Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How Do You Hire Top Talent?

Top Talent

They say Google is setting the new standards for hiring talent.  Throw away the GPA and the awards as these aren't necessarily predictors of top talent.  Past success on the job is a good indicator, but they are looking for problem solvers, and this part directly correlates to my long time personal hiring preferences.


I found the classic interview formats, such as what is your best trait, what is your worst, where do you see yourself in 5 years, just didn't fill-in the information that I needed to make a good hiring decision.  So, I came up with my own criteria and found that criteria has never failed me.  As a hiring manager, I have hired based on three qualities that I specifically seek out in prospective employees.  And my interviews were structured around these three qualities.  With problem solving skills and communications skills having just as high or higher importance than technical skills in some cases. 
  • Technical Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Problem Solving Skills

Technical Skills

Technical skills can be taught through on-line learning or on-the-job.  Although expertise must be measured in years.  But, having the technical skills is no guarantee that the will be used correctly.  Interview questions are specifically tailored to review the depth of the interviewees technical expertise.     

Communication Skills

Communication skills are inherent.  Either they know how to talk and write clearly or they don't.  You as the interviewer should be able to overcome any cultural impediments to communications, as it does take two for an exchange to occur.  Technical folks are trained how to talk to computers in school, but not how to talk to people.   You as the interviewer need to evaluate the communication skills.  Both written and verbal.  

This is also where cultural fit falls.    If you are in a very structured environment, then someone who is more dynamic and entrepreneurial, may be bored.  Likewise, someone who is change resistant and would not be a good fit in a dynamic ever changing environment.  Again, I structure the interview, to determine the candidates, tolerance for change. 

Problem Solving Skills

This is where the stars and top performers rise to the top.  And I have found that problem solving skills, can only be taught to a degree.  Although the flavor of the month is 6 Sigma for problem solving, which uses a fish diagram, where the participants guess at the cause.  Kepner-Tregoe, walks you through the logical progression of what changed?  I was using Kepner-Tregoe, before I even learned it.  The training allowed me to to give names to the processes I was already using.  

When interviewing, I structure a complex problem in their area of technical expertise.  So for a java programmer, the problem would be java based, for a help desk, it would be PC based, for Systems Admin, Network based,  PM it would be leadership based.  The problems I set up usually has no clear resolution, and basically I look to see how the interviewee, structures the problem solving.  

PMP TIP:  Kepner-Tregoe is great for risk mitigation!   Ask me how sometime.  

Armada Business Consulting, Inc.

Need help getting from strategy to execution?  I can help.  For more information contact Trish at

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