If your organization is going to excel it needs the right people. But virtually every one of the standard approaches to selecting those right people is dead wrong.
So begins the first lines of Mark Murphy’s book, Hiring for Attitude: A Revolutionary Approach To Recruiting and Selecting People with Both Tremendous Skills and Superb Attitude.
Murphy is the founder and CEO of research and consulting firm Leadership IQ, which specializes in leadership training and employee surveys. He has also written several other books, including Hundred Percenters: Challenge Your Employees to Give it Their All and They’ll Give You Even More, as well as a book on Generation Y and employee retention.
Maybe we should have added some of those other books to our Staffing Talk reading list as well. You see, some time ago we thought it would be a good idea to have regular book reviews in this space. However, we struggled to find many interesting, well-written, up-to-date books in the HR, recruiting and staffing subject areas. I recently came across Murphy’s book somewhat serendipitously and found it a worthwhile read – and worthy of a review. See if some of the main points resonate with you.
Murphy opines that for most hiring managers, the “war for talent” is actually a battle to find – and hire – the most technically competent people. That’s the wrong war to be fighting though he says.
“For most hiring managers, the war for talent is actually a battle to find – and hire – the most technically competent people. That’s the wrong war to be fighting though.”
Why? Because most new hires don’t fail due to a lack of competence according to Leadership IQ’s research that tracked 20,000 new hires over a three-year period.
No, instead the research shows new hires failed more often due to a lack of coachability, emotional intelligence, motivation and the wrong temperament.
Murphy writes that “performance has two dimensions: skills and attitude.”
So how do you make the right hire(s)? Of course, it all starts with the interview, and more specifically, the right interview questions.
“One of the most fundamental tests of the effectiveness of an interview question is the extent to which it helps differentiate between high and low performers,” says Murphy. “Any interview question that doesn’t distinguish between these two groups is the equivalent of giving a college exam on which every student automatically scores an A.”
Speaking of grades, Murphy says don’t ask a question if you don’t know how to grade the answer.
“The only interview questions that reveal whether or not a candidate is a match for your organization are questions that target the attitudes that matter most to your organization.”
He says you should select for attitude, interview for attitude, recruit for attitude, assess attitude and even teach attitude.
What do you think about that last one? Do you think attitude is something that can be taught – and learned?
Have any of you happened to read the book? What did you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts.