“Hire for Attitudes, train for Skills?”

11 Jun

In my last blog post “How to find the RIGHT people for your team?” I introduced some ways, how managers decide which people they are going to hire and which not. So I found out that you need “A-players” and “high-standard people” to build a creative and innovative team and to achieve your mission.

However, in one of my blog posts “Future without qualification” I wanted to know, whether qualification or skills are more important. After I did some research I got a whole different view of this topic. From qualification or skills I came to attitude or skills.

For this blog post I questioned myself, what is more important for the managers and the recruiters, attitude or skills? I found some very interesting opinions and answers on this question, which I will show you in the following.

The first article “Employers hire on attitude over skills” by Richard Taylor demonstrated some very sapid statistics. He said that they had asked 1000 business owners to answer these questions and in conclusion they found out that “96pc of employers would hire someone who did not have a complete set of skills but displayed the right attitude over an applicant with the perfect skills but who lacked the right mindset”.

Furthermore “two thirds of employers said if they had to reduce their workforce they would fire someone with a perfect skills set over someone with deficient skills but sporting the right attitude”. Already from this statistics we see that attitude wins. At the end the business owners were asked to rank the six most important attitudes and the answer was “commitment, honesty, trustworthiness, adaptability, accountability, and loyalty”.

So from the statistics we see that attitude is more important that skills. However Bill Fischer displays in his article “Want innovation? Hire for skills, not attitude!” a whole different opinion. He does not agree with the most common recommendation “Hire for attitudes, train for skills”.

He claims that you need skills for innovation and change.

“Hiring for skills, instead of attitude, changes everything. For one thing, if you do it right, and that means hiring the best obtainable, rather than simply settling for the best available, you’re going to be looking at a team of ambitious high-performers, not a team of happy-campers.”

In addition he advises that if you cannot find a person with the right skills, you better do not hire anybody than hire somebody with good attitudes but without the necessary skills. He also said that all in all this is not about attitude it is about skills meaning the “raw talent” of a person.

So Bill Fischer shows a completely different view in comparison to the statistics in the first article. For him the skills are more important than the attitude. However I think that one cannot exist without the other. In my opinion I think I would not weight one over the other. I believe that both skills and attitude are very important and necessary in a job. But is this the case in nowadays workplace?

The author of a blog post from the website of “Davis, Staffing, Inc” agrees that attitude is more crucial than skills.

“Technical skills can be taught, but attitude is something an individual has naturally developed; this is one of the primary reasons why attitude should be valued over job skills.”

However the author also demonstrates that there is no “right” attitude. The manager and the recruiter have to find out what attitude they are looking for and then they can decide from the job interview, in which they get to know the job candidate’s attitude, whether this is the attitude they want.

This seems to be right, because in my last blog post I wrote down, how managers need to know what people they want to build the teams they want. The most interesting thing is that this author agrees that attitude is more important, but also claims that there is no “right” attitude.

The last opinion I want to point out for you is from an article called “Attitude vs. Skills – would you rate one over the other in the workplace?” by Viv Oyolu. He claims that this depends on the job that the person has to do. In his example an employee for a back-office position, who has no contact with clients, would need more skills than attitude. However a personal assistant position is the right job for a person with more attitude than skills.

So Viv Oyolu shows a mix of both opinions. For him it depends on the job, whether skills or attitude is more relevant. But at the end he changes his view. He agrees that attitude would triumph over skills and he also would always choose attitude over skills, because

“You can train anyone up to have the necessary skill levels required because they already have the right attitude to learn, rather than have someone who thinks they know it all, and probably drive me crazy everyday with an attitude that stinks!”


After reading all these different opinions, I probably change my view of the topic too. I do not think that both, attitude and skills, should be weighted the same. I agree that attitude should be weighted more and the recommendation “Hire for attitude, train for skills” is probably right. Of course skills are still important, however Viv Oyolu is totally right saying that you need the attitude to learn. It is more important that you want to learn and want to work in a team than having all the technical skills.


3 Responses to ““Hire for Attitudes, train for Skills?””

  1. Fenja June 11, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    What a magnificent post, Melissa!
    You chose a very catchy phrase as a title that immediately draws attention to your post. Furthermore, the topic is really up-to-date, which I like a lot. You also did a great job at taking thoughts from your previous post, ‘digging deeper’, and then creating an interesting new post.
    Compared to your earlier posts, one can also really see the progress you made researchwise – as far as I can see you truly understood the concept of reporting (and evaluating) what experts have to say concerning a subject. Still, you do not neglect the personal aspect and manage to incorporate your own views on the topic.

    I completely support the idea ‘hire for attitude, train for skills’, however, I also had to think about the limits: Candidates can indeed show off their attitude and convince recruiters in an interview. But if they don’t possess the right skills/qualifications will they be invited to an interview in the first place?
    Maybe a thought you could incorporate in your next post?;)

    All in all, you really did great!

  2. HAS June 16, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    Very nice blog post, Melissa!

    The first thing that catched me was your title. Very-well chosen. Furthermore I appreciate that you let this phrase appear again and again modified or not. Of course this is a matter of structure and you really know how to bring things in an appealing and clearly-structured template.

    The other thing that was striking is how you referred to your last blog posts. Til now I have to admit that you did it the best among all blog posts I have read. Great!

    You know how to connect many different opinions, included your own opinion, asked critical questions and I can see a real progress in your work, Melissa. Go on like that.

    It is nice to see that your research really enriches your way of thinking and make you reflect on the topics again. That is why I like your conclusion at the end where you changed your opinion after having done some research.

    Have you ever made experience where the attitude weighted over skills?

    Besides that, I wondered if this phrase is more dependend on time periods. I guess in times of recession the employers need people with the right attitude to endure those difficult times. Whereas, in times of a boom the employers can be more selective and really hire people with skills to push the boom forward. I think it is hard to define it in such general term, don´t you think so?

    Nevertheless, brilliant blog post.

  3. juleswilma June 22, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    hey Melissa,

    I honestly have to say that you did a really great job here. The topic is very well chosen because it affects everyone especially us as students because we all want to have a good job in the future, right?! With that you also picked up on a topic we have already discussed in other classes which I think is great.
    I mostly like the way you contrasted different opinions on that issue and furthermore, one can also see how you changed your personal opinion on the topic throughout the post considering everything you have found out during your research coming to a nice personal conclusion at the end.
    I also liked how you chose the different pictures to structure your text which makes it easy for the reader to follow the arguments: in the beginning there are arguments in favor of attitude and then those in favor of skills. You didn’t only list these different arguments but also commented on them which shows the you understood what we have learned in class and applied it to you blog post.
    At this point, I can’t find any criticism here and just tell you keep going like this and I’m looking forward to your next post!
    Very well done!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: