Let’s face it…hiring mistakes are deadly and no one has a magic sauce which will guarantee the ultimate success and fit of someone in your organization.

There are too many variables involved in the interview process. The company often over-hypes themselves, and the role, to attract the candidates they’re really interested in. At the same time the candidate often postures and over-sells themselves during the interview process. As William Shakespeare so aptly stated ‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.’

What I have seen consistently in my 25 years of recruiting is the truism that very very few people are let go because they don’t try enough or aren’t helpful enough. They are let go for having a lousy attitude.

Leadership IQ produced a study from over 5,000 hiring managers who have collectively hired more than 20,000 employees during the study period.

They found that 46% of newly hired employees fail within 18 months and only 19% become truly great at what they do. (There’s that 80/20 rule again). Only 11% fail due to incompetence.

Top performers are people who are a pleasure to be around and who make your job easier.

  • They take ownership of problems
  • They collaborate
  • They aren’t afraid to try things and make mistakes
  • They meet commitments
  • They have empathy

Lousy performers suck the energy out of you and drag down everyone around them.

  • They always find the negative
  • They gossip
  • They respond to feedback with an argument
  • They do the bare minimum
  • They get overwhelmed easily
  • They blame others for their mistakes
  • They’re unwilling to leave their comfort zone

Here are some questions you might want to consider in uncovering some of those critical attitudinal traits such as humility, honesty, perseverance, initiative and determination.

  1. Tell me about a time when it was necessary to admit to others that you had made a mistake. How did you handle that?
  2. Can you describe a past situation at work that led you to grow as a person?
  3. Can you tell me about a time when you were faced with a major obstacle (work or otherwise) and how you overcame it?
  4. How would you describe the perfect work environment for you?
  5. Drawing on your work experience, can you give me an example of a time when you wanted to give up, and chose not to?
  6. How do you react when asked to do something beyond your capabilities?

In addition to the interview process make the effort to dig deep through their references. Let the candidate know that you’re going to be speaking to their managers. Let them know that in addition to the references that they provide, you’ll also be asking third party and random references for insights as to their attitude.

By doing this you’ll push the candidate to be honest with you and also let them know that you’re going deep. And deep is where attitude lies!