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Should You Hire For Attitude Or Aptitude?

Should You Hire For Attitude Or Aptitude?

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According to a report by management consultant group McKinsey & Company, 57% of worldwide businesses say they’re facing a critical shortage of appropriately skilled entry-level workers, with vacancies at this level often remaining unfilled due to a gap in skills.


This is a surprising finding in the recruitment industry where “hire for attitude, train for skills’’ has become the mantra of recent years.  Many recruitment experts suggest that someone who may not have the appropriate training, but who has a positive work ethic and fits the company’s culture could fill these entry-level positions.

With this in mind, Fuse Recruitment takes a look at hiring for attitude versus hiring for aptitude.


Skills can be taught, but attitude is a reflection of personality

The concept behind hiring for attitude is that while skills can be taught, attitude is a reflection of the candidate’s personality, which is unlikely to change.  Recruiters in fast-changing workplaces often choose candidates based on their personality traits.  Flexibility, passion, and accountability are all attractive qualities in a prospective candidate and hiring someone without these characteristics often results in them failing in the position within the first few months.

Employers cite lack of ability to receive or act upon feedback, lack of motivation, and unsuitable temperaments as the most common reasons for early contract termination.  If they hire for attitude, the risk of this occurring is greatly reduced, which saves the company time, money and effort.

Many hirers believe that successful recruitment depends on evaluating the attitudes and personality traits of best performing staff and using this to define desirable characteristics in potential candidates.


Interest in the industry is essential

The most obvious problem with hiring for attitude is that although technical skills are more easily taught, not everyone will possess the necessary ability to learn these skills at an acceptable proficiency for the industry.  Furthermore, candidates that don’t have previous experience or a qualification in the industry are less likely to have the desire to learn the fundamental ins and outs of the business.

If the job is not in the candidate’s field, you should consider their motivation behind applying.  They may only be applying as a result of family pressure, or they may be unable to find relevant work in their field and using the position as a stepping-stone until they find something better.  If this is the case, no matter how adaptable or coachable the candidate, they are not a good long-term prospect for a company that wants to nurture talent.  Even if your candidate is willing to learn the essential skills of your business from scratch, training them is still an expensive and time-consuming process that may not be economically viable.


A fine line to negotiate

As a result, both attitude and aptitude must be taken into consideration when evaluating prospective candidates.  The key to hiring the right employee lies in striking the balance between attitude and aptitude, but it’s a fine line to negotiate. 

With business success on the line, walking that tightrope couldn’t be more important.