Technical proficiency, once a guarantee of lifetime employment, is a commodity in today’s job market. Attitude is what today’s companies are hiring for. And not just any attitude; companies want attitudes that perfectly match their unique culture. Google and Apple are both great companies, but their cultures are as different as night and day. Attitude has also consistently been the top predictor of a new hire’s success or failure.
On the flip side technical skills are easier to assess and therefore there are already established methodologies and processes to put potential hires through corporate hiring workflow. There is nothing wrong with sticking to such hiring workflow but increasingly more forward-looking businesses are tweaking it to include attitude test as a mandatory step even before putting them through technical assessments. Whether a candidate is motivated to learn new skills, think innovatively, cope with failure, assimilate feedback and coaching, collaborate with teammates, and so forth are as important if not more than their technical prowess.
As the focus on hiring has shifted away from technical proficiency and onto attitude, it’s precipitated a lot of tactical changes in how job interviews are conducted. For example, the new kinds of interview questions being asked are providing real information about attitude instead of the vague or canned answers hiring managers used to get. Smarter companies are less likely to rely on the old standby questions like “tell me about yourself” and “what are your weaknesses?” Companies now have answer keys by which to accurately rate a candidate’s answers. Interviewers can listen to candidates’ verb tense and other grammar choices and make accurate determinations about someone’s future performance potential.
Training programs today are also ill-equipped to deal with the change in hiring focus. Training is traditionally effective for skill-based capabilities but when it comes to attitude, there are still very few that can actually affect attitudinal change.
Southwest, Google, Apple, and The Four Seasons are all great companies and they all hire for attitude. Their high-performing employees live their attitudes every day and it’s a big part of what makes these organizations so successful. Low performers struggle with those attitudes are typically rejected by the culture. But those companies’ attitudes are very different from each other. They couldn’t successfully emulate each other’s attitudes. Every company has to discover the attitudes that make their organization unique and special. And even if the company’s attitudes change over the years, those attitudes will always be an organic reflection of their most successful people. As such, there is no fixed model in which businesses which are interested in hiring for attitude can follow. Each of them will have discovered the attitude that is beneficial for the success of their business and develops interviews and assessments to allow them to find the right candidates.