Hi, I am responding to Helen’s letter in the Your Views section on Sept. 8th. Most companies are still stuck with the traditional approach in hiring people – giving too much weight on talent and little emphasis on attitude. Herein lies the potential problem and Helen so rightly mentioned it – talent is useless if not combined with a strong work ethic. The best approach is to hire for attitude then train for skill. A strong work ethic is a byproduct of attitude – a person who brings hard work and diligence to the office carries a positive outlook that would rub off on his environment.
Skills and talent can get you somewhere but only attitude assures personal and professional success. Attitude affects the way we think and the way we behave. It impacts how we work with other people and our ability to deal with change. Attitude makes the difference between a nice place to work and a place we dread to go. Four principles define the new model for smart hiring: 1. What You Know Changes, Who You Are Doesn’t The single best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Your personality is going to be essentially the same throughout your life.
2. You Can’t Find What You Are Not Looking For The best way to select people who’ll thrive in your company is to identify the personal characteristics of people who are already thriving and hire people just like them. 3. The Best Way to Evaluate People is to Watch Them Work Provide a simulation of the work and watch how people respond. You have to see how people will do the job before you hire them. 4. You Can’t Hire People Who Don’t Apply Companies that hire smart usually start their recruiting efforts close to home — with their own people.
This makes sense people tend to spend time (personally and professionally) with people like themselves. So, how would a company apply this approach? Through the resume process you’re going to find people who have the basic skill levels you’re looking for. With a telephone screen you can find out if people have the foundational knowledge and the intellect for what you want. But when you bring them in for an interview, the most important question you need to answer is: Can we work with this applicant? The second most-important question is: Is this applicant teachable?
If you cannot answer yes to BOTH of those questions, a do not hire sign needs to start flashing above your candidate’s head. Move them along, wish them well, and bring in your next applicant. Southwest Airlines, recently rated by Fortune Magazine as the best place to work in America, believes you can’t build a great company without great people. Attitude is a critical factor for success and the one we have the most control over. As Earl Nightingale once said, “Our attitude toward life determines life’s attitude toward us. ”
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