Hire for Attitude, Train for Skills

Nov 8, 2023

In any job market, the interviewing process brings many challenges. Organizations want to find the right people for their roles, but the need to get those jobs filled quickly sometimes gets in the way of achieving that goal. That sense of urgency tends to push companies to hire people who seem to have the right skills—and then hope the fit works out. Unfortunately, that strategy doesn’t always work.


When companies prioritize attitude, however, they get the right people more frequently than when they hire based on skills. That may seem counterintuitive. After all, employees need to accomplish specific tasks, so if they have the right skills they should be golden, right? But hiring for attitude works—and here’s why.


Better Team Cohesion and Cultural Fit

Hiring for attitude requires hiring managers to talk more about organizational values earlier in the interview process. Not only are they looking for fit, but they want candidates to look for it too. Having these conversations improves the chances that new team members share the company’s values and are more likely to mesh well with the existing organizational culture. When this fit is strong enough to promote a cohesive and productive working environment in which team members can collaborate effectively and maintain positive relationships, hiring managers know they have made a good hire.


More Adaptability and Resilience

The world and the work that organizations want their teams to do are always changing. Companies need team members who can adapt and adjust. When they hire for attitude, they are generally looking for—and selecting for—a mindset that supports embracing new ideas, learning from mistakes, and persevering when times are hard. People who bring this kind of resilience on day one can make a big difference at their organizations.


Higher Employee Engagement and Productivity

A positive attitude is typically contagious, inspiring others within the team to maintain a similar outlook. Therefore, why would anyone choose to bring someone with a negative outlook on board? Engaged and motivated employees are more likely to be productive and committed to achieving the organization’s goals. This approach not only contributes to a more enjoyable work environment but also drives better overall performance and results for the organization.


Better Problem Solving

There are certainly skills and approaches that can help people solve problems. Yet when people have a solution-focused possibility-creating mindset, they are instantly better problem solvers. Organizations want team members who can come up with creative and innovative ways to overcome challenges and who anticipate other obstacles. When they hire for attitude, companies are more likely to find these valuable traits in their new team members.


Greater Growth Potential

Skills can be taught and developed over time, but attitude is often more difficult to change. Individuals who have a growth mindset and eagerness to learn are already open to acquiring new skills and knowledge throughout their tenure. Even when people come on board with relevant and needed skills, they usually still need more training. It is far easier to build skills than to change attitude and mindset.


The Bottom Line

When an organization selects a new team member, it is making an investment in them. By hiring for attitude, it benefits from their experience while helping them learn new skills and become increasingly more valuable to the team and organization. Of course, companies always want people to hit the ground running and make a difference as soon as possible. But in the big picture, it’s far preferable to have someone who continues to improve than someone who arrives with a fixed set of skills and is unable or unwilling to grow.

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