“We hire people for their technical skills, but we fire them for who they are.” Russell complained.
“Tell me more. What do you mean you fire them for who they are?” I asked.
“Well, they may have the right experience, know how to handle the technical part of the job, but their attitude is a little out of whack. In the beginning, attitude doesn’t show up, but after a couple of months, little things appear. After six months, this strange behavior actually begins to flourish and it’s downhill from there.”
“What do mean, strange behavior?” I was getting curious.
“Sometimes, it’s people skills. They are a little gruff at first, then a couple of people get on their bad side. Pretty soon, they become downright rude. They publicly dress people down in meetings. No one can disagree with them without a huge public confrontation.”
“Do you interview to discover this type of behavior?”
“No, usually the person is pretty well coached by a headhunter on how to handle the interview, so we don’t find out until later.” Russell stopped, his brow furrowed. “You mean you can interview for a bad attitude?”
“What? You can’t just ask them if they have a bad attitude,” Russell protested.
“Tell me, when does bad attitude show itself?”
“It usually stays hidden. It stays hidden, until there is a confrontation, a disagreement, a difficult problem that can’t be solved.”
“So, you can’t ask directly about attitude, but can you ask about a time when there was a disagreement on a project, a time when there was difficult problem that couldn’t be solved?” I wanted to know.
“I suppose,” Russell listened.
“For all the soft side, like attitude, character traits, just think about how that attitude will emerge as a behavior. I ask myself – How does a person with that attitude behave? Then I interview for that behavior.”