It’s all about attitude

There is a Simon Sinek quote currently doing the rounds that states, ‘You don’t hire for skills; you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.’

It has been shared thousands of times and many have left comments beneath fully agreeing with his statement. I too fully agree with it yet how many of us when faced with the choice do the complete opposite and slip back into hiring for skills.


The quickest way is not always the best way

Picture this. You have a vacancy you are trying to fill. Your teams are under stress as they are anticipating more work, CVs start coming in as a result of your vacancy announcement. You have given little thought to the vacancy announcement and reissued the last one you had so as to get a head start on recruitment. Little or no discussion was had before sending the ad to KMP. ‘Let’s just get it out there,’ you were told. And the search begins.

CVs start trickling in and automatically you are drawn to the same background and same profile of the last person that left. Experience is key, yet they need to be trained and educated. The sooner they get going, the better for business. Interviews go the same way. You know what you are looking for and although you liked a few candidates, one stands out as she has done the job before. She didn’t come across too well during the interview and something in your gut sends a warning sign, yet she knows your computer programmes and would be an easy fit. That’s it … she’s hired … problem solved. Or is it?

Did you miss the signs?

Fast forward two months and there is friction in the team. The new addition is snappy and has an attitude that is putting a strain on the team. The first complaints start rolling in. She’s good at her job yet she comes in late, saunters in to be exact, and her tone of voice is unacceptable when dealing with clients. It is at this stage that you wonder what choice you would have made had you taken heed of the receptionist’s observation that she had been rude to him over the phone. This was just one sign but looking back there were a few more. She had turned up late, sat down as soon as she walked into the interview room and that ill-feeling you got whilst interviewing her … was that yet another missed red flag?

Learn to read the signs

Interviews are tedious and most people find them very stressful. Yet they should be an opportunity for employers and potential employees to get to know each other and make a reasoned assessment. Yet, how many of us base this assessment on the consideration as to whether the individual in front of us will actually fit into the team or fit into our company culture in general? How many of us actually consider attitude as the tipping point in an interview? And if we were to start, what are the tell-tale signs?

  1. Notice everything. Read through email correspondence and pay attention to tone;
  2. Ask the receptionist to call the candidate and observe their attitude over the phone when the interviewer is not around;
  3. Observe the way she or he walks in;
  4. Observe intently for the first two minutes and pick up on the micro details. The way she sits, the way he dresses, eye contact, etc.;
  5. Finally, sense check. Take a moment to ‘feel’ the individual in front of you. What is your body saying? Does the individual make you feel uneasy? Is she talking over you? Is he too quiet and diverting questions? These are all signs that will give you a clearer picture of the individual’s personality.

Remember … it’s all about attitude

Ultimately when deciding upon a candidate or another we often make the mistake of taking what we feel is the easier way out. Someone that we don’t have to train, that can slip into the role with ease and hit the ground running. When doing this we miss one all-important factor – the fit. Each company will have a different definition of what fits, yet we are all able to recognise a person who doesn’t fit. It’s a question of reading the signs and acting upon them. Allowing for your heart to weigh in on a decision and not simply your rational mind. For it is not the practical application of skill that will finally work out but the attitude that a person brings to your company. Skills can be learnt, yet attitude is hard to change if it doesn’t fit.

Mikela Fenech Pace is an HR Consultant and Executive and Team Coach, and founder of Upstream. She loves to be around people and understanding what makes them tick. Her work is driven by the belief that people deserve to come to work with a smile and leave with a smile. She loves reading and travelling and Marsalforn – Gozo is the most beautiful place on earth.