3 Things HR Looks For In An Employee

Have you guys seen all of the selection tools that are out nowadays? It’s crazy.  You can select employees based on almost any personality trait, level of intelligence or emotional intelligence, physical ability, etc. Basically, you decide what you want, and someone, somewhere has already developed that tool.  It’s a great time to be in HR and Talent Acquisition!

Here’s the problem—all of those tools aren’t needed!  In fact, there are only 3 “valid” selection criteria that HR is truly looking for in any employee.  Here’s what they are:

1. Attractiveness – This might really be the only true measure of a good hire in the eyes of most HR pros. Are they pretty? Yes. Great Hire. No. You suck at selection. The truth hurts. Pretty people have better jobs. Like my good friend William Tincup likes to ask: Is that a correlation or causation?  Let’s not get too far into the science because it doesn’t really matter.  We like to hire pretty; it makes us feel good about ourselves.

2. Likeability: Being able to be liked by your co-workers and peers is hugely important to your success in any role. Don’t discount it. No one likes an asshole, thus why they are labeled as an “asshole.”  Too many people don’t get this, and become bad employees. “Well, I do my work and that’s all that counts!”  No it isn’t. Doing your work is one part of your job, getting along and playing well with others is another part of your job. Don’t think you can do one without the other!

3. Loyalty: What does loyalty even mean anymore!?  People get really worked up over a company saying and believing they want “loyal” employees! “Well, companies aren’t loyal any more, why should we!”  Companies have never been loyal, but you were just too stupid to understand that relationship.  When a company now says we “value loyalty,” what they are really saying is that they want you fully engaged with them whilst you are both together. Love the one your with knowing, one day, we might not be together, but while we are, let’s both be committed to each other. Kind of like every romantic relationship you’ve ever had.

That’s really it. If you just focused on those three things on all of your hires, your executives would think they have the best HR department on the planet! “Wow, look at all these pretty, nice people we’ve hired, and they all seem really engaged! Our HR staff is doing something right!”

Think this is a joke?

No. It’s how the majority of companies hire today, without really knowing they’re doing it. Some are just way better at following these three criteria than others!

Does it make us uncomfortable to say it out loud?

Yes. You see, deep down under all the surface, office-party level talk, you want pretty employees, you want employees who aren’t assholes and you want employees who want to wear your company logo polo shirt. You aren’t a bad person for thinking this, it’s very normal behavior.  We like to hang around people who are nice, attractive and loyal because it makes us feel like we are all those things.  It doesn’t necessarily give you better hires, but at least you’ll all feel good!

FOT Background Check

Tim Sackett
Tim Sackett SPHR, is the ultimate Mama’s Boy!  After 15+ years of successfully leading HR and Talent Acquisition departments for Fortune 500s and smaller technical firms, Tim took over running the contingent staffing firm HRU Technical Resources in Lansing, MI. Serving as the Executive Vice President, Tim runs the company his mother started over 30 years ago, and don’t tell Mom, but he thinks he does a better job at it than she did!  Check out his blog at www.timsackett.com. Because he's got A LOT to say, and FOT just isn't enough for him.


  1. kd says:

    The only way out of this is to hire more ugly people. It’s just tough to do.

    Someone really smart told me that. I ended up stealing the idea and making it into a whitepaper.


  2. Tiffany Kuehl says:

    Hi Tim,

    We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this. In my years of experience in recruiting and HR, never have I made recommendations to hire candidates based on the “criteria” mentioned. Likeability, maybe – as a factor among experience and the candidate’s ability to articulate his/her skills and abilities.

    For a few companies, (Abercrombie & Fitch) , these may be requirements, but to say this is true for the majority of companies is a stretch. If I focused on these three things alone, I’d be putting my employer at risk for all kinds of crazy nonsense and putting myself on a path to lose my job.

    Not sure who your client companies are, but if this is part of the recruitment and selection process, no thanks!


    • Terrie Lynn Bittner says:

      Unfortunately, studies show that attractive people are more likely to be hired, just as tall people are more likely to be given management roles. Few companies have a rule about it, but they subconsciously follow this “rule” anyway. When I look at all the criteria in job ads, I realize many employers are not actually thinking through what they’re asking for. As an example, most employers require a degree, even when the job doesn’t require it and even if the degree is in the wrong field, but then they complain that graduates don’t know how to think and aren’t prepared to do the job–and yet they keep right on asking for that degree instead of evaluating a person’s real credentials and looking for thinkers and people with the self-discipline to be self-educated, whether they finished twelve years of college or didn’t complete high school. The ability to self-educate can save a company a fortune and provide real thinkers and people who are motivated, but when is the last time you saw a company ask for proof of ability to self-educate? Companies need to look long and hard at who they choose and why–including whether or not their company has an overabundance of pretty faces.

  3. Joel Kimball says:

    I couldn’t decide it this was troll bait at first. Upon reflection, I’ve decided it is simply THE MOST AWESOME HR BLOGPOST OF 2013 (in Kimball’s very-limited realm – sorry!). Love it!

    For some who may read this a certain way, as Sergeant Hulka in “Stripes” said, “Lighten up, Francis!” Awesome job, Tim!

    All you ugly people – you’re party’s down the hall…with the assholes.

    • Joel Kimball says:

      Wait, what? Replace “you’re” with “your” above as appropriate…carry on. Spelling – how does it work?

  4. Cara Carroll says:

    I agree Tim. I would say likeability is #1 for me then I would add curiosity to the list. I love people who want to learn and want to continue to learn. Those who have questions and want to know more, I think, tend to output more creativity. Overall I can tell right away based on my intuition if I wish to pursue a candidate further or not. If they are hot that doesn’t hurt either. 🙂

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