Top 5: Hiring Top Talent

October 19, 2009sparxoo_admin


By David Capece, Managing Partner

There is a guiding philosophy that human capital can be an organization’s most important asset. In sports, managers are counted on to provide leadership in managing the team. From Joe Torre to Vince Lombardi, several standout managers have been able to deliver consistently great performance. Similarly, star performers are game changers on the field. In the business world, we all know about Steve Jobs and his track record with Apple. We recently worked with a client with a client to transform a 60 person department. Change started from the top through the selection of a new executive lead. From there, we had a mandate to redefine the group’s purpose, reprioritize their efforts, and inject new skills and talents. We share some tips on how to transform an organization through the hiring of top talent.

1. Purpose. If you want to build a great organization, your people will need a purpose. Gain input from key stakeholders to help define the role and identify skillset needs. Also look at your competitors to see the types of talent that they are recruiting. With a clear purpose, you’ll know the type of talent that you are looking for.

2. Investment of Time. Many of us have immediate needs and it is tempting to select the first decent candidate. While an extra few weeks today might seem like a waste of time, it’s well worth it to get significantly better performance over the next 3 to 5 years. Think of the first few interviews as setting the standard for evaluation. Then keep going until you find one or several outstanding candidates. That might mean going through 100 resumes and 20 interviews. It’s well worth the time.

3. Second Opinion. All of us have blind spots, so you should always have multiple people interview the finalists. That doesn’t mean that they need to meet 20 of your colleagues. Generally, have the best candidates meet with 3 to 5 team members so that you have a range of perspectives.

4. Test Skills. Some candidates are better at “selling themselves” than others. In addition to your qualitative interviews, take the time to ask them business related questions that test their skills. Ask them how they would approach certain problems. You might even share a piece of work with them to get their input. If you are very rigorous, you can give them a business case. We recently gave a 90 minute Harvard Business School case to test skills and critical thinking. This gave a very clear view of capabilities and skillsets. The combination of qualitative assessments and tests helped to distinguish between candidates.

5. Privilege to Belong. Once you select your candidate, you want them to say yes. To help get them to yes, it helps if they believe they are joining an elite club. Many candidates are just as interested in challenge and career growth as they are money. So while you should be fair in compensation, rather than overpay for talent, make it a privilege to belong. Share the long-term vision of the company, introduce them to your most talented team members, and show a career trajectory that they can get excited about. Interestingly, by having a more rigorous interviewing process, it will send the signal that it is difficult to get the job, and that may make the candidate want it more (lessons from the world of dating apply here). You might even make the offer special by taking them out to lunch to make the offer. Ultimately, this is a major life decision, so stretch beyond the ordinary so that the candidate wants to be a part of your team.

Image by Gabriella Fabbri from Stock.Xchng