Recruit For Attitude, Train For Skills! (Oh, And Lets Not Forget Aptitude)

Dear reader, I have a question for you. When recruiting, which do you value most – skills or attitude?

Most employers I know focus on skills, and ‘attitude’ rarely features in their thinking.

Whilst no-one will deny the importance of skills, many psychologists and experienced managers are convinced attitude even more important at work than skills.

Techniques, processes and methodology can be taught” they say, “but attitude is what makes the biggest difference in someone’s performance at work. It’s in-built, a part of our personality. It’s simply the way we are”.

They also point out (quite rightly) that it’s harder to change someone’s attitude than it is to teach them a skill or a process.

We can all recognise ‘attitude’ in our colleagues of course, sometime good, sometimes not so good! Some will always be on time, alert, productive and take pride in their work, whilst others may not.  And as we’ve all no doubt experienced first-hand, some people can be downright unhelpful. That’s ‘attitude’ too, and not the kind we want!

Take a look at the most successful sports people.

The ones who win are usually the ones who have the strongest ‘will to win’.  It’s a feature of their personality – the way they are made. All athletes have to learn their skills, and admittedly, some will have more natural ability, or learn more easily than others. But their ‘attitude’ is what makes them train day after day, month in month out, and push themselves ever harder in their quest to keep improving and become the best. That’s what makes them find the ‘extra something’ when it comes to competition.

And then there are the highest of high-flying people in the world of business – what sets them apart?

Well, I’m sure they’re all intelligent, creative, highly skilled, great delegators, motivators etc, but you can bet your bottom dollar there’s a great dollop of ‘attitude’ involved too.

I read not long ago that great business people ‘fail’ on average five times before they achieve what they call ‘success’. What others describe as “fail”, they would regard as a “learning experience” and they just keep on trying. Ray Krok, (the brains behind McDonald’s) had 30 years of “failures” and hard lessons learned before he clawed his way to the top. That’s attitude in evidence – a dogged determination to succeed, and it was part of his personality.

And what about aptitude?

We all have a natural ability in certain areas, and we all have things we seem to struggle with more than others. How do we know whether the person we’re hiring is truly suited to the task we want them to perform?  It could have a dramatic effect on individual and team productivity, happiness at work, absenteeism, staff morale, business success or failure, the list is endless. Wouldn’t it be helpful if we had a test for aptitude?

So, where am I going with this?

In a nutshell, do we as employers do enough to discover a candidate’s true attitude, aptitude and personality before we hire them?  From my experience in recruitment I would say generally not.

I can count on one hand (OK, maybe two hands) the number of employers I know who thoroughly test a candidate’s skills, attitude, aptitude and personality before making a hiring decision. For most of us skill testing seems easy to organise, but testing aptitude and attitude seems like a black art and is way beyond our capability. And yet it’s readily available to all of us if you know where to look.

How we test for attitude and aptitude

It’s very quick, not at all expensive and probably easier than you think. Alan Glover of profiling specialist explains…

“Attitude and aptitude are the keys to the success of every employee. We’ve been analysing candidate personalities for decades to make sure they’re suitable for the post for which they’ve applied. We use special online test routines to give employers information about an applicant’s attitude, intelligence and aptitude for any role. It takes less than an hour for a candidate to complete a robust test online and the results are available the next day. In our experience only about 10% of applicants who look good on paper and at interview, actually have the best attitude and personality traits for the occupation they’re in.” 

10% !!!  If Alan’s statistics are typical, how much more successful could most businesses be if they truly had ‘the right people in the right roles’?  Food for thought indeed.

And, to answer my opening question myself… 

When it comes to work, attitude, aptitude and skills go hand in hand – you can’t have real success without all, so to test one without the others leaves us open to problems down the line. We should always test skill levels, aptitude and attitude before we hire.

And now here’s another question for you…

What’s your attitude when it comes to testing candidate suitability for your vacancies. Are you doing enough? 

If you need help with skill testing, we have over 100 skill tests available to help you, and there are more available online.  When it comes to testing for attitude, Elenchus are happy to help of course, and is another popular resource to help you assess aptitude and attitude.

If you need help (no obligation) or wish to discuss this further, feel free to give me a call. 0161 408 6110.

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