Uncovering Rock Stars in the Interview

BuildingPerfectEmployeeEverybody Wants Rock Stars

I doubt there is a company around that wouldn’t want to hire the best talent possible (assuming you could afford it). Rock star employees are those who have all the right skills and experience you need, AND the right interpersonal skills as well. As I mentioned in last week’s article, they are not always easy to find and attract.

Not finding them is a challenge. What’s worse than not finding the super stars is the belief that you have found them; and hire them only to determine you have made a mistake. Besides all the time that went into the interview process, you may have paid a premium in terms of salary and/or benefits to secure them.

On the flip side, there’s the person you hired that you thought, “hey, they seem competent and they will be a good fit”, so you hire them. And they blow you away with their performance.

Now you’re asking yourself, is there a way to determine during the interview who will and won’t be a rock star?

Uncovering Rock Stars in the Interview

While interviewing is not an exact science, there are approaches you can take that make interviewing more effective. Next week we will be discussing how to sift through the ‘stuff’ people put on their resumes. Today, I want to focus on behaviors that are signs of what you might expect once they are on board.

  1. Do they show up for the interview on time? Being even 5-10 minutes late may say they don’t respect other people’s time. Or it might mean they are not organized. It might mean they don’t know how to plan for contingencies (like traffic). Whatever the reasons for being late, it says something about what you can expect should you hire them.
  2. How are they dressed for the interview? Even if you are a blue jeans and t-shirts environment, it doesn’t mean they should dress down for the interview. They don’t necessarily need to be in a suit, but coming to an interview in jeans doesn’t say anything good.
  3. Do they know anything about your company? Have they done any research on the Internet? If not, it may mean that they take shortcuts or don’t invest time to make sure they know everything they can or…well, it can mean a number of things that don’t bode well for their performance, if hired.
  4. What kind of questions do they ask during the interview? Is the focus on learning about your company and the position or on ‘what’s in it for them’? Of course, they need to know some of the ‘what’s in it for them’, but if that’s all they ask, think about the message that is delivering.
  5. Then there are lots of other little things like: do they send you a thank you note after the interview? Do they let you know if they are interested in the position? Do they come across as someone who is eager to answer your questions? What does their body language say? And so many more little signs.


There are no absolutes and I am not suggesting that someone who slouches in their chair in the interview will be a bad hire. Nor am I suggesting that the person who shows up well dressed, on time, with perfect manner, etc., is guaranteed to be your ideal hire.

What I am suggesting is you observe behavior and patterns that are signs. What they tell you is up to you to interpret. One thing I know for sure, though, is that people will reveal to us who they are if we take the time to watch, observe, and assess accurately.

Hiring super stars isn’t just luck. It takes the willingness to get to know ‘who’ the person is, which starts with the powers of observation.