Things to consider when hiring your next Apprentice – Attitude

Over a series of articles, we will explore what things we at Active Apprentice consider when hiring our next team member to our agency. By the end of the series, you will hopefully get a picture of what it’s like to be employed with Active Apprentice. We will explore things such as skill levels and aptitude to learn.

In this article we start with what we consider to be the most important of them all – attitude!

When hiring a new member of staff, whether that be an apprentice, someone starting a fresh in a role or someone progressing within their career, there are some traits that people overlook, none more so than attitude. Many people when interviewing say they look for it, this usually mean that they look at the usual criteria:

  • Are they well dressed?
  • Did they arrive on time?
  • Did they hold eye contact?
  • Did they exhibit open body language?
  • Did they seem interested in the company?
  • So on, and so on…

All of these traits are hugely important and something that should never be overlooked however, not everyone is the perfect interviewee.

Let’s consider for a moment some of these points as, although they might not meet the ‘expected’ levels at the first meeting, maybe there are reasons for them not meeting them. For instance, if they aren’t dressed in a smart outfit, maybe there is a reason for that beyond them not being interested. If they are late, is it because they had some bad luck on their journey in, if they didn’t hold eye contact, maybe that is a sign of nerves, if they show a closed body language, are they cold? All points worth considering before you discount any individual at an interview.

At Active Apprentice, we of course would like to use the above criteria as a means of evaluating any interview, but it’s not the main thing we look for, and we recommend you do the same.

We look first and foremost for attitude, whether that be a spicy one, a quiet one or somewhere in between, it doesn’t matter. It’s about matching that attitude to the environment they will work in, the people around them and the customers they will be faced with on a daily basis. Attitude can be fluid and differ over time, especially for the worse if the environment is wrong for that individual.

For example:

If someone is considered mediocre by their peers, does that make them bad at their job? Not always, in many cases, they have the best attitude in the team, making them a source for positivity and encouragement for their teammate. They could be great at organisation and explanation of tasks, but technically slower than the rest of the team, this doesn’t make them bad at their job.

Traditionally this would mean as per the job description, they aren’t hitting the mark as quick as the rest of the team. However, if you think differently, perhaps a change to the team dynamic could be all that this individual and the team needs to flourish. In this case, perhaps the individual takes on the organisation and planning of tasks for the whole team, alleviating the rest of team, so they can play to their strengths, working quickly through the technical part of the task. Meaning all-round the team is more efficient with perhaps even more time, increased productivity and better organised. Overall, the whole team benefits because everyone is working to their strengths and you’ve retained the positive force that is attitude within the team, maybe even enhanced it.

So how do you test for attitude in an interview? Perhaps next time you conduct an interview, try some of these tasks and see what response you get:

  1. Setting the ugly problem. Try setting a ‘problem challenge’ in an interview. Not your run of the mill problem, but something most people might consider something to avoid generally, the more uncomfortable the better. If the candidate sees this as a challenge that needs to be overcome, you will hear this in the language that they use when discussing the problem. If they see it as ‘just a problem’ and become negative, this will come across in their responses.All attitudes and behaviours, whether positive or negative have the ability to affect those around us. So, it’s important that these attitudes and behaviours are constructive.

    When someone in your team believes they can succeed, tries hard to accomplish their tasks and sees problems as challenges rather than dead ends, this is a valuable commodity and shouldn’t be underestimated over skill or aptitude.

  1. Change direction without notice. Instead of your standard team bonding or challenges in an interview, try something different. Try changing the pace in an interview or even better, change the direction of travel all together…. without notice.It may seem harsh to do this but catching people unaware in a team environment brings out attitudes from people who might not have shown you theirs to that point.

    You’ll quickly see those that have a positive attitude to change, again something, that shouldn’t be overlooked. Why? Because the cliché says, “The only constant is change.”

    Change is hard, and many people are naturally resistant to change. A positive attitude is important because change can be overwhelming and disruptive.

    When your team members embrace change and maintain a positive outlook, you’re far more likely to experience success. Or at least you won’t all burn yourselves out in the process.

  1. Try being confused. Seems a weird thing to do at an interview, but it’s something we all experience, something all teams will encounter and undoubtably customers will exhibit. It’s also something rarely, if ever employed in an interview so candidates won’t suspect it.New skills can be learnt, there are endless, free online courses someone can take to improve skills, but resources to change attitudes, there aren’t too many out there. Self-help or coaching books aside which can take a much longer time to have an impact. An attitude towards helping someone is hard to change and a valuable resource in any team.

    So, when you find someone with a positive attitude towards helping you, hold onto them. They might just be one of your high performers, even if they aren’t the most technically competent.

  1. Idle chit chat. A good interview isn’t confined to the standard interview questions or the tasks, obvious I know, but try being negative and see what response you get. This is a little harder to do because of people’s willingness to conform and please at an interview.However, try seeing if someone is willing to address a negative point of view by giving them an open door to do so. Something as simple as, ‘This whether is so terrible at the moment, I just can’t enjoy it. What positives can you find from it.’ Or ‘The coffee here is terrible; what do you think we should do about it?’

    Just leave the question there and see where it goes, it will tell you a lot about someone’s ability and willingness to try and find a positive in a negative conversation when they are asked to. Why? Because we need positive energy to deal with the many negative things that we can encounter as a team, with each other or customers on a daily basis. Being negative is easy and can easily bring everyone down.

At Active Apprentice, first and foremost we hire on attitude, we believe that if we start there, we can train the rest of the require skills and knowledge to provide someone with the sustainable, agile and professional future they need in the Sports and physical activity sector.