Many talent acquisition and management professionals will admit that entry-level pre-employment testing and hiring is not “sexy.” It may be outside the corporate strategies of top management. It may only be in their peripheral vision. As a result, it often fails to be on the top of their priority list. But finding and hiring the best workforce possible should be everyone’s priority. These are the faces of your company, the lives that “touch” your customers. This is where money is made. This is where organizational culture exists.

Ask Southwest Airlines, a company well-known for their emphasis on finding employees who fit with their culture of fun and sharing their personalities. This is one of their most important ingredients for success. From a meager start in 1971, at Love Airport in Dallas, to the new number one domestic airline in the U.S., screening for attitude has led them to success. (See Nuts!, 1998)

We recognize the value of leadership selection and development programs. E.A.S.I-Consult® offers solutions and excels in these areas. But we also recognize the importance of having the right entry-level employees in the right jobs and in the right frame of mind, i.e., having a positive work attitude. One of our specialties is assisting organizations to hire employees with the right attitude and fit for the job and the organization. A few of the core work attitudes that we measure and have been found to affect an organization’s bottom-line are listed below.

Several of E.A.S.I-Consult’s Core Work Attitude Measures include:

  • Dependability – can be counted on to take the initiative – to do what it takes to get the job done
  • Productivity Drive – takes the initiative to reach and exceed production levels
  • Team Orientation – builds positive working relations with others to achieve work goals
  • Quality Initiative – shows exceptional effort to maintain and improve quality
  • Adaptability – can easily adjust to work demands and changing priorities

There is a cost to hiring the wrong entry-level employee, both a direct and indirect cost. When reporting this, SHRM and other professional organizations typically focus on the upfront costs of recruiting, interviewing, testing, onboarding, training, etc., and rightly so. They often report estimates of loss from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars per hire.

Very little research has been done on the cost of morale in the workplace. A peer worker’s bad attitude tends to influence more bad attitudes. E.A.S.I-Consult reported research on the cost of this, highlighting individual and organization productivity in previous newsletter articles. In “The Cost of a Bad Attitude,” we followed a group of entry-level employees in a low paying manufacturing plant. We found that an employee being paid $27,000 per year, with a negative work attitude can have a significant impact on overall production. Our conclusion: If your workforce is made up of 500 employees, the total annual cost of one bad hire, based on work attitude, is over $200,000 annually. (Also see ROI: On the Manufacturing Compatibility Questionnaire)

You may already be aware of the value of “hiring right” and the downside of not paying attention to pre-employment testing for entry-level employees but how do you convince your organization to implement a testing program? The challenge is there, but yes, you can move your organization to hire better entry-level employees, even though the initiative may be considered “less than sexy”!

Influencing Others

If you are in the C-Suite, now is the time to convince your colleagues to embrace the value of a strong recruitment and selection process for hiring the best employees for your organization. If programs to hire at the entry-level are not a high priority in your organization, here is how you can make it a priority:

Find a professional consulting group that specializes in this area and can demonstrate to you the effectiveness and dollar value of implementing it. You may want to bring the vendor in to your organization to help you educate your colleagues in this area. Understanding the bottom-line impact of hiring for attitude is the key to getting buy-in and energy to move forward. To get started, find a segment of your organization where you can have a strong positive impact and work with what I call a “friendly.” This is a leader who sees the value in what you are trying to implement and one who is learning agile enough to “think outside the box.” Demonstrating success in a small area goes a long way toward getting others onboard. The long-term goal is to expand this approach throughout your organization.

Influencing Up

But what if you are not at the C-level? Now, it is really time to use your influencing skills. But the steps should not be much different. You will want to find a senior level sponsor. Prepare your sponsor for their buy-in and to help her or him to prepare for communication to their boss. Provide them with evidence of the value pre-employment testing will bring. For example, we have research and experience showing that work attitude testing can help reduce turnover and increase productivity, quality, customer service, teamwork, and safety behavior.

In your influencing efforts, have sample questions ready from your proposed test. Ensure those questions have “face validity.” That is, they should logically relate to the targeted job(s). At face value they must pass the smell test, or you will face an uphill battle.

Once you pilot the test in your organization, or even before then, managers and leaders may want to see if they can pass the test. This is a potential landmine. A test developed for one job or job family does not translate into an appropriate tool for higher level jobs. You must warn these leaders of the potential issue.

Keep your eye on the target to hire entry-level employees – the heart of your workforce – with the right attitude to be successful in the job. It will pay off, not just with a single hire but with others already in the workforce. Work attitude impacts those around your new employee. It will have impact on areas from work productivity to customer satisfaction to a positive organizational culture and your bottom line.

About the Author

David Smith, PhD, is the founder and CEO of E.A.S.I-Consult®. E.A.S.I-Consult works with Fortune 500 companies, government   agencies, and mid-sized corporations to provide customized Talent Management solutions. E.A.S.I-Consult’s specialties include leadership assessment, online pre-employment testing, survey research, competency modeling, leadership development, executive coaching, 360-degree feedback, online structured interviews, and EEO hiring advisement. The company is a leader in the field of providing accurate information about people through professional assessment. To learn more about E.A.S.I-Consult, visit, email or call 800.922.EASI.