Why employers should hire for attitude

I recently read an article which resonated with me enormously. The article was written by Mark Murphy discussing some of the reasons new hires often fail. You can take a look at the article here.

The research in Mark’s article looked at over 20,000 hires from over 5,000 hiring managers. The study showed that almost 50% of new hires failed in the first 18 months. It is staggeringly clear from the statistics that hires which fail rarely have anything to do with experience; rather it is the attitude and interpersonal skills.

81% of failed hires were down to issues with attitude including; coachability, emotional Intelligence, motivation or temperament while only 11% failed on technical competence. The other 8% weren’t accounted for.

One of the more prevalent challenges I face as a Marketing recruiter is that there is a huge amount of emphasis placed on the importance of industry experience by hiring managers. Often this can be as specific as looking only interviewing candidates with marketing and / or business development experience within a particular practice area within a law firm, for example.

But successful marketing and business development professionals must also have good stakeholder management skills – whether they are facing people inside or outside of the business. The marketing function will usually span across a number of different departments, so finding an individual whose attitude and personality fits closely with the company culture should take total priority when sourcing and interviewing candidates.

I believe the fate of a new hire is often established during the initial interview process.

To identify a candidate’s true skill set, both interpersonal and technical skills, it is important to ask the sort of questions truly draw out the candidate’s attitude, their values, their ability to learn, take criticism and handle relationships with stakeholders empathetically as well as control their own emotions accordingly. This could be a whole other article in itself, but in my experience and as this article suggests, interviewers will focus on the candidate’s technical skills because this is the quickest, easiest area to assess. It doesn’t, however, prove as an effective predictor of the candidate’s failure or success within the business.

Candidates without the industry experience, but the right attitude, are likely to build better relationships with stakeholders in the business, be motivated to learn the product or service thoroughly, and will accept and use criticism in order to improve.

So, if I could give one piece of advice to hiring managers, particularly those that are struggling to find candidates with the technical skills and experience in this industry or marketing a similar product or service, it would be to consider candidates that don’t necessarily have a background in that industry exactly, but have an attitude that reflects the company values and culture, as well as an innate curiosity which will ensure these candidates are asking all the right questions in their first 90 days.