Do You Hire for Attitude or Aptitude?

July 1, 20159:41 am1279 views

How do you hire? Are you the kind of people who would prefer the attitude of a candidate? Or, do you believe that aptitude simply trumped attitude?

In a bygone era, aptitude won as hiring the best talent regardless of attitude was fairly common. As long as an employee delivered the goods shortcomings were accommodated.

In recent years, there is a marked change in hiring practices. Company culture, office atmosphere, a litigious society, and a long list of other “fears”, are used as filters in the hiring process. Attitude has begun to trump aptitude in the hiring process.

Which one is better? Hiring for aptitude alone is definitely bad. Nobody needs a capable but a toxic person in the office. On the other hand, companies may find themselves flush with inspired, polite, fun, and at times charismatic people who are incapable of doing their jobs and delivering the value necessary for the company to thrive.

Thus, hire for both aptitude and aptitude!

See: The Perfect Hire Starts with The Perfect Job Posting

Business leaders have a responsibility to deliver outstanding results and typically this is accomplished through a myriad of processes. One of these processes includes the responsibility to hire, train, and engage an outstanding team – a team capable of working together synergistically to get things done! The right attitudes allow for collegial interactions and the right aptitudes drive productivity through engagement.

Though hiring for both skill and personality may seem like common sense, it is often difficult to accomplish for a variety of reasons. In order to promote a positive culture of talent acquisition in your business, here are the following four criteria must be an integral part of the screening and hiring and talent management processes.

1. Hire for attitude, but make certain there is aptitude.

Testing, review of references, background checks, verification of licenses, certificates, and degrees, and even additional interviewing processes where the candidate breaks down or explains how the work gets done are all examples of how to determine aptitude. Also, keep in mind it is far easier to train someone to your specifications than to teach them how to follow the Golden Rule in the workplace.

2. Never hire the best “available” candidate!

Far too often, we hire the best candidate in the pool of applicants. The best available candidate may not be good enough. In the short run, hiring candidates like this may alleviate the stress related to being short-staffed, but in the long run hurts the team and overall organisational effectiveness. Always hire the best candidate who meets all of the hiring criteria, keeping in mind no one is absolutely perfect. Moral: Do not settle… the time and effort of continuing a search are well worth it.

3. Set specific goals and meticulously manage your succession and growth plans.

An alternative to hiring highly skilled talent from outside the organisation? Focus on developing outstanding talent internally, because developing top-performers must be the basis of an effective succession plan. Employee engagement will soar, and as a result, turnover drops as well, which negates urgent hiring needs in the future.

Risk is nullified as your internal candidates are a known commodity and you avoid hiring “unknowns” from the outside. Finally, by ostensibly developing top performers and moving them into higher functioning positions where aptitude is essential, you can hire more for attitude with your “entry level” needs.

4. Hold under-performers, malcontents, and the “un-nice” accountable.

These are the people who have been given every opportunity to show they can change their behaviours — for everyone’s benefit including their own. Allowing employees like this to stick around is so detrimental to the health of an organisation. With no action on the part of management morale suffers. This puts a wedge between great results and the organisation – and the “rabble” will continue to make it worse over time. Act with integrity, but give the “dregs” their due.


Hiring the best and brightest means looking for those who possess an outstanding “can do” attitude which includes a professional, bright, and engaging personality. It also means their credentials have been completely vetted.

Later, as the team is managed and assessed, through a rigorous performance review process, if a hiring mistake is identified, act quickly to remedy the situation– it may hurt in the short run, but will have a beneficial impact in the long run.

Hiring for attitude and aptitude not only makes good sense, it has a profound impact on an organisation health, growth, and the all important bottom line.

See also: Making The Perfect First Day for New Hires

Source: LinkedIn Pulse

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