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Experience or attitude, what’s more important?

When the time comes to expand your workforce, the first thing that most employers will be looking for in a candidate is experience.

However, there is a case to be made for hiring staff with slightly less experience when they are more likely to fit the culture of your existing team. In most cases, day-to-day work and duties can be taught to new employees – whereas a good attitude seldom can be. This is why arguably the most important trait to look for is a “cultural fit”.

But what do we mean by “cultural fit”? Put simply, it means how well the new/prospective employee will be able to get on with your other employees and how quickly they can integrate with the team and begin to contribute towards collective success.

However, this isn’t exactly easy to figure out at interview stage, not least because most candidates will at this point be telling you exactly what they believe you want to hear. It can take weeks or even months for the cracks to appear, and for negative attitudes to begin to surface.

The problem with introducing a member of staff with a poor attitude into your team is that this can have a ‘knock-on’ effect on the rest of your team, and ultimately spark a toxic atmosphere within even the most thriving workforce, casting a grey cloud that can seep into all areas of your business. Particularly in recent years, the culture of complaining about management and grumbling about tasks is all too common.

So how can we take measures to prevent accidentally hiring a serial complainer?

Unfortunately there is no absolute fail safe, however there are a number of actions you can take to minimise the risk of this happening, as detailed below.

Hold informal interviews.

Conducting interviews in an informal manner can help to get candidates into a more relaxed and natural state. Grab a coffee, or even lunch, try to remove the ‘corporate’ feel from the process and make the process more conversational. To maximise the impact of this you can also invite other members of your team to join the interview. This will give you an opportunity to assess how the candidate interacts with both you and your existing employees.

Consider a trial shift.

Taking the idea of inviting existing employees into interviews one step further, trial shifts are the best way to assess candidates first hand. This way you can monitor not only how the candidate interacts with other team members, but also how quickly they take to new tasks, how efficiently they can carry out the workload as a whole and what new skills they may be able to contribute to enhance your existing team. On the other side, a trial shift is also beneficial for candidates to decide whether they feel the role is a good fit for them.

Obtain clear and unquestionable references

It would probably surprise many people how often candidates put their mates down as a reference when applying for a new job. Any candidate who can’t produce a reference from their most recent employer should immediately raise a red flag. Be sure to check references out thoroughly before making any kind of hiring decision, if all you have is a name and a mobile number (for example) there’s a chance that the candidate could be roping somebody they know into falsifying their reference.

Look at training staff your way

A great way to ensure that staff fit with your team is to bring in young, in experienced team members and train them to work according to your company policies and procedure. The very best way to achieve this is through an apprenticeship scheme. Read more about how you can hire an apprentice for free with Horticulture Careers by CLICKING HERE.

If you need any further help hiring the right staff, conducting interviews or writing job specs, we would love to hear from you! Give Liam Colclough a call on 01903 446076, or drop us an email at hortcareers@eljays44.co.uk

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