Hire For Attitude, Train For Skills

By Drue Lawler, FASID
Director of Coaching at Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting
Photo Credit: @bakerbroductions

A challenge for a number of firms – particularly small firms – is that whoever is interviewing potential new hires has not really had training in how to interview. Consequently they may focus more on the resume and skills when interviewing and not put enough importance on hiring for attitude. Adding new members to your team is an investment and one that should be for the long term. As your team grows, you don’t want to have to keep replacing members because they don’t look at staying with you for the long haul. This is the case with many of today’s younger employees, so it can be a definite advantage to hire more senior people. Not only will it usually be less expensive to train them, but if they have been in the work force a bit longer you can get a better sense of what their attitude was in their previous job or jobs.

When evaluating potential new team members, look at how they approach communication with you and other team members and if they value learning and show a willingness to expand their skills. Think about whether you can see the person in your firm for the long term. Will they be a positive addition to help your firm grow? If so then don’t forget that there is a responsibility on your part to make sure their onboarding process is successful and they will have reasons to want to stay with your firm.

Even if an applicant’s resume shows outstanding skills and experience, if they don’t fit your culture, they will fail as employees and team members. In fact a study by Leadership IQ found more than 80% of new hires have the technical skills, but fail as an employee. Attitude is much more difficult to train than skills and if you do not hire for attitude, that new hire may have an outstanding skill set and experience but the negative affect of their attitude will affect the rest of your team and the success of your firm.

A LinkedIn article by Lydia Abbot, points to Warren Buffett as not only one of the most successful investors in the world but also an outstanding manager who recruits and has built a team of people who have led his company to success. What are the key qualities he looks for when considering a new hire? Intelligence, energy and integrity. She goes on to quote Buffett: “if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. If you hire somebody without (integrity), you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”

Ask direct questions when you are interviewing. Ask them to talk about a time they failed, why, and what they would do differently. Have them talk a bit about something they are passionate about. Ask them why they are making this job change/career move. How they talk about their previous employers and jobs will give you a view of their integrity.

Finally, a quote by Albert Einstein identifies the importance of attitude: “Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.”

For more suggestions on hiring, check out another excellent blog article, Get The Right People on Your Bus.


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