Billionaire business mogul Richard Branson says that the single most important attribute when considering whether to hire someone is personality. This is even more important than if the person has the skills for the job.
People who are “fun, friendly, caring and love helping others” are winners and the rest of the job can be taught, he wrote in an column published on LinkedIn on Monday.
“You can learn most jobs extremely quickly once you are thrown in the deep end. Within three months you can usually know the ins and outs of a role. If you are satisfied with the personality, then look at experience and expertise. Find people with transferable skills — you need team players who can pitch in and try their hand at all sorts of different jobs. While specialists are sometimes necessary, versatility should not be underestimated.”
That’s an interesting way to think about staffing up the workforce, especially in the tech industry, where startups are in bidding wars for developers and designers with certain tech skills and a good track record.
He’s also not a big fan of what he calls “hiring in bulk,” where companies are so desperate to get help, that they relax their standards to fill the ranks. That would perhaps make him not so keen on the whole acqu-hire trend, unless the acquired company has a corporate culture that fits really well with the one doing the buying.
He also cautions managers to be careful of jumping to judgement about personality from one interview. Interviews are stressful and introverts can get a bit quiet while extroverts can get a bit over-the-top. He advises managers to make an effort to really see a person’s personality.
Yet, he says, managers shouldn’t be looking for a personality that conforms. It’s not about sameness, it’s about a well-balanced team.
“Don’t be afraid of hiring mavericks. Somebody who thinks a little differently … Some of the best people we’ve ever hired didn’t seem to fit in at first, but proved to be indispensable over time.”