Hiring Beyond the skills part 2

Hiring Beyond the Skills: What Top CEOs Look for in New Hires (Part 2)

In Leadership Resources by Brandt A. HandleyLeave a Comment

After years of interviewing hundreds of CEOs on ROI’s Into the Corner Office podcast and also being a recruiter myself, skills often take a back seat to the personality traits, attitude, and culture fit that top CEOs look for when adding to their team. Our “Hiring Beyond the Skills” article series explores some of the traits and attributes that leaders look for in today’s environment.

We’ve all heard the proverb that says something along the lines of, “If you want to go fast, travel alone. If you want to go far, travel together.” That idea of collaboration and effort-sharing is one of the areas that CEOs interview for that is beyond the hard skills needed for the job.

Dave Hataj, President of Edgerton Gear, must emphasize hard skills because that’s what Edgerton is based upon, but all the hard skills in the world don’t matter if the spirit of collaboration isn’t there. “Does this person have the humility to be a team player? And if they don’t, if [we] smell just a hint of arrogance, [we] say no.” Dave and his team look for “An eagerness to be part of something bigger than themselves,” because their company’s culture includes being a great place to work, which won’t happen if everyone is in it just for personal gain.

Howdy Holmes, CEO of Chelsea Milling Company, has a great way of putting it: “When we look for people, we hire and make 70 percent of our hiring decision based on personality or character and not tasks. Our belief is that it’s far better to have people that can get along with each other than hire the smartest person who maybe has a personality of a rattlesnake.”

One approach that companies take to hiring beyond the hard skills is hiring to their core values. Dean Harrington, Founder and CEO of Shamrock Home Loans, uses the company’s five core values as a guide when hiring new team members. “One of the core values is a consistent daily demeanor, which we define kind of as be approachable, be somebody that’s approachable. Another one is positive influence–not a positive attitude, but positive influence. Be someone that makes others better. Another one is servant’s heart, which we consider to be someone that’s willing to listen and able to share.” 

Why emphasize these skills? Because they make the team stronger and happier, which makes the company stronger and more successful. “The result,” Howdy says, “is the unfair advantage because we have people that care about each other. We have people that understand that they have their teammates’ back and their teammates have their back as well. That is achieved by building relationships one on one. That’s the only way you can do it with all of our folks that are based on trust and respect.”

At ROI, we’re experienced interviewers who can get past the hard skills. Get in touch here.


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