluable asset to any organization," said one respondent.
But managers also should be open-eyed during the interview process to delve more deeply into whom the candidate really is and what they might realistically contribute to the organization.
"A person that interviews well doesn't always make the best choice," said one manager. "People who bluff their way through an interview usually try to bluff their way through the job as well. This type of person is only as good as his bluff."
Different managers can approach hiring and promoting in any number of ways. "I've always used a very simple method," said one manager. "I would decide with the candidate how much time to spend together. The time was halved. In the first half I asked one question: Tell me about yourself. And the second half: Ask me any question you want about the firm, industry or position. I listened to the responses and questions and took careful notes and had a very successful hiring and retention rate."
So anyone looking for a new job or promotion might well be prepared to present their most "likeable" face, while those hiring and promoting need to determine if that likeability is what will create the best fit between the person and the business.
Chuck Martin is a best-selling business book author, his latest being, Tough Management (McGraw-Hill, 2005), the business fable "Coffee at Luna's" and the soon-to-be published "Smarts". He lectures around the world and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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