Should You Hire People with Noticeable Weaknesses?

As content manager at Day Translations, I have to admit, I’m a stickler for grammar. Or more accurately, I have an ingrained aversion to poor grammar. Sloppy wording, typos, double spaces, triple exclamation marks (!!!) and abbreviations have a time and a place—but not when applying for a job.

The absence of professionalism in written communications nowadays is something I will bitterly lament to my grave, and I can’t help resenting the way the Snapchat generation has willfully eroded the English language. Sure, I can chat along with the best of them—lol—but if I want to be addressed in the style of a text message, I’ll give you my phone number, not ask for your resume.

The hiring problem

Anyone who’s ever done hiring knows that finding the right candidate for the job is far from easy. After vetting a sizeable pile of applications for a writing position at our company lately, I came to two conclusions:

1. Thank goodness I didn’t pursue a career in Human Resources would have driven myself off a cliff by now.

2. I think I found my major weaknessI’m too critical.

That led me to pose the question…

Should you hire people with noticeable weaknesses?

No one wants to hire the “least bad” out of a bunch of applicants, and someone who gets their foot in the door by process of elimination is unlikely to become a star player. So if you’re faced with that position, then I’d be inclined to say no. After all,
the cost of a bad hire is more than you think.

While tolerating a situation of over-worked employees is far from ideal, hiring someone out of desperation is only going to make matters worseand be expensive and destabilizing in the long run.

Assess the weaknesses

Day Translations provides translation services. The very nature of our business means that we live and die by the accuracy of our work. Just one error in a medical translation could change a patient’s diagnosis and even put a life at risk.

So if a translator’s strength isn’t proofreading, and her grammar and spelling are lacking as well, this combo of weaknesses is going to be unacceptable for us. Similarly, if you’re looking for a factory laborer to lug planks of steel from one place to another, I would venture to say that physical weakness would be too much of a weakness to look past.

But are there any situations in which hiring someone with noticeable weaknesses could actually pay off?

When the strengths are stronger

It seems obvious that you would hire people for their strengths and not their weaknesses. But hiring people with notable strengths doesn’t mean that they won’t have weaknesses as well.

This got me thinking as I delved into a few applications for a second time. Was I making the decision not to hire these people based on their noticeable weaknesses, rather than hiring them for their strengths? Rejecting them for their failings and overlooking their talents?

We all have to grow

While it remains mind-boggling that no one has prepared an aspiring generation of job seekers to write decent letters of presentation or put together presentable resumes, if candidates are quick learners, able to take direction and willing to learn, then maybe punctuation faux pas ought to be forgiven.

After all, maybe they have… interesting… ideas.

And diversity is key

As a (recently) self-declared overly critical person, I can still recognize that diversity is the lifeblood of any company, and nowhere more needed than in the world of content marketing. Indeed, if inbound marketing is the new black, then content marketing is that stunning Versace dress on the runway.

But even I have to recognize my own limitations.

I can’t produce all our company’s content, I’m still learning the benefits of infographics, and I’m being dragged kicking and screaming into the world of social media and sites that sprout up one after another like the Bubonic plague.

There are people out there who would love to be paid to post on social.

Diversity will only strengthen our firm.

Skill set vs. cultural fit

Day Translations is based on the pillars of cultural understanding and mutual respect. Candidates who show little or no humility or politeness will more than likely be shown the door.

If I ask a job seeker how many GB of RAM her computer has, I don’t expect to hear, “No idea.” I expect her to find out. Not only will I feel that she lacks initiative but also that she lacks basic manners. Upshot? Her resume probably goes straight to the reject pile, stamped “clearly not a cultural fit.”

Or not.

What if she boasts in-depth experience, a cutting-edge blog, contacts and know-how? She may not win employee of the month, but maybe she’s worth a shot. In fact, if she didn’t have such an unlikeable personality, she probably would have been hired by another company, right? Perhaps her weaknesses are actually our fortune?

Try weighing skill set against company culture, ideally both will match. If not, visualize if the candidate might be able to overcome her shortcomings and reward your faith down the road, turning into a valuable employee.

In other words, it may be worth hiring people with noticeable weaknesses. I’m going to try it. I’ll let you know how it goes.