You don’t hire skills, you hire attitude! Four rules for hiring smart

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You don’t hire skills, you hire attitude!  Four rules for hiring smartThe proposition is undeniable: the people make the company; therefore great people make a great company.

So why are most companies still focusing on educational qualifications, previous experience and other learned traits when they should be looking for a certain type of character?

The ‘right fit’ is all too often heard as a reason for rejection by potential candidates; however, it is rarely explained. For the most part, companies are seeking the elusive and often intangible qualities of their current star employees without attempting to ascertain what these traits are.

There are of course, exceptions to this. Over the last few years, a number of forward thinking companies have asked themselves that question. They've analysed what separates their winners from their losers, good hires from bad hires. These companies compete in a wide range of industries — from airlines to steel, computers to hotels — but they all arrived at the same answer: What people know is less important than who they are. Hiring is not about finding people with the right experience. It's about finding people with the right mind-set. These companies hire for attitude and train for skill.

Four principles define the new model for smart hiring.

What You Know Changes, Who You Are Doesn't
Popeye was right: "I y'am what I y'am". The most common hiring mistake is to find someone with the right skills but the wrong mind-set and hire them hoping that they’ll change/adapt.

The single best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. Personalities essentially remain the same throughout your life, however skills can be acquired. Forward-thinking companies are now focusing their shortlisting process on the candidate as a person rather than their capabilities. That is why personality psychometric testing is on the up and is being used by more and more companies. Companies such as the U.S. Air Force research on personality types that began in the 1950s. For decades, researchers tracked their subjects by observing their behaviour and interviewing their families, friends, and colleagues. Their findings were that basic personality traits did not change, "Introverts were introverts; extroverts were extroverts. The descriptions were constant."

You can’t find what you’re Not Looking For

Bill Byham, perhaps the world's foremost authority on hiring, is president and CEO of Pittsburgh-based Development Dimensions International (DDI). He's also the father of a hiring methodology that goes by many names ("Targeted Selection" is the most popular) but revolves around a simple idea: the best way to select people who'll thrive in your company is to identify the personal characteristics of people who are already thriving and hire people just like them. In the Byham model, companies work to understand their star performers, identify their target behaviours and attitudes, and then develop interview questions to find people with those attributes. Byham is quick to emphasize that these questions are about facts and achievements, not psychoanalysis.

The Best Way to Evaluate People is to Watch Them Work

A few companies take this rule literally — none more so than BMW who have built a simulated assembly line. Job candidates get 90 minutes to perform a variety of work-related tasks. Charles Austin, an Atlanta-based consultant with DDI, helped design the facility. He says people who don't have the mental stamina to meet BMW's "aerobic workplace" requirements don't get hired.

Cessna's Independence plant takes simulation beyond front-line workers. Austin developed an elaborate role-playing exercise for managers that simulate a "day in the life" of a beleaguered executive. A job candidate spends up to 12 hours in an office with a phone, fax, and in-basket stuffed with files and letters. Throughout the day the prospect works through memos and handles problems. ("We'll call and pretend to be an irate customer and let him deal with that," Austin says). Cessna has hired roughly 100 people in Independence using this day-in-the-life simulation, including an 8-person management team and the plant manager.

You Can't Hire People Who Don't Apply

Companies that take hiring seriously also take recruiting seriously. Successful companies seldom lack for job candidates. Last year, there were nearly 40 applicants for every person hired at Southwest Airlines. Silicon Graphics hired 2,700 people in 1995 and received more than 50,000 résumés. But the goal is to have the right job candidates, not the most.

Companies that hire smart usually start their recruiting efforts close to home — with their own people. It makes sense: it takes a certain kind of person to thrive at SGI, and those people tend to spend time (personally and professionally) with people like themselves.

Article supplied by Paramount HR & Recruitment Services