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It’s All About Talent.

497281282I recall in my past when there was a significant hiring need, I heard a business executive say the words which make me cringe, “We just need a warm body”. If you hastily hire a warm body to fill a “urgent” need, you end up with a warm body, and usually lukewarm if that. Certainly not a future star.

On the other hand, hire a brilliant person with talent and potential, and then that’s what you get. Hiring talent is virtually every businesses major challenge, and keeping them and rewarding them is an equal challenge. Sometimes the hire of talent needs to come at the expense of a current mediocre employee. Such is life. Companies only get better by improving every hire they make, and weeding out poor performers.

It is often said: “Hire Slow. Fire Fast”

This is wise advice. Take the time to find a star and vet them properly. Don’t compromise your standards. On the flip side when you’ve reached the point when you’ve made a termination decision, just do it. Do it fairly, not impetuously, but once you’ve made the decision, do it quickly and fairly.

I’ve interviewed hundreds of people throughout my career in the quest for top talent. Here are the 5 qualities I always looked for:

1. Intelligence.
Sheer intelligence is very important. How well does the candidate speak (and write)?

2. Likeablity
Do you like them? Will they wear on you well? Likeability is very important.

3. Curiousity
Have they prepared and asked insightful questions? Smart candidates should ask the interviewer questions to determine if they can click with the hiring manager. They should demonstrate their interest and knowledge of the company.

4. Interests outside of work
I find that the best hires are “students of life”. They have interests, hobbies, are well read and interesting people.

5. Passion about wanting to work for the company
In my former life, I always was impressed when a candidate literally asked for the job–not just assuming since they are there, that they want to be hired. My advice to anyone seeking a job and wanting the position—go for the close, ask for the job and tell the employer you’d be a great hire.

Notice I didn’t say specific experience in any of these 5 qualities. While obviously the candidate needs to have generally relevant experience, I often think employers are too quick to hire someone who fits the model of who they think they’d like, and less willing to hire a talented person whose experience is not quite perfect. My 2 cents—go for talent. With risk comes reward. Make the safe choice and you often wish you reached higher.

In the end I always believe that the most successful company hires smart, talented people who they believe share the intelligence, personality and style that makes a good fit. It takes time to find these folk.

Take the time to make the best hire, and don’t compromise. Making a great hire pays dividends for years.




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2 Comments

  1. “Urgent” needs are our specialty for positions and projects.

    Sometimes try before you hire works in the company’s favor: There’s a skilled creative fulfilling the urgent need on a mission critical project, giving the hiring manager time to watch the person in action. If they don’t fit, letting them go costs nothing – the work has been handled skillfully and there has been time to interview other candidates patiently.

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