Skills vs. Attitude: What Lands the Job?

Of course you need skills to get considered for employment but to land a job one could argue they aren’t nearly as important as you think.  Cosmetics giant L’Oreal recently began Smiling businesswomanassessing sales people for emotional intelligence (EQ) during their hiring process.  They found that those with a high EQ score outsold their peers by $90,000.  Additionally turnover among those with high EQ scores was 63% less than those hired through traditional methods.

Naturally I’m sure the final pool of people from which L’Oreal chose their next sales person all had prior sales experience.  Can we not deduct from this case study though that the most experienced candidates didn’t always get the job and that someone who had less experience but a high EQ score did?

Beyond the EQ score used in hiring, we find further evidence that a high level of skills is not the determining factor for employment.  Business Insider recently ran an article featuring the favorite interview question of 9 CEOs.  I have included the questions below and ask for you to tell me how many of them relate directly to someone’s skills.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how weird are you?” Tony Hsieh, CEO – Zappos

 “Tell me about the time you realized you had the power to do something meaningful.” Simon Anderson, CEO – Dreamhost

 “How would you describe yourself in one word?” Dara Richardson-Heron, CEO – YWCA

 “What would you do in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse?” Ashley Morris, CEO – Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop

“Tell me about the last person you fired.” Marc Barros, CEO – Contour

“Tell me about your failures.” Jenny Ming, CEO – Charlotte Russe

“What was the last costume you wore?” Dave Gilboa & Neil Blumenthal, CEOs – Warby Parker

“Tell me about your crowning achievement.” Lou Adler, CEO – The Adler Group

“Tell me about your last project.  Who was involved and what was the biggest challenge?” Jane Eggers, CEO – Spreadshirt

I suppose that while detailing how one would survive a zombie apocalypse a job candidate might list the skills necessary to ensure their survival but sandwich making and customer service is probably not one of them.

Many of the questions above have no right or wrong answer.  They are asked simply to learn more about the candidate’s personality and potential cultural fit, not their skills.

Moving on, a three year study conducted by LeadershipIQ involving thousands of hiring managers and employees revealed that of the 46% that failed within the first 18 months of being hired, 89% failed for attitudinal reasons, not for skills.

So here’s my question to you the hiring manager.  If higher emotional intelligence leads to greater performance and less turnover and if 46% of employees fail within the first 18 months because of their attitude and not skills, how are you going to evaluate your job candidates going forward?

Here’s my question to you the job candidate.  If higher emotional intelligence leads to greater performance and less turnover and if 46% of employees fail within the first 18 months because of their attitude and not skills, how are you going to answer questions during your next job interview?

About Ryder Cullison

Ryder has more than 10 years of experience working with retained search clients as a search professional. As a pioneer of Interview4 he has great knowledge of video interviewing. He writes about all things hiring and looks forward to engaging with his audience on topics of leadership, recruiting, candidate screening, and employee satisfaction. Follow him on Twitter: @hireintelligent and @cullison1
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