Hiring For Attitude: A Step-By-Step Guide

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You’ve been in business scaling mode and you’re looking for your next great hire. 

You want someone who will be:


-Have a great work ethic

-Treat your business like their own

Feel like you’re looking for a unicorn? 

Over the past few years, we’ve done extensive research on what makes a “good hire”. Here’s what we’ve found out… 

When you’re hiring for your business, it’s important to focus on more than just skills and experience. You want to ensure that you are hiring a problem SOLVER and not a problem MAKER. 

The question becomes… HOW THE HECK DO YOU DO THAT!? 

You already know the effect problem makers can have in a workplace environment. Maybe you’ve hired one before. If not, you’ve likely at least worked with one. And from that experience, you know that one “bad egg” can ruin your team dynamics and cause a lot of problems. 

One of the best resources we’ve found for how to hire well is the book, “Hiring for Attitude” by Mark Murphy. It outlines exactly how to hire a problem SOLVER for your business. 

I’m not kidding –  you should go buy the book! I’ll wait…. 

While you’re waiting for your Amazon box to arrive at your doorstep, we’ll cover the highlights in this post. 

Let’s go over some of my top takeaways from the book that will help you learn the importance of hiring for attitude, how to determine what the right attitude is for your business, and what questions you should ask potential hires to uncover their attitude.

1. The importance of hiring for attitude

89% of new hire failures have been attributed to attitudinal problems according to a study by Leadership IQ

The breakdown looks like this and it’s shocking!
1. Coachability (26%) – The ability to accept and implement feedback.
2. Emotional Intelligence (23%) – The ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions.
3. Motivation (17%) – Sufficient drive to achieve one’s full potential.
4. Temperament (15%) – Attitude and personality suited to the job and work environment.
5. Technical Competence (11%) – Functional or technical skills required to do the job.

Are you as surprised as I was?

Attitude is one of the most important things to consider when hiring because it has such a large impact on team productivity and company culture. Here’s why:

Better Team Dynamics

Hiring for attitude is important because it will allow you to have a more cohesive and productive team. When you hire people with the right attitude, they will be open to learning and growing in their skill, happy to work with people with different perspectives, and willing to put in the work to achieve common goals with their co-workers.

Promotes Creativity

Hiring for attitude can help promote creativity and innovation in your company. Hiring for attitude means being open-minded about new ideas, which helps promote a company culture of growth and openness to trying out something new or looking at things from a different angle – all good traits when it comes to innovating a business!

I’ll note that this doesn’t mean that everyone in your team has to have the exact same PERSONALITY (what a boring place that would be!). However, if your team’s core values and “can-do” attitude are in sync, you’ll notice a HUGE difference in your team’s overall happiness and productivity. 

2. How to determine what the right attitude is for your business

Every business is different, and as a result, each one needs a different type of team member. 

But what if you don’t know what kind of team member you need? 

What if you don’t know what your company culture is? 

How can you determine the right attitude for your business?

Company Mission And Values

The number one key element to hiring for attitude is keeping your company’s mission and values in mind.

You hear people saying, What is your Why? I have always believed that this was an important step in building a business. But now that I have lived it, it is vital!

If you don’t have a mission for your business how are your team members supposed to know how to support you? You are the visionary for your company. If you can’t see where you are going, that team member surely will not be able to get you there.

Also, be sure to have your values in place. Values act as a guideline for your business. What are the things that are most important to your company? How do you want your team members to react to different situations? Your values are what will keep the company decisions consistent.

Current Team Dynamics

Another thing you’ll want to consider is your current team’s dynamics. What type of personality does each of your team members have? We suggest digging into personality tests and understanding how people work together. In a healthy environment, almost anyone can effectively work well together. However, if you have a carefree spirited leader and a very formal team member, there could be room for conflict. Another thing to consider is the type of personality needed for that specific role. A customer service team member will need to embody the desire to serve whereas your tech support member doesn’t necessarily need that trait.

Workplace Environment

Finally, you’ll also want to take into account your workplace environment. Do you have a laid-back or formal work culture? A business that centers around creativity will feel much different than a business that addresses abuse. Consider what type of attitude would be the best fit for the environment you have in your business.

3. Questions to ask potential hires to uncover their attitude

The right questions during a discovery call can help you determine a candidate’s attitude. Asking the wrong questions or not asking enough questions, can lead to making the wrong hire. I want you to notice that these are not long leading questions. Part of what we are looking for is what will the candidate tell you? Someone who gives general answers or skirts the questions is not an ideal candidate. You are looking for ownership in all of these answers. What follows are some questions to get a better idea of what a candidate’s attitude is like but of course we encourage you to create your own questions focusing on the attitudes and skills you would like to see in a candidate.

Why would you be a good fit for this job opp?

Their answer to this question will tell you if they understand the role or not. Their answer should indicate how the job description actually relates to their skills, experience, and/or personality.

Describe a major obstacle you’ve faced in this line of work.

You want to understand their attitude toward motivation and drive. People come across obstacles all the time. Understanding someone’s reactions to those obstacles will reveal their ‘go to’ attitude. Did they express despair? Excessively focus on the negative issue? Rely on someone else to get them through it? Or did they indicate motivation? Did they talk about a growth scenario? Did they talk about getting through a long journey – indicating determination? Was the overall tone a positive or negative experience?

Tell me about a time when you were given an assignment and you lacked the knowledge or skills to complete it.

Their reply to this statement will give you a sense of their ability to take ownership and problem-solving. Do they get bogged down and give up? Do they immediately just ask for help? Did they blame others or their circumstances? This behavior indicates that they don’t solve their own problems and could have a defeatist personality. It could also tell you if someone will not be a team player or potentially have an issue with leadership. Do they attempt to solve the problem on their own, researching and checking through SOPs before reaching out for help? This person appears to be an independent, self-starter, problem solver type of worker and also efficient enough to ask for help when needed.

Tell me about a time that you received tough feedback on your work.

You want to know how coachable they are. Are they willing to take constructive criticism? You will be able to hear in their tone the type of reaction they had to the feedback. Did they indicate it was a learning opportunity or did they say the other person was being unreasonable? They should be able to describe the problem, challenges, and solution.

Describe a time that you received unclear direction for a project.

Their response here will help you see one aspect of their emotional intelligence. People often become embarrassed when they don’t know what to do. Did they ask for clarity? Did they just do the best they knew how? Did they get defensive about the situation?

Tell me about a time when you had a disagreement with a coworker or customer.

This response is another indication of their emotional intelligence. Was there a big blowup? Did other people have to intervene? Did a manager have to get involved? Or did they feel they were able to communicate clearly with the coworker? Did they indicate if they understood where the other person was coming from? Were they still friends afterward?


Hiring the right people can be challenging. As a business leader, you want to make sure that your company is bringing in team members who will represent the values of your company and contribute to its success. Finding someone with the right attitude doesn’t have to be complicated! Just follow the tips in this article which have been summarized in Mark Murphy’s book, Hiring For Attitude.

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