How to Interview for Great Results: Hire Winners, Not Whiners

By: Keith Cameron Smith, author of The Top 10 Distinctions between Winners and Whiners

All employers want good employees who will take responsibility for their actions and the results they produce. In my book, The Top 10 Distinctions between Winners and Whiners, I wrote that winners take responsibility and whiners play the victim.

No employer wants someone who will constantly be complaining, blaming and justifying their actions. So how can you tell if someone is a winner or a whiner in the job interview process? Here are some suggested interview questions to ask.

Top Interview Questions that Get to Attitude

Whiners believe that their personal life is completely separate from or has nothing to do with their professional life. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Our personal and professional lives are intricately connected.

What happens at home affects our work and what happens at work affects our home. Winners understand this and are constantly working at balancing their personal responsibilities with their professional requirements.

Candidates who are winners are committed to:

  • Learning and growing
  • Creating and maintaining a positive attitude
  • Working on consciously choosing their thoughts, words and actions because they know that those three things produce their results

Asking Interview Questions that Explore the Person

A few job interview questions can help you start to determine if a person is committed to learning and growing:

  • What was the last career-related book you read or CD have you recently listened to that was related to your job duties or skills?
  • Are you currently reading a job-related book?  If so, which one?
  • What was the last job-related class or course you took?

These type of behavioral interview questions will help determine if the person is continually learning and growing on their own time.

If the only book, class or course they have been through recently was because they were required to at their former job, then it may be that the person is more of a whiner than a winner. Winners take responsibility for continually educating themselves; they don’t wait until their employer makes them take a class or read a book.

Interview Questions that Reflect Attitude

It is also important to ask interview questions about how the candidate has related to others during crucial moments in their career:

  • Tell me about a time that you caused an issue with your team and how you managed it?
  • Have you had any differences with your previous managers? If so, how did you handle them?
  • Have you ever felt that your skills were being overlooked? What did you do to improve the situation?
  • While you want to avoid direct questions about how the candidate was treated in previous jobs (such questions could lead to possible legal hiring action), you can listen for how the candidate handled various situations with their co-workers and managers.

Someone once said, if John has a problem with Susan and John has a problem with Mark and John has a problem with Mary and Joe, then John is the problem. Whiners create problems from companies.  Winners create positive results for companies.

Hiring great people means that you rank attitude as important (or maybe even more important) as hiring someone for their skills. While your resume review may reveal a great deal about a candidate’s skills it does not reveal their attitude.

You can hire for attitude, whether you’re recruiting college graduates or looking to hire specialized workers by asking about how they handled difficult situations. It’s easier for a whiner to hide the fact that they are a whiner if the questions you ask are only about their resume. A winner is constantly working on reconditioning their minds so they can keep winning. Winners consciously work on being winners. Hiring winners helps your company win more business.  Hiring whiners can contribute to your company losing business.

Final Impressions of the Candidate

One final suggestion — notice how you feel when an interviewee walks in the room and when they walk out of the interview. As interview strategies go, this information shouldn’t form the basis of your final hiring decision, but it can help you get a sense of the candidate’s overall attitude.

Winners brighten a room by entering and whiners brighten a room by leaving. When you are interviewing someone, notice if they seemed to be giving energy to you or taking it from you? Winners bring a positive energy to work, whiners drain energy from their co-workers.

If you’ll take the time to notice how you feel when first meeting someone and how you feel when they leave, it can help you become a better judge of who is a winner and who is a whiner. Remember as well that you should act like a winner in the interview by giving people positive energy through sincere appreciation and encouragement.

Knowing How to Interview is the Key to Building a Great Team

When you’re reviewing resumes for an open position, a candidate’s skills and experience are only the tip of the iceberg. If they don’t have the maturity and positive attitude to move the ball forward, none of that will matter in the end. Before you get to the interview phase, however, you’ll need to find quality candidates. Get started by posting your first job for free.