Attitude Versus Skills, Revisited!

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An article by Mark Murphy, entitled Hiring for Attitude was a Q&A with Mark on the importance of attitude when considering new candidates.

I found the first question and answer particularly interesting:

Question: “We hear it a lot… company X did a great job hiring a highly skilled worker, only to later discover that the new hire was a terrible fit for the organization. Why do so many interviews fail to assess whether a candidate will be a good fit?”

Answer (from Mark Murphy): “When our research tracked 20,000 new hires, we found that 89% of the time new hires failed, it was for attitudinal reasons, not lack of skill. One of the reasons is that most organizations have no test by which to assess attitude, and many have no concrete idea of what the attitudes they should be hiring for even are. You can train for skills and technical competence; but you can’t train for ‘attitude.’ You have to interview and hire for attitude.”

I’d say that’s pretty powerful research. At least, in terms of the clarity it brings.

Essentially 9 out of 10 of those 20,000 new hires failed as a result of attitude, with the remainder failing due to lack of skill of some kind.

This research doesn’t surprise me. I’ve written hiring tips before on this subject.

What does this mean for your company?

Well, if you’ve been in business for awhile, you’ve likely established a “culture” in your workplace. There’s a certain way you and your staff go about doing things. I imagine there’s a certain tone or atmosphere that you promote. If this culture works for you, then hiring people who “fit” into that culture is a worthy objective.

To some degree you can test your candidates for this. Our personality test will provide you with definite clues as to how people act and interact in the workplace. Proper testing can help you weed out bad apples.

But, in the final analysis, I’m going to say your perceptions are accurate. If the person sitting across from you doesn’t appear to have the attitudes you’re looking for, or if you feel this person will not really fit into your culture, then so be it.

Don’t invalidate your perceptions.

Too often we see something we don’t like about a candidate and then we brush it off. We tell ourselves there’s so many other things we do like, we don’t let that one nagging thing get in the way.

And yes, we do need to carefully weigh the positives and the negatives of every candidate.

When it comes to attitude, though, let’s start giving it the weight it deserves.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


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