How many times have you seen a job advert that is vague on the required qualifications but asks for a candidate who is a team player, dedicated and willing to learn? These days, the trend in hiring is for recruiters and companies to assess job applicants on their attitude towards their careers and life, instead of looking closely at their education and work experience. The idea is to hire on attitude, and train up skills as needed. But is this the correct approach to finding the best staff?
Attitude goes a long way
Big companies like Google and the USA’s Southwest Airlines have built reputations as employers who “hire for attitude”, and indeed, there are many indications that this tack has merit. Statistically, 46% of all new hires fail within the 18 months of starting their job, and a whopping 89% of the time it is related to attitude. Reasons include a lack of motivation, low emotional intelligence, temperament and other attitudinal aspects of the personality.
Attitude is widely accepted as a predictor of the long-term success of a new employee. This is because while skills can and do change and develop over a lifetime, personality largely remains the same. Employees who behave in a certain manner now are likely to continue to behave in that manner as the years go by – which is why attitude is so important. The requisite flexibility, passion and leadership skills can make or break a candidate’s fulfilment of their job description, while the ability to fit in with the culture and values of the company or organisation is crucial.
But few things beat solid experience and comprehensive skillset
However, the importance of aptitude in jobseekers also needs to be emphasised. 57% of businesses worldwide are facing a shortage of appropriately skilled entry-level workers, underlining the need for good qualifications and industry experience. Before hiring for attitude alone, employers must be certain that the candidate has the proficiency to learn the required skills to do the job; a relevant degree or certificate and prior work in the field can confirm this.
Employers also need to be sure that new recruits are willing to learn the skills in the specific areas required; if they do not have qualifications in these areas, they may be uninterested in undergoing extensive training in them. Training is also expensive and time-consuming, a consideration that employers need to take into account when hiring candidates based on attitude alone.
When focusing on attitude, there is also the risk that perfectly good employees with the right skillsets but poor interview skills might be overlooked in favour of more charismatic candidates. Similarly, there is concern that ill-qualified applicants might be able to “game” the recruitment system.
The perfect candidate possess the right blend of attitude and experience
All things considered, a balanced approach is probably the best one – an ideal candidate will have a combination of experience and a positive attitude. Both attitude and aptitude are important, and emphasising one over the other has definite drawbacks. It is infinitely possible to find applicants who check all of the boxes.
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