Attitudes you (absolutely) have to focus on when assessing potential candidates

By David Bernard - Nov. 10, 2017
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Editors Note: This guest post by David Bernard – CEO and Founder of AssessFirst originally appeared on LinkedIn. His opinions are his own.

Today, everybody knows that performance is more about attitude than hard skills. Indeed, if hard skills can be learnt, attitude is far more difficult to change.

And, as you’ve probably experienced many times, attitude is everything!  It commands the way we behave, the way we interact, with our colleagues, our bosses, our customers… with everybody! There are absolutely no areas in the workplace that are not impacted by attitude – collaboration / customer satisfaction / revenue…

Every single person who wants to create better teams and drive better results in their company has to focus on it when recruiting or moving people up from one position to another.

But what are the exact aspects of attitude you have to focus on when dealing with prospective candidates?

1. Pay attention to what the person can do

What a person can do is directly linked to their reasoning abilities. It commands the kind of problems a person can tackle, the type of situations they can handle and the speed of their thoughts. If you are looking for somebody who’ll have the ability to constantly reinvent themselves and learn new competencies all the time, you really have to pay attention to this!

Today, reasoning abilities are widely considered by researchers as one of the strongest predictors of performance in the workplace. I know what some of you think… EQ beats IQ. In fact…No. EQ doesn’t beat IQ. It gives people with average or strong IQ a highly competitive advantage over those who are poorly equipped up there. But it absolutely does not compensate for an inability to think clearly and sharply.

Be cautious, you do not necessarily have to look for maximum capabilities when you recruit. Dealing with genius can be very challenging… If you want to work with really high potential people, be sure to be able to feed them with the right challenge. Be also sure they will work with people… just like them. 

2. Be attentive to what they want to do

The second aspect you really have to focus on are the fundamental needs of the people you recruit. Not everybody has a clear knowledge of what drives them on a day to day basis. That is the precise reason you have to dig (very) deep while interviewing your candidates. Basically there are two kinds of motivators people can strongly be driven by: pursuit of rewards and avoidance of threats.

If you want to attract proactive and high contributing candidates, always seek for the former. Those who are driven by the need to reach more and to have more are the ones who are comfortable pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone. And as you already know… Nothing significant happens inside the comfort zone!

Examples of pursuit of rewards:

  • Having influence
  • Having autonomy
  • Creating new things
  • Excelling everyday
  • Achieving success regularly

Examples of avoidance of threats: 

  • Being recognized by others
  • Search for security
  • Avoidance of risks
  • Maintaining personal balance
  • Working in a disciplined environment

3. Learn to read how they will behave

The way we behave under normal or stressful situations is all about the structure of our personality.

Our personality represents the crystallisation of all our previous experiences, the way we’ve been educated, cherished or rejected during our childhood and after… There is absolutely no surprise that it has such an impact on us… and on the people that surround us.

If there are a lots of traits that can be analyzed by state of the art personality assessment tools, you can also be ‘your own assessment tool’ while interviewing candidates!

Consider this framework: Every single human being can be characterized by the combination of 1 or 2 styles among the 4 which follow:

The Leader

This one is generally very dominant. They like to be in control, whatever they do. They are looking to make an impact, whether on strategic decisions or the way things have to move forward. They are comfortable leading people and telling them what they have to do. They speak loudly, are very assertive and never use words such as little or perhaps. They are determined.

These people generally perform very well in positions related to being in charge.

The Creative

Creative people are the ones who are comfortable dealing with ambiguity. They easily create connections between ideas. They are the thinkers, the one who focus on what could be instead of what currently is. Where other people see difficulties and impossibilities, they see challenges and options to choose from. The Creative type is easy going and really puts an emphasis on the expression of their emotions while speaking with others.

Creative people are at their best in positions where they have to find new ways of doing things or resolving problems. If you are about to recruit creative type candidates, be sure that they demonstrate good reasoning abilities. Otherwise, don’t be surprised to see them bring crazy solutions to resolve not so challenging problems.

The Empathetic

The Empathetic likes interacting with others, but not at a superficial level. What they want is to create strong bonds, have a real and deep connection with others. They are the ones who can deal with conflict and resolve it in a mutually beneficial way. Empathetic people are also very perseverant. If you want a project to be conducted until the end, give it to an empathetic person (more than to a creative person who will be quick to jump in… but also quick to jump out!).

The Structured 

Structured people can be found among Engineers, Accountants, and IT professionals. For them, there are good and bad solutions. What they are looking for is the proper way to do the job, not especially the most creative one. You can rely on them to deal with technical problems and bring long lasting solutions. They are generally quiet. If they are not as vibrant and as shining as the Creative Type people, they are generally precise and sharp when they speak up.

4. It’s all about your specific needs… and your culture! 

Is there a magical combination of those abilities, motivations and personality types or traits to look for when you recruit ? Absolutely not.

It’s all about the specific positions you are recruiting for. You won’t look for the same qualities while recruiting an accountant or your next sales leader.

But, in all these cases, you also have to pay special attention to the fit between the style of your future employees and the cultural background of your company. If being in line with the requirements for the job is one part of the equation. Being able to strive in a specific environment is another!

An Occupational Psychologist and graduate of Université Paris 5 – René Descartes, David took just 30 days to launch AssessFirst after obtaining his Master’s in psychology. As CEO and Chief Creative Officer of AssessFirst, he is in charge of Strategy & Branding and the quality of the User Experience.


David Bernard

An Occupational Psychologist and graduate of Université Paris 5 – René Descartes, David took just 30 days to launch AssessFirst after obtaining his Master’s in psychology. As CEO and Chief Creative Officer of AssessFirst, he is in charge of Strategy & Branding and the quality of the User Experience.

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