4 Top Tips for Hiring A-Level Talent

Posted March 26, 2011 in Latest News & Insights

Don’t pin this responsibility on your HR department.  In today’s talent jungle, every leader needs to be able to know how to sniff out the A-players from the A-poseurs.  Thanks to easy access to information on the internet, job hunters have become increasingly savvy about how to present during interviews. Google the phrase “interview questions and answers” and you’ll find virtual play-by-plays to help any mediocre candidate make mincemeat out of an ill-prepared interviewer.  To help our members avoid hiring a dud, Michael Gravelle, Managing Director of the McQuaig Institute, joined one of our e-Roundtable’s to share his insights on the secrets to hiring the best and brightest.

Here’s a fun fact: 90% of hiring decisions are made as a result of the interview process and yet the interview provides only 14% accuracy.  *Gulp*  Given how costly a miss-hire can be, not to mention incredibly stress-inducing, here are four pillars and key tips for improving your odds of hiring someone who helps you sleep at night:

Recognize that “A” level talent is unique:

  • 80% of “A” players aren’t looking… and if they are, they won’t be looking for long so look for ways to accelerate your process
  • They will view the hiring decision as theirs… you may be doing more “wooing” than you expect
  • Treat them like you would your best customer… many hiring opportunities derail because of poorly administered interview processes

Hire a natural:

  • It’s all about temperament – the tendencies natural to an individual.  Tap into psychometric tests to help you determine what “lies beneath” the polished interview responses. 
  • Remember, knowledge and skills are easier to teach than attitude and behaviour.  “You can teach a turkey to climb a tree, but it’s easier to teach a squirrel.”

Assess the past, not the future:

  • Lose questions like: what are your strengths and weaknesses? Where do you want to be in 5 years? Can you deal with pressure?  Are you a team player?
  • Ask for specific examples of what the candidate has demonstrated a job-related behaviour in the past. “Tell me about a time when…”
  • To probe answers effectively use the SARR model:
    • Situation: what was the situation?
    • Action: what did you do?
    • Result: what was the outcome?
    • Reporting: by the way, who did you report to at that time?

Conduct Pre-Emptive Reference Checks

  • Ask candidates early on (as early as your pre-screening phone interview… which btw, you should do) who they will be using for references
  • Be sure to link their success stories to their references
  • Speak to prior managers (not best buddies)
  • Ask for more than 3 references (it’s easy to pull 3 people who will say nice things about you)

Relying on your HR team to help you screen mountains of candidate resume’s is one thing, but ultimately, these individuals will be reporting to you.  Make sure you’re not relying too heavily on first impressions and “gut” instinct as you hire your next crucial role.

Happy leading!


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