Attitude Versus Capability: A Guide for Hiring Managers

When weighing the pros and cons between attitude and capability, what should a hiring manager do? This article can help you decide on your priorities.
Attitude vs Capability when Hiring

Some hiring decisions are easier to make than others. For example, a perfect candidate would interview well and impress everyone. Then, after hiring, the new employee transfers seamlessly into your company’s culture and immediately shows productivity. Don’t expect this to happen too often (although it may be easier with our job portal, which is a LinkedIn Killer).

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One difficult decision a hiring manager often faces is the question of attitude versus capability. Certainly, having a candidate with clear examples of both a positive attitude and outstanding capability on a resume is the optimal situation. However, perfect candidates, much like anything perfect in life, are rare.

5 Things to Consider When Hiring the Perfect Manager

Hiring managers shouldn’t rely on an ideal candidate walking through the door in response to a job posting. Instead, the following considerations should be kept in mind.

1. Supervisor and Coworker Attitude Matters

A thorough hiring manager will generally have a meeting with the vacant position’s coworkers and supervisor before posting any sort of job listing. In this meeting, pay close attention to the supervisor’s demeanor. If the supervisor seems patient and understanding, you may want to consider a candidate with a positive attitude. Most individuals with a positive attitude can be easily trained, especially if the supervisor is willing to mentor a new employee.

However, if the supervisor seems stressed, curt, or distracted, you probably should consider an applicant with a proven capability for the position. Even if the new employee also has less of a positive attitude, skills matter in this situation. A supervisor that is obviously harried does not have time to help the new employee, who must “hit the ground running.” In this instance, capability could win out.

When attending this meeting, also consider the rest of the department. Coworkers have their own perspectives, and some employees may be more accepting of a new hire with a great attitude, while others may prefer to work with an individual with proven capability.

Office gossip generally should be avoided by hiring managers. However, it may be good to know what’s going on within the department when hiring. In these situations, a hiring manager may want to listen to what other employees say about the hiring department. However, while useful, any information gained this way should probably be taken with a grain of salt.

2. Task Yourself with Knowing the Tasks

Of course, the hiring manager should consider the position being filled when deciding between attitude and capability. For example, a positive attitude is probably what to look out for when hiring for a job that deals with the public, or a job in sales. Both occupations need employees who are pleasant, outgoing, and get the job done. Also, while skills are important for every career, these occupations rely more on quick-thinking and personality.

In other situations, such as hiring a computer programmer, capability should be given more weight in decision making than attitude. While no one wants to work with a surly employee, computer programmers, for example, do not need to have a charismatic attitude to succeed at their jobs. Provided computer programmers can communicate effectively and work within a team in an office environment, they can thrive and be productive. With jobs hinging on productivity, capability is most important.

3. Position Status Isn’t Just for Show

Trying to hire a competent individual for an entry-level position may be a mistake. Most individuals whose resumes present them as highly capable are already accomplished, and therefore have already been trained. If you are looking for an employee who accepts training easily and is open to your company’s workflow, you may want to consider an applicant with an excellent attitude. An excellent attitude in a new employee will go a long way in aiding a department in training. The employee will also be more likely to follow instructions to the letter.

However, if you are looking to hire a management-level position or higher, you probably should be looking for prospective employees with proven capability. While having a positive attitude is also desirable for these candidates, management needs to make tough calls and generally has a lot going on at any one time. These positions call for employees with a long resume that highlights their obvious capability.

4. The Trend of Increasing Capability and Decreasing Attitude

If you are torn between a candidate with great attitude versus a candidate with outstanding capability, realize that capability tends to increase while attitude tends to decrease over time. If someone has an attitude that seems mediocre during the interview process, they may become even more embittered as the daily grind takes hold. Eventually, you may end up with a difficult, resentful employee who hurts the team’s morale.

However, if you choose an individual who may be less capable at first, and your company is successful in training, that employee may grow to become outstanding at the job. They may even be able to help fellow employees achieve their full potential. A positive attitude can really give new employees a leg up when it comes to improving capability and becoming true members of the team.

5. Attitude is for Everyone

Even if you find an employee with outstanding attitude, realize that positivity needs to be nurtured. Irrelevant meetings, busy work, and cutthroat office politics take their toll on the most upbeat employee. Creating a workplace culture that is free from negative influences and avoids corporate jargon is imperative to creating and retaining employees with terrific attitudes. It may even help your business! Unfortunately, some employees may always have negative attitudes, but other workers could lighten up and come to appreciate the workplace for the opportunity it is, instead of seeing it as an obstacle to true happiness.

Attitude and Capability Can Go Hand in Hand

Being a hiring manager is challenging even under the best of circumstances. Deciding between a job candidate with a great attitude and a candidate with outstanding capability can be a difficult task. However, using the information in this article, you can make a decision that improves morale and productivity today.

If you’re a hiring manager trying to find that elusive perfect candidate, contact us at Mapertunity! Our Geographic information system (GIS) will help you locate qualified job candidates throughout the country.

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Lonnie Ayers

On a mission to help every job seeker find a job. Co-inventor of mapertunity, the most advanced graphical job search tool in existence. A 21st century tool for jobs and businesses.

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