Top 10 Attitudes Employers Should Look For

Dear, Anita,

I’m currently looking for a key staff member. I have several résumés that are pretty equal as far as skill sets are concerned. How do I decide among a handful of qualified candidates?

Dear, Analysis Paralysis,

More and more employers are realizing that you should “hire for attitude, then train for skill.” The maxim is credited to Herb Kelleher, former CEO of Southwest Airlines. When Kelleher became chairman in 1978, he placed humor at the top of his hiring criteria, and more than 30 years later, you can see that prized attitude in this Southwest steward:

According to my friends at the Power Training Institute, here are the 10 attitudes employers should look for in a star performer:

1. Find a learner who consistently wants to improve and grow.

2. Hire a listener who will talk only after they’ve listened first.

3. Employ a solver who does not just see problems, but finds solutions.

4. Discover an appreciator who will thank and encourage others.

5. Find a communicator who will speak effectively, not just someone who likes to talk.

6. Appoint a thinker who always searches for better, more efficient ways to do things.

7. Hire a planner who can set and meet deadlines.

Team Player

8. Select a motivator who has enthusiasm that will influence others.

9. Employ a team player who can work well with others.

10. Find an acceptor who takes responsibility for their own results.

Nordstrom’s is another company that hires for character. “We can hire nice people and teach them to sell,” Bruce Nordstrom says, “but we can’t hire salespeople and teach them to be nice.” While you should not throw out the skill requirements when hiring for every position (brain surgery comes to mind), you can hire better employees when you take their mental outlook into account.

Managers: Would you rather have a more skilled employee or one with a can-do attitude?

Need some job advice? Anita Clew is happy to help. Click here to Ask Anita.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Denny Monaghan
    Jan 12, 2016 @ 10:15:15

    I think the problem is that you EXPECT that the hiring person is going to say “NO”!

    I’m 72 and the first job I interviewed for, was 2 years ago at Menard’s and I was hired on the spot.

    I’m still here and I work an early morning shift (5 am to 9 am) six days a week.

    They treat me with respect and they always help me if I have a problem.

    Show how excited you are at the interview, and I recommend that you first learn a few things about the prospective employer. It shows that you aren’t just randomly going from door-to-door!

    Be energetic, positive and ask questions like…”How long has the interviewer worked here and what is the best thing you like about your company? That way you will learn something and it gives you a chance to compose yourself.


  2. juliamariedavid
    Mar 11, 2014 @ 11:15:15

    Very interesting post from a job-search perspective. Recently wrote an essay for a management course on Herb Kelleher and the success of Southwest Airlines. Very interesting man!


  3. Dale Johnson
    Mar 11, 2014 @ 10:04:41


    Have you done any articles on older people finding jobs? I am 60 but out of work. I know I am well qualified, or even the best qualified for many positions I have applied for. However, I never get a call back. I am sure it is my age. What can I do?



  4. Ingrid orellana
    Mar 11, 2014 @ 08:27:27

    Anita did you have any work.
    On conover


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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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