Do you Hire on Skills and Fire on Attitude?


That’s a big question because the answer is not a simple yes or no, it is as one would expect, somewhere in between. Having said that, the traditional staff selection process relies heavily on the facts about the job applicant, their skills, qualifications and experience when perhaps it should be leaning more towards their attitudes and behaviours.

Let’s paint the picture first and then look at what can be done to find and attract sufficient applicants and then check that they are suitable for working in the care sector and are likely to stay, develop and get on.

The overall social care workforce is growing to meet increasing demand and currently stands at about 1.5m and is predicted to reach 2.6m by 2025. There is an ongoing shortfall of staff of about 8% with a turnover of about 30% in the first 2 years of employment. The shortfall suggests an unmet delivery of care to meet peoples’ needs and the high turnover suggests that recruitment practices are not finding and keeping staff with the right values to sustain them in their jobs. Both have an influence on quality. Staff turnover also costs money in recruitment and agency staff costs to fill the gaps.

When we talk about attitudes or values in the care sector we mean things like compassion, respect, empathy, integrity, adaptability, imagination, courage and treating people with respect. So, how can you give more priority to values and less to skills. Courage is needed to do this but it has to start with the commitment to do so. Thereafter, the process will need to lead with understanding peoples’ values, starting with the job advertisement that asks candidates to evidence their behaviours. Here is an example:

Job title:                                           Contract:                                 Salary/leave:


We are [xxxx], a residential care service in [yyyy] for older people, some of whom have dementia. We are looking for Support Workers who can demonstrate compassion and empathy in their approach to caring for older people, either through previous roles in social care or in other roles. You will be providing personal care to residents, as well as supporting them to take part in a wide range of activities, including arts and crafts, drama, musical evenings, gardening, shopping trips and social occasions. Can you show us how you would treat our residents, for whom our home is their home, with the dignity and respect they have a right to expect? If you have the right values for our organisation, you will be supported by a programme of continuous training and development. If this sounds like the right opportunity for you, or to find out more, please call [xxxxx] or complete your application at [ www.xxxxx]. Closing date for applications:


Then develop questions for the job interview that discover peoples’ values, firstly by using a personality profiling questionnaire (this can be done online at the start of the interview) and then following up with pre-prepared ‘what, when, where, how and why’ questions based on the result of the ‘test’. Thereafter, the ‘w’ questions can be developed around the values listed above.


In this way, the emphasis towards understanding peoples’ values at the beginning of the recruitment process can lead towards more sustainable decisions on employment, longer serving employees, lower recruitment costs and much better outcomes for service users. Staff, in particular can feel more secure in the knowledge that their values are respected and these can carry them through a career pattern that supports excellence in practicing those values. Service users will find that they no longer have to live in highly structured environments but rather more dynamic, fluid and responsive settings that meets both their needs and expectations. Everyone wins.



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