When Hiring, Attitude Matters

March Madness had an exciting weekend leading up to the Final Four. Interestingly, the standout interview with the South Carolina head Coach Frank Martin came from none other than Max, a 10-year-old reporter for Sports Illustrator Kids.

“Coach, congratulations on the win tonight. Your team clearly won the defensive battle tonight. When you coach and teach your team defense, what’s more important: technique or attitude?” Max asked.

Let’s start with this great question. Just as the coach responded, props to the young reporter who reminded us all that you may only have one chance to ask a good question – so make sure it’s thoughtful and intelligent.

And then there’s the great answer Coach Martin offered in response. “Attitude comes first. We gotta have guys that are gonna believe in our mission, that are gonna believe in what we wanna do. Once they believe, then we can teach them the technique. It all starts with our mindset, and we’ve got guys that are completely bought in to what we do.”

When hiring marketing and communications professionals, are you scrutinizing technique or attitude? Just because someone hasn’t had the exact industry experience, or number of years in a certain specialty within the function doesn’t mean they can’t learn. Did they get the results? Did people love working with them in the process? Was their attitude contagious, propelling the team to greater success?

Obviously, we must evaluate someone’s skills and experiences, but remember to also separate what you can teach and what is innate in a person’s success. Too often we focus on the tactical experiences of those we evaluate rather than their attitude and cultural fit. Smart people can learn technique – attitude is a way of being.