Mr Good v Mr Grumpy - is hiring for personality the best way to find top employees?

Is hiring for personality the best way to find top employees?
2nd May 2017 handh

Mr Happy, Mr Bump, Mr Tickle. These characters are practically household names. If you didn’t grow up reading about them, you’ll most probably have heard about their wacky adventures somewhere down the line.

Of course, we’re referring to none other than the Mr Men, the peculiar, eccentric stars of Roger Hargreaves’ beloved book series who’ve been entertaining and enchanting youngsters for over four decades.

While the Mr Men have permeated many a family home over the years, what likely no-one expected is that they’d one day turn up in our workplaces too. But that’s exactly what’s happened in the offices of UK shoe repair and key-cutting business Timpson.

In fact, the company’s owner, John Timpson, exclusively hires Mr Men.

His recruitment process is based solely on candidates’ personalities, dependent on which Mr Men characters they most resemble. Instead of words, the company’s hiring assessment form contains only pictures of different Mr Men, ready to be circled according to how accurately each candidate matches up to a particular character.

If you’re like Mr Happy, for instance, then the chances are you’ll be picked for the job – if you’re a Mr Lazy, though, then you really haven’t got a hope in hell.

This novel idea spawned from Mr Timpson’s belief that you can train someone up for a particular job, but you can’t train their personality.

And it seems to be not entirely without merit – a study conducted with over 500 business leaders found that 78% consider personality the most important quality in a candidate, with skillset surprisingly bringing up the rear.

Clearly, Timpson is doing something right. And they’re not alone – businessman extraordinaire Sir Richard Branson is also a staunch proponent of hiring on personality. And given that his Virgin Group has practically infiltrated every industry possible, it seems that hiring staff based on their personalities rather than skillset really is the way to go.

An escape from the inescapable CV – cue job candidates everywhere heaving a huge sigh of relief!

But as we undergo the modern technological revolution, we’re living in an economy so desperately crying out for skilled employees that surely hiring solely based on personality is actually absurdly counter-intuitive. Wouldn’t we all just be shooting ourselves in the foot?

It goes without saying that both skillset and personality are incredibly important in building a company that flourishes with a culture that excites. A company of highly skilled Scrooges would be equally as fallible as one with low-skilled Mr Happies.

So surely the logical answer is to always strike a balance between the two, recognising stand-out ability without overlooking the character it’s attached to – the perfect formula for an employee truly worthy of the Mr Men?