Attitude: The number one factor when hiring new employees

Why skills are not the most important thing when recruiting and attracting talent you hope to retain.

When you set out to hire a new employee for your company, you probably have a good idea of what sort of candidate you are looking for. The ideal candidate will have experience in the field, skills that fit the job, and up to date knowledge.

For many HR managers, finding and hiring talented and skilled people is the most important part, but there’s also one more factor everyone responsible for hiring should consider: Attitude
At the moment, millennials and the generations following them are one of the most highly educated groups in the world1 so there is a lot of talent to choose from. However, talent is not enough.

For a good fit within your company culture and a successful long-term hire, studying the applicants’ attitude will be more important than what college they graduated from..

attitude most important factor in the workplace

In the past, just finding the right talent with the required skills was a job in and of itself. Now there is an abundance of highly educated and qualified people to choose from, and it’s possible, even needed for anyone involved in hiring practices – whether you are an HR manger or a headhunter – to be more selective throughout the hiring process. When you’re trying to decide who to hire from a large pool of talented applicants, take a serious look at the attitude of each individual. For a good fit within your company culture and a successful long-term hire, studying the applicants’ attitude will be more important than what college they graduated from.

The importance of the right attitude in potential employees.

So, what should you look for in attitude? Think for a moment of yourself. If you would rather work with a naturally positive person over someone more aloof, you’re not alone. A 2015 study conducted at the University of Michigan found that a positive team offered more to a company than a more average team.2 Potential employees are beginning to understand how important attitude is to the workplace as well. 36% of professionals polled on Linked-In agreed that a positive attitude was one of the most important qualities employers are looking for.3

Positive attitude isn’t something someone can get a degree in, but it is something you absolutely need to look for when hiring an employee. This is because positive attitude very often brings with it positive qualities such as a collaborative spirit, an open-mindedness and a flexible approach, along with a proactive attitude towards taking responsibility and problem-solving. Those, along with any additional traits that are specific to your company culture, are more and more important in today’s workplace.

Positive employee's attitude is more and more important in today’s workplace.

attitude most important factor in the workplace
Attitude Most important factor
attitude most important factor in the workplace
Top 3 tips for finding positive attitude during the hiring process.

Not very many people put ‘positive attitude’ on their resume. In fact, the notion of positive attitude may even be misunderstood or trivialized. But a truly positive attitude is priceless for the future of your workforce and your entire organization. In order to figure out whether someone has a great attitude to go with the skills their position require, you may have to take a closer look at their person, how they act over the phone, by email as well as of course when they come through the door.

  • Ask your receptionist.
    When a potential candidate is speaking with you, they’re going to be on their best behavior. However, it is crucial to get a deeper understanding. So, can you find out how do they act when they think no one is looking? Your receptionist will probably come close to the answer, by watching the candidate before and after the interview. Pay attention to details.


  • Ask them about their worst failure.
    During the interview, ask your candidate what their worst failure was, and listen … less to the facts of their answers and more for attitude traits in their answer. For example, are they placing the blame on someone else? Are they justifying and giving excuses? Are they holding grudges and bitterness? Or are they taking responsibility for what happened? And have they learned from their failure? Watch their body language too: do they look away, are they fidgeting in their chair, and nervously twisting their fingers?


  • Test for the attitude you need behind the skills, first hand.
    For example, if you are looking to hire top performers that you need not to take no for an answer once on the job, then asking the applicant about it, is not nearly as revealing as getting them to demonstrate, indirectly of course. Test that very skill yourself. For example, try rejecting the person during the interview, say something like: “I do not believe you are right for this position” … and observe. Do they fight for the position? Do they sit forward and show you why they are the best? Do they demand an explanation? Do they do it gracefully? Or does it turn ugly? In sum, do they take no for an answer or do they show you the attitude you are hiring them to have with future clients and partners?

Attitude is one of the main skills of the future. In fact, it is the one that underlines and drives all other skills. It is attitude that can hinder or accelerate any other skill. Many companies nowadays hire based on attitude alone, and then train the skills they need into the employees they hire.

A great example of this is Southwest Airlines, who will find a position for any applicant that matches their company culture. Their forward-thinking hiring technique has grown the company from a fairly small airline to one of the biggest in the world. Although it may have started on a hunch, their methods are backed up by statistics. 89% of employees who leave a company, whether they quit or are fired, fail due to attitude.4 It turns out that for them, and I can imagine for many other companies – if not all, it is less expensive to train skills, than to keep losing skilled, bright and talented, however grumpy or out-right negative employees.

So, as an HR Manager, if you are having difficulty choosing which candidate is right for your company, choose the one with the best attitude. Skills are easy to polish up, and cheaper than having to search repeatedly for new employees over the long term. Skills are important, but attitude is everything.

Are you ready to find the best employees for your organisation? Download here the book The Power of Interactions and find some useful tips to choose people with the right employee’s attitude in order to take your organisation to the next level of success.

Align and Engage your entire workforce to achieve massive growth in your Organisation.


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