You’re forking through the avalanche of applicants and resumes, narrowed them down to a manageable list of interviewees, and now you are ready to make a hiring decision. Likely, there are multiple highly qualified candidates that will participate in the second interview round. How will you decide? Will the final decision swing on tangible or intangible qualities? Will those qualities include how well an individual will fit with corporate culture?

You have your boilerplate questions; the candidates are scheduled. But, something is missing here. In fact, this matter should have been infused throughout the recruitment process. Its intangible, yet obvious. It is more important than skill set, abilities, intelligence quotient, and experience. Attitude.

Attitude & Opportnity


Attitude is defined as anything from physical posture to a mental position. The aeronautical definition is my favorite:

“The position of an aircraft or spacecraft determined by the relationship between its axes the horizon or a particular star.”

Where situations or circumstances are concerned, we’re the aircraft. The ground is reality or truth and our positions are the aircraft’s alignment with the horizon. The premise is that people, places, situations, circumstances, and things are what they are. How they are perceived is open to individual interpretation.

What’s That Rock Doing on the Conference Table?

For example, if a rock drops on a conference table in the middle of a meeting, everybody at that table will have a different reaction. Some back away because it is unsanitary. Another is fascinated and wants to crack it open for crystals. Yet another gets sentimental because it triggers a happy childhood memory. But, the rock is the rock. It is what it is. Everybody’s attitude about it is wholly dependent on their life experiences. Simply put, we don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.


What This Has to Do with Hiring?

This is why Human Resources should be clued into any corporate strategy including organizational culture and employee engagement. It takes one bad attitude to sidetrack months of positive outcomes. If a candidate can’t pivot with disruption, it’s not a good thing. If a candidate, who may be highly qualified and experienced, is easily stuck whenever business circumstance “flip the script” on the status quo; it’s a problem. If the candidate won’t take the initiative where needed it’s a productivity drainer. What good is it a stellar resume if the candidate doesn’t interact appropriately with the team. Deal Breaker.

Executive Leadership Coach


The best advice I have ever received came from a family member who said that people show who they really are when you observe them under pressure. This powerful truth applies to our careers, our lives, and our relationships.

You want to screen for how well a candidate operates under pressure because it’s all masks off when the pressure is on. No amount of best-face forward or fake-it-until-you-make-it will withstand this test.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests that a Motivational Interviewing Technique to root out how a candidate will respond to obstacles. Motivational Interviewing is an iterative open-ended methodology designed to expose how one thinks, how they perceive themselves, as well as their general preceptive style.

Whose Apple Business

To determine if the candidate is an attitudinal fit, Creating Outstanding Results Everyday (CORE) suggest these questions to determine a candidate’s 1) Honesty; 2) Humility; 3) Perseverance; 4) Initiative; and 5) Determination.

  • Tell me about a time when it was necessary to admit to others that you had made a mistake. How did you handle that?

An individual who starts right into a blame-game scenario will never take responsibility for their own mistakes. Listen carefully as to how they rectified the situation and whether it included an apology, lesson learned, and application of that lesson going forward.

  • Can you describe a past situation at work that led you to grow as a person?

Ah. This is a real revealer because it will give a glimpse into their level of self-awareness. These stories should not be without evidence of painful growth processes. I’m not saying the candidate should be in the throes of emotion as they deliver the story. I am saying that there should be some indication of a personal transformation, a process that is never easy, usually includes growing pains, and results in a sustained change in many areas of an individual’s life.

  • Can you tell me about a time when you were faced with a major obstacle (work or otherwise) and how you overcame it?

Uh Oh. Here another powerfully revealing question. If you listen, people will tell you who they are, no matter how much of an alternative persona they master. All you have to do is let them talk and listen. This reveals problem-solving competencies.

  • How would you describe the perfect work environment for you?

This will reveal their preference for solitude or teamwork. You want someone who and slip in and out of both roles without a reduction in productivity.

  • Drawing on your work experience, can you give me an example of a time when you wanted to give up and chose not to?

This question goes to resilience, commitment and determination. After the question is answered, make sure to follow up with “Tell me more about what led you to move forward instead of giving up?”

  • How do you react when asked to do something beyond your capabilities?

Ah ha! A couple of things here. Search out the answer and try to determine if incapability was grounded in a false mindset or healthy self-awareness and recognition that nothing is accomplished by a team of one. You want someone who is not so egocentric as to consider it a weakness to ask for help.

What we are a talking about here is a character. Is this a person who embraces challenge or do they run from it? Is this a person who owns their mistakes, or are they stuck in a Blame Game mindset? Is this a person of vision and self-efficacy or will they need too much hand-holding? Will they take the initiative or wait to be what to do?

As you move through building the tribe, remember to keep developing a positive culture as you make hiring decisions. At every step along the path, remember to partner with Human Resources to provide input and guidance. They are the front-line gatekeepers that will make the difference in how smoothly you achieve your strategic goals – on ALL levels.

Linda F. Williams, MSW is a trained psychotherapist, nationally recognized behaviorist, Executive Coach, and Cultural Transformation, Consultant. As founder of Whose Apple Dynamic Coaching & Consulting, she is the Award-Winning author of the Best-Seller,  Whose Apple is it, Anyway!

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