Is this scenario familiar to hiring managers? You’ve posted job descriptions across portals. Browsed through CVs for months. Conducted interviews day in and day out. And examined skill assessment test results over and over again. Yet, you’ve not been able to make the decision of whom to hire.

If you find yourself going back and forth between candidates, maybe it’s time to look for something other than experience; maybe, it’s time to look for attitude!

Here’s a note on the value of doing that, driven by some of our own experiences (yes!).

The issue with experience

While looking to fill a position, we are inundated with resumes of candidates with years of experience, and all the expertise and skills you could ever want. Over time, experience has become the easiest way to define the parameters of the new hire. Focusing on the experience also makes it easy to shortlist candidate resumes that should progress in the process. But that experience may hide some of the other characteristics that matter. The candidate may have experience but may lack communication skills or may have a problem with deadlines or may be known for setting the wrong example for the others.

The problem isn’t that they are not adept at their job, and neither that they lack the skills or experience needed to excel. Without the right attitude, they may be the wrong fit with your company culture. And statistics show as much. More than 80% of new hires have the skills needed for a job but still, fail as an employee.

The situation has become a bit more complex as technology-led disruption has hit our business. The skills that were applicable 5 years ago are that little bit less relevant now. Organizations are being forced by the market needs to adopt new technologies and fundamentally different ways of working. In such a scenario, the value of experience may be less than it used to be. In fact, experience may even be a barrier to the adoption of new technology adoption -surely an untenable situation!

This makes hiring managers ask themselves one question. Whether to hire someone with the experience needed to do the job or someone who has the right attitude to make things work.

Seeking candidates with experience isn’t wrong. Obviously, you cannot have an entry-level candidate lead a large team. There’s no doubt that experience is invaluable in key areas like team management, business understanding, and in the creation of systems and processes. These are all extremely important.

But, that said, in an industry as essentially dynamic as ours, it is the attitude that may often make for the right hire.

Why attitude matters

Hiring for experience is usually easy for organizations – because the experience is easier to evaluate and test. As is the norm, most applicants end up being hired for their experience. When you hire a candidate for the experience he/she possesses, you expect them to drive the intended results through their knowledge, insight, and expertise. You believe that they have “been there, done that.”

However, if they lack the right attitude, you may end up with a candidate whose experience or skills bring little value to your organization.

Every organization needs the right kind of people to power ahead. That’s why, the mantra, “hire for attitude, train for skills”, often rings true across HR teams.

Hiring a candidate with the right attitude can help you find that special someone your company needs to grow. While that might be a candidate with relatively less experience the potential value they can deliver to your organization is immense.

  • People with a attitude and the ability to learn will be more flexible, adaptable to change, and more driven to prove themselves. They seek out challenges and want to do the hard stuff to showcase their capabilities.
  • They will be more open to feedback and coaching.
  • Even freshers, straight out of college, can be a great asset to your organization; with their bright and energetic attitude, they can add some zing to your workforce.
  • Because they have a ready-to-learn attitude, with the right support and training they can be trained to deliver results – soon enough.
  • Candidates with optimistic outlooks, strong work ethics, and the willingness to try (and excel) at anything that is put in front of them pull everybody else also up mentally and emotionally.
  • Apart from performing well at their jobs, they offer a fresh new perspective born out of a worldview different from that prevailing within the organization. This freshness generates out-of-the-box thinking, new solutions to old problems, and innovation.
  • Because their personal goals and values align well with that of your company’s, they can be a tremendous asset to your organization – as they bring something that no amount of experience can automatically bring – alignment.

Attitude for accomplishment

Picture this: 46% of newly-hired employees fail within the first 18 months of their job, and only 19% achieve success – not because they lack technical skills, but because they are poor at accepting feedback, lack the required interpersonal skills, are unable to understand and manage their emotions, lack the necessary motivation to excel, and have the wrong temperament, among others.

That’s why it’s extremely important to hire candidates with the right attitude who can bring an air of positivity with them. These are the people ready to take up new challenges, are willing to learn, and are eager to fit perfectly into the organization – those who make the organizational goals their own goals and help drive success with vigor and motivation.

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