Why Hire for Attitude?

Find Your Superstars


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  1. Most organizations hire for technical competence and expertise hoping that the technically gifted will bring with them the right attitude.
  2. You will hire people for what they know and what they can do. You will most often fire people for who they are.
  3. What people know is less important than who they are. What we know changes very fast in an information-based world, who we are changes over a long period of time.
  4. Hiring someone with a bad or marginal attitude who is technically competent and expecting the Organizational Development or Training Department to change them is a decision you’ll pay for over and over again.
  5. When you’ve got fewer people doing more work you can’t afford to make a sloppy hiring decision.
  6. The most admired companies in the world are absolutely rigorous about hiring— it’s a strategic priority for them. They know the price they will pay for “just filling a position.”

What kind of ATTITUDE Does Southwest Airlines Look For?

We’ll train people on whatever it is they have to do, but one thing we cannot change in people is inherent attitudes.

Herb Kelleher,
Founder & Chairman, Southwest Airlines


People who are fun bring a refreshing spirit to the workplace. Look, you can’t train miserable people to smile. If you want to work in a fun environment is fun even on your hiring criteria?


People who are unselfish possess the kind of other-orientation that develops future leaders, fosters great teamwork, and delivers sensational service.


People who can be trusted with power and authority enable the organization to do more with less and move with speed.


People who will do whatever it takes are not concerned with job titles and position descriptions. They are more concerned with getting results regardless of the circumstances.

Why is Rigorous Hiring Critical to Your Success?

  1. You’re not hiring employees—you’re hiring ambassadors of your business.
  2. The people you hire today will determine the kind of culture and brand you build tomorrow.
  3. People are your greatest point of differentiation and the biggest determining factor in creating a competitive advantage.

Strategies for Hiring World-Class People

  1. Define what “World-Class” looks like by identifying the superstars who are currently in your business. Create a profile of common attributes these superstars possess. Use this profile as your hiring target.
  2. Use clever and creative recruiting ads that attract the right kind of people to begin with. If you’re looking for fun, entrepreneurial, innovative people, do your recruiting ads reflect this? Let the recruiting process be the first screen through which a prospective candidate must pass.
  3. Design your interviewing process to make the candidate feel as comfortable as possible. You’ll get better information this way. Greet them, tell them what to expect, answer their initial questions.
  4. Create interview questions that screen for attitude as well as skill. (View Hiring Questions).
  5. Use multiple interviews (remember RIGOR has its rewards) to get multiple perspectives. At Southwest Airlines, most candidates get a minimum of three one-on-one interviews. When the interviews are over, all of the interviewers must come to a consensus regarding the candidate. Keep people who actually work in the applicant’s functional area in the selection process.
  6. Create an uplifting interview experience for the candidate. Regardless of how the interview turns out, Southwest wants you to have a great experience! Not everyone is a “fit” with the company, but everyone is a potential customer. Southwest wants every interviewee to walk away telling a great story!

Discussion Questions

  • What kind of people/attributes will it take to build the culture we want in our organization?
  • Are we as rigorous as we need to be in our recruiting and selection practices?
  • How can we improve the process?

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