The other week, we had a great question from a business leader looking to hire a new staff member: “what’s more important, skills or attitude?”
When writing a job description, it is usually skills-focused; the types of tasks they will handle, necessary experience, technical aspects of the role and core responsibilities.
Sometimes, towards the end of the job description, you might find a fun line or two about having a “can-do” attitude, or the work culture in the office, and so on. But seldom is it the focal point of the job post.
So, with that in mind, it begs the question: what is more important, skills or attitude?
Naturally, it depends on the job. You can’t hire a lawyer without a law degree not matter how strong their work ethic or passion for the field. The same goes for most IT and leadership roles — skills and experience will always come into play.
But say you have two candidates, equally qualified in terms of prior experience, educational background and existing skill set — how do you choose when all factors are seemingly equal?
This is where attitude comes into play. Hiring someone with the “right” attitude, whatever that means for your organization, will make the difference when it comes to goal-setting, company culture, gaining buy-in and keeping happy, long-term team members (the most important thing!)
Ideas for Hiring Based on Attitude
Define the “right” attitude for your organization.
Take a look at your vision and values. What do they tell you about what is important to your company?
Also consider the existing company culture.
How do your employees interact with one another?
What is your communication style?
What is your leadership style?
How do you resolve conflict?
The answers to each of these questions will help you define what the “right” attitude match is for your company. That is to say, how your ideal employee views their work, makes progress on their goals, builds relationships, overcomes obstacles and so on.
Keep in mind that different roles will inevitably call for different attitudes and working styles. It’s worth your while to sit down and map out the varying traits and personalities per role/department.
Ask your team.
Bring in the people who will work most closely with the new hire.
What do they look for in a team member?
Use this information to tailor what you already know about your avatar and incorporate what you’ve learned into the recruitment process.
Identify what is “teachable” and what is not.
Excel skills can be taught, charisma can not. Public speaking can be improved through workshops and practice, but personal motivation and autonomy are inherent skills — usually not so teachable.
More than likely, you’re not going to find the total package who has exactly the experience, skills and personality to mesh with your team. But, hey! Maybe you will.
In the case that you do not, it’s good to have a list of “must-haves”, “would be nice’” and “can be taught.”
Go with your gut.
Personal connection can’t be gleaned from a paper resume or pre-hire assessment. Sometimes you just have to go with good, old-fashion gut instinct.
During an interview, take some time to just chat. Discover the individual beyond their candidacy.
What would this role mean to them on a personal level?
What is their motivation for applying, beyond a professional capacity?
Chances are, with the right person, you will just “click.”
Is your team expanding? Or, maybe you just don’t have the bandwidth right now to manage a new project.
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