The No-Nonsense Way to Hire "A-Players": The Interview
This article is the third installment in our High-Impact Team Series. If you would like to read all installments of the series, click here.
“Your success as a manager is simply the result of how good you are at
hiring the people around you.”
— Joe Mansueto, founder of Morningstar, as quoted in Who: The A Method for Hiring
If you feel pulled in too many directions, your goals seem perpetually out of reach, or you’re doing things that are a poor use of your time, then what keeps you from bringing in help? I know — the hiring process is disruptive and time-consuming. There aren’t enough good people out there, and how the heck do you pick the right person, anyway?
Even though I have little talent for cooking, I’m a great cook when I follow a recipe created by a fabulous cook. So, here’s the recipe for a painless, vigorous, and effective hiring process, created by the authors of Who.
Create a Scorecard
It’s everything you want and need in a new hire: the purpose of the role, the outcomes expected, the competencies needed, and the values you want to share. We covered The Team Success Navigator scorecard in the last installment of this series.
Follow a Consistent Interview Process for Every Candidate
The "Who" writers hit one out of the ballpark with how straightforward this is. Find tools and examples for each interview here:
The Screening Interview: A 20-30 minute phone call to weed out "B" and "C"- Players.
The “Who” Interview: Get the full narrative of this person’s career.
The Focused Interview: Bring in others on your team to focus on the outcomes and competencies of the role.
The Reference Interview: Talk to at least three bosses, two peers, and two subordinates to get a 360-degree view and ask the candidate to set up these conversations.
Sell your mission, your firm, your team, and the role at the end of each interview, assuming you want this person to continue to the next step.
Weed Out B and C-Players
In the Navigator scorecard, be bold when you write the outcomes for the role. Candidates will weed themselves out if the outcomes are clearly out of reach.
Distinguish A, B, and C-Players by making each candidate accountable for responses: “Who were your last five bosses, and how will they rate your performance when we talk to them?” It’s not if we talk to them; it's when. Be consistent on this point if you want to avoid wasting hours interviewing B and C-Players — or worse, hiring the wrong person.
If you have that gut feeling of doubt during the screening interview, trust it and weed them out immediately. As Albert Einstein once noted: “Intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual experience.”
Persist to Get an Honest Story
Persist through vague answers. When you hear about a prior boss — “We just didn’t see eye-to-eye” — dig deeper (“Tell me more: What did you disagree on, and what issues developed?”).
Don’t ask about weaknesses, lest you get the notorious fake answers: “I’m too dedicated…I just work too hard…” Instead, ask: “What are you not good at professionally, or just not interested in doing?” If you still don’t get an honest answer, then get back to the references: “If you advance in this process, and we talk to your references, what will they say challenged you?”
Reject the Bad Apples
If you’ve diligently identified your firm values in the Navigator scorecard, you’ll be able to score the candidate on each one of them. Look for attitude that fits your culture. Even a rock star can’t be trained to have the right attitude.
Watch for tell-tale cues to a potential problem candidate:
Denigrating or blaming previous colleagues
Unable to explain job changes
Compensation is more important than the role itself
Taking excessive credit, or making their successes all about themselves
Don’t let your past experiences with interviews and hiring stop you from reaching your goals. Get a pen out, write up your own Team Success Navigator scorecard for the person you need to hire, and get cooking.
This is the third installment in Developing a High Impact Team. The first installment and links to the rest of the series are here.
What challenges you during the interview process? Leave a comment if there is another aspect of it you’d like addressed.