Professional attitudes and behaviours have only recently been explicitly recognized by medical educators as legitimate and necessary components of global competence, although the idea of Fitness to Practice has always presupposed acceptable professional behaviour. Medical schools have recently begun to introduce teaching and assessment of professionalism, including attitudes and behaviours. Partly as a result of the difficulty of assessment in this area, selection of students is receiving greater attention, in the pursuit of globally competent graduates. However, selection processes may be overrated for this purpose. Assessing actual attitudes and behaviour during the course is arguably a better way of ensuring that medical graduates are competent in these areas. I argue that judgments about attitudinal and behavioural competence are legitimate, and need be no more arbitrary than those made about scientific or clinical knowledge and skills, but also that these judgments should be restricted to what is agreed to be unacceptable behaviour, rather titan attempting to rate attitudes and behaviour positively. This model introduces students to the way in which their behaviours will be judged in their professional lives by registration authorities. These theoretical positions are illustrated by a recent case of academic failure based on inadequate attitudes and behaviours.