“Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill”

Hiring tactics have changed dramatically in response to a decrease in job openings and an increase in candidates to fill these positions. A recent article from Talent Management.com author Ronnie Reese questions whether or not companies are looking in the wrong place for new hires. Quirky interviewing tactics are focusing more on attitudes and personalities instead of skills for the job. What does your organization’s HR department focus on during hiring processes?

Many believe that even with more people searching for jobs, there is a lack of top-talent individuals to hire. Top talent hasn’t disappeared, but it may be harder to find with so many applicants per job. There are more candidates to choose from but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be easier to find the right person to fill the position. It’s going to take more resources to find the best fit for high-skill and technical positions.

Others believe there is no such shortage of top-talent but that companies aren’t interested in paying the salaries such individuals might demand. Another reason is that companies won’t spend the time or money needed to find and cultivate prospective high-potentials.

Research indicates this is a valid point. Only 33 percent of companies surveyed indicate their talent acquisitions programs are fully integrated with other talent management functions, such as performance management and learning and development. Without that integration it can be tough to bring a recruit in need of specific skills development up to speed before the employment relationship sours.

If the organization cannot hire for skill, hiring for attitude and willingness to learn isn’t a bad option. Oftentimes, on-the-job training and utilizing the organization’s talent and learning departments will suffice. Many companies are also utilizing staffing firms and temp agencies. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, staffing firms and temp agencies make up 54 percent of all jobs created since June 2009 – that’s 557,000 jobs!

Talent leaders are ultimately responsible for finding the right employee for the job, and a good mantra to go by is to hire for attitude and train for skill. Hiring responsibly on the managerial and leadership levels will set the mood for your front-line employees. “Hire attitudes, develop the skills” is Southwest Airlines’ mantra, and it has proved to work well for them.

There is no specific attitude that will guarantee success. But hiring employees that have an attitude that matches your company culture will benefit the whole organization. Mark Murphy, author of Hiring for Attitude, put it best: “89 percent of the time, if a new hire fails, they fail for attitude, not for skills.” With such a vast unemployment pool, there’s an array of skills for hire but finding the right attitude to match company culture is the deal sealer. Murphy said it’s vital that companies ask the right questions: “What are those unique attitudinal characteristics that set our company apart from everybody else?”; “Who succeeds and who fails in our culture?”. Hiring managers need to get away from traditional interview questions – ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses’ simply won’t cut it anymore. Identifying what kind of employees succeed and fail within your organization can offer an outline of who to hire and who to pass up.

Traditional employment interviews focus on resumes, credentials and the kind of presentation a candidate makes in the moment. For some, these factors are less important than whether the desired attitude for a specific position has played a central or visible role in a candidate’s career path and achievements to date.

Your organization’s specific needs in regards to hiring is always the main focus, and whether you’re hiring via traditional interviewing tactics or getting a little funky with your hiring process, keep your company culture in mind. Hiring the right person for the job and your organization will effect the overall bottom line. To read more about hiring for attitudes instead of skills, click here to read the full article.

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