As managers approach the hiring process, they usually strive to be fair, open minded, and goal oriented. This means they view an open position as a problem that needs to be solved, and as they staff the position, they strive to stay as impersonal and task-oriented as possible. Can the candidate do the job or not? Does she have the skills required to move the company forward? Does she have the experience necessary to handle the challenges of this position? If she’s hired and trained, will she stay? Sometimes as a kind of afterthought, managers ask: Will she be easy and pleasant to work with?
But this approach to the hiring process is beginning to change. As recent studies have shown, and many managers can confirm, technical skills are no longer the defining predictor of job success. Just because a candidate knows how to use a certain software program, handle a budget, or execute a task does not mean she’ll be content in her new position, and it doesn’t mean she’ll bring high returns to the company.
Attitude seems to play the strongest role in employee success, not aptitude. And “attitude” isn’t just a stand-in term for cheerful obedience. It refers to the specific values and personality traits the employee shares with her coworkers, superiors, clients, and subordinates. After the first round of candidate selection, employers are no longer asking if an applicant can do the job. They’re now asking: How well will she fit in here? Does she share our work ethic? Is she competitive/collaborative like we are? Is she relaxed/driven like us? Is she serious/fun? Is she open to new ideas, or does she work by-the-book?
Once the pool has been narrowed to include only those who possess the necessary skill sets, attitude-oriented questions can help bring better results during screening and selection. As you review each candidate, remove some of the skill-focused questions from the process, and replace them with questions like these:
- This job may involve (insert the most challenging or unpleasant aspect of the position) on a regular basis. How do you feel about that?
- Describe the worst interpersonal conflict you’ve ever experienced in the workplace. How did you respond?
- What is your favorite aspect of this line of work? How about your least favorite?
- Have you ever worked with a team that failed to meet its goals or deadlines? What did you learn from this experience and how have you applied those lessons?
- When you have the option, which do you typically enjoy more: Working with a team in a cooperative manner or engaging in personal competition?
- Are you sometimes frustrated by questions with no single correct answer and problems with no single resolution? Or do you find these situations enjoyable?
For more examples of behavioral interview questions that can help you select candidates based on attitude, contact the experts at The Palmer Group. We’ll give you the tools you need to match the right candidate with the right job.