Interviewing: Look for Aptitude and Attitude

When you interview a candidate for a job at your company, you ask questions, but do all of your questions have a purpose?  If not, you’re wasting your time (and the candidate’s time as well).

Step back and think about why you’re doing the interview at all.  Your objective is to decide whether this candidate is suitable for the open position that you’re looking to fill.   Do they have the right skills?  Will they be sufficiently motivated to do their best work in this position?

If you boil it down to its simplest form, the interview should be to assess two things about the candidate:  Aptitude and Attitude

  1. capability; ability; innate or acquired capacity for something; talent
  2. readiness or quickness in learning; intelligence

This is a mix of existing knowledge and the ability to learn.  In most cases, ability to learn is more important than what the candidate has already learned.  However, there’s clearly a baseline of existing skills required.  If I’m hiring a software developer, the smartest lawyer in the world (with no programming skills) would be a terrible candidate.

Can this candidate do the job?  Does she have the right skills?  If there are new skills required, do I think she can learn quickly?

  1. manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, especially of the mind

Will this candidate fit in with our company?  What kind of work ethic does she have?  Will she get discouraged when things get tough?  Will she work independently and be a self-starter?

That’s great, but how do you assess those traits?  Ask the right questions.

In my next post, I’ll discuss some good (and some bad) questions to ask.  

For now…I’ll leave you with this thought:

Before you interview candidates, make sure you understand what you’re looking for.

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