Courtesy Image of Unsplash

Ten years ago, when I worked as a recruiter specialist for an international staffing Agency, an HR Manager contacted me by e-mail after a job interview with a candidate of mine.

And he wrote this message:

 “Hi Davide, anyway a selection well done. Even if your candidate didn’t perform well on the job interview yesterday, I want to hire him. He didn’t not answer me some questions, He couldn’t explain well his greatest strengths. Perhaps, He was nervous, perhaps some questions were not that good. He also had less experience than what the job description called for. But I want to give him a chance. I see something in him – his passion, intensity, empathy…Yes, I want to hire this person and  I don’t want being obsessed with the job description for this role. And you know, if we do not take risks on people, we are not considered  true managers and leaders.”

I tell you this short story to show you the concept behind “hiring for attitude”:

About 46% of the people about to be hired will fail within the first 18 months on the job. And they won’t fail for lack of skills but rather for lack of attitude. So a study by Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, has discovered in research on 20,000 new hires over a three-year period.

Infact skilled and experienced employees with rotten attitudes fail quickly. Unskilled and inexperienced employees with excellent attitudes succeed in the long run.

Attitude is a reflection of personality, which is unlikely to change, skills can be taught. That is the key.

“Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them-a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”

― Muhammad Ali

It’s not that technical skills aren’t important, but they’re much easier to assess (that’s why attitude, not skills, is the top predictor of a new hire’s success or failure). Virtually every job (from neurosurgeon to engineer to cashier) has tests that can assess technical proficiency. But what those tests don’t assess is attitude; whether a candidate is motivated to learn new skills, think innovatively, cope with failure, assimilate feedback and coaching, collaborate with teammates, and so forth.

Therefore hiring Managers in fast-changing workplaces often choose candidates based on their personality traits. Flexibility, passion, and accountability are all attractive qualities in a prospective candidate and hiring someone without these characteristics often results in them failing in the position within the first few months, in particular for entry-level positions.

They know that lack of ability to receive or act upon feedback, lack of motivation, and unsuitable temperaments as the most common reasons for early contract termination. If you hire for attitude, the risk of this occurring is greatly reduced, which saves the company time, money and effort.

Here’s some good tips to plan a recruiting strategy and hiring for attitude:

There’s no way to make sure you get it 100 percent right in a recruitment situation. But if you consider attitude as the single most important quality, you’re well on your way.

Hire for attitude. Skills can be improved – but only with the right outlook.

So, to make less mistakes and do not waste the time it’s helpful to plan a successful recruitment strategy for the company evaluating the attitudes and personality traits of best performing staff and using this to define desirable characteristics in potential candidates and then turning the hiring and interview process focus on those attitudes. It means also defining the specific attitudes (both good and bad) that make a specific organization different from all the rest.

In addition to this you need to make sure you can articulate the culture of the company you’re hiring for. You should be able to write down a set of values, attitudes, ethics, and beliefs. If you can’t write them down, you need to define them. This is the only way of finding hires who are a good fit.

After that, start working to tailor the job profile or advert to emphasize the positive attitude you’re looking for according to the company culture. Be creative in describing the types of candidates you and your client are looking for so the position and the company stands out from the crowd.

On the basis that past performance predicts future behavior (and reveals attitude), use competency based questions. Some common examples appropriate to most industry sectors include:

  • Tell me about a time when you went beyond the call of duty to deliver an outstanding customer experience.
  • Give me an example of how you respond to difficult co-workers.
  • When did you last try something new when there was no guarantee of success?
  • Tell me about your last serious error with a customer or colleague and how you reacted to it?

Avoid the predictable questions such as, ‘Tell me about yourself;” “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” and, “What are your weaknesses?”  Today’s candidates are well prepared and equally well rehearsed so include open, subjective questions in your interview process that ask for their opinion on issues that can’t be scripted.

Futhermore the use of modern technologies and recruitment tools such as personality tests, cultural matching tools and video interviews make it possible to capture more insights on a candidate’s personality early in the process and make better informed hiring decisions.

In case of video recruitment, recruiters can add personality to the CV and are able to base the first selection not just on knowledge and experience, but also on the soft-skills, personality and cultural fit.

This prevents wasting valuable time on job interviews with candidates that are not the right match for the position, and increases the chances that a company selects the candidate that is best suited for the role. The use of video also leads to a more efficient process so employers can make better hiring decisions faster.

An important bi-product of this process is that candidates also get a better perception of the company and discern their fit into the company’s culture early in the process.