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People are at their MOST PRODUCTIVE* when they’re in a position that lets them draw on their natural strengths and allows them to be themselves.

personal development—evidence that he or she has been open to change, both personally and professionally.

■ INTEGRITY. The credibility of your company is at stake with every new hire. Only hire people with complete integrity. Crosscheck information from the employment application, resume, reference checks, and the interview. Conduct background checks to verify integrity.

■ MATURITY. Contrary to popular belief, maturity does not necessarily come with age! Again, spending ample time with the candidate talking about his or her past will give insight into the maturity level. Also, it has been said that maturity is the ability to delay self-gratification. If this is true, look for signs that the candidate has not given into every whim and fancy in his or her life.

■ DEPENDABILITY. This can be verified through reference checking and talking with former employees about the individual’s dependability.

■ INTELLIGENCE. It’s no secret that intellect does not necessarily come from a formal education. My former tennis coach has a college degree and can’t spell “lob.” You can test employees for a general idea of intellect and the ability to learn using formalized aptitude tests.

■ INITIATIVE. This one is very difficult to assess during the interview, but easy to pick up on shortly after hire. Ask reference sources about initiative and look for signs within the first 90 days of hire. If you don’t see initiative then, it’s not likely to develop.

■ ENTHUSIASM. There’s a name for people at our firm who are not enthusiastic—unemployed! Only hire people who believe in your company mission and philosophy. One way to gauge

genuine interest and enthusiasm (aside from conversation during the interview) is to give the candidate a tour. It’s one thing to say you’re interested in and excited about a job. It’s another thing to show it. The extent to which these traits exist can be

identified through personality profiles, proper ques- tioning and, yes, quality time with the candidate. There are no shortcuts. Proper interviewing and hiring take time. The more time you invest with the candidate, the more you will learn about him or her. The reality today is that success in a job depends

on competencies that are intangible and rarely found on a resume. Previous experience, which was once the sacred cow in hiring, is almost meaning- less. In any position, always choose the person with the right attitude and the qualities outlined above over the person with experience. Remember, you can teach and train someone who is mature, intel- ligent, respectful, and positive. Good luck with the experienced candidate who is immature, undepend- able, hostile, and inflexible. Bottom line: what people know is less important

than who they are. If you hire for attitude and train for skill, you’ll be better off in the long run. Trust me on this one.


Jean Seawright is NPMA’s human resources consul- tant. She is president of Seawright & Associates, an HR management consulting firm located in Winter Park, Florida. Since 1987, she has provided human resource management and compliance advice to employers across the country. She can be contacted at 407-645-2433 or


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