Concept Onyx Recruitment

Hire for Attitude, Train for Skills

It hadn’t really occurred to me until I started writing this article, that during my 18 years in business all of my most successful recruits have been hired for personality and trained for skills.

Concept Personnel offer recruitment in the creative, marketing and digital sector and all of our consultants are creative industry veterans.  We take pride in doing recruitment differently and saw the value in hiring that way. Consequently the understanding of our sector is unrivalled. Our staff came with oodles of sector knowledge, the right attitude and learned to recruit on the job.

I looked for those with the best people skills, visible passion and who enjoy helping people. Those who don’t just work for the pay cheque. These recruits have the best work ethic, the best attitude and fire in their belly. I look for characteristics like energy, enthusiasm, opinions, confidence, and a friendly competitive edge.

If you read a lot of business books, listen to podcasts or inspirational speakers, you’ll know that a Company’s culture, values and beliefs are vital to get right. If you communicate that well and fill your business with people who see your vision and understand your raison d’etre they will attract customers who share your beliefs and will build the most amazing long-lasting relationships.

Now I understand that when you’re hiring for a highly skilled role, you obviously need to hire a highly skilled person and there are some circumstances where skills need to come first but what should you do when you can’t find the highly skilled person? My suggestion is to focus on people with less experience but who have a good attitude and an aptitude for learning then give that person the resources to learn. In no time at all that new recruit will not only become the highly skilled candidate you were hoping to find but they will also be loyal and part of the belief tribe that you wanted to surround yourself with.

How to Hire for Attitude?

The problem with hiring for attitude is that it’s a pretty ambiguous term so it’s important to establish exactly what you’re looking for. Sit down with your team, your mentors or your sounding boards, and write a personality profile along with your job description.  And then follow these few tips and you should come out with the right person for the job.

Make the candidate feel comfortable. Create an interview process that allows the candidates natural personality to shine not just their interview face.  Invite them in for an informal chat explain there’s no dress code and you’re more interested in the inside of their head than the inside of their wardrobe. Guaranteed, the candidate will arrive feeling more relaxed and you’ll also get an insight into their idea of “casual” dress too which is often quite telling.

Ask the right questions. Spend time thinking about what attitude and character traits you’re looking for and then research relevant culture fit questions. If you want someone with an aptitude and a passion for learning you could ask ‘what was the last extracurricular thing that you learned?’. Asking ‘how would your current colleagues describe you?’ will give you insight into whether they give any thought to how they’re perceived. If you want to know how a person manages and overcomes failure you could ask ‘What will you do if you don’t get this job?’. You’re looking for an optimist not a pessimist so you want them to say that they’ll follow up and learn from the experience so they can do better at the next interview or when they reapply to the company in the future.

Get the team involved. It’s important to create bonds and teams within your organisation. So make sure the team feel like they’ve had a part to play in the hiring decision. If you have time in your process, you could invite the candidate along to the next team building event or have a team lunch where the candidate can integrate and socialise with the team.

Personality profiles.  To really get under the skin of a candidate you could use personality profiling.  DISC profiling is great as it gives you a result for the candidate’s natural personality as well as their adapted workplace personality.  

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) tell us that 85% of HR decision-makers admit that their organisation has made a bad hire and 39% admit that the interviewing and assessment skills of their staff should be improved. So why not have a think about including an attitude interview into your recruitment process? I can proudly tell you that it’s worked for me every time and helped me to build my incredible team.


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