Employers are realizing that the key to a successful hire depends on attitude rather than technical competencies. A recent Leadership IQ study found that attitudes drove 89% of hiring failures, while11% were due to technical skills. In other words, hires didn’t fail due to incompetence but because of their inability to fit in with the corporate culture and its employees. The study analyzed over 20,000 new hires and 1,400 HR executives.
According to the study, 46% of new hires will fail within 18 months, and only 19% will succeed. Furthermore, 82% of hiring managers saw signs that their new employees would fail but often ignored them. Some of the most prominent mistakes organizations make include focusing too much on technical skills, falling prey to cognitive biases, and lacking a cohesive employer culture.
Perhaps one of the most significant findings of the Leadership IQ study was that hiring failures result from attitude and not technical skills. When hiring managers assessed why new hires failed, the top five reasons were: coachability, emotional intelligence, motivation, temperament, and technical competence.
Organizations are increasingly placing importance on soft skills as the critical differentiator between equal candidates. LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends report found that over 90% of organizations said that soft skills are just as important, if not more, in hiring than hard skills. Furthermore, 89% said a failed hire was due to a lack of soft skills.
Technical skills are easier to evaluate and assess than attitude (or soft skills), so managers tend to focus on these skills in the hiring process. The first steps organizations can take if they want to hire by attitude are defining the attitudes that separate their best employees from everyone else. According to the study, only 15% of HR executives say their company has determined the essential attitudes.
According to Leadership IQ, 82% of managers reported that, in hindsight, the failed hires elicited subtle cues during the interview process that they would fail. These signs included negative language, arrogant answers, lack of focus, use of absolute language, and more. The study cited that managers didn’t act on those warning signs because they were pressed for time, lacked confidence in interviewing abilities, or were too focused on other matters.
Another reason why bad candidates pass the interview process can be attributed to a hiring manager’s optimism and confidence. They tend to overestimate their ability to improve the flawed candidate. Other times, a hiring manager’s desperation to fill a position can cause them to turn a blind eye to a candidate’s flaws.
Since the recruiting process can be long, time-consuming, and costly, hiring managers may unconsciously want specific candidates to be perfect so that the process can end. However, this opens up the door for confirmation bias, a psychological concept where individuals unintentionally search for data supporting their beliefs and ignoring contradictory information.
Suppose a hiring manager is impressed by a candidate’s skills and experience. In that case, they may unconsciously pay attention to answers that support their belief that the candidate is suitable and ignore cues, such as attitude, that show the candidate’s flaws.
The recruitment process is not immune to unconscious biases. The hiring manager can fall victim to specific biases that may impact their thought processes during interviews and cause them to overlook talented candidates for mediocre ones.
According to Leadership IQ, most surveyed human resources executives indicated that they had many employees who didn’t have the right attitude to fit in with the culture. Furthermore, only 2% said everyone in the organization had the right attitude, while 56% said that half or less of current employees had the right attitude. However, only 20% of companies have fully defined the attitudes unique to their corporate culture.
To hire people to fit their culture, managers must understand the attitudes that define their organizations and their employer brand. However, a majority of companies have not made an effort to explain their employer brand clearly. Only 9% of HR executives believe their recruiting process always represents their corporate brand, while 39% say it represents their employment brand. A strong employer brand helps organizations attract better candidates and is three times more likely to result in a quality hire.
According to the Harvard Business Review, one of the challenges many organizations face is hiring employees whose personal values are compatible with the organization. One of the main goals of hiring for attitude is to build a workplace culture and brand that’s unique to the organization. This can’t be achieved through hard skills alone.
In the Leadership IQ study, 812 managers had significantly more hiring success than others, and this was due to a job interview approach that emphasized interpersonal and motivational issues. While highly perceptive individuals can better assess a candidate’s future performance based on attitudes, a majority of managers lack the skill to read candidates accurately.
Hiring managers who focus on evaluating candidates for attitude may see significant improvements in their hiring success. Many managers tend to concentrate on technical skill as it’s easier to measure, but hard skills are poor predictors of an employee’s success.
The Leadership IQ study sheds light on why so many new hires fail. It found that the majority of the failures were due to attitude and not technical competencies. Factors such as cognitive biases, lack of employer culture, and emphasis on hard skills can play a role in hiring managers picking the wrong candidate.
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