A radical rethink of the hiring process

Virtually every one of the standard approaches to selecting the right people for an organization to excel is dead wrong, according to Mark Murphy in his book Hiring for Attitude: A Revolutionary Approach to Recruiting and Selecting Star Performers with Both Tremendous Skills and Superb Attitude. Most executives try to hire the most technically competent people, whereas the vast majority of the roughly half of all new hires who fail within 18 months fail for reasons of attitude, not for lack of skill.

The book goes on to provide a range of useful advice on hiring people. An important first step is identifying the unique factors of your organization’s culture that determine whether or not a prospective employee is a good cultural fit, and what attitudes a prospective employee needs to possess in order to succeed within that culture. Most people find it very difficult to define such cultural issues, but the author provides a relatively simple way to do so.

Other advice given in the book includes:

  • Why standard interview questions do not assess attitude
  • How to create interview questions that will reveal whether someone’s attitude is right for you
  • How to create a set of answer guidelines allowing you to grade a candidate’s attitude
  • Why most job advertisements are poorly worded, and how you can do better
  • The most effective ways of recruiting people who will perform well within the context of your organizational culture

Most people who have experience in recruiting new staff find the process a bit of a lottery; it seems impossible to tell in advance whether a candidate is going to turn into a high performer, and hiring decisions are often based on gut feelings that turn out to be sadly misplaced. After reading this book I am not sure whether the author has provided the complete solution, but I do find his recommendations compelling, and I fully intend to try them out next time I am involved in recruiting.

In my opinion this is an excellent book, with provocative and valuable content in every chapter. If the author is right, then the recruiting practices of the vast majority of businesses are seriously in need of an overhaul. I highly recommend the book to executives, HR professionals and anyone who has responsibility for hiring staff.

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