Jonathan Abelson, director at specialist recruitment consultancy, MERJE
In the financial space, experience and qualifications used to be the most important elements when making an appointment but recently, we’ve seen a move towards companies wanting candidates that not only have relevant experience and specialist qualifications, but who also have the right personality.
The increasing importance of “soft skills”
In today’s market, when assessing potential candidates, companies are now placing a greater emphasis on soft skills, such as how quickly an individual can adapt and solve problems, as well as how effectively they’re able to lead and motivate their peers. Equally, organisations aren’t just looking for individuals who can take instruction but those who can be self-sufficient.
On top of this, it’s vital that candidates are able to fit into the corporate culture. Those that do tend to perform better and express greater job satisfaction, therefore staying within the organisation for longer.
Clients also need to be able to gauge whether a candidate will work well within the existing team. Successful teamwork creates synergy, leading to more effective management and more productive employees.
Due to the fast pace of today’s business environment, combined with elements such as constantly changing regulations, the modern requirement is for someone that is commercially minded and flexible in their approach. Entrepreneurial businesses need people that can operate and thrive within that environment. They want people that don’t just do things because they have always been done that way.
The perfect fit
Whatever your role and job title, you are now expected to engage with people across the board, to work in multi-disciplinary teams and help the business grow and develop.
In a tight economy with fewer jobs and more candidates, clients not only have the luxury of demanding that potential employees can hit the ground running, but also that a candidate ‘fits’ with the organisation and can develop within the role.
In fact, companies may be tempted to hire a less experienced candidate if they believe them to be a better cultural fit. There’s also a chance that they’ll recruit from outside the financial sector completely. Clients are surrounded by people that know the industry, so it can be refreshing to bring in people with a different approach.
A CV is merely an overview of an individual’s work experience and qualifications, so is only the starting point in the recruitment process. Companies need to dig a little deeper to assess a candidate’s personality and potential. One common question that Chief Executives and Managing Directors often pose about potential colleagues is whether they could go for a post-work drink with them.
Evaluating a candidate’s personality
So how can you ‘evaluate’ someone’s personality? A common test used by employers is a method developed by Saville & Holdsowrth called the Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ). Many companies use it as a selection tool, and if a candidate fails to fulfil expectations, they will not progress to the next stage.
While this method does have its merits, there is an inherent danger in relying on testing; while they are designed to give an accurate picture of a candidate’s personality, people still tend to answer the questions according to what they think a company wants to hear, rather than truthfully.
As a dynamic and growing industry, FinTech is just one sector that is increasingly adding a social element to their interview process, taking the meeting out of a formal setting, going for dinner or drinks for example, to assess a candidate’s social interaction.
These personal relationships are crucial. At senior management and board level in particular, we find that the wrong job in the right company can work but the right job in the wrong company will never work. You end up spending more time with your colleagues at work than anywhere else so if you don’t get on, the job can only last so long.
A company’s “personality”
When we talk to candidates, they usually express a preference to work in either a corporate or entrepreneurial environment or it is clear from their CV which they are more suited to. Corporate roles generally offer greater job security, opportunities to progress, a clear career path and better benefits. Whereas entrepreneurial roles usually offer more flexibility, and a faster pace, with quicker decision making and less office politics.
Whether you’re making a hire or looking for a new role, the importance of “personal intelligence” cannot be underestimated as you look to understand yourself and other people.
For more information visit; MERJE