One very common mistake I see managers make when hiring new employees in China is hiring for hard skills only. They think: “We just need someone who has been doing XYZ in their previous company.” Here's why that's wrong...
Hiring For Success, Or Failure?
There is a high failure rate on new Chinese staff only hired due to having 'hard skills' and prior industry experience because psychological traits are neglected. New employees who are obvious misfits will leave early. There is very little understanding in most Chinese organizations of the reasons behind a success or failure in the hiring process.
What should HR managers look for in a candidate?
1. Candidate Eligibility Factors
You want an engineering manager? You’d like someone who has an engineering degree and has worked as a project manager, project management team leader, and/or engineering manager before for at least 5 years. That would make sense.
You want to hire a salesperson and you need him/her to have a driving license? Makes sense too.
Degrees, certifications, licenses, and past experience, are all eligibility factors. They are the “must-haves.” You certainly want to double-check them, too, as many (most?) CVs in China are fake to some extent.
However, eligibility factors are not sufficient to ensure the new recruit will do the job well.
2. Candidate Suitability Factors
We use a great tool (Harrison Assessments) for assessing the suitability of an individual for a particular job.
Let’s take an example. What do we look for when we hire a technical consultant at a junior level (0-5 years of experience)?
First, a consultant has to be capable of doing the job. There are specific eligibility factors (“industrial engineer for at least 2 years in a well-run factory,” “process engineer in a die casting shop for at least 3 years,” “production planner for a low-volume, high-mix producer,” etc.)
Second, there are psychological traits that will help the consultant deal with the technical aspect of his/her work (in no particular order):
- Analyzes pitfalls
Is that enough? No!!
Third, a consultant has to work well with other people over which he/she has no formal authority. So we also need to hire for these traits:
- Open / reflective
- Enlists cooperation
- Warmth / empathy
Fourth, it is important to hire people who won’t hate the job and quit prematurely. So these traits are important:
- Comfort with conflict
- Tolerance of bluntness
- Manages stress well
Fifth, we need consultants to follow our process improvement framework carefully. We don’t want cowboys! So this trait is a good one too:
- Tolerance of structure
Hard skills enough are not sufficient to gauge whether a candidate will fit a job and an organization when hiring new employees in China.
There are ways to remove most of the subjectivity in the hiring process, and they are seldom used in the Chinese manufacturing sector.
Have you had experience with personality tests, in the context of hiring or developing employees (in China or beyond)? What advice would you share on this topic, or what questions do you have?
Leave them as a comment below and we’ll make sure to respond.