How to Get Employees Who Will Be Rock Stars

Recently, I wrote an article titled Everything Starts with Hiring Right. The article focuses on how hiring the right people impacts everything else that works or doesn’t in an organization. This includes everything from leadership to productivity, to employee satisfaction, and everything else. Today, I want to discuss how to hire those rock stars. Everyone wants them, and yet where do you find them? How do you really know if they are going to be gems, or turn out to be duds?

Like so many things in life, interviewing successfully combines science and art. The science is the questions you will ask during the interview to determine technical competencies and specific facts, such as compensation requirements. It can include questions around their reason for leaving firms where they have worked, levels of responsibility and authority they have held, to questions about how they manage, or their accomplishments. Where the art comes in is in listening beyond their response to these types of questions.

The goal of any interview is to get the interviewee to share information about themselves that they maay not actually want you to know. Not illegal questions that you aren’t allowed to ask, but every candidate wants to put their best foot forward. Your job as the interviewer is to uncover not just what they want you to see about them, but who they truly are. Hiring successfully isn’t simply about hiring someone with all the right skills and experience; it’s about knowing and understanding the true skills and the person so you can make an informed decision. You have to uncover how they think, how they respond, how they are wired, who they are…that’s where the art of interviewing comes in. This is the place where you will find the rock stars.

Now you are thinking, well, that’s great, Linda, but how do I get to know them at the level you are describing? And how will I know for sure that what they tell me is the truth, versus what they think I want to hear? What will tell me I can trust myself and my instincts? You want a magic bullet so you make successful hires most, if not all, of the time.

I am sorry to say I don’t have a magic bullet or the fairy dust I can sprinkle on you. I do, however, have ideas to help you interview more successfully, which I’ve discovered during 25 years of recruiting.

  • Ask questions and then later in the interview ask the same question, but a different way. Most of us hear a response and move to the next question. Asking the same question more than once in the interview and getting their response is very telling.
  • Care more about who they are then what they did. In an hour interview, I’d say you spend 20 minutes getting an understanding of their background and technical competencies. This is enough to determine they have 60% of what you need. The rest of the time can be spent getting to know who they are.
  • Hire for culture fit. I was recently asked to interview someone for a sales position. I hadn’t talked to the company management about culture or what qualities they observed in their most successful hires, etc. What I told them was I could interview and determine if someone was good at sales, but I wouldn’t be able to tell them if the candidate would fit the needs of their company. Every company has its own personality and getting employees who will be rock stars is making sure you hire to fit with the personality of your company.
  • Ask tons and tons of open-ended questions that help you learn who they are. Questions such as, “tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult (client, subordinate, colleague). Explain the situation and what you did” or “tell me about a time you failed” or “what are you most proud of”. These types of questions will illicit information about who they are. You aren’t looking for one right answer, but more about how they think. Someone 10 years out of college who tells you their failure is not getting into their first choice university should have you questioning if they are clueless or lying to you or themselves.
  • Be yourself rather than an interviewer. My experience is that when you are yourself rather than being an interviewer they relax and you will see more of who they are. Interviewing should be a conversation, not an interrogation.
  • When I interview I have a process. I created the process so that I didn’t forget to cover something in the interview and so I could compare candidates fairly because everyone went through the same process. I always start by telling them what we are going to do in our time together. They have details of how the interview will progress. Then I get into the nuts and bolts of the interview, and more. Structure provides the science so you can learn what you need to know.

How to get employee who will be rock stars is about knowing who you need, not what technical competencies, degrees, and certifications are necessary. Sure, you need to qualify candidates at some level in those areas, but the rock stars that show up are always 100% about who they are. I tell clients when I work with them that they want to hire someone who has 60-70% of what they need technically, and the rest is about hiring someone who jives with your company personality.

I have worked with hundreds of companies on helping them identify who fits their organization. Contact me for information on what I have done with these companies.

© 2017 Incedo Group, LLC

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