Why you should hire for attitude, not skill

This post is also available in: العربية (Arabic)

It’s a well-known fact that talent and skills are vital for any business that wants to thrive and shine in the market. But has it ever occurred to you to “hire for attitude and train for skill”? While some deem it a flashy term that is rarely ever put into practice, it holds the key to organizational success. So what exactly is “hire for attitude,” and why should you do it?

When looking for a new hire, you might be tempted to hire a candidate with an extensive amount of technical knowledge and skills while giving little regard to their attitude and personality because it doesn’t “get the job done.” But make no mistake, numerous studies have shown that 89% of new hires fail due to reasons related to their attitude, while only 11% of failures were associated with skills. The main reason behind this phenomenon lies in the fact that it is easier to train employees to acquire and advance their skills. Simultaneously, it is nearly impossible to change their character or attitude to be more in line with the company’s culture. Let’s delve into more reasons why you should hire for attitude over skill.                                            

You cannot change the attitude

Skills can be acquired and enhanced through training and development when the employee possesses the right mindset. At the same time, attitude, which ultimately governs how someone goes on about doing their job, how they communicate with their colleagues, and how they regard the company they work for, cannot be easily influenced or changed as doing so requires openness and willingness on the employee’s part. 

You cannot determine which skillsets you need in the long run 

When we say you should “hire for attitude,” we don’t mean that you should disregard skills and hire someone only for having the right attitude. You still need to hire someone with a certain level of skills to achieve their goals. However, placing your focus on skills is where you’re in the wrong, simply because there is no way in telling which set of skills you will need in the long run, but hiring someone with the right attitude means they’ll have the right personality to learn, adjust and grow with the emergence of new technologies and industry disruptions. 

They contribute to a positive work environment

Employees with a great attitude are not only more open to learning new skills and applying them, but they also motivate and encourage their colleagues to do the same. They also pay little attention to their contribution to their teams; instead, they thrive on delivering great work as a team. All this contributes to a positive and healthy work environment. 

It gives you access to a broader pool of candidates

It’s hard to find someone who perfectly matches your job description. When you excessively scrutinize the skillsets candidates have, you lose sight of the bigger picture, finding someone who has the right combination of experience and personality. Bringing attitude into the picture when hiring will give you access to a pool of candidates that are motivated to learn and have a strong work ethic.

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