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Look Beyond the “Likeability Factor” When Hiring New Employees

November 11, 2015 by Bruce Jones, Senior Programming Director, Disney Institute


Is “likeability” a factor that is overly relied upon in determining the future success of your potential new hires? While it’s probably still good practice to assess the likeability of a potential new hire, it would also be prudent to consider this 2005 article from Harvard Business Review, which speaks to both the pros and cons of what they refer to as “the likeability bias.”

Now, more recently, Fast Company shared seven characteristics to consider during the hiring process to help find employees who will be successful in a new job. According to the author, the seven traits cited can be used to help hiring managers predict an individual’s ability to be great performers.

Here’s where likeability comes in again - as an important component of “polish.” In fact, the hiring expert featured in the article says, “The thing that trumps everything is likeability. People want to be around and hire people they like. Hire people who are engaging and who will bring energy into a room or meeting.”

The argument these articles present together is worthy of some reflection: likeability, narrowly defined as a certain level of charm and/or personal attractiveness, is not sufficient for making a great hiring decision. Clearly, you must also find out whether or not someone will be a right-fit within your organizations unique culture, which includes the values you believe in and your expected workplace behaviors.

At Disney Institute, we believe that during the hiring process you must be very intentional in testing for cultural match and also in testing for cultural mismatch. Why? Because, when a candidate’s values and beliefs are already closely aligned with those of the organization’s, they will be that much more likely to be motivated and get involved once they are on the job, leading to even greater employee engagement. Of course, the reverse can be true as well.

So, what’s the first step to finding a right-fit cultural match? We agree with the article, which recommends asking “tons of questions” to understand what a great performer does on a day-to-day basis that makes them great. Then, construct your recruiting and selection processes to attract and uncover those attributes.

According to the article, it’s also important to recognize that; “leaders can assess this for their own organizations to come up with even more theses about what makes a top performer at their company.” That is truly the key – don’t just assume that you can apply these characteristics without a thorough understanding of what makes people great in your organization.

Want to learn more? Consider enrolling in our professional development training course, Disney’s Approach to Employee Engagement, which offers more insights from Disney’s time-tested business practices to help organizations and business leaders to be more successful at attracting and retaining the very best people to excel within their company culture.

Or, to learn more about Selection, please check out:

How can you be more intentional about looking for a cultural match during the hiring process?

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Posted in Employee Engagement | Tagged Hiring, Selection, Engagement, Employee Engagement, Culture, Workplace Culture, Company Culture, Organizational Culture, Bruce Jones


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