Hiring the right people is one of the most important parts of running a business. Think about it: Employees shoulder a lot of the responsibility for the success of their employers, so it pays to find someone who fits the bill from the very start.

But many companies just can’t seem to do it, with 46 percent of new hires “failing” within 18 months of landing a job.

While that’s a surprisingly high number, what’s more surprising is why. It’s not skill-based, if that’s your first thought. A lack of skills isn’t even a top-three reason, accounting for only 11 percent of unsuccessful new hires. So think again before passing on someone just because she’s short a skill or two.

Your biggest concern should be the overall attitude of candidates. When newly hired employees fail, 26 percent of them do so because they can’t handle criticism. Another 23 percent fail because they can’t manage their emotions, while 17 percent fizzle as a result of motivation — or lack thereof. This means at least 66 percent of staffing failures stem from attitude problems.

See Through ‘Best’ Behaviors

Although people are usually on their best behavior for an interview, you get a feel for their attitude as soon as they walk through the door. Consider your closest friends: You probably felt an almost destined kinship when you first met. Something similar can happen with job candidates. Your gut just tells you whether she is the right fit for the job.

Of course, some candidates can fool even the best of us, and I often recommend asking some key questions that provide telling insights into a candidate’s attitude. The two I often use are:

Tell me about a time when you had to perform under stress. How did you handle it?
Describe a time when you disagreed with your boss. How did you remedy the situation?
The ultimate goal is to find someone who’s compatible with the team, so base your questions off the character traits and qualities you or your manager look for in candidates. I’m always on the hunt for a person with diplomatic skills. You may want a real go-getter or a great communicator. It all depends on the dynamic of your business.

During the interview process, I also advise managers to be upfront about expectations. Explain your vision and management style to the candidates, then ask if they would commit to them. You’ll get better performance out of new hires when they understand what’s expected of them before they even accept the job.

The Right Attitude Is Key

When you hire candidates with the right attitude, you create an environment where teamwork thrives. Employees work together, help one another, and share in responsibilities based on strengths and weaknesses.

Also, you get the chance to develop new employees when you base your hiring practices on attitude rather than skills. If you’re running a lean company, you can train new hires on every possible discipline based on their abilities, particularly when they have the right attitude.

Here’s the thing: Employees with the right attitude usually aren’t afraid to take on more tasks. They’re motivated to contribute to the growth of the company. If you’re able to motivate and challenge them, they’ll take ownership and share in your successes.

So hire employees with the right attitude, even if they don’t have all of the training or qualifications for the position. As long as they have the right attitude, you can train them to do anything.

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