Hiring for Attitude

“Most new hires do not fail on the job due to lack of skill,” says Mark Murphy. Attitude is a bigger issue than skill. Consequently, most of our approaches to selecting the right people for the job are dead wrong.

In Hiring for Attitude, Murphy lists the top five reasons why new hires failed:
  1. Coachability (26%): The ability to accept and implement feedback from bosses, colleagues, customers, and others.
  2. Emotional Intelligence (23%): The ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions and accurately assess others' emotions.
  3. Motivation (17%): Sufficient drive to achieve one’s full potential and excel on the job.
  4. Temperament (15%): Attitude and personality suited to the particular job and work environment.
  5. Technical Competence (11%): Functional or technical skills required to do the job.
Naturally, we should be concerned whether or not a candidate can do the job, but it should not be the main focus. “Because even the best skills don’t really matter if an employee isn’t open to improving or consistently alienates coworkers, lacks drive, or simply lacks the right personality to succeed in that culture.”

What attitudes work in one culture may not work in another. Attitudes are culture specific. So you first need to discover your organization’s unique attitudes. Think about the “attitudes that separate your high performers from your middle performers and your low performers from everybody else. You’re not trying to create a laundry list of attitudes but just the—three to seven—“important critical predictors of employee success or failure for your organization.”

Murphy talks about the kinds of common questions you should never ask—the “tell me about yourself” questions, the behavioral “tell me about a time when” questions, the hypothetical “what would you do if” questions, and the oddball “if you could be any superhero” questions—and how to create the questions and evaluate the answers that differentiate people by the attitudes that are the most important to success in your organization.

A benefit of determining the attitudes that work best in your organization is that you can begin to clearly communicate those attitudes to your current employees and develop high performers throughout the whole organization.

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