How to Hire People With Attitude

Dr. Purushothaman
November 22, 2013

Jim's not working out, he's got a bad attitude". "We are looking for people with a can-do attitude". These are common statements I hear, or read regularly from managers about to hire new staff or address performance issues with the current team. Just what is attitude and can you identify it before you hire it?

Let's start with a simple definition - Attitudes are predispositions to respond in a positive or negative way to someone or something in your environment.

Attitudes are influenced by values, but they focus on specific people or objects, while values have a more general focus. 'Employees should be allowed to participate' is a value; your positive or negative feeling about your job because of the participation it allows is an attitude.

As an example, when you say you "like" or "dislike" someone or something, you are expressing an attitude. One important work-related attitude is job satisfaction. This attitude expresses a person's positive or negative feelings about various aspects of his or her job and/or working environment.

It is important to remember that an attitude, like values, is a hypothetical construct; that is, no one ever sees, touches, or actually isolates an attitude. Rather, attitudes are inferred from the things people say (informally or formally), or do (their behaviour).

The components of attitudes...

The Antecedents of Attitude = Beliefs & values

This leads to Attitude development = It creates a feeling that influences a result

The Results = The intended behaviour

For example...

"My job lacks responsibility" (leads to) "I do not like my job" (This leads to)"I am going to quit my job"

It's essential to recognise that one's attitude (feelings) influences one's intended behaviour.

So back to the original question, "Can attitudes be identified in the job candidate before you hire?" The answer is yes, with a relative degree of accuracy. I use the word "relative" because the tests used to identify "bad attitudes" are usually only accurate if the beliefs and values of a person, in relation to the attitudes being measured, are strong.

Richard I. Lanyon, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University and a consulting psychologist in Scottsdale, AZ. He is a world leader in attitude testing. Lanyon designed the attitudes inventory that is a major component of our JobCLUES assessments. JobCLUES also tests for workplace personality and mental ability. The attitudes measure in JobCLUES tests six key attitudes relating to work. They are:

1. Hostility/Aggression in the workplace -- will the candidate exhibit emotion physically -- punch the boss's lights out?

2. Dependability/Conscientiousness -- will the candidate lack motivation, persistence and organisation. Be careless and lackadaisical -- show up for work on time etc?

3. Integrity/Honesty -- will they rob you blind, short change customers, lie on expense sheets, exaggerate job qualifications etc?

4. Substance Abuse -- Are they users of illegal drugs, consume alcohol while at work; show up often demonstrating the effects of the "night before"?

4. Sexual Harassment -- Will they proposition fellow workers, make sexual remarks or tell dirty jokes inappropriately?

6. Computer Misuse -- Will they spend all day sending personal emails, surf the web or download pornography etc?

JobCLUES Attitude profile takes about 15 minutes to complete. The personality section takes 10 minutes while the mental abilities section is timed at 6 minutes. All can be used online together or as separate assessments. Reports are generated immediately against anyone of 60 job, and or, industry benchmarks.

Apart from very robust psychometric, jobCLUES is so well priced -- you can purchase 5, 10 or 20 assessments (includes all modules and reports) from $39 (plus GST) each. If you are a larger organisation you can have unlimited testing for an annual fee of $1500 for business up to 50 employees - $30 an employee annually thereafter. It really is a "no-brainer" price for such a highly valid pre-screening selection tool.

This instrument combined with a good application form, a behavioural based interview (JobCLUES provides these tailored to the role) and reference/background checking will help you avoid hiring "bad attitude".

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