Skills vs. Attitude Which is more important?

October 10, 2018
Career Advice

The other day I had lunch with a client for whom we have been sourcing skilled trade hires in preparation for the upcoming busy season. He brought up some interesting points about the candidates and it was not about just the skill level, but their personality and “attitude”. I have heard this quite a bit from various production managers, HR managers and supervisors in our market. We are continuing to notice more and more during our placements that companies are focusing more on attitude and personality and not just their skills and background. We are selecting a candidate to submit for consideration it is important to not only consider their skill level and abilities but to also see talk with about non-skill related questions. Companies are not wanting to churn through employees as much as they once did and be sure they are the right fit. As a recruiter it is important to have that connection with clients and candidates to better understand what they are looking for beyond the skill level. The following are items that should be taken into considered when you are making a placement:

The Actual Job:

For some jobs, it makes sense to focus more on attitude; for others, technical skills are of prime importance. For example, when I placed for an Accounting Manager I had to not only consider the very specific skill set for the role, but to also analyze how the candidate would fit with the personality of the CFO. You must keep in mind that the best attitude in the world still won’t matter much if the technical skill isn’t in line as well.

Company Culture

As a recruiter/headhunter you get resumes from candidates with tons of experience and high levels of enthusiasm.  However, once on the job, you could find out they’re a complete dud. What gives? After all, they seemed to have both the right technical skills and a good attitude.

We in the industry know it often comes down to poor fit. For example, if your culture is fast-paced and collaborative, and your new hire is more laid back, likes to fly solo, then they’re not going to thrive in your environment. The right skills will not change if the candidate’s personality does not fit the environment. So cultural fit is critically important to assess in addition to skills and attitude.

The Supervisor

The personality traits of the candidate and their interaction with the supervisor is vital. A couple of months back I staffed for another accounting role. After the supervisor interviewed the candidates, I debriefed each candidate after their interviews, came to the conclusion that this was a more challenging role to fill but not because of the accounting software but because of the personalities specifics. After learning more about the supervisor’s style from the debriefings, I was able to find the right personality match for them and my candidate is not only happy, but has drawn rave reviews from the supervisor.

Consider the candidate.

When you’re trying to decide between a candidate with a better attitude and one with higher skill level, it can be difficult to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each. In such a difficult situation I make sure that I utilize my well-honed process to make the best decision. For example, a few of the questions I like to ask are: Does one candidate seem more focused on learning and skill development than another? Who has stronger communication skills? Who works more effectively in a team? Who is going to fit into the culture better?

Another specific example of something I’ve had to look at to for a client, was to analyze if a candidate from a corporate environment was a cultural fit for a computer company where everyone wears some form of Converse/Abercrombie/GAP/Old Navy every day. In the end, your goal is to ensure that your candidate is the right fit and connects well with the environment and can do the job at 110%.

Need help hiring candidates with the right skills and a great attitude?

Call in the experienced recruiters and headhunters that can help you. The reason why you want experienced recruiters is because the philosophy is completely different when we are sourcing for a permanent position/direct hire position, because we are looking for the connection that fits your culture and excel at the job. If you are in the market for this, please do not hesitate to reach out.

In conclusion, whether you are an employer, recruiter, or a candidate hoping to land a job, it is important to remember to consider not just the skill fit, but the personality and cultural fit as well.

As always if you have any questions please comment below or message me directly. I will have another article next week.

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