Why You Shouldn’t Hire Based on Likability Alone featured image

Why You Shouldn’t Hire Based on Likability Alone

By: Hero Frenzel

~ 4 minute read

Have you ever found yourself instantly drawn to a candidate’s charming personality, only to later discover they weren’t the right fit for the job?

Talent acquisition can be tricky. Finding the ideal candidate is more than a mere race to fill a vacancy; it’s aligning skills, behaviors, and values to find the perfect unicorn who will excel in the role and boost company culture. The journey from sifting through piles of resumes to finally welcoming a new team member is often long and arduous. But what happens when your first impression fades away? You need to have a plan in place to hire objectively, without sacrificing speed.

The Charmer’s Trap: When likability Clouds Judgement

Now, let’s talk about the allure of Mr. or Ms. Congeniality. We’ve all been there – swayed by a candidate who could charm the socks off a mannequin. It’s easy to get caught up in the razzle-dazzle of a sparkling personality. But here’s the punchline: being the life of the party doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll breathe life into the role at hand. 

For hiring managers, the lure of a likable personality is often tempting. What’s more, it’s human nature to gravitate towards people who are similar to ourselves. However, this approach brings significant leadership challenges. Attempting to clone yourself in the workplace can overshadow the objective evaluation of a candidate’s suitability for a role. This bias towards likability can lead to overlooking essential skills and behaviors necessary for the job. TL;DR: It’s not enough to like a candidate, they need to be able to perform the job well.

Consider the allure of extroverted candidates. We love extroverts! Their charisma and approachability make them naturally likable. But hiring the next office comedian may not get you the last laugh. For the inexperienced hiring manager, it’s tempting to assume that these traits alone can drive success in any role. Yet, this is a common pitfall. Extroverts may shine in roles requiring constant interaction and teamwork, but what if the job demands a different behavioral profile? This is where the concept of talent optimization comes into play.

Strategic Hiring Leads to Talent Optimization

Instead of relying solely on gut feelings or personal preferences, talent optimization focuses on aligning business strategy with human capital development. The objective is to place people in roles where they can thrive, not just where they can fit in. In other words, put the right people in the right seat.

For a more effective hiring method, first identify the specific behaviors needed for the role before you look at applicants. We’re not just talking about words per minute or scrum master certifications, but work style. Are you looking for someone who can work independently, handle repetitive tasks, or maybe someone who thrives in a team environment? Once these parameters are set, tools like the Predictive Index assessments help gauge a candidate’s natural behaviors and tendencies, offering insights beyond what a resume can reveal.

Quit wasting time with this simple, objective process:

  1. Assess the needs of the position you’re hiring for.
  2. Assess the natural style and strength of your candidates.
  3. Select those with a behavioral match for an interview.

By assessing first, you’ll save time during the phone screen and interview process because you’re moving forward with candidates whose behaviors are predisposed to succeeding at the job, even if their experience is a little lacking. You can train skills and certifications. You can’t train work styles.

A Tale of Mismatched Expectations

Let me share a story that underscores this point. A company once hired a candidate, we’ll call them Jerry, who was exceptionally friendly and extroverted. During the interview, Jerry’s energy and charm were undeniable. However, two months into the role, it was clear something was amiss. The job was like asking a stand-up comedian to work in a library. The new employee craved interaction, but the job craved a headphone-wearing, spreadsheet-loving introvert. Even though Jerry was skilled at spreadsheets, they became disengaged and miserable– a stark contrast to the initial vibrancy seen in the interview. It wasn’t long before Jerry was searching for their next gig and their manager was left wondering what happened. 

This story is true for countless organizations and candidates. While nobody lied, there was a misunderstanding (or miscommunication) of what the role needed vs. what the candidate needed to be engaged. This mismatch highlights a critical aspect of hiring – understanding the innate needs and behavioral patterns of candidates is crucial for long-term engagement and success (both for the organization and the individual).

Solving for X

So what do you do, if you’re stuck in a revolving door of candidates? You get data. Using tools like the Predictive Index can illuminate hidden aspects of both a job and a candidate before making a hiring decision. By assessing candidates against the specific behavioral demands of the role, you increase the likelihood of a harmonious fit. If Jerry’s manager had defined that the role required independent work and would not involve much social interaction, they either might not have hired Jerry or could have provided for Jerry’s extroverted style through one-on-ones, collaborative side projects, or other interactions. This approach of aligning behaviors from job to candidate not only benefits the employee, who finds more satisfaction in their work but also the organization, which sees higher productivity and lower turnover rates.

The leadership challenge today is not just about finding the best talent, but is also about optimizing their natural strengths. Human capital development is no longer a linear process of acquiring skills; it’s about nurturing the right behaviors and aligning them with the needs of the business. And no, this is not a rose-colored glasses mentality, it’s a strategic move. Strengths awareness leads to higher engagement and more productivity. By embracing tools like the Predictive Index, leaders can make more informed decisions, moving beyond the superficial allure of likability to uncover the true potential of their candidates.


To conclude, while it’s natural to be drawn to candidates who are likable, remember that successful hiring is about finding the right fit for the role and the organization. Unless you’re not interested in retaining your workforce. It’s about understanding the deeper aspects of a candidate’s behavioral profile and how it aligns with the job at hand, to produce long-term success. If you’re interested in exploring how the Predictive Index can transform your hiring process and drive talent optimization in your organization, reach out to MindWire. Gain the insights and tools you need to navigate the complexities of talent acquisition, ensuring that your next hire is not just likable, but truly the right fit.

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Hero Frenzel

Glue of MindWire with a flair for education, media creation, and team building. Baker, actress, family woman, and aspiring beach dweller fueled by coffee, tea, and joy.