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The HR Forum

Hi all, as part of my level 5 HRM programme I’ve been tasked with starting a discussion in the HR Zone of the community.

This is something I was originally nervous about but the point of this programme is to push myself out with my usual comfort zone to develop, so here goes!

A recent debate has started within my organisation in regards to our new method of recruitment and I’d love to hear some opinions of others within the HR profession. I work in the Hospitality sector (Hotels), where recruitment is high on our agenda due to the high turnover within our sector. Over the past year we’ve developed new recruitment process from the typical 1 to 1 interview with a manager to an assessment centre approach which is rather rare within hospitality for entry level positions. We encourage managers to “Recruit for attitude and train for skill” on the understanding that you can train the skills needed for the role but not necessarily train an attitude.

Therefore we seen the need for assessment centres where the most part is based on observations of attitudes through group and individual activities and finished with a one to one interview with a different manager who is not involved in the observation process, giving two manager’s perspective on each candidate. All observers are trained and have set criteria & benchmarks to follow. The observations & interview are then put together as the deciding factor of success. Some managers have embraced the new process as they’ve seen the benefits of this method from reduced turnover to improved service levels and department moral. Other managers are resistant to change and believe this process is delaying the time to recruit for positions (stats show a difference of 2-3days from previous process) and may be deterring some applicants due to the assessment centre aspect.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the change in process, if you believe this is the correct method for a service industry to recruit for attitude/train for skill and whether you have gone through similar resistance by management teams?

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  • Hi all,

    I organised my first assessment centre this week and was a bag of nerves beforehand as there were so many factors outside of my control! My greatest fear was the candidates not turning up and the day becoming a shambles. I've never experienced an assessment centre as an organiser or candidate so wasn't sure what to expect.

    I invited 20 people to the session and only 10 turned up however of this 10, we found 6 really great candidates. We need 10-12 people to fill our team so its a great feeling to know that we've made a good start. I work for a retail company and thoroughly believe that attitude and values are key as any responsibilities in-store can be taught.

    I feel much more confident in running my next one in January!




    • That's great to hear Leeanne, what activities did you include that gave you the best indication if the candidates were suitable?

  • Great post Ryan and thanks for coming out of the comfort zone - it's really not a bad place to visit on a regular basis.

    My background is L&D but I do like a delve in to these HR discussions when I think I might be able to add some value or different perspective. 

    I do agree on the mantra recruit for attitude, train for skill in most respects and having worked in L&D functions and developed skills from induction through to management development. Attitude is of course paramount to success however this analogy has always resonated with me.

    The role you're looking to fill is a nut picker from high trees - you advertise for the position on the local grapevine and see some great talent apply.

    An elephant, a bird and a squirrel are shortlisted....all have good attitudes however the elephant really shows the desire to learn and has a great outlook and seems absolutely aligned to the organisations' values and vision in the interviews. The bird and the squirrel have the practical experience on their CV's but didn't quite show the hunger and desire that was being looked for. The elephant is successful and goes in to induction training and gets on well with the trainer and their colleagues in the first day or two. 

    However as the training progresses it's clear that no training is going to help the elephant climb the tree and as much as the elephant tries they just aren't suited to the role and the task they have to complete - the skill of climbing a tree is beyond the elephant and he becomes really disillusioned, starts to disrupt the training, turn in late and in just a few days leaves the company due to frustration...

    Having been in this situation trying to develop skills in people who might have the attitude but lack the qualities needed to actually do the job successfully I've learned that this isn't always possible....The assessment centre approach would have identified that the elephant was ill suited to the role...it might have taken a little longer to put the applicants through a practical assessment centre where they can see them do the job but it would mean that the wrong hires aren't made in the first place.

    You can role model attitude and understand motivation but some skills you can't develop. This approach must be adopted by the managers - do they understand the WIIFM and the actual cost of the xtra 2-3 days vs having to re-hire someone because they leave within 6 months?

  • Hi Ryan

    Great to see you posting and we actually used your post in a workshop on Friday when I was with some learners and we were looking at Assessment Centres as part of resourcing and talent.  I did challenge everyone to reply to your post so we will have to wait and see.................

    I think that you are really adding value here and if you could manage to turn the retention rates into cost savings then I think eventually managers may come round.  You will always have people who are never happy and I say good for you in tackling a solution strategically as opposed to being reactive.

    My matra is recruit for attitide train for skills and it is certainly the position I adopt within my own business where I can.

    All the best


  • Hi Ryan,

    This is a great topic to discuss!

    I personally think for volume recruitment and unskilled roles that Assessment Centres work really well. As you said, you're recruiting these people for roles that you can train the skills they need but to train attitude and mould to fit a culture is very difficult so I think utilising group type assessments should work really well.

    If you're managing the centres correctly, you should be able to interview and assess far more candidates than you'd be able to utilising the old 1-2-1 methods so maybe look at why the time has increased and see if there is any way of reducing the time aspect.

    I used to manage volume recruitment campaigns for ExxonMobil (oil and gas company) where they'd recruit for Process Technicians for their refinery in Hampshire. We'd run two assessment centres a day seeing 24 people per day, but these roles were semi-skilled so part of the AC was a CBI interview which took up time. If you're running centres for unskilled workers you could probably turn them around in 2-3 hours and run a few per day with a lot of attendees. Scoring candidates on the group exercise first and those who didn't participate well could be weeded out prior to the interviews, for example, and this could save time as well as need for manpower?

    Interesting topic to discuss and look forward to seeing others input on this type of thing :-)


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