Hire for Attitude

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By Bonnie Johnson, AgCareers.com

If employers could only predict which new hires will fail, and which will succeed. It would save the time, energy and resources that it takes to search, hire, train and nurture an employee after turnover. If you hire the candidate with the most experience and highest GPA, they should become a star player in your organization, right?

If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, you realize this isn’t always true. That brings us to reevaluate what we mean by “the best of the best.” These job seekers with class president, star athlete, lead actor in a play, overachiever, record-setter and other experiences are impressive on a resume.  

We’ve heard people described as having a super-high IQ, but “no common sense.” Is average IQ the new best? It may be the perfect fit for some roles, especially when we consider emotional intelligence or soft skills (also known as employability skills). In addition, those so-called “B-players” are doing the work essential to an organization’s productivity and success. 

Employers often remark that they hire for attitude and train for skills because, “You can’t teach attitude.”

Perseverance, problem-solving, adaptability, work-ethic, critical-thinking and more soft skills enable employees to learn new tasks efficiently. In fact, when AgCareers.com polled agribusinesses about the top skills they were looking for in new graduate hires, teamwork was at the top, while technical knowledge was at the bottom. Similar results have also been found in surveys outside of the ag industry.

Measure your candidates’ teamwork and additional soft skills in the recruitment process. Ask interview questions that require emotional and behavioral answers:

•    You are in a meeting and a co-worker brings up an idea that you disagree with; how do you manage your reaction?

•    Describe an issue you’ve experienced in the workplace and what you did about it. How did you feel about the resolution? How did other team members feel about the solution?

•    What are your weaknesses, and how are you working to overcome them?

•    Have you ever worked with a person that you clashed with? Have you been able to overcome differences and establish a good working relationship?

•    What skills do you have that any employer would find valuable, no matter what the position or business type?How do you show these skills? 

•    When you need a break or a mental recharge at work, what do you do?

Don’t neglect the important step of checking in with references who can offer valuable input on a candidate’s soft skills. Then determine if this candidate’s skills, including emotional skills, are a good fit for your organization and the role. Attitude is a top predictor of employee success or failure. For more information, contact agcareers@agcareers.com 

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