Here’s a simple definition of optimistic:
“believing that good things will happen in the future”
While we’re at it, let’s look at a definition of pessimistic:
“expecting that bad things will happen in the future or that something will have a bad result.”
You may be thinking, “what’s the big deal? Some people are optimistic, some are pessimistic. It’s just the way people are wired. How can that be a factor in making a hiring decision?”
Well, here’s my view of these two very different human qualities:
If you give a task to an optimistic employee, an employee who believes good things will happen in the future, this employee is more likely to get that task done, get it done to a better result and take pleasure in getting it done.
The outcome of that very same task given to a pessimistic employee may be quite different. The pessimistic employee may find ways NOT to get the task done. He (or she) may create obstacles to getting that task done. He may even take some pleasure in the task NOT getting done.
Does that sound too outlandish?
Well, people tend to create the circumstances necessary to carry out what they believe will happen. They pull in the needed resources, they convince others to help as needed and they tend to have the resolve to overcome obstacles that get in the way.
If they generally believe things are not going to work out as expected, then they are more likely to accept reasons why resources aren’t available, they wonder why folks don’t rush in to help them and they lack the resolve to push through obstacles that may present themselves.
This is NOT some airy-fairy statement I’m making with this tip.
And I’m not saying a pessimistic person will not get things done. They very well may. But often they are getting things done over their own mental resistance to doing so.
The optimist will delight in the future being bright and doing things to bring that kind of future about.
So, how do we find out how optimistic an applicant is?
I think generally people will be honest about this character trait, so you could ask this simple question:
“On a scale of 1-10, how optimistic would you say you are about things? “10” would be extremely optimistic and “1” would be not optimistic at all.”
Whatever number your applicant gives you, then ask them to give you a couple of examples in their life as to how that level of optimism played out.
I realize you might bump into someone who is gleefully optimistic and they’re living in a fantasy world where nothing bad ever happens. But you’ll know when you encounter that person.
For the most part, a legitimately optimistic person will bring more productivity to your scene than a pessimist. And your staff (and you) will likely find them much easier to be around.