Dear Bev: Is There A Surefire Technique to Recruit A-Players?
That's step one according to Eric Herrenkohl, president of Herrenkohl Consulting and author of the book How to Hire A-Players. I'd also find a good executive recruiting partner as step two, but realistically not every company can make that investment. If you are doing it on your own, Herrenkohl has some additional tips especially targeted to companies with revenues under $50M that are worth considering.
Recruiting Isn't Just HR's Job
Executive leadership should be actively involved in the recruiting process, something that is particularly important for smaller, fast-growth companies, Herrenkohl advises. "Remember that hiring is a team effort." He advocates seeing a lot of potential candidates for an opening. "Apply basic sales principles to recruiting." In other words, the larger your pool, the better chances you'll have of finding your "A" candidate. He adds that if you're working with a good recruiter, they should be able to narrow the field for you and present three to five strong contenders.
It's a Year-Round Process
Executives should be interviewing all the time to increase the likelihood of identifying top talent. This includes formal interviews as well as old-fashioned networking. "A-Players are looking when they're ready, not when you're ready," says Herrenkohl. In addition, he advises, know who is working for your competition and make the good ones a part of your potential pool when the right job comes up. Keep a candidate spread sheet and ask senior executives to regularly add names.
Avoid Common Interviewing Mistakes
It's a common mistake to talk too much when you're interviewing candidates. Don't spend too much time selling them on the company in the initial interview. You want to find out more about the candidate and to determine if he/she is prepared and has done their homework.
Herrenkohl advises that you steer clear of closed-end questions that may lead to short, simple answers. Instead, focus on accomplishments. "Over the course of this person's career, what have they accomplished, how have they done it and how does that compare to what I need?"
Ask follow-up questions because the first question may elicit rehearsed answers. The unrehearsed information is perhaps the most important part of the interview because it gives a real view of the candidate.
Keeping Your "A-Players"
"You can't surround a Great Dane with Chihuahuas and expect them to stick around," Herrenkohl says. A-Players will not thrive in mediocrity, and they'll leave. They have to be shown that good opportunities await them. "Make sure you pass the Thanksgiving test," Herrenkohl says. "I have key people on my team, key to my growth, but when they go home, I'm worried their brothers and sisters have better opportunities...You have to put the runway in front of these people to know where they can go." Because A-Players are always seeking to learn, grow and better themselves, it's important for a company to show they can.
Once a company is made up of A-Players, Herrenkohl says, it will be that much more productive and successful. For more tips on assembling the best team possible, check out Eric Herrenkohl's How to Hire A-Players, published by John Wiley & Sons, or visit the Web site at www.howtohireaplayers.com.