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4 Attitudes to Focus on While Assessing Candidates

Geek_with_books-809327-edited.jpgWe all know from our own experience that performance is a matter of attitude rather than simply hard skills. Although hard skills can be learned over time, attitude is a lot more difficult to change.

As you’ve probably seen many times, attitude governs the way employees behave, the way they interact with colleagues, bosses and even customers. Every area in your workplace is impacted by attitude - collaboration, revenue, customer satisfaction and more.

Anyone who wants to build a high-performance team and drive better results has to focus on it while recruiting or moving people from one position to another.


What to look for while evaluating potential candidates:


1. Pay attention to what the person CAN do

What a person can do is linked to their reasoning abilities. It determines the kind of problems they can tackle, their speed of thought and the type of situations they can handle. If you’re looking for someone capable of learning new skills and reinventing themselves from time to time, you must focus on this aspect.

The ability to think clearly and sharply makes all the difference when there are multiple ways to move forward, whether it’s about career progress or project execution. However, be careful, not to look for geniuses. It can be very challenging to work with them. If you want to work with high potential people, make sure to keep them busy with the right challenges and that they’re capable of working with people.


2. Find out what they WANT to do

The second attitude is about the fundamental needs of the people you want to hire. Not everyone has a clear idea of what they want in life and career, and what drives them to be better. That’s why it’s essential to dig deeper while interviewing candidates.

Basically, there are two kinds of motivators that can drive people: pursuit of rewards and avoidance of threats. Proactive and high contributing candidates are always attracted by the former. Those who want to reach higher and have more are the ones who like to venture outside their comfort zone.


Here are some example of pursuit of rewards:

● Having influence

● Lure of autonomy

● Freedom to create new things

● Excelling everyday


Here are some examples of avoidance of threats:

● Constant need for security

● Risk avoidance

● Working in a disciplined environment

● Maintaining personal balance

See if your candidate looks for any of the above items, to determine what drives them.


3. Figure out how they will behave

Every workplace throws up a mixture of normal and stressful situations, and how we behave in each situation depends on the structure of our personality.

Our personality is a result of all our previous experiences - how we’ve been educated, cherished or rejected throughout our life. They not only have a profound impact on us, but also affect the people around us.

Here’s a simple framework to assess the personality of potential candidates. Each person is a combination of 1 or 2 of the following styles:


They are generally very dominant and like to be in control of whatever they do. They’re looking to create a significant impact, whether it is about strategic decisions or tactical execution. They’re most comfortable leading people and telling them what they need to do. Such people speak very loudly, are very assertive and don’t use small words like little or uncertain words like perhaps. They perform well in positions where they’re in charge.


Creative people are those who are comfortable with ambiguity. They’re able to easily connect ideas, and are able to visualize how things could be instead of how they are currently. Where others see obstacles and difficulties, they are able to see opportunities and options. They’re easy going and focus more on feelings & emotions while communicating their ideas.

They perform well when they’re put in positions where they need to find a new way to do things or solve problems. When you hire creative people, make sure to check their reasoning abilities. Otherwise, they might bring up really complicated solutions to trivial problems.


Such people are not interested in superficial interactions with people. They want to have a deep and meaningful connection with others, they want to create genuinely strong bonds. They’re the kind of people who can help you deal with conflict and come up with mutually beneficial solutions. Since they are good with people, they are very patient and persevering. As a result, they make excellent managers who can execute a project till the very end.


Structured people are those who look for a precise way to do their work - engineers, accountants, IT professionals. They look for the proper way, not a creative way, to do their job, and are quick to spot a bad solution. They’re interested in technical problems and coming up with long-lasting solutions. They’re generally quiet in team meetings, and when they speak up, they’ll be precise and sharp.


4. It’s about your specific culture

There’s no magical combination of abilities, motivations and personality traits to look for in a potential candidate. The key is to find a person whose attitude matches those required by the specific position. For example, you won’t look for the same qualities while hiring a programmer and a sales leader.

However, in every case, you need to ensure that style of your future employees matches your organizational culture. It’s not only essential that they match your job requirements but they should also be able to strive in a specific environment.


Hiring employees with the wrong attitude, or worse, with an attitude problem, can seriously affect your workplace productivity and team collaboration. In some cases, they can even negatively impact your work culture. Use the above tips to spot the right candidates for your team, who can deliver high-quality performance and immense value to your organization.



Sreeram Sreenivasan has worked with various Fortune 500 Companies in areas of Business Growth & Marketing Strategy. He’s the Founder of Ubiq BI, a BI Platform for SMBs & Enterprises. He also runs the Fedingo blog that covers a wide range of marketing topics.

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