In HR is competence or likeability more important?


Likeability on camera is increasingly important in HR.
Likeability on camera is increasingly important in HR.

In a world where HR professionals strive for more and more credibility you would hope that competence would be the prime factor for selecting the best and the brightest. Unfortunately in this more modern world of video conference and webinar presentations it appears another factor is as important, if not more so, than competence.

“You like me, you really like me.”

 According to a Wall Street Journal article “likeability” is becoming a bigger and bigger factor in not only the selection of HR professionals but in the selection of all candidates. Writer Sue Shellenbarger reports “’Likability’ is becoming a bigger factor for success at work as social networks and videoconferencing growThe ability to come across as likable is shaping how people are sized up and treated by bosses and co-workers.” People who are liked are more likely to get hired, get help, get noticed, get useful information even when they are not particularly competent. On video especially, speakers that are likeable are more influenced by the speaker than they are by the quality of the speaker’s arguments. Amazingly the opposite is true when the speaker is in person.

Likeability can be trained

According to Shellenbarger “Listeners tend to like speakers who seem trustworthy and authentic, who tell an engaging or persuasive story and who seem to have things in common with them.” Unfortunately when put on video many people don’t convey that authenticity and persuasiveness. Most become stiff or overact when put on video and this hurts the credibility of applicants who submit video resumes. It might be very damaging to HR professionals who are trying to deliver messages of importance to employees via video.
Ben Decker, chief executive officer of Decker Communications, San Francisco, a training and consulting firm says there are three behaviors that have a major impact on a speaker’s likability. They are “making eye contact by looking into the camera, smiling naturally when you talk and varying your tone of voice to convey warmth and enthusiasm.” Nonverbal cues are also important. In delivering a message by video it is good to practice in front of the camera and then reviewing to see if these three things are being followed. Keeping the audience in mind is also important as well. A final clue in making someone more likeable is to make sure they pay attention to their body language as well.

So what is important?

The answer to my question asked in the title is that both competence and likeability are important. The competence is needed for credibility but the likeability is needed in order to most effectively deliver a message. So practice your presentation!

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