Skills v Attitude
Nov 17, 2013
Skills v Attitude
Nov 17, 2013

When recruiting IT staff, what is more important – skills or attitude?

Recruiting the right person is one of the most critical decisions you will make.  A bad recruitment decision can take years to correct.  What should you value more, skills or attitude?

Imagine this – over the last few years, you have recruited a number of people and dealt with a deluge of CV’s across your desk.  Filling a job though requires more than what is simply listed on a CV.  The new person has to be fit for your IT team, the company as a whole and must possess the skills necessary to get the job done at the standard you expect.  Have you ever made a recruitment mistake that has come back time and time again to haunt you?

Sometimes, through the CV review and interview process, one person may just jump to the top of this list and this can be for a variety of reasons.  This person may have a considerable amount of experience which is well matched against your role, they may have worked within your industry previously, or for some they may simply have hobbies that will fit into the culture of your team.  When there is a superstar CV or interview that outshines the rest, this is a great situation to find yourself in.

However, consider the following:

Candidate 1 has an incredible background, will accept the role and at the salary on offer, but his attitude is a little off.  Perhaps he feels that IT is in a “command and control” role, or his ability to work with people is somewhat limited.

Candidate 2 has a great attitude and would fit into the current team seamlessly, but his experience isn’t quite up to par with Candidate 1, although he does have enough experience to get by.

What would you do?
Here’s what I would do – dismiss Candidate 1.

We all know that you can teach hard skills, but teaching attitude or other soft skills is extremely difficult but sometimes this can be overlooked in an interview situation due to the desire to get the best person for the job.  As for Candidate 2, using a probationary period, I’d likely give that person a chance and see if he can come up with the requirements of the job.  The right attitude is so important when adding to an already established team.

One of our clients has this exact situation earlier this year when they recruited a Network Administrator.  He interviewed a number of potential candidates, but the person he ultimately selected wasn’t the strongest from a technical perspective, although that said, he was in no means “weak”.  His attitude was (and still is) really good and his work ethic and approach to get the job done is superb.  Since day one, he has worked hard to come up to speed in the necessary areas and has exceeded every expectation.  Feedback from his team is that he has gone out of his way to ensure his knowledge what is required for the job and is able to effectively handle tasks necessary for the role.  Would a candidate with more experience but with an attitude a little off kilter have succeeded as well in the role?  Would they have fit into the team culture, or would they have simply got the job done without contributing anything over and above?

In summary – if one person has less skills that they next but still satisfies enough of the skill requirements for the role AND has a good attitude, they are worth their weight in gold.  After all, you can teach technical skills if you have an engaged, committed employee.

We can help

Here at Langley James, we can save you time and ultimately money by sending you a shortlist of candidates who not only have the right skills and attitude to fit into your culture but are also able to add value.  We pride ourselves on really knowing our candidates.  We have in-depth knowledge of their experience, even down to the individual projects they have worked on and their most proud achievements.  We have access to those details that you just can’t glean from a CV alone.  Our talented and specialised resourcers work hard to ensure that candidate we send over to you are not only a match for the role, but also for your business.


To discuss your requirement needs, please call us on  0207 099 4839 or e-mail us

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