December 20, 2014

Successful Hiring Isn’t Just About Skills: It’s About Attitude

Hiring for AttitudeTo start this book review I want to present some observations about hiring I have seen over and over again throughout my years in business. In fact, just days before sitting down to write this review, I became aware of an employee situation at a growing, successful company that fits perfectly with the premise of this book.

What, Hiring for Attitude: A Revolutionary Approach to Recruiting and Selecting People with Both Tremendous Skills and Superb Attitude by Mark Murphy, talks about happens every day at businesses all across America.

Employers often hire for skill and talent. Although the new employee may be highly skilled, it doesn’t always mean the new hire is beneficial to the company. It takes much more than talent and skill for an employee to be successful. It’s all about the attitude. Yet this is often overlooked or receives far too little attention during the interview process.

If an employee has great talent but doesn’t fit into your business culture, constantly questions policy and their company role or you find a need to be concerned every time the employee talks to one of your best customers, then they are not really such a great employee regardless of skills and talents. Your employees shouldn’t be acting like “loose cannons” that you have to fear everytime they interact with someone or work on a project.

This is often what happens at companies large and small: companies hire someone who they believe will be beneficial to the business but after a short period of time they start to realize this person’s attitude is going to be extremely destructive to customers, other employees and to the company’s bottom line.  Worse yet, people begin to dread coming to work every single day because they are going to have to deal with this person. Has this happened to you with an employee?

That’s why, Hiring For Attitude, will help CEOs, presidents and business owners, as well as anyone on the hiring team, get the right perspective on hiring the right people with the right attitude at the right time.

It IS About Attitude

As an employer, but more importantly, as a hiring authority at your company, you DO want employees to have an attitude – one that is in sync with the company mission and philosophy.

Here’s why: According to the author of Hiring For Attitude, Mark Murphy (@LeadershipIQ), 46% of people hired in 2012 will fail within the first 18 months on the job. That’s somewhat hard to believe given the economic and unemployment situation currently where there is so much talent just waiting to be hired. The employees, according to the author, don’t fail for lack of skills but rather for lack of attitude.

In fact, an astounding 89% of the time, employees fail for attitudinal reasons, and only 11% of the time because of skill. The author presents further fascinating details in the book in regard to why new employees fail.

Mark Murphy, a leadership strategist, goes on to say that the world of hiring has radically changed – just as many other things in business have changed since the recession of 2008. Forward thinking companies are now hiring people with the right skills plus the right attitude.

Mr. Murphy cites an example of hiring a technically gifted engineer. But what if the new hire doesn’t fit the company culture? What if there is poor team or group chemistry? What if the individual doesn’t do well with change? What if there is a lack of risk taking or innovative, creative thinking? Or what if there is too much?

You can test for skills but it is much harder to recognize attitude. Yet attitude needs to be the number one focus during the hiring process. All it takes sometimes is one employee with the wrong attitude, as it states on the inside cover of the book, to cause years of drama and chaos for other employees and customers. The book refers to this type of employee as a talented terror. You’ve met this employee before, haven’t you?

How To Hire For Attitude

The book outlines in detail how to source and identify great talent to hire with attitude.  For example the book talks about the five biggest reasons why new hires fail:

  • Two quick and easy tests to discover the attitudinal characteristics needed to fit in with your company’s unique culture.
  • A five-part interview question that gets candidates to reveal the truth about what their last boss really thinks of them.
  • Where great companies really find their best candidates.
  • Six words most interviewers add to the end of behavioral interview questions that destroy their effectiveness.

This book will change the way you think about, approach and conduct interviews during the hiring process. It works for hiring janitorial staff and receptionists to titles at the very top tier of an organization. It is costly and time consuming to invest in new employees. Why not take steps to insure the best candidate really does get hired?

Does Your Company Have “Brown Shorts?”

Successful companies, such as Southwest Airlines, hire for attitude. And successful employees live these attitudes every day. Yet every company has different criteria for what is considered a great attitude. That’s what makes every organization, including yours, unique.

“Brown Shorts” refers to a Southwest interviewer who asked a group of pilot interviewees to wear the company’s summer uniform which included brown Bermuda shorts rather than long formal pants that you typically see on pilots. Surprisingly, many of the potential pilot hires declined wearing the shorts – which immediately signaled that these candidates were possibly not a good fit with the Southwest company culture. Anyone who has ever flown on a Southwest flight knows that you can be professional and still have fun while working.

Before conducting your next employee interview, consider developing a list of what makes your company culture unique and different – in other words, your company’s “Brown Shorts.”

Hiring For Attitude is one of those must read books for CEOs, presidents and business owners. It was sent to me for review because of the nature of my work and business experience. This is the type of business book you will reach for and refer to time and time again – every time you prepare for an interview with a job candidate.

Suddenly, “I like your attitude” will take on a whole new meaning.

5 Comments ▼

Howard Lewinter


Howard Lewinter Howard Lewinter guides, focuses and advises CEOs, presidents and business owners to greater business success throughout the United States. Howard also publishes a blog about business success, Talk Business With Howard, where he shares his insight and perspective about leadership, management or any business topic that relates to running a successful business.

5 Reactions

  1. Howard Lewinter: Do you think that Zappos is a great example of hiring for attitude with their routine of giving X amount of cash to the new employees and see if they take that and leave, or if they stick around and stay within the business culture?

    • Thank you, Martin, for your question.

      Yes! All anyone needs to do is look at Zappos’ results.

      You don’t build a billion dollar company unless you hire the right people with the right attitudes. Anyone in business needs to understand that first they are in the people business – people with the right attitude. Second, what they sell is relationships. Third, it’s the product, which in this case happens to be predominently shoes. Follow the rules of people first, relationships second, and third, selling the product. Any company will rise to the top leaving their competitors in the dust.

      • Howard, my compliments on the excellent review. I just had the chance to read it.

        Attitude is everything! You can teach a receptive willing but inexperienced employee. However, it’s tough to break through and change the habits of someone with a resistant know-it-all shell.

        – Anita

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>