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Recruitment tips

Choose your candidates' weaknesses wisely: turning perceived flaws into strengths

eye 166 Published on 16 Apr. 2024
tag #HR advice

Are you quick to judge a candidate as too ambitious, disorganised, shy, uncooperative, or lacking in tact? If so, you might be overlooking hidden gems. These traits, often viewed negatively, can actually be powerful assets in disguise. It's time for a fresh perspective on personality traits and how they can contribute to your team's success.

In this article, we'll delve into five commonly criticised personality traits and uncover the silver linings that could make these candidates invaluable to your organisation. Here’s why you should reconsider and possibly even seek out these qualities:


Do they find it challenging to follow a plan, meet deadlines, or be punctual for meetings? Behind this lack of organisation often lies an exceptional ability to think flexibly and multitask. These individuals are usually creative and thrive in environments where innovation and agility are necessary. Their free spirit fosters a holistic approach to problems, enabling them to find innovative solutions to complex challenges. Naturally spontaneous and highly adaptable, they are equipped to handle unexpected situations and last-minute changes.

Too Shy

Are they naturally reserved or seem hesitant to speak up or take initiative in a group? Shy individuals are usually discreet and possess remarkable listening skills, enabling them to understand others' needs and opinions. With a keen sense of observation and reflective nature, they process information differently and know when to wait for the right moment before speaking. They are often more comfortable in smaller groups, where they can develop meaningful relationships. While they may hesitate to assert themselves, their strong ability to concentrate is invaluable in projects that demand careful thought, analysis, and precision.

Overly Ambitious 

Does the candidate appear overly ambitious, prioritising their own objectives over the team or company's goals? A high level of ambition often signifies great determination, a need for recognition, and a strong desire for success. Within a team, such ambitious individuals can act as catalysts for change, pushing boundaries and motivating others. Fueled by challenges and seeking to be the best, they are generally comfortable in competitive environments, where they can help the company distinguish itself from competitors.

Too Independent

Does the candidate prefer to work alone and show hesitation in collaborating or sharing ideas? This independence signifies a responsible and self-reliant personality. Demonstrating resourcefulness, they can excel in roles where solving problems on their own is required. Confident in their abilities, they make informed decisions without being influenced by external opinions. Often endowed with a strong work ethic and able to focus on their tasks efficiently, they tend to be highly productive and achieve goals swiftly. Moreover, their inclination to take initiative means they can advance their projects with minimal supervision, thus reducing their managers' workload.

Lack of diplomacy

Is the candidate's communication style too direct, unfiltered, and sometimes perceived as harsh? This often signifies great honesty and transparency. Individuals who are straightforward are often perceived as authentic and inspiring, which promotes a work environment based on trust. Their approach also reduces misunderstandings since it allows messages to be conveyed directly and concisely. Capable of articulating what others might withhold, they address problems more quickly and encourage necessary change that leads to significant improvements.

As such, recruiters have good reasons to value the hidden strengths behind weaknesses. Individuals who seem too ambitious can drive change, those lacking organisation can bring creativity, those who are shy can be great listeners, independent individuals can bring innovative thinking, and those lacking diplomacy can streamline and clarify communications. Instead of automatically rejecting candidates due to their perceived flaws, take the time to explore the underlying qualities they can bring to the company.

Helen Simard

Consultant psychologist (career guidance and psychometrics)

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