The expression “don’t give me the attitude” is negative – it is said of someone who is acting up, or being snippety or difficult, but attitude is important when you are applying for a job. According to jobstreet.com, attitude is among the top three factors for hiring, topping even one’s field of specialization and asking salary. Needless to say, some companies now prefer the applicant’s attitudinal characteristics or “soft skills” more than the work skills. Many hiring agents now believe in “hiring for attitude, training for skills later.”
Attitude is your way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, that is reflected in your behavior. It is also your mindset or mental state, your manner of approaching goals or tasks.
Obviously, attitude is not taught or caught in college. It is something personal, and varies from person to person even if they have the same degrees or finished from the same school. That is why employers put a premium to it, believing that it is what sets off a potential candidate from the rest of the job-seeking population. Companies would hire someone whose work ethics and motivation reinforces their company culture.
The Telegraph, a UK website, reported that 96% of employers would hire a candidate with the right attitude over one with perfect skills but lacking the right mindset, and 2/3 of these employers are wont to retain workers with the right mindset should they face the challenge of downsizing. The same study identified the top six attitudes that companies look for in applicants: commitment, honesty, trustworthiness, adaptability, accountability, and loyalty.
This explains why most job interviews always include questions like, “How do you see yourself 10 years from now?” Or “What if another company offers you a higher compensation plan?” Why do you want to work with us? Or even the very general starter question, “How do you describe yourself?” These are actually trick questions for interviewer to probe into how honest you are, how committed to the position you are applying for, or how loyal you will be. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. In fact, the interviewer might listen half-interestedly. Remember that job interviewers are trained to see through your actions and manner of speaking in such situations. Psychology has a way of reading the mind through your eyes, or hands, and the whole body language. While you are groping for answers, the interviewer notes down tell-tale signs of characteristics that they are looking for, or not wanting of their employee.
But observing your attitude does not actually start with the interview; as a matter of fact, it starts with the your resume. It takes a creative personality to properly choose what to highlight in one’s resume. A pro-forma bio-data bought from the supplies store may not speak much of you, while a well laid-out resume already speaks well of your diligence. Some companies prefer a handwritten cover letter, even in this age of and advance printing technology. Why not, if you have neat and legible handwriting? That shows off a lot of personality! Ever wondered why some companies would ask you to fill in a personal data sheet before an interview? They want to see your handwriting, of course! So don’t rush. Write legibly. Show your patience and perseverance.
How about the manner of delivery? Will you mail your application and resume? Will you send it through someone working in the company? Will you personally submit it? Will you call to follow up? These are indicators of your resourcefulness, how persistent you are to get the job, and how interested you are to work for the company.
The moment the you come into the premises, you are already being observed (think CCTV!). How will you approach the guard or the receptionist? Be polite at all times and smile at people you meet. How will you relate with the other applicants in the waiting room? Do not just sulk in one corner; try to start a conversation with your seatmate. These traits reveal how you deal with people. Companies, especially in the service industry would look for candidates who are people-oriented, with an upbeat personality. They want employees who are friendly, who can work well with others in the company. Team player is such a catch word in the job quest world.
At the interview, show your enthusiasm about the job you are applying for. This will make you appear prepared to be on the job, and implies a lot of self-confidence and professionalism. Display some understanding about the industry. Of course, this means that you must have done your homework by reading about the company and the industry. This reveals your motivation, and employers always look for self-motivated candidates. But you need not appear assuming and cocky to display your confidence. Allow as well some room for curiosity. Show that you have a keen ability to learn new things, that you are ready to grow with the company.
At the end of the day, remember to show your positive attitude towards work, the job you are applying for, the company and its industry. Yet getting that job is a perfect mix of your attitude, your academic preparation, and the salary you want. Whatever the result, never ever “give the attitude.”