A Book Review

When new hires fail, and 46% of them will, 89% of the time it’s because of attitude and only 11% of the time because of skill.  It’s not that skills aren’t important, but when the top predictor of a new hire’s success or failure is dependent on attitude, then attitude is clearly what we need to be hiring for.  And that requires defining the specific attitudes (both good and bad) that make a specific organization different from all the rest, and then turning the hiring and interview process focus onto those attitudes.  – Mark Murphy, Author of Hiring for Attitude: A Revolutionary Approach to Recruiting and Selecting People with Both Tremendous Skills and Superb Attitude

In Hiring for Attitude, leadership strategist Mark Murphy presents convincing reasons and case studies on why your new hires fail to rise to your expectations. If you need people to fit to your company culture you must make the selection process smart enough to attract the right talent – there’s a five part interview question that gets candidates to reveal the truth and not just go about the beaten path of rehearsed interview answers.

Who’ll benefit the most from this book?

  • A book must for those interested in finding the right talent for their organization.
  • This book could be a good starting guide on hiring best practices for the new entrepreneurs, who have just a limited and very valuable time for the hiring process and desire high performers in their team.
  • And equally valuable tips for the large orgs looking for a change who are currently stuck in the ATS hiring process or any other ‘old-school’ process just because it is how it has been!

It is high time we change the hiring process and there’s no other way to do it right than to aim for hiring for attitude first – skills of course are important but the idea is to reverse the preference. More emphasis on attitude – skills second!

Though hiring for talent is not an easy process and most often not a fast one, but the real life case studies presented in this book show that it is being done well and in many smart companies. It most certainly is not an easy job to indentify high performers from low or average performers through interviews and general recruiting methods but there is enough evidence on how smart companies are approaching this issue. Some examples that come forth well are with companies like Southwest Airlines, Google etc.

The long term effectiveness and benefits it brings to an organization are enormous and adds hugely to the bottom line profits.

Ready to Post your next Job Ad – These are the Tips you MUST Know

How effective has been your interviewing procedures in identifying optimum talent?

How has been the response to your job ads?

Are you seeing some high-performers applying for the job postings or is it just another resume pile where quantity overpowers quality?

If your answer is in negative to the above questions, you’ll find some good help here with examples of some intuitive questions that you can use during your next hiring cycle. And you just can’t overlook these brilliant tips (for the hiring managers and the HR) – it’s kind of essential for you to know these when posting your next job ads:

  • What are the characteristics that make your company culture distinct from everyone else? That distinction is what you want to sell in your job ad, not some bland and generic description that makes you sound like everyplace else.
  • It doesn’t matter how many people apply to a job posting; the only things that matter is how many of the right people apply, make the initial cut, accept your offer, and turn into high performers.
  • The opening paragraphs of your ad are the most important. Your candidates form their opinions about you during those first precious moments.
  • Don’t try to be something you’re not in your recruitment efforts, or you’ll fail to attract all the high performers who would fit your culture.

The ideas don’t stop here. Mark Murphy makes an in-depth analysis on how to incorporate performance-oriented recruiting approach. Some of the tips are an eye-opener and must be used in hiring by all smart companies, because if you won’t someone else will and you’ll see where the talent and eventually revenue goes!


Some insights from the author Mark Murphy:

Are companies really hiring these days?  And if so, where are the jobs?


While the macro unemployment rate is high, companies are absolutely hiring.  But they’re not hiring in the usual places.  They’re hiring in, what we call, the Underground Job Market.  According to new research outlined in the book, companies are finding their best people through employee referrals and networking.  They have started to realize that the high performers they already have fit the attitude they want and that these are the people they should be asking to help find more people just like them.

What do you mean when you say, “skills have become commoditized?”

Between the labor pool from China and India and the fact that there are so many quality workers sitting out there unemployed, we can find the skills we need.  Plus it is fairly easy to test for skills.  There is no shortage of skills, and this makes technical proficiency, once a guarantee of lifetime employment, a commodity in today’s job market.  Attitude is what today’s most successful companies are hiring for.


You say that you should never ask candidates “tell me about yourself” and “what are your weaknesses?”  Why?

Most of the commonly asked interview questions, such as these two, are useless for assessing attitude, and some of them even put companies at risk.  One of the most fundamental tests of the effectiveness of an interview question is the extent to which it differentiates high and low performers.  Yet, when asked “what are your weaknesses” virtually every candidate will say they “work too hard” or “care too much” or “have a perfectionist streak.”  You’re not going to discover someone’s real attitude by asking questions to which everyone has a canned or prepared answer. 


What’s so wrong with behavioral interview questions?

Behavioral questions usual contain an obvious “tip off” on how to give the “correct” answer; they’re leading questions.  Let’s take the question: “Tell me about a conflict with a co-worker and how you resolved it.”  This question goes wrong with the phrase “how you resolved it.”  With this question, we’ve just signaled that we don’t want to hear about any times that they did NOT resolve the conflict with a coworker.  But from a hiring perspective, that’s the really important information.  What if they resolved a conflict one time, and failed to resolve the conflict 500 times?  By asking this leading question, we’ve lost all the data on the 500 episodes where they couldn’t resolve a conflict.  Asking about past performance is fine, but the wording of most behavioral interview questions undercuts their effectiveness.


Can a company just copy and adopt the great attitudes of famous companies like Southwest Airlines and Google?

Southwest and Google are two companies that are very invested in hiring for attitude.  You see their employees live those attitudes every day and it’s a big part of what makes these organizations so successful.  But their attitudes are very different from each other.  Southwest, Google, Apple, and The Four Seasons are all great, but they’re also different.  So the point is not to try and emulate someone else’s culture.  You’ve got to discover the attitudes that make your organization unique and special; what we call your “Brown Short”s. Once you’ve got that, the sky’s the limit; you can attract the best people, hire the best people, and retain the best people.

What do job seekers need to know about getting hired?

Because companies are now looking for attitude as well as skill, it really changes how people need to prepare for an interview.  Companies now have the tools to accurately assess attitude, and you can’t fake it.  So if you do the homework and learn you are not an attitudinal match for an organization, it’s a waste of time to even apply there.  But if you do have the right attitude, and you’ve got the experience to back it, then make you sure you let them know.

Networking is one way to get a company’s attention, but one thing that people misconstrue is what networking is actually about.  Too many people are need-working, as in: “I need work from you”. Usually people on the receiving end of this dodge those calls.  Job seekers need to ask ‘how can I add value’ and then work from there.