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Does Experience or Attitude Matter Most?

Posted by Kate Seat on 10/23/15 12:00 AM
Topics: retail management, student employees

Hiring employees can be one of the most difficult tasks managers face. You want to ensure that any new employees will fit in well with your existing staff as a good addition to your team. When hiring, do you typically look for an extensive or appropriate job history, or is a willingness to work hard enough to make you give someone a chance? Which should you rely on: experience or a great attitude?

Check out the following excerpt from Small Business Trends for the answer.

What matters most when hiring employees — experience or attitude?

According to a survey by Futurestep, it’s neither.

The poll asked executives what the most important factors are when hiring employees.

  • 16 percent say a job candidate’s attitude (such as confidence or assertiveness) matters most.
  • 24 percent say prior work experience matters most.
  • 27 percent say a job candidate’s skills matter most.
  • 33 percent say a candidate’s motivations and drivers matter most.

What exactly do respondents mean by “motivations and drivers?”

For instance, the study notes, some employees might be motivated by power, such as the drive to achieve greater responsibility, influence and status on the job. If your workplace is competitive, that motivation would be great for new employees to have, since it would help them succeed.

On the other hand, if your workplace is more collaborative and relaxed, a power-motivated employee probably wouldn’t be a good fit and would not do well.

How can you uncover a job candidate’s motivations?

This typically isn’t something you consider when interviewing employees, and finding out the answer will require a little more probing than the common questions you probably ask. While you can learn about a person’s experience and skills from their resume or job application, finding out what drives them to do what they do is a little more complex.

Here are some suggestions to do that:

Tap Into Your Network

The survey found that more than half of employers turn to their professional network of contacts first when looking to fill open positions. Part of your search can be asking your contacts to explain a bit more about what they think motivates the candidates they recommend. Especially if they’ve worked with the person before, your contacts will probably have some good insights into whether this person is driven by money, recognition, status, collaboration, socially responsible actions or other combination of factors.

Monitor Their Social Media Persona

Watching people on social media can also be a good way to uncover “passive job seekers” — those who aren’t actively searching for new jobs, but could be recruited if offered the right opportunity. Almost one-third of survey respondents said that passive job seekers tend to be the best candidates.

Ask the Right Questions

During an interview, you’ll need to probe deeper to uncover motivations. Asking the following questions can help:

  • What motivated you to leave your prior job/s?
  • What was most rewarding for you about [an accomplishment they achieved]?
  • What makes you happiest in a job?
  • What do you look for in a work environment?
  • Why did you want to [acquire a skill they learned, such as a certification]?


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