Over the years I have read a number of books on hiring the right people and, for the most part, they’ve all been pretty similar or at least have taken similar approaches to hiring. I didn’t really expect to find much difference with HIRING FOR ATTITUDE by Mark Murphy, but was pleasantly surprised to find the book is built around an entirely new (to me) concept of how to approach hiring the right people.
With all of the books on hiring I’ve read in the past, I felt I had constructed a pretty solid barrage of interview questions and had plenty of resources to find the right people for the job. I very quickly learned just how ineffective many of my questions were and also learned a new way to ask questions that creates a much better way to gather useful information and learn far more about the qualities you are looking for, or the qualities that you are looking to avoid. In fact, it just so happened the morning after reading chapters 1, 2 & 3, I had interviews scheduled. What I had already read from the book had an immediate impact and I felt the interviews I held that day were the most productive and revealing interviews I had ever conducted.
Let me give some examples of what really sets this book apart. I just reached over and pulled another hiring book off my bookshelf. The other book shall remain nameless, but I’ve just opened up and here is the first question I see – “What is your biggest weakness?” This just happens to be a question that Murphy talks about in his book and he clearly explains why the question is a complete waste of time. You’re going to get a canned response, something like, “At my last job, my boss always told me I was too dedicated and that I worked too much. He said I needed to learn to leave my work at the office. So I guess my biggest weakness is that I work too much” As a hiring manager, who doesn’t want this person? They’re obviously a workaholic, right? Probably not, but the candidate did succeed in telling you what he/she thought you wanted to hear and totally avoided exposing any weaknesses they have.
Here’s another question, “How would you describe great customer service?” The reason why this is a bad question is because every company is different. A hiring manager for Disney would want to hear a much different answer for this question than would a hiring manager for the Four Seasons Hotel. That’s one of the reasons why you must create a cultural profile for your company so you can tell a good answer from a bad one.
The entire approach taught by Murphy makes absolute and perfect sense. First he points out what I already knew: that most people who don’t fit for a job are not because they lack skill but because they lack the right attitude. Any company with more than a handful of employees already has a blueprint for building their approach to hiring for the right attitude. You simply create a profile of your star performers and a profile of your poor performers. You identify the qualities that exemplify each and build your questions in a way that will identify those same or similar qualities in the candidates you interview. The entire process is laid out clearly.
I want to make one thing very clear. Most hiring books are going to provide you with what, at first thought, seem like good questions to use in your interview process. They may even give a few pointers about body language, voice inflection, etc. The point I’m making is, basically you read the book and then you apply what you read. With this book, it’s not so simple. To implement the advice given here is going to require a lot of work on your part. You’re not going to simply read the book and apply what you’ve learned. To do this right means a number of preliminary steps such as identifying desirable and undesirable traits, developing profiles, crafting questions to fit your business culture and to identify traits, developing “word pictures” to help turn your current people into star performers, and a lot more.
I truly believe, if you do the work needed with each of these steps, the eventual payoff will be tremendous. I’ve already seen an immediate impact and haven’t carried out all of these steps. When it comes to finding top tier candidates for your company, I believe this book is a game changer. I give this book my highest recommendation.
- Book Review: WHY LEADERSHIP SUCKS (montyrainey.wordpress.com)