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ISSUE DATE:  OCTOBER 2012

Just because they can do the job doesn't mean they will...

According to U.S. Dept. of Labor, over 87% of employees fail not because they cannot do the job, but because they will not. In other words, these employees had attitude problems. Perhaps they couldn’t be counted on to show up on time or they simply refused to do some part of the job they disliked. No matter how their particular attitude problem showed up, they cost their employers plenty in terms of time, money, and grief.

One of the reasons we end up with people who can do, but won’t do the job is because we think it only makes sense to save ourselves time and money by hiring someone with experience. The problem is the time spent gaining that experience may simply have allowed them to become skilled at avoiding their responsibilities. This is why I’m always saying: “Hire for attitude, train for skills.” It is by far easier to teach a new hire best practice skills and procedures than it is to teach anyone to care about your customers when they just don’t.

So, attitude problems are best discovered before they’re hired. Here are a few interview questions that will quickly separate those who can do, but won’t do, from those who will:
     1. Have you ever felt you were treated unfairly in a work situation? Why? What did you do about it? “Life isn’t fair” is the theme song of many attitude-impaired employees.
     2. Why are you looking for a new job? Watch for people who bad-mouth their current or former employer. They may be operating on the assumption that everyone bad-mouths others all the time. You don’t need someone who spreads dissatisfaction among your employees.
     3. What is the most frustrating situation you’ve ever faced at work? What caused it? How did you deal with it? Look for people who take responsibility, at least in part, and tackled resolving it in a proactive way.
     4. It seems you’ve been fairly successful in your (career or jobs) so far. Why haven’t you been even more successful? Responsible people with good attitudes will not blame circumstances or others. They will give you straightforward answer like: “I turned down a promotion because I prefer to be responsible only for myself rather than for the results of others as well,” or “Life/work balance is important to me and my family.”


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