Hire for Attitude and Train for Skill

Hire for Attitude and Train for Skill

There’s a new paradigm on the hiring front. While as a hiring manager, you never want to disregard the value of experience in looking at top candidates, it’s just as critical to recruit for attitude and potential. Past performance is no longer the sole predictor of future success.

Why Hire for Potential

As noted by author Lou Adler, “People don’t underperform because of their lack of technical skills, they underperform because of their lack of soft skills.” And while you can train specific on-the-job capabilities, such innate qualities as passion, motivation, integrity and grit can neither be taught nor bought.

A recent Harvard Business School study gave further credence to this approach, noting that an increasing percentage of industry-leading companies now favor candidates with potential over those who’ve already demonstrated success in a given field. They believe that in order to stay competitive and relevant, they need employees with fresh ideas and a passionate desire to grow and be developed. This outweighs those who may already have been trained, but are perhaps too heavily devoted to outdated methods and previous achievements.

Hire candidates with potential for their:

  • Curiosity: They are full of questions about your company’s mission, vision and strategic direction – and they have the enthusiasm and optimism to help drive it. Pay close attention to their unprompted questions, such as “Where do you think this company will be in five years and how am I a part of it?”
  • Moldable attitudes: Less established individuals are more teachable and have more room for growth. There are fewer bad habits to break, only good ones to shape. On a cautionary note, never hire for potential beyond the level of your commitment to develop it. But whenever it’s feasible, go for it!

How to Spot It

You can tell a candidate has potential when their core values align with yours and they have the drive to be cultivated into star performers.

  • Look for the natural ability to learn on the fly. A resume or interview may reveal that an applicant managed a successful project at a high-end company. But even more important to know is what hurdles they overcame to achieve that success. To determine whether an individual is an agile learner, ask them to reflect on their experiences and provide specific scenarios, approaches and results.
  • It’s a new twist on behavioral interviewing. You may ask a candidate to describe a situation where they had to suddenly change plans and procedures, and why – or how they handled a scenario where they had more to do than they could singularly handle. There are no right or wrong answers, but assessing applicants for these competencies can help you find the employee who will truly excel in a job.

Your recruitment partners at Contemporary Personnel Staffing and Professionals Incorporated can provide additional resources and best practices for hiring, training and staff development. Please contact us for a staffing evaluation at (315) 457-2500 or sales@cpsprofessionals.com.

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