Lesson 6: Spotting talent

Written by PROFIT staff

These days, plenty of top performers are looking for work. But even with this unusually rich talent pool, you have to fish carefully. “A star is not a star is not a star,” warns Robert Hebert, managing director of StoneWood Group, a Toronto-based executive-search firm. “Someone who was a superstar at GM will invariably fail at an SME — it’s very situational.” Still, there’s a bonus if you can sharpen your angling acumen, says strategic management professor Bob Schulz of the Haskayne School of Business in Calgary: those you hire in tough times will feel grateful, making them less likely to swim away once the economy really picks up.

7 steps to the perfect hire

  1. Deconstruct your top performers to determine the common characteristics of your most successful employees, then seek these traits in job candidates.
  2. Continually build a file of potential employees by staying in touch with any impressive people you meet.
  3. Involve several people and their perspectives in the hiring process to reduce the odds you’ll hire someone simply because she’s likable or reminds you of yourself.
  4. Be clear and honest with candidates about what your firm is like now, not how you’d like it to be seen.
  5. Learn how a candidate solves problems by asking her how she achieved the results she has highlighted on her resumé.
  6. Observe the candidate in a casual setting, such as over lunch, to gain valuable insights into his personality and interpersonal skills.
  7. Get on with it! Superstars are likely to bail if your hiring process grinds on for too long — especially if they’re between jobs.

The Dwight stuff!

TV’s Dwight Schrute has what it takes to do well at The Office (e.g., a PhD in brown-nosing), but would he be a good fit for your office? If he ever seeks a job at your firm, you should look into how he handles conflict (e.g., by challenging colleagues to a duel) and what he relishes in his work (i.e., absolute power over his co-workers). And despite his outstanding sales record and fascinating mix of hobbies — such as growing beets, playing paintball and being a volunteer sheriff — you should ask yourself whether someone so at home in Dunder Mifflin’s rigidly bureaucratic environment might be just slightly out of place in your nimble growth company.

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com