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
- Deconstruct your top performers to determine the common characteristics of your most successful employees, then seek these traits in job candidates.
- Continually build a file of potential employees by staying in touch with any impressive people you meet.
- 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.
- Be clear and honest with candidates about what your firm is like now, not how you’d like it to be seen.
- Learn how a candidate solves problems by asking her how she achieved the results she has highlighted on her resumÃ©.
- Observe the candidate in a casual setting, such as over lunch, to gain valuable insights into his personality and interpersonal skills.
- 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.