Do You Hire For Aptitude or Attitude?
‘Hire for attitude’ is a popular management catchphrase. Organizations want to hire people with the right attitude because they are easier to manage, bring positivity to workplace, and blend well within the culture. But simple as it may sound, most organizations struggle in this endeavor. You may wonder why – is it the inefficiency of hiring managers, or is it really that tough to find people with the right attitude? Where does the problem really lie?
The truth is that ‘right’ attitude is unique to every organization. A competitive, individualistic attitude that works for a commission driven salesforce or Wall Street financial firm will fail miserably in a collaborative, team-loving startup culture.
Many training programs that are successful in improving skills and aptitude fail when it comes to attitudinal change. Once hired, employees can be trained to acquire new skills, but attitude is much harder to change.
Also, it’s easier to assess technical proficiency than to understand soft skills. How can managers at the time of hiring learn whether a particular candidate can cope with failure, assimilate feedback, or collaborate with teams? Or, how to assess if a candidate is accountable or motivated enough to learn new skills?
The onus is therefore on the hiring manager to first dig into the organizational culture and assess which attitude predicts success and failure. Once managers know what they are looking for, they can frame creative questions that screen for attitude and aptitude. These questions should not be hypothetical, but should ask for previously demonstrated behavior.
Examples of such questions include:
- When did you last try something new and what was the outcome
- Talk about your most difficult customer and/or co-worker, and how you dealt with him/her
- At your previous feedback session, what feedback did you receive and how did you deal with it
But attitude alone will not be enough. If a particular candidate lacks beyond a certain level or across many areas, it may not be economically viable to make such a hire.
Recruitment is an expensive and time-consuming process. So, be strategic about hiring. Else you’ll pay the price for ‘just filling a position’.