Attitude and personal traits are important factors when you recruit – equally important as skills and experience. To make sure that you gain the most from your hiring costs you must know what to look for.

What to look for 

If you don’t know what you are looking for, how do you know when you have found it?

The result of your screening and selection process for new employees is only as good as the requirements you have defined for the job. If the requirements feature only a few points concerning work experience to be associated with the responsibility areas, you are at risk of hiring someone who will mismatch the company culture and who will thus have more difficulties to perform.

We hire for skills, but fire for attitude, where we should actually hire for attitude and train for skills.

With this we are not saying that attitude should override skills and experience in the selection process but that a specification of desired personal traits related to the job and company will reduce the risk of mismatching the person with the job. Further, it is important to observe that it is typically much easier to develop a person’s skills than changing a person’s attitude and inborn personal traits.

It is much easier to develop a person's skills than changing a person's attitude and inborn personal traits

So what personal traits should we be looking for?

The traits to look for will be traits that enable performance! The list can be quite long covering areas such as being a good communicator, possess collaboration skills, show good social interaction, positive attitude, constructive approach, be open, innovative etc. etc. There is no complete list or “one size fits all”. Basically it is a matter of analysing the company culture and performers, and on basis of that label what makes an excellent performer in this particular company. Often the performance appraisal can reveal a couple of good points. The point here is that instead of leaving it up to the faith or the perception of an external recruiting service, it will be wise to base the recruiting process on deliberate considerations of what desired personal traits the company is looking for.

It is a matter of analysing the company culture and performers and labeling what makes an excellent performer in this particular company

How do we assess these traits?

A test can disclose areas that are likely to be leading to a certain behaviour, but to get a more direct understanding of a candidate’s potential reaction in given situations in a job role, you can make a Behavioural Event Interview (BEI). The goal of the BEI is to obtain a series of clear, well-bounded stories about actual events, each with clear phases: beginning, middle, and end. The interviewer captures what the individual is doing, saying, and thinking about in the context of the event and on this basis he deducts the likely behaviour of the candidate.

There is a need to specify the company culture and what it takes to perform in the company environment to ensure that these issues become part of the overall candidate evaluation

The BEI is just one means that can be used with success in the selection process. Basically, assessment of personal traits requires a good understanding of the company culture and what it takes to perform in the company environment. However, as recruitment is often done far away from the actual job, there is a need to specify these points to ensure that they become part of the overall candidate evaluation.

The business logic

Even if you buy the argument that more detailed job requirements will provide a better assessment and selection of candidates, another question naturally pops up; is it worthwhile to invest the increased efforts, resources and cost needed to accomplish a deliberate recruitment?

Companies that have made the effort to calculate recruiting costs, and in particular the possible loss connected with the hiring of a person who proves to be unfit for the job, are obviously making an effort to ensure the best possible basis for the best match. It simply pays off. The business case of doing good well-based recruitment versus “routine” recruitment is strong.

When hiring young candidates the following investment in training is high; therefore you only want to spend training on the best match

First of all, when hiring young candidates the following investment in training is high; therefore you only want to spend training on the best match. When hiring more experienced candidates who fill major responsibility areas and thus carry greater performance expectations the cost of ending up with poor performance or their quitting the job is even higher.

It is very difficult to calculate the acutal costs of a mismatch, but as a rule of thump a figure between 5,000 to 10,000 USD would cover the cost per recruitment, only counting the efforts of screening, assessments and interviews carried out internally. Add to this the cost for induction and familiarisation etc. Finally, the biggest cost would probably be the time until the new candidate is actually performing well in the company – a period where the organisational training and preparation effort towards the new employee is significant. Now, multiply this with the number of new candidates per year…

The recruitment efforts should optimally lead to a best match, and the key prerequisite for this is a clear specification of requirements.

Effective recruitment

In the maritime industry recruitment is a global business. Often recruitment is a matter of having a manning agent who takes care of practical details and ensures that you get the right man for the right position.

How can you ensure that your outsourcing partners know what the best match will be if you haven't defined the qualities of the desired candidate?

As in any other outsourced services there is a quality element to this task. As for recruitment the quality lies in getting the best match. But how can you ensure that your outsourcing partners know what the best match will be, if you haven’t made your own consderations and definitions of what you would like to see in the person you want to recruit? And how do you describe this in an effective manner applicable for the recruitment process and selection?

Let’s look at a principal recruitment process:

The recruitment prerequisites should be set by decisions made through the business and HR strategies. The recruitment prerequisites provide information about the number of new candidates, the positions and recruitments areas, etc.

Company and job presentations shall be developed, distributed and promoted to attract potential candidates. This activity is generally seen as part of general company branding, but knowing who you want to attract will provide a good basis for developing the communication towards this particular segment.

Finally the job requirements come into play. By setting up the requirements to correspond with the different stages of the screening process, you can ensure that the screening works as a funnel, and that you only spend time on candidates who have passed the previous “hurdles”.

Additional efforts will pay off

By selecting candidates purely on formal job requirements you will run the risk that they will either underperform because they lack other required competencies or they will leave the company because they don’t match the company culture – factors that could have been revealed during the recruitment process.

The screening process can be restructured so that it 'filters' candidates in order to obtain an optimal match between culture, expectations and a candidate's personal prerequisites

By defining the different levels of requirements relevant for a specific position, the screening process can be structured so that it ‘filters’ candidates and accommodates a more in-depth assessment in order to obtain an optimal match between company culture, performance expectations and a candidate’s personal prerequisites.

Such additional effort incorporated in the recruitment process will avert extra costs accrued due to engaging a poor match to the job.

By defining the different levels of requirements relevant for a specific position, the screening process can be structured so that it ‘filters’ candidates and accommodates a more in-depth assessment in order to obtain an optimal match between company culture, performance expectations and a candidate’s personal prerequisites.

Such additional effort incorporated in the recruitment process will avert extra costs accrued due to engaging a poor match to the job.

Need help?

Contact us for personal advice

Stine Skelbo
Stine Skelbo
Senior Consultant
Copenhagen

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