How to Find Real Talent

17 10 2011

Believe it or not, there are still companies that are hiring.  As they seek out talent, there might be some things that surprise you.  I was reminded of this after viewing a recent article in the Wall Street Journal Small Business (http://on.wsj.com/best_recruits).  Our best talent often isn’t the person with the best technical skills.  Instead it is the person with the best attitude.

I am reminded of a client of mine who works in the banking industry.  He made it a point to tell me that when it comes to customer relationship areas of the bank, he goes out of his way to hire people who have no banking experience.  “Certain departments need that banking know-how,” he said, “but when it comes to relationship building, I look for attitude.  The rest can be taught.”  He’s right.  Almost anyone can learn the technical skills needed to do the job.  Changing behavior is much more difficult.  Other clients have experienced this challenge as well.

So when hiring, take the following steps to find the right talent:

  • Determine desired behaviors – Beyond the technical skills for the position, what are the attitudes you want the new candidate to exhibit?
  • Conduct interviews around past experience – Too often interview questions are based on the hypothetical.  “What would you do if..” allows the person to create the right answer.  It doesn’t mean that they have done it and it certainly doesn’t mean they will take that action with you in the future.
  • Using assessment tools – There are numerous personality and behavioral assessments in the marketplace today.  The right tool can help you qualify a candidate and determine how you can best develop that person to be productive in your organization.  It is another step to finding the right individual.  Though assessments can be highly accurate and effective, I recommend only using this to help validate certain facts or behaviors.  A hiring decision should not be made on the results of the assessment alone.  Take all factors into account.
  • Let them work with you – I have a client that will bring a candidate in to work with them for a day or two.  This gives the rest of the staff a chance to meet the person and see how they will fit in the team.  The person is paid for their time and valuable feedback can be gained through watching them interact with others on your team.
  • Look for measurables – Find out what results the candidate had a chance to influence in past roles.  Any new hire has an ROI.  Determine what this person has done in the past to generate value.
  • Establish strong communication – Communication is the biggest challenge in most organizations.  It is often directly tied to an under-performing new hire.  Set clear expectations up front.  Follow through.  Establish regular touch base meetings.  Keep lines of communication open.  Doing so will help improve performance.  Your goal as a leader should be to give everyone in your company the opportunity to be successful.   Make sure you are doing your part.

Hiring is a critical role in any business.  The key to success is making sure you are bringing in the best talent that aligns with the vision and values of your organization.  Taking the right steps early on will avoid a painful separation in the future.  While there are never any guarantees when hiring a new candidate, there are ways to limit your risks.


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3 responses

17 10 2011
Adam Perkins

Great Article Dan. Keeping this one handy for when I start to hire some sales folks on my team.

20 10 2011
eagle772G

Dan, the article is excellent. It is important in hiring employees inside the company and outside the company for good results. Thank you

15 11 2011
What's wrong in recruitment today | Fearless Competitor

[…] We share a brief except here, but we invite you to read the full article at How to Find Real Talent […]

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