Wyatt Sargent Fern Logo 2.pngJennifer Wyatt Sargent of Wyatt Sargent & Associates Ltd explains why attitude should play a major role in the recruitment process.

Wyatt Sargent & Associates is a human resources consultancy, not a recruitment agency, and yet I often write and talk about recruitment.  Why?  It’s because much of our work results from employers making bad recruitment decisions they have no idea how to resolve.

Listen to managers talk about their “problem” employees and it’s clear that often it isn’t a person’s ability to do the job that is the problem – usually it’s their attitude, hence the saying: “managers recruit for skills and experience, and fire for attitude.”

But how do you recruit for attitudes?  Most candidates would struggle to articulate their attitudes and competencies.  And for recruiting managers who lack the skills and training, attitudes are difficult to identify in a CV, interview or within background checks.

Attitudes are not right or wrong.  They are a result of our individual views of the world – windows that lead to the “WHY” of our actions.  Attitudes have a huge bearing on our behaviour, or “HOW” we do things.

If positive behaviour and attitudes lead to improved communication, motivation, management, individual growth, conflict resolution, and goal setting, it makes sense for attitudes and behaviour to be major criteria in the important task of recruiting people for your organisation as a first step to improving your investment in your human capital.

There are several things an organisation can do to optimise their recruiting results.  Firstly, a company must have robust recruiting policies and procedures, and ensure that the people responsible for recruiting are both required to use it and properly trained in how to use it.  Secondly, we recommend building a relationship with a good recruitment company and using them to shortlist candidates for niche jobs and senior positions rather than trying to do it all in-house.

Returning to attitude – unless you are recruiting for a position where a qualification is mandatory, think carefully before you require applicants to have a degree.  More important are attributes such as communication skills, work ethic and interpersonal skills, whereas technical skills can be taught.

When I first came to New Zealand, I talked to the HR Directors of two large American-based companies and asked why they only hired graduates when people without degrees often had an entrepreneurial approach and could think ‘outside the square’.  To my amazement, both told me that as their companies had strong, trusted brands and processes they actually didn’t want people who thought ‘outside the square’; they preferred to hire graduates!

Always remember that good hiring decisions actually improve the intelligence of your organisation.  And good hiring decisions depend as much on your new employees’ attitudes as their qualifications.

Wyatt Sargent & Associates Ltd are HR advisors to UHY Haines Norton.