How to Assess Attitude in an Interview

My last article on LinkedIn focused on the importance of hiring for attitude where I briefly explored how hiring managers can identify a candidate’s attitude, motivations and interpersonal skills through asking the most appropriate questions during the interview process:

“To identify a candidate’s true skill set, both interpersonal and technical skills, it is important to ask the sort of questions that truly draw out the candidate’s attitude, their values, their ability to learn, take criticism and handle relationships with stakeholders empathetically as well as control their own emotions accordingly.”. You can read the article in full here.

Since writing this article I have thought a lot about the sort of questions hiring managers should be asking; questions that will enable them to establish what motivates them, what their values are, and bring out specific traits that make them unique.

Some of the more frequently sought after traits in Marketing professionals include:

  1. Resilience and Perseverance
  2. Initiative and the ability to make decisions independently as well as be accountable for these
  3. Flexibility and Adaptability
  4. Humility and high Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
  5. Ambition and Passion
  6. Honest and Trustworthy

Some of the questions you can ask to draw out these traits are below:

  1. Can you tell me about a time you had to overcome a major hurdle? (Either at work or outside of work). How did you overcome it?
  2. Tell me about a time you made a mistake at work. How did you handle it?
  3. What does the perfect work culture look like for you?
  4. Can you tell me about a situation at work which led to you learning something new and in turn growing as a professional?
  5. Your manager asks you to do something which is beyond your capabilities. What would you do? Or if this has happened to you previously, how did you handle this?
  6. Describe a time you wanted to give up and resign from your job, but you chose not to. (If this hasn’t been covered already)

As important, often arguably more important as asking the questions themselves, is probing for more detailed answers once the candidate has responded. It’s very common that candidates (particularly in the early stages of their career) don’t go into as much detail as they could. This often results in them failing to communicate some of their key desirable traits.

Let’s look at this example; if the response to the first question is: “I had to revise for and pass an exam whilst working full time. I overcame it by revising a lot and the result meant that I passed the exam”. You should then ask them why they were doing the exam – was it personal development? Or did the company require them to do it? If it’s personal development, ask them why this qualification will improve them?

Also ask them how. How did they manage their time in order to prepare for the exam? Did they speak to their manager about this challenge? How did they position it to their manager? How did the manager respond? How did they respond in turn? Is this how they like to be managed? Then why do they like, or not like, to be managed in this way.

Asking these questions will allow you to get an understanding of how the candidate’s mind works, what sort of management style will suit them best, how resilient they are, what motivates them and what they are passionate about. Then, most importantly, you can take these characteristics and establish whether they match the organisation’s values and the culture in the business or the team the candidate will potentially be joining.

Interviewing is a skill and everyone has their own style, and of course their own objectives. My experience is based on working with a very broad range of corporates, both large and small, in the UK and Australia, where the company culture and individual teams vary enormously. I don’t expect the questions I have described to necessarily draw out every skill and trait an interviewer is looking for, rather it is a starting point and a subject I am very open to discussing and developing my understanding of further.

I end this article with the same sentiment as the first – urging hiring managers to see the importance of attitude matching with the organisation’s culture and company values when recruiting their next marketer. If you are looking to hire a marketer in your team and would like advice or to ask me any further questions on this subject then please don’t hesitate to get in touch, I'd love to hear from you.