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Posted: December 16, 2013

Select the best—avoid the rest

Find talent with the right attitude, alignment and aptitude

Stephen Moulton

Do you consider yourself a connoisseur of talent? Do you always select class “A” candidates? What do I mean by “A” candidates? Candidates who can bring success to the table, you need to select the best, and avoid the rest.

There are three “A’s” to consider when hiring a candidate: Attitude, Alignment, and Aptitude. Without a good match in each, a candidate will be a disappointment or maybe even a costly hiring mistake.

Attitude is probably the most important of the three “A’s” and here is a short story about why.  Years ago, before I began my quest to create a system, I was given a task of hiring 1,000 people in six months.

It didn’t take long before I started getting managers stopping me saying that so-and-so I hired was technically good but had a bad attitude.  I’d ask them to elaborate and whether the issue was that they didn’t pay attention to details, work well with others, follow instructions, fulfill commitments or a host of other “attitude” issues. I began to get a better picture of what my managers needed.

The “attitudes” we are really talking about are made up of Behavioral Competencies and the smaller subset of Emotional Intelligence Competencies, which are even more important for executive selection. 

You’ve seen the leader:

  • who lacked decisiveness and frustrated their boss, peers, and employees.
  • that struggled with collaboration and preferred the “my way or the highway” approach.
  • that ruled with an iron fist, that no one liked working for, and generated high turnover.
  • that had a “not invented here” approach and closed to new ideas.
  • who lacked the trust of their peers or subordinates.
  • who lacked the ability to interact with all levels of the organization effectively.

I’m sure you could create your own list as well.

Here is the rub. There is no single set of interview questions that fits every job and effectively helps you make great hiring decisions. Every position requires a different set of Behavioral Competencies for success. The top six or eight competencies necessary for a successful Chief Operating Officer are going to be different than those for the Chief Financial Officer or the VP of Human Resources.

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Stephen Moulton is the Chief Insight Officer of Action Insight and Hire-STARS, he is also the author of the CEO’s Advantage, 7 Keys for Hiring Extraordinary Leaders and the forthoming book Engage - Leadership and Building an Engaged Team.  He can be reached at 303-439-2001 or

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