The Right Attitude May Lead to Greater Hiring Success than the Right Skills

ASPPA News from the Field
2013 Women Business Leaders Forum

AUSTIN, Texas—(June 21, 2013) The 2013 Women Business Leaders Forum kicked off with a shocking start as Mark Murphy, founder and CEO of Leadership IQ and bestselling author, revealed to attending business owners and key decision makers an assortment of astounding statistics and valuable insight on hiring new employees for their attitude versus their skill level. This leadoff session, “HR Hot Topics,” hit close to home with many of the smaller companies, as the cost of turnover can be devastating.

Startling Statistics

While conducting research for his latest book, Hiring for Attitude, Murphy discovered that 46% of newly-hired employees fail within 18 months. What’s more, 89% of the time the reason for failure was attitudinal-based as opposed to skill-based.

This trend is happening for two simple reasons. First, too much focus is being put on hiring for skill alone. While skills are important, they do not paint the whole picture of the candidate. As Murphy stated, “Skills are necessary but not sufficient to determine success.” Second, with the development of testing curriculums and credentialing organizations, hiring for skills has become effortless. The remedy for this issue is to hire for attitude.

Identifying the Ideal Candidate

Murphy recommends first determining the attitudinal characteristics that work for the organization. Looking at the qualities of existing employees who best represent the company culture and those who do not represent the culture well will help identify the characteristics that an ideal candidate should possess.

Three to five of the most important employee characteristics should be turned into four or five core interview questions. Each question should identify a differential situation to elicit a characteristic. The interviewer should begin the question by asking, “Could you tell me about a time you …” and then insert the situation identified. The critical part then is for the interviewer to leave the questioning hanging without leading the candidate in how to answer. This kind of unguided question compels the candidate to answer more broadly, allowing the interviewer the opportunity to hear how the candidate approached and handled the situation not only from a technical perspective but from an interpersonal and attitudinal perspective as well.

The interviewer can then gauge how the candidate would react when faced with a problem. Will he or she simply fix a specific issue and move on? Will he or she look for ways to prevent it from happening again or seek additional training? Will he or she accept responsibility for what went wrong and fix it, or will he or she focus the blame on others? These answers will help determine if the candidate has the attitudinal characters that fit best with the organization.

By taking the time up front to identify the characteristics that will help a potential candidate become a long-lasting, successful employee, companies can help avoid turnover expenses, create a more positive workplace and build a strong base of happy employees.

More about Mark Murphy

Mark Murphy, a bestselling author of five professional books: HARD Goals: The Science of Extraordinary Achievement, Hundred Percenters, Generation Y and the New Rules of Management, The Deadly Sins of Employee Retention and his most recent, Hiring for Attitude, which was the topic of this presentation. Murphy also presented at the 2012 Women Business Leaders Forum on leadership that achieves greatness, a topic relating to his book Hundred Percenters.

Annie De Haven
Human Resources Manager
The Retirement Advantage, Inc.

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