Do I hire “skilled sour-puss” or “great attitude?”


Aunty B,


I have to make a crucial decision in the next 24 hours and need an immediate response.


After advertising for a month with no reply I suddenly get two people for one job but whom do I choose? One has great skills but seems a bit of a sour-puss, while the other has a gorgeous smile, a can-do attitude but has not done the role before.


This decision is important as I had to let the last two people in that position go and morale (and my hiring credibility) are on the line.


Priscilla Breen,




Dear Priscilla,


I have dropped everything to attend! It is the great entrepreneur catchcry: “Hire attitude: you can teach skills but you can’t teach attitude.”


My opinion? Of course it depends on the job; you’re not going to hire a brain surgeon for his cheesy grin.


But if all things were equal, go the attitude. But make sure you ask the right questions.


Case in point: I once rang a referee and asked her about a former employee called Sue whom I wanted to hire. She gave a glowing reference: Sue had all the right skills, was enthusiastic, innovative, bouncy, great to have around the office…


But despite getting the right answer to every question, something was bugging me.


Just before I hung up, I asked: “How about this scenario? Sue has a great idea but you, the boss, tells her thanks but no thanks. Do it my way. What does she do?”


The reply shocked me.


“In that situation Sue is terrible. She refuses to listen. In fact she was so rude once I wanted to punch her in the face.”


Priscilla, that is what she said.


And then I learnt that on occasion Sue could turn from smiley, chatty, enthusiast to moody psychopath in a split second if she didn’t get her way.


I asked incredulously why the referee had not told me any of this until I was about to hang up.


Well, you didn’t ask the relevant question until you were about to hang up, she said.


As you can imagine: this has now become a favorite question when I interview or check references.


So go for attitude.


I am sure our readers have favorite questions to ask employees. Email them into Priscilla at [email protected]



And here’s a bonus. An extra Q & A:


Hello Aunty B,


I’ve just started to work for Chorus Call, a Queensland company promoting telephone conferencing and web streaming. My target markets are non-profit organisations, unions and associations. I need to get in front of these groups and cannot find a networking company whereby they meet once per month. Aunty B, do you know of such a group in Brisbane whom meet so I may start building relationships with?


Love to hear your words of wisdom!


Warm Regards,
Anna Willey
Business Development Manager
Chorus Call Australia


Hi Anna,

Glad to see you are not at all concerned taking up the time of our Smart community to answer a question that will be of very little benefit to anyone else but YOU. But Anna I will answer you because I like your chutzpah and, as my entrepreneur friends are fond of saying: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”


Try all these contacts, and you will have to Google for phone numbers:

  • Business Networks International runs a networking group that could be useful.
  • A woman called Lynette Palman runs a lot of women networking events up your way.
  • Commerce Queensland and the Institute of Management both have seminars
  • Get on the mailing list of In the know
  • Finally, Brisbane Technology Park runs a lot of seminars
  • To really be networked into Brisbane, drop a line to Gail Geronimos of Achaeus, [email protected], who will assist.

And I am sure our community, who no doubt, have better manners than this Business Bitch, will also assist. Anyone??

What are you waiting for? Email your questions, problems and issues to [email protected] right now!

For more Aunty B, such as…
I hate my money grasping business partner
I feel guilty. Am I doing enough for my Government?
My staff are moonlighting. Where is the line?
How do I say no to pay rises but keep my staff?
My costs are blowing out. How do I turn into a tight arse?
Will redesigning my website hurt my Google ranking?
What can I ask a potential recruit?

And for the full list of Aunty B questions, click here.



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