How to Hire A-Players

How to Hire A-Players.

When hiring for any role in your company, it is vital that you follow a proven process. You take hiring shortcuts at your peril. Hiring is too important to get wrong!

Here is my summarized version of the Topgrading methodology that will significantly increase your chances of hiring A-Players for every role.

What is an A-Player?

I define an A-Player as a person who consistently:

  1. achieves the agreed standard for RESULTS in their role, and
  2. demonstrates BEHAVIORS aligned to the Core Values.

In essence, there are 2 dimensions to an employee’s performance. RESULTS + BEHAVIORS. Both requirements must be met consistently to be considered an A-Player.

The 5 step hiring process:

Step 1

You create Role Scorecards to describe every functional role in your organization and use these as the basis for job advertisements

Step 2

You ask each applicant to fill out a Career History Form. I personally never look at resumes. I use this step to filter out the tire kickers and get each applicant to tell me exactly what I want to know. When all applicants fill out this form, I can “compare like with like”.

Once you have whittled the applicants down a list of strong candidates, there are 3 types of interviews that need to be conducted using the key interviewing principles outlined below:

Step 3

Phone Screening Interview (1 hour)

Step 4

Face to Face Tandem Interview (at least one highly structured 3-hour interview)

Step 5

Reference Check Interviews (with the people you specify)

2 Key Interviewing Principles:

1. Check and verify.

You want the real truth, so let candidates know that you will seek verification for all claims they make. You ask for tangible evidence of their individual performance in past roles. You ask for their permission and assistance to contact previous bosses, colleagues, employees.

Very important. You choose the references you want to speak with. Don’t rely on the references provided by the candidate on their resume. A-Players have nothing to hide and will have no problems with this. If there were any “issues” with past bosses these don’t necessarily disqualify a candidate, but you want these details to come out as soon as possible so they can be discussed openly and you can make your own assessment as to how much weight you place on it.

2. Past performance is the best predictor of future performance.  

Construct interview questions to probe for specific examples of where they exhibited the desired behavioral competencies (as listed on the Role Scorecard) in their past jobs e.g.

Describe a time in your previous role when you…..(e.g. dealt with a customer who was upset)?

What was the situation? 

Who was involved? 

What exactly did they do? What did they say?

What exactly did “YOU” do? (not what “we” or “the team” did)

What was the outcome?

What lessons did you learn from this?

As a hiring manager, I am most interested in:

– What actions they (as an individual) took in these past situations

– What tangible (and verifiable) results they achieved

– What mistakes they made and what they learned from them

– What their bosses, colleagues, employees would say about them

I am NOT interested in:

– What “we” or “the team” did. (I want their individual actions, not what the group did).

– What they might do in some hypothetical situation. (This is a common mistake made by novice interviewers)

A-Player candidates will not be put off by any of this. Not only can they provide tangible evidence of their past results and behaviors, but they will also furnish you with the names of bosses, colleagues, employees to verify the individual role they played in each scenario. They have nothing to hide and can back up everything they say.

Final Thought. Are you an A-Player?

Why should an A-Player want to work for you and your company? Are you worthy of them? Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself:

Are you an A-Player yourself? Can you prove it?

Can you honestly provide the tools, training, systems, mentoring, and support they will need to perform at an A-Player level in the role they are applying for?


Until next time…