Hiring for Attitude

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Whenever you’re sifting through resumes to hire for a new position, it’s often tough to weigh candidates who are more experienced and qualified against those who have a great attitude but not as many years in the profession.

Hiring for attitude over experience is a strategy that smart companies employ, and more often than not, it pays huge dividends. In fact, employers recently reported that someone with a winning mindset was seven times more valuable than other employees on average.

Here is an overview as to why you should hire for attitude, even if it is at the expense of experience at times:

How Attitude Can Trump Skill
There are several ways that attitude can overcome a deficit in skills:

Employees with a winning, and positive, attitude are more capable of coping with and adapting to change. These employees are always hungry to learn, highly coachable and more than willing to adjust to changes in your business. Some studies have even found that the ability to deal with adversity, or having a high “emotional intelligence” quotient, is actually a more accurate indicator of future success than technical know-how.

While you can usually train an employee on skills they might need for the job, it’s almost impossible to train someone to have a better attitude. That’s why finding someone with a winning attitude is key. For those kinds of people, learning new skills is a welcome challenge and often quite easy.

Hiring managers and business owners tend to find themselves in the position of wanting to hire a highly skilled or qualified applicant, who may have a poor attitude. This is often because many interviews focus mainly on technical skills, rather than if the person would be a good fit for the company. Not taking attitude into consideration can lead to severe problems down the road, which is why it’s critical to ensure that the candidate’s values are a strong match with your company’s core values.

A great attitude is often infectious in the workplace and perhaps the most important reason why you should hire for attitude. Increased productivity and a positive workplace that everyone enjoys are benefits that are hard to put a price on. An added bonus is that you’ll actually find positive team members usually influence others to achieve and exceed their goals.

Why New Hires Often Fail
Companies that don’t place importance on hiring for attitude will likely experience high levels of employee turnover. As a matter of fact, about 46% of employees fail within the first 18 months on the job. Here are some of the main reasons that those new hires ultimately fail:

a) Coachability – About 26% of new hires fail because they’re unable to accept feedback and constructive criticism. This doesn’t just include interactions with superiors, but also co-workers and clients.

b) Emotional Intelligence – Lack of emotional intelligence results in new hire failure around 23% of the time. And it’s not just the inability to read and react to the emotions of others, but the lack of understanding their own emotions
as well.
c) Motivation – Some new hires get brought on board due to their skillset, but ultimately fail because they lack additional motivation. If a new hire’s main goal is just to fulfill his or her
duties rather than excel, it can be a recipe for failure.

d) Temperament – Failure can also occur when a new hire’s attitude and personality is unsuited to the functions, tasks, conditions and culture of a new job or company. This happens about 15 percent of the time and is something you need to vet for carefully during the interview process.

e) Talented Terrors – Most of us have experienced these employees who are highly skilled and talented at their jobs, but have a terrible attitude. While it’s tempting to think that their aptitude will make up for it, more often than not, these people don’t work out.

f) Bless Their Hearts – These employees don’t work out, not due to lack of effort or a poor attitude, but simply because they don’t possess the talent or skillset necessary for success. You keep rooting for these employees to succeed, but over time it becomes apparent that they simply don’t add enough value to keep around.

If hiring for attitude wasn’t important to your HR strategy before reading this article, then hopefully I’ve laid out enough reasons to make it indispensable to your business moving forward. As your business evolves, you may want to even try hiring candidates with an approach that specifically fits your company’s attitude.

Carla Leible is the market manager for Zimmer Radio & Marketing Group. She has spent 16 years helping managers become great leaders.

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