“So, tell me,” Russell asked, “how can we interview for a bad attitude?”
“Well, let’s think about attitude,” I started. “Is attitude, particularly a bad attitude, something inside a person, perhaps invisible?”
“You nailed it,” Russell shook his head. “It’s invisible, some people even hide it.”
“It’s invisible until when?”
“It’s invisible until something triggers it, or the pressure builds up. That’s when a bad attitude shows up.”
“See, I can’t interview for something invisible, like a bad attitude,” I said. “I can only interview for behaviors connected to a bad attitude. So, what I want to know is, how does the candidate behave when the pressure builds up?”
“I’m listening,” Russell replied.
“Tell me about a project, likely the worst project you ever worked on, where everything seemed to go wrong. A project where the customer was unreasonable, never satisfied, in spite of your best efforts.
- What was the project?
- How long was the project?
- How large was the project team? Who was on the team?
- What was your role on the project team?
- What was the purpose of the project?
- How did you discover the project was not going well, as planned?
- How did the customer find out?
- What was the customer’s reaction?
- Step me through the interaction with the customer?
- What was the customer’s reason to be upset?
- What was your role in the interaction?
- How did you respond to the situation?
- What resolutions were discussed?
- What was the outcome?
“You see, Russell, I cannot interview a candidate for a bad attitude, only for behavior in a situation where a bad attitude might be driving things.”