Interviewing 101: Attitude is Everything

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By Michael Orwick

When you are looking to hire someone for your company, what attributes do you find most important.  Of course, there are the skills needed for the specific job you are filling, but aside from that, what are the key traits you look for in a new hire?

The interview process has many limitations, so when I’m looking to bring someone new into my company, I try to keep it simple.  After scanning the résumés and choosing the people I’d like to interview, I usually leave the work on checking references and accuracy until after the first interview.  By that time, I am concentrating on the best applicants.

When I interview, I quickly try to ensure the points of the résumé to be sure they “add up.”  But after all these years, I have found the most important characteristic of a successful hire is not found on a piece of paper.  It is found in the person.

All things being equal (skills, training, and experience), it is the attitude of the employee that makes the most difference to me.  I want people who are willing to learn, willing to challenge themselves, and willing to take guidance.  In fact, I have found inexperienced people with these qualities far out perform those with more experience who do not have these qualities.  It seems true for me that “attitude is everything” when hiring new employees.

I was once hiring for a very small company, and had a young person come by that I didn’t really take to.  Honestly, I didn’t like him much.  But he showed up each day to see if I had made a decision, if he could do anything around the office, or if he could add any more information to the interview.  After almost two weeks of this, I just hired him.  He wanted it so much more than anyone else did.  That’s an attitude I can work with.

So when you’re interviewing, what do you look for?

Michael Orwick, MBA, is a professor at the Okanagan School of Business at Okanagan College and a part-time management consultant.  He is a member of BC HRMA in Kelowna and has been teaching management, marketing, and human resource classes for almost 10 years.  Formerly a broadcaster, his personal experience includes both unionized and non-unionized environments.

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  1. Technical/functional skills are important. However attitude to me is more important. A candidate must demonstrate passion, motivation and the willingness to go the extra mile. Therefore when i hire, i do not hire base on technical/functional skills alone. These can be taught. It’s the attitude and the positive mindset that makes a difference. When your mind says you can do it, you already succeed at least 50% of the battle. With this mindset, the ability to catch up on the lack of technical/functional skills will take no time at all.

  2. As part of our recruiting strategy we are focusing more on the attitude of the candidate than we have in the past. Is anyone aware of any recruiting/interviewing tools that help evaluate attitude vs. aptitude?

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