Permanent Solutions

Does attitude trump experience?

on Thursday, 09 November 2017. Posted in Recruitment News

Does attitude trump experience?

Yes! Attitude is key to a successful placing, as opposed to simply matching an employee with the right skill set for the job.

Ask yourself; does the candidate possess the ability to learn? If the candidate is enthusiastic and intelligent they likely can be taught the required skills for the job, as opposed to a candidate with the required technical skill set but a less than enthusiastic attitude.


It is easier to learn a new skill than change a bad attitude.

As I was thinking about this I came across this YouTube clip which summarised this nicely. Mark Murphy is an American author who wrote Hiring for Attitude on this specific topic. In his book, Mark and his team researched 20,000 new employees over three years and discovered 46% of newly hired employees failed in the first 18 months. What was interesting about the study was the feedback from the managers as to why the employees failed; 89% failed because of their attitude for reasons such as: not coachable, no emotional intelligence, no drive or didn’t fit the company ethos. Only 11% failed because of a lack of required skills.

Watch his clip here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrznxVJPqmY


Take a minute to consider your business, think about your current employees, pick the best and the worst in your team and ask yourself why that is so. Are there any character traits relevant to your top employees that stand out? Likewise, consider any employees who haven’t performed as well in your business and consider the reasons why.

Every organisation has a unique culture and environment, and you want an employee who will not only fit this culture but embrace it.

When approaching your recruitment, weigh up technical skills and soft skills, to find the right mix for your needs. Be mindful of the approach of the candidate to your vacancy. Are they enthusiastic? Do they offer information readily about themselves? What is their response to other employees? Are they engaged and ask questions – or disinterested and distracted?

Consider Palmerston North Personnel as an example. Being a locally owned and operated business, Palmerston North Personnel is very different to the other recruitment agencies in the Manawatu, in both our approach to recruitment and our work culture.

Within Palmerston North Personnel my Recruitment Specialists are hired based on attitude; for their optimism, ability to communicate clearly and effectively and relate to a wide range of people. Not that I would overlook previous experience, but I consider it to be a bonus rather than an essential prerequisite.

I can train a Recruitment Specialist to develop their questioning skills, interviewing techniques and strategies. I cannot teach empathy, curiosity, resilience or a desire to succeed.

In looking to fill our current Palmerston North Personnel vacancy, I am assessing the balance of technical and soft skills, but for me, attitude will trump experience every time.

Claire Turner BBS

Managing Director

Our resident Managing Director, Claire is our in-house HR practitioner, qualified psychometric assessor and team manager.

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  • Does attitude trump experience?

    Does attitude trump experience?

    Yes! Attitude is key to a successful placing, as opposed to simply matching an employee with the right skill set for the job.

    Ask yourself; does the candidate possess the ability to learn? If the candidate is enthusiastic and intelligent they likely can be taught the required skills for the job, as opposed to a candidate with the required technical skill set but a less than enthusiastic attitude.

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