Competencies or Character – Which is essential in hiring?

Hiring in the context of demanding needs of modern day business is not mere filling positions. With human resources function shifting to the role of a business partner, hiring has become a strategy to acquire talent that fits into the company’s business goals. So competencies do count when talent is referred to. But what about character or integrity? Does it fit into the scheme of things?

The views may vary. Some hiring managers may lay more emphasis on character which in other words is called integrity than on competencies. Their argument can be that employees can be trained in skills or skills may be outsourced but integrity is not a skill to be instilled by training but a trait that is inherent. A dishonest but a competent employee might leak business secrets to competitors. It is like living with a Trojan horse within the company.

But the compulsions of modern business want competencies to have due recognition in hiring. Technology has changed the way we do business. It shifted the paradigms of business. Ola and Uber run hundreds of vehicles without owning them. E-commerce permits companies to sell products without owning any shop. Everything is now fast paced and tech and skill oriented. All these crazy happenings in business led to the genesis of VUCA (Volatile, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) world. In this crazy business environment, corporates want people with competencies and knowledge to take off from day one of their joining lest they are afraid of loosing space to their competitors to fill in .So knowledge and skills in the domain are now critical to business growth, survival and success.

Then why integrity is a critical factor in selection? Companies store lot of data about their products, inventions and customers which is confidential and critical to the success of their business and is accessed by employees. Here employees’ trust is vital to the company to guard it. This apart, there are many other areas like sales, inventory and business development which are vulnerable to misappropriation of funds. Here integrity is crucial to company’s financial health. A dishonest employee can steal company’s property- both intellectual and material for personal gain. They are highly risky to a company. There is no insurance scheme to cover the losses caused by them.

Therefore competencies and character are both critical to hiring and finding a right balance is a little challenging to the hiring staff though.