It takes time and hard work to get to the front lines, nothing new here. If you are one of the unemployed or underemployed new immigrants to British Columbia, you’re probably trying to be out there and sell your skills in this wild job market. More often than not, candidates start promoting themselves with listing their degrees, presenting their technical skills, and talking about their extended experience in a specific field or industry. But is this what employers are seeking at a first glance? When asked, interview candidates are not sure. Most of them are just starting fresh in Canada. Ultimately, it is a different culture and people here may evaluate and assess all those skills at a different scale. Employers have confessed that they are looking first at something that candidates may not consider very important and even exclude from their list of priorities. And what would that first aspect be? Hiring managers love to assess it: it’s your attitude. Hence this may be the right time to ask yourself if you have the right attitude when approaching this workplace culture.
It is sometimes difficult to guess what the right attitude would mean in different situations. This requires a candidate to run a thorough research and be quite knowledgeable about the organization they are applying with. Every organization/ company will have different hiring selection methods based on their values and plans for future growth. Some people are just lucky to obtain a successful position by being themselves… if they happen to be at the right interview, with the right organization, at the right time, with the right people. I will have to agree that there are way too many variables in the above sentence and in 99% of the real life scenarios this actually comes down to hard work.
Are you trying to better understand what employers are looking at when they talk about attitude? A good read that I could recommend here is Mark Murphy’s book Hiring for Attitude (2011). Murphy has tracked over 20,000 new hires over a period of 3 years and he brings in great examples backed with great statistics: only 11 percent of the new-hires fail in their jobs because of a lack of skills or technical competencies. Murphy’s research shows that if a new hire is wrong for a company this happens most of the times due to attitude. When you will get invited to your next job interview, keep in mind that some of the questions will target your attitude, implying, as per Murphy, some of the following:
- Coachability (your ability to implement feedback from supervisors, colleagues, customers)
- Emotional Intelligence (your ability to understand and manage your own emotions and accurately assess other’s emotions)
- Motivation (if you have sufficient drive to achieve your full potential and excel in the job)
- Temperament (are your attitude and personality suited to the particular job and work environment?)
An employer will be able to identify if you are a low performer looking at characteristics you may not even consider when you prepare for your interview. Someone with great skills and poor attitude may be as well labeled as a ‘talented terror’ and not as a good candidate. Someone may be assessed as a high-performer or as a low performer by looking at their choice of words in their answers or by looking at the pitch of their voice. For example, interview answers of a high performer will contain 60% more first person pronouns (I, me, we), while those of a low performer will contain 90% more third person pronouns (he, she, they). Check out Mark Murphy’s book for a fun ride on learning about the right hiring attitude. While the book is aimed at hiring managers, I found it fascinating for someone who wants to have a better grasp of the hiring and workplace culture in general.
Good luck in your next Canadian job interview!