Preparing to Hire A-Players

I have the privilege of consulting with organizations of many different types, shapes, and sizes, most of whom say they want to hire A-Players. Because we’ve learned that a good hiring process leads to better hiring, we always support building and following a structure when hiring. This is true for all positions ranging from executive to the stockroom. Yet sometimes, organizations fail to build the structure of a solid hiring process, and they repel the very A-Players they were hoping to attract.

Why Isn’t It Working?

One business leader recently shared that their internal recruiting team delivers quality and quantity candidates, but the hiring managers who screen them take one to four months to make a hiring decision. Then new candidates for sales associate positions are put through a one-week boot camp, where sixty percent of the new hires don’t make it. Clearly, something in their hiring process is broken.

On another recent search project, the job search team was hiring to solve an organization-wide problem of too little structure and discipline. They felt that their main concern should be to judge if the executive candidate would fit within their culture. The team elected to shed a formal, structured interview with behavioral questions in favor of ad-libbing the interview to keep the process from feeling mechanical. However, while organizational fit is important, even more crucial is the candidate’s ability to affect organizational change leading to a higher functioning team. Since past behavior is proven to be the best predictor of future performance, behavioral interview questions are the surest way to learn which of their candidates can be the change agent they need.

What’s the Point of Interviewing?

In both of the above examples, we would do well to ask, What is the point of the interview process? On the surface, that question seems almost silly. Of course, we want to learn about candidates so we can make a good hire. Fair enough. Unfortunately, while almost everyone wants to hire A-Players, interviewers often fail to do four key things to ensure that a great hire is made. Instead, they allow the interview to become a very subjective and friendly exchange with not enough concrete probing into key competencies required for success in the position.

Preparing to Hire A-Players

If your goal is to attract and hire the best talent, then you’d do well to step up your game and prepare well for the interview as though you’re serious about making a quality hire. Here are four steps to take in preparing to hire A-Players:

  1. Align your perspective with the current market. You’re probably aware that it’s become a candidate’s market. We are on the battlefield every day, fighting the war for talent on behalf of our customers. High-quality candidates are being snatched up as soon as they’re available–and even when they’re not–by organizations with the most attractive qualities.
  2. Prepare for the interview. Review your Position Profile to ensure you have a clear view of the key qualities, characteristics, and attributes you believe are required for success in this position. Have a clear picture of the position’s central mission, key responsibilities, and core competencies required for success. I recommend you make a list.
  3. Create a competency-based interview guide. Prepare a set of behavioral interview questions that will help you probe each competency. You can check out our free behavioral interview questions generator that provides a catalog of competencies and behavioral interview questions for each. Use the same question set with each candidate for equal comparison and legal purposes. Your guide should include an interview scorecard that will help you more objectively score each candidate during the interview, and ultimately allow you to compare all candidates’ answers.
  4. Do your homework on the candidate. Visit your candidates’ LinkedIn profiles and Google them to learn what’s said about them online. Right before each interview, review the candidate’s resume and your organization’s internally generated questionnaire, if applicable. This way, candidates’ answers are fresh on your mind, you can intelligently question them about their background, and you won’t create any awkward gaps of silence by having to read their resume while they wait.

Are you prepared to hire A-Players? These candidates are in high demand, and they want to work for managers and leaders who have high standards and are serious about quality and getting results. No manager or organization is perfect. However, if you don’t take time to adequately prepare for an interview, the A-Player candidate you want to hire is likely to discern that working for you may not be in the best interests of his or her career. Take the time now to evaluate your hiring process using these four tips and start attracting candidates who can help you build a high-performing team.

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