Article: What would you look for in a potential hire?

Talent Acquisition

What would you look for in a potential hire?

Would you prefer attitude over qualifications?
What would you look for in a potential hire?

Scene 1: Ramesh had an Engineering Degree from IIT Kanpur and an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad.  He was hired for his high qualifications and technical knowledge that the role demanded.  What the organization did not realize was that Ramesh came with a superior attitude because of his qualifications, a negative mindset and a very bad temper. He was unable to get along well with his team and the management soon found out that they had made a huge mistake in hiring Ramesh.

Scene 2:  Suresh came to the interview with modest qualifications.  But he carried a very positive attitude, a lot of enthusiasm and an upbeat and sunny personality.  He demonstrated a lot of potential and the willingness to grow and learn on the job.  The management was positive that with the right kind of training and mentoring, Suresh could be brought up to speed in the role that they wanted to hire him for.  And they were not wrong.  He proved to be a real asset to the organization – a wonderful team player who worked productively and showed the willingness to learn and grow constantly.  

How does one recognize such an individual as a potential hire?  

During the interview process, he or she shows up on time, sits up straight, makes eye contact and discusses training and workplace experiences in an upbeat manner.  Once hired, this person shows a lot of interest in the job, demonstrates a willingness to learn, listen and try out new things and works out of their skins to delight and solve customer issues, sometimes going far beyond their call of duty. It also requires people who are willing to think and act like owners.  Hiring people with the right kind of attitude will determine the kind of culture, the service standards and the reputation of the organization in the future.  

Hiring people with the hope that you can change their core characteristics and fundamental values when they start working for you is a bad hiring decision.  It is something akin to a marriage where we hope that we can change our spouses for some of the things that we do not like about them.  This is a sure fire recipe for failure and disaster.  

How do we make the right hiring choices?

Firstly, identify the superstars in your own organization.  Find out what makes them so competent, so easy to work with and so effective.  Make a list of their attributes and hire new people based on similar attitudinal profiles.  

Southwest Airlines ran an ad for their Systems Division which said: “We are looking for people who have a lot of internal drive”.  These ads are unconventional and the reader stops to think and even makes them laugh and attracts people with the right kind of attitude to apply.

Some of the questions that you might want to ask at the interview stage to gauge the right attitude are

  • Give me an example of the last time that you broke rules to serve a customer in need

  • How did you use humor to diffuse a tense situation?

  • How did you handle a situation where you had to deal with a difficult co-worker?

  • How did you reconcile a mistake or a setback that you made with a customer or a co-worker?

Having the right attitude is required for success. Talent can always be developed.  Actually, attitude is a way of looking at life.  Keeping a positive attitude is really necessary to achieve success.  The right attitude is not produced by success, but it attracts success.  Along with a positive attitude, you need to have belief, pride and passion towards your work to convert your efforts into success. There is a quote which goes like this "Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude."

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Topics: Talent Acquisition, Strategic HR

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