0151 348 6666


0151 348 6666



Recruiting for attitude as opposed to skills

It never ceases to amaze me as to how many employers are blinded by an applicant’s skills and/or qualifications, which whilst important, are not as important as an applicant’s attitude. Employees can gain new skills and qualifications;

however, they will rarely change their basic attitude – so you need to test this out, find out what they are really like, in detail, at the interview stage. There are a number of ways of doing this: psychometric tests that can help identify attitudinal tendencies, Panel Interviews diminish the possible “horns or halo” effect that can happen when interviews are completed by a solo interviewer.  The “horns or halo” effect is when you allow one trait, either good or bad to cloud your judgement and effectively overshadow any contradictory evidence, good, well thought out questions.Too often clients ask for help in managing the performance or dismissing a relatively new employee and 9 out of 10 times the reason cited is that they have the wrong attitude to the job. All this heartache could have been avoided by “recruiting for attitude, training for skill”

Many companies look for a “can do” attitude – I believe that companies need to look for a “will do” approach instead – you can train a monkey to do something – however, getting them to do it without bribing them is a different matter! Do you really want staff that you need to bribe to do their job

Real Life Experience

An organisation that I was working for had put the required time and effort into creating their job description and person specification; Their person specification included 19 essential criteria and a similar number of desirable criteria which left the organisation wondering why they could not get anyone to fit the bill. What they were looking for was as “rare as hen’s teeth” – basically their ideal candidate did not exist, they had gone way over the top! When we critically reviewed the specification the client came to the conclusion that there were only 3 essential criteria and the remaining 16 items were either desirable or obsolete! They settled on 3 essential criteria and 10 desirable criteria, which were then rated in order of importance.

As part of the review many of the skills, qualifications and experience were removed and replaced with attitudinal criteria.The revised specification and subsequent advert were successful in attracting the required talent to help the organisation move forward.


Start by listing all the skills, knowledge, experience and attitudes required to complete the role by an effective employee. Then divide that list into essential and desirable criteria – removing or re-wording any criteria than could be discriminatory on basis of race, colour, ethnic or national origin, religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation, disability, appearance, age or marital status. Review your list to see how realistic it is and/or whether any of the requirements could be trained after the successful applicant started. Make sure that you essential criteria are only those criteria that it would be impossible to do the job without possessing! 

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