When it comes to recruiting the best job candidates, “cash” is one of the first things that comes to mind for most hiring managers. After all, if you can’t pay a competitive salary, how can you ever expect to recruit and retain the best employees? And while compensation certainly plays a role in the hiring process, employers would be wise to think about “KASH”, too. KASH stands for Knowledge, Attitude, Skills and Habits – four key elements to consider when evaluating a prospective hire.

It’s pretty easy to get a good overview of a prospective hire’s knowledge and skills from their resume and interviews. However, when we focus too much on knowledge and skills, we lose sight of attitude and habit – the two biggest predictors of a new hire’s potential.

Consider this: research shows that when new hires fail, 89% fail for attitude reasons, according to research from Mark Murphy, the author of Hiring for Attitude. Only 11% of new hires fail because they lack a skill. Technical skills are certainly important, but they’re also much easier to assess. Skill proficiency tests can’t measure a new hire’s openness to feedback, for example, or willingness to collaborate positively with teammates.

Attitude Shapes Soft Skills

We can change skill levels in training, but we can’t change attitude. What exactly do I mean by “attitude”? Consider this potential hire a colleague recently considered as a prospective recruit:

On paper, the potential new hire ticked all the boxes for experience, business acumen and intelligence. There was the Ivy League Degree, the prestigious MBA, the five years of experience at a leading strategic consulting firm. But in practice, if this hire has an authoritarian, hard-driving leadership style and is hired into a company where collaboration and camaraderie are paramount, there’s a clear attitude dissonance that could lead to friction and poor job performance.

Habits Matter, Too.  

Great habits drive great performance. In today’s job market, technical aptitude is easy to come by. What’s much harder to find, however, is a candidate with the right attitude and habits for your company’s culture.

Unfortunately, even as the focus on hiring has shifted away from technical proficiency and towards soft skills like “coachability”, the hiring process has not always kept up. In my next post, I’ll share insights from my past work helping one of the largest telecom franchises in the nation refine their hiring process to value attitudes and habits as much as industry experience.