Do you hire the same or hire different?

When it comes to bringing new people into your business it’s obvious to say that you need to understand what kind of person you want to add to the team.

But it’s not just in terms of the skills and experience that they have that you should be concerned with, or whether their goals align, but also in terms of whether they share the same characteristics as your team.

And we’re not talking demographic characteristics here, we’re talking personality characteristics.

Is your business full of alpha characters, and do you need more of them in order for the new person to survive and thrive? Or would a beta character help to balance out some of the jostling egos?

“Two men working back-to-back outside with a brick wall background” by rawpixel on Unsplash

Is your business full of quiet, thoughtful team members who happily go about their business, never speak up, and just get on with what they’re tasked with? Do you need more of the same, or would bringing in a challenger help shake things up and help you find improvements?

Team dynamics is key to the success of any organisation and striking a balance between similarities and differences is key.

Too much of one thing might mean not enough innovation. Too much of another might mean you’re forever chasing the new thing and no-one is looking at the current. Too many loners means no cohesion. Too many appeasers may mean slow progress.

Sir Russell Coutts, who led Oracle Team USA to win the America’s Cup sailing racing, said that “one of the hardest things to do” was resolving the balance between individual’s and the group.

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

It’s difficult to figure some of this out from a face-to-face interview, so many businesses are turning personality profiling to get to the bottom of who to hire, with the organisations as diverse as Buffer, the social media platform, and the New Zealand Army, all looking to figure out the right mix of characters to drive them forwards.

Finding that mix of introverts and extroverts is key, as is identifying those who have the emotional intelligence to figure out how to work with people who aren’t like them.

If you manage to develop a balance of personalities, then it becomes important to bring them together behind the one common goal, unifying their purpose yet all contributing from their area of strength

So it’s not always about finding an X type person, as sometimes what you’re looking for is a Y or a Z to fit alongside the Xs you already have. There’s more to hiring than just skills on a CV.

Did you consider personality and team dynamic when you last hired someone, or was it all down to pure functional skills?

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Rob was a professional soccer player, and cinema manager, before moving into software development 20+years ago. He was a founding team member at startup Ormsby Street and is now a founding member at Don’t Keep it to Yourself. He writes regularly for Real Business and Business Advice on small business matters. You can find more information at

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Helping people kick start their product management career at * Product person at Watchfinder

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