How to hire the best talent: Look for people who can produce extraordinary team results

When I first earned the privilege to hire, I was told that a candidate’s past performance was a critical indicator of future performance. I also was advised that the applicant with the best and highest level of education always proved the best choice. If that aspirant also was polite, articulate and professional, then the perfect match was struck.

How did that counsel fare with me?  I have always found it smart to interview at least three-to-five candidates and narrow the list to two.  I listened to the advice to compare the finalists to ensure I would land the best educated and the strongest performer.  Then I took in countless human resource seminars on effective interviewing and hiring based on those principles. I followed the process flawlessly. But, alas, it didn’t always succeed.  How could that happen?

Then it dawned on me.  How someone performed in the past wasn’t the most critical factor.  Neither was tapping the candidate with the most exceptional curriculum vitae.  Instead, it often proved the ordinary individual with unique competencies and values who delivered extraordinary results in a team environment.

Wow, did that shatter conventional wisdom!  Following my new thought process, I also began opting for the job contender I believed would bring boundless energy and passion to the organization and energize others through “contagious enthusiasm.”  The critical consideration rested on determining predictable future behavior in the context of team results, not just individual performance.  So my hiring process became more like building an orchestra. Each individual had to excel but, at the end of the day, it was the integration of individuals – the “gestalt” – that sparked the best product.

Team “fit” is more important than individual “function.”  I recognized that it’s more effective to evaluate “complimentary competency” within the new team by understanding individual motivation and value structures. Now even after a successful hire, I make the extra effort to ensure team collaboration and to maximize my management approach for the best results.

When hiring, I don’t think individually, but collectively. I follow this approach:

  • Assess how the individual will assist in creating extraordinary team results.
  • Imagine how the candidate will create diversity within the organization or constructive dissent. Extraordinary results are only achieved by a team of diverse individuals challenging the status quo.
  • Gauge if the candidate will bring unique “life experiences” that will enhance the creative thought process and drive business results.
  • Ask myself, “do I hire only people like me, do I hire only Ivy League pedigrees and do I hire only people who look and think the same?”
  • Focus on whether the aspirant inherently values performance and not on whether the person will work the hardest.

Undoubtedly, you will find – as I have – that hiring and managing a diverse group of highly motivated, thoughtful and passionate individuals isn’t easy, but it almost always triggers amazing results.  And, hey, who said hiring was easy anyway?