When looking for a potential employee for your business or a client’s business – do you A.S.K?

When I first moved to Melbourne in recruitment many years ago, my first Manager taught me a valuable lesson (thanks Richard) when sourcing potential employees both internally (our business) and externally (a client’s business). He called it the ASK method and suggested if I follow this basic rule every time then I will succeed more often than not in finding the ‘right fit’ person.

Attitude, Skills, Knowledge – always in that order. They can do the job but will they do the job?


Does the person have the right attitude to do the job? Will they provide more to the team than what they may bring with their skillset and work history? Will this person commit to the tasks they will be allocated with the energy required? Will they enhance the culture of my business and team by becoming an active and valued member? Will they be able to pick up new skillsets with enthusiasm and grow as a person? 

The first rule I was taught was attitude is King (or Queen). If they don’t have the cultural attitude required by the hiring employer, it is irrelevant what skills and knowledge they may have, they will struggle in the role. We quite often hear the buzz term ‘Attitudinal based questioning’ during the interviewing and screening process. This is a great method utilised in recruitment that uncovers the ‘How’ a situation has been handled rather than the outcome itself. It gives a great insight into the character of a person during times they are challenged in the workplace.

I am certainly not an expert of the human mind, but have discovered two main areas in this space. One being that certain attitudes are genetic or a naturally occurring reaction to situations. I have two young daughters that are chalk and cheese in this space – both have been raised in the same environment yet have differing ways of handling situations, they succeed sometimes with their individual methods and other times they may struggle. In recruitment and after conducting 100’s of interviews, I have often been given a fantastic impression of somebody whom is a go-getter even before I have dived into the formal aspect of the interview – this has nothing to do with their skills or knowledge but with the outlook they have in life.

The other I believe is learned attitudes. How someone has lived through experiences and changed their mindset by handling it differently the next time. We know that it may come down to mindset when an individual was faced with a challenge and struggled with the outcome – fatigue, external life pressures, health, etc., but if this struggle to overcome particular issues tends to repeat itself it may show a reluctance to change or an inability to recognise that change is required!


Every role requires a set of skills required to be able to complete tasks allocated. This may range from basic skills learned along the journey, or a skillset taught in a specialty environment such as a classroom or University. Do these skills match the requirement of the job? If they do, go back to attitude to check if they will fit your culture. If the skill set does not quite match the requirement, does the person have the ability to learn them on the job? Go back to attitude to find out!


Whilst people may have a skillset taught to them, have they lived through a live situation of applying them? Have they lived through the issues that will arise from time to time that a classroom couldn’t teach them? How did they respond to this? Have they dealt with company policies, company specific reporting, management, colleagues? The only way to find out is delve into their work history and find out. Knowledge is a gained attribute, not a given one. In gaining this knowledge one must have lived through it and learned. If they have the knowledge will they be able to apply it to the role? Go back to attitude to find out.

Yes I understand that certain skills and knowledge are vital in many roles, but attitude is vital in all roles. ASK yourself some questions before employing someone. They can do the job based on skills and knowledge but will they do the job? If they can’t quite do the job based on skills and knowledge, can we up-skill them during employment if they are willing?  The actual and hidden costs to a business of making the wrong hire because skills and knowledge were placed first, may outweigh the costs of slightly up-skilling a person whom has the right attitude, wants to learn and wants be a valued employee.

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