Digging Deeper: How to Make Sure You Can Identify and Hire “A” Players

In the job search today, there is a lot of “fluff,” meaning it is sometimes difficult for HR managers and recruiters to see through the elaborate words on paper describing a candidate’s qualifications or how social they may be on Twitter or Facebook.

Fortunately, there are ways to be sure you are hiring the best people you can find, and it starts with nixing the “oops” hires.

As a recruiter, it is your job to confidently foresee the value that your next hire will have to the company. It is up to you to conduct thorough research on each potential hire in order to land the best talent around, and more importantly – talent that will endure at your company.

As for the alternative, hiring an individual who doesn’t meet the predicted expectations is every recruiter’s fear.

At my company, we define an “A” player by taking into account the years of experience and education level in combination with the personality, dedication, and intelligence they exude in person and over time. Let’s look a little deeper at the characteristics of an “A” player sought after by most employers, regardless of the field — and sample questions to help you surface these characteristics:

1. Experienced

Proficiency in job-specific skills is amongst one of the very first items to look for in any potential hire. If you are hiring an individual for a top-level management position, key words to look for would be previous job titles. It is imperative, and almost a no-brainer, to seek out those who are capable of fulfilling the job requirements successfully.

Sample interview question: “If a client asked you to come up with a [type of] strategy, what steps would you go through?

2. Strong communicator

Communication competencies extend much further than being able to hold a fluent conversation during an interview. An “A” player is able to adapt to different audiences, establish rapport with their networks, negotiate, persuade, and listen.

Sample interview question:What three things must be present in the communication within an organization in order for you to work most effectively?

3. Dedicated

There is a difference between a job candidate expressing enthusiasm during an interview and one who is highly motivated to have a positive impact on the company and its mission. The best-of-the-best have an almost tangible go-getter mentality, one that inspires even yourself to make an attitude adjustment for the better.

Sample interview question: “How would you define ‘success’ for your career? At the end of your work life, what must have been present for you to feel as if you had a successful career?”

4. Apt decision-maker

The key here is finding individuals accustomed to a proactive approach when it comes to decision making. Rather than finding someone who deals with problems well after the fact, the most elite candidate intelligently plans for any foreseeable troubles that may arise. You might also look for candidates who can lead in the absence of decision, even when a collaborative approach is attempted.

Sample interview question:When you are working with a co-worker or reporting staff member, how do you decide upon and communicate the points where you need feedback and progress reports?”

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5. Confident

For the most part, job candidates are going to look the part when they arrive at an interview. They will arrive in the proper attire and a professional portfolio to go along with their clean appearance. However, it can be difficult to pinpoint whether this professionalism and confidence should be expected on an everyday basis. After all, consistent confidence can make a candidate go from good to great.

Sample interview question:How would you deal with a supervisor or client giving you negative feedback on a project you completed?”

As for proving these qualities, especially if they don’t surface during the interview process, we turn to what others have to say through personal and professional recommendations.

The power of recommendations

Recommendations are the proof in the pudding. When searching through artificially inflated resumes and applications, it gets difficult to distinguish between who is real and who is fake. Not to mention, the process of sifting through job boards and resumes is often times horrendously time-consuming.

Recommendations and word of mouth are still the best way for candidates to land their next job.

But how can job seekers showcase their recommendations? Maybe they include one or two on their LinkedIn profiles or have two to three obligatory references at the end of their resume or job application – but is this really taking advantage of the most successful way to land a job?

By switching from written narratives (which are time-consuming) to a simple, but powerful rating system, the recommendation process can be sped up, enabling you to gain a greater perspective on a job candidate. Using these types of recommendations can help you quickly find the “A” players while eliminating most of the worry you may have with an unknown job candidate.

Hopefully, by focusing on the above key characteristics and quality recommendations, you can avoid the, “How was I supposed to know?” conundrum next time.

How do you further investigate the credentials of your potential hires? Do you find value in recommendations?

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