Balancing Attitude Versus Skill When Recruiting


When it comes to hiring and retaining new staff, what’s more important – their attitude or their skills? Where traditionally employers would value a tick-box list of essential attributes, businesses are beginning to recognise the benefits of hiring for personality as well as for practical ability.


The likes of industry specialists such as Mark Murphy, who founded the research organisation Leadership IQ, have promoted the ‘hiring for attitude’ method with many high-profile companies having already proved its advantages. So how can employers identify candidates with both skills and the right attitude during the recruitment process? Here are some suggestions from our team.


Recognising the Value of the Right Attitude


Firstly, it’s helpful to reflect on why attitude is worth considering before you start changing your hiring procedure. In a study of over 20,000 new recruits and 1,400 HR executives, Leadership IQ reported an 89% hiring failure due to attitude versus an 11% failure due to a lack of technical skills. The argument is that many abilities can be taught on the job while attitudes are often engrained.


A common problem with hiring based on aptitude is trying to differentiate between candidates with similar levels of experience. In these instances, identifying ‘soft skills’ can not only offer a point of comparison but also help employers recognise who will be more likely to ‘hit the ground running’.


Potential Problems with Prioritising Skills


The idea of confirmation bias, whereby employers rely on written data to confirm their decision-making rather than looking at the bigger picture, can often result in the skills section of a CV or application form taking precedence over candidate personality and their performance at interview.


There’s also the misconception that developing skills is costly, while attitude can be honed with careful management. However, by choosing someone with strengths and weaknesses in abilities and attitude, employers are likely to find themselves with a better company fit from their new entrant.


Improving Your Recruitment Process


Interview questions have come a long way on from ‘Tell us about yourself?’ This stage of the hiring process is crucial in recognising whether a candidate can not only perform the job but also integrate easily into the company culture, which is where using questions that demonstrate attitude will help.


Key areas include complex problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, the ability to coordinate with colleagues, and emotional intelligence (take a look at this article for some further suggestions). Adding a group task to the interview stage can help evaluate the personalities of the candidates and are particularly helpful if teamwork and customer care are crucial to the role.


Helping You to Hire the Best Candidates


At Impression Recruitment, our personalised approach ensures the right people are matched with the right roles and employers. Our helpful teams in Harrogate and Darlington can help facilitate your next recruitment process to guarantee a positive and productive experience for everyone involved.


Get in touch with us today to discuss your requirements.