Attracting And Recruiting A-Players

Attracting And Recruiting A-Players

This article is a part of the All Things Talent Magazine (July 2018 Edition) – An Initiative By |

It is time for companies to address the 3 biggest reasons for poor hires dishonesty, unrevealing interviews, and poor verification.

In his book “Topgrading”, the bestselling author and thought leader Brad Smart talks about how one can attract, recruit and

retain top talent into their organisation. His insights below are from a recent Blog he posted for the Gazelles Growth Institute and contain some great lessons for recruiting top talent and “A-Players”.

Whether a person owns a boutique company, runs a huge conglomerate, or manages a department, hiring issues are probably not uncommon. Most managers mis-hire at least three people before they meet their high performing A-Player.

Each mis-hire can prove to be costly not just in monetary terms but also in wasted time and effort.

Trying to coach the low performers rarely works, it creates more frustration than improvement. Most managers live with 25% high performers (A-Players), about 50% “adequate” performers (B-Players), and 25% poor performers (C-Players).

So despite the best efforts in hiring, how does this still happen? Recruiters are not presenting quality candidates. Almost 50% of resumes contain lies — C-Play- ers hype their resumes to look like A-Players. The competency (behavioural) interviews are not very revealing. Reference checks are generally worthless.

“Letting candidates know that they have to arrange reference calls with former bosses, is a simple but effective truth serum built into the methodology that assures honesty.”

How can you consistently get to the A-Players?

Topgrading Inc. was started because the poor hiring results of almost all companies were appalling. Most companies do not address the 3 biggest reasons for poor hires: dishonesty, unrevealing interviews, and poor verification (worthless reference checks).

Topgrading solves all these problems:

  1. Letting candidates know that THEY have to arrange reference calls with former bosses, is a simple but effective truth serum built into the methodology that assures honesty. Low performers just drop out, knowing they can’t get bosses to talk.
  2. A thorough chronological Topgrading Interview covering every job is extremely revealing, in part because candidates know they will arrange reference calls with bosses.
  3. Reference calls (arranged by the candidate), to verify everything the candidate said are conducted. This is the very best form of verification imaginable.

In short: Topgrading delivers honesty, the most revealing interviews, and solid verification thus helping you hire A-Players, 90% of the time.

Who is An “A-Player”?

The term A-Player has been tossed around a lot and causes a lot of confusion. Following is its breakdown into three of the most useful definitions:

An A-Player Is A High Performer:

Most managers can relate to the term “High Performers” without much explanation; however, their definition of a high performer might tend to vary from others. Just a quick note though, many companies think that A-Player refers to someone highly promotable. Top- grading defines A1s as promotable 2 levels, A2s promotable 1 level, and A3s not promotable. A-Player Is Rated as an Excellent Or a Very Good Performer.

How can this be known? The methodology used has a “truth serum” built in. Candidates for hire are asked to guess how every boss would rate their overall performance on a scale of Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor Across hundreds of companies and several decades, we’ve learned that their previous bosses consistently rate A-Players as “Excellent” or “Very Good”. Being rated “Good” is not enough. An A-Player Is In the Top 10% of Talent Someone in the top 10% of talent available for any job, at a given salary level.

A-Players have resourcefulness in spades. They are resilient and don’t give up, and when challenged by opportunities or seemingly hopeless setbacks, they look for ways to overcome it. 

What Are A-Player Competencies?

Topgrading Interviews reveal all the important competencies for the job.

A-Players Tend To Be:

  • Smart, intellectual and business savvy
  • Driven to succeed; passionate about success
  • Trustworthy and Adaptable to adjust to many different personalities
  • Consistent high performers
  • Surround themselves with high performers
  • Very hard workers
  • Resourceful; overcome obstacles
  • Effective leaders
  • Down-to-earth, well-grounded, self-aware, humble.

One would probably want to spend more time helping their A-Players achieve even more, but chronic low performers, take up too much of their and the high performers’ time, dragging down the entire organisation.

The analysis had been conducted for over 20,000 reports following Topgrading Interviews of managerial candidates, and one competency stands out as the most important, the uber-competence of RESOURCEFULNESS. A-Players have resourcefulness in spades. They are resilient and don’t give up, and when challenged by opportunities or seemingly hopeless setbacks, they look for ways to overcome it.

How To Attract Your A-Players

In order to find A-Players, there will be a need to have at least 30-50 candidates to pick from. So here are a few methods to recruit this number of candidates.

1. Recruit from the network of A Players. A-Players usually know other A-Players. The company should be offering terrific monetary and appreciation awards for A-Players who refer A-Players.
2. Ensure the company’s LinkedIn profile is 100% up-to-date and advertise open positions on LinkedIn.
3. Use Social Recruiting, notably LinkedIn, but to a lesser degree (and only for low-level jobs) Twitter and Facebook.
4. Make the Careers section of the corporate website exciting and attractive. If the company has received honours such as being listed among the “Best Companies to Work For” in the area, brag about it.
5. Advertise on major and/or industry-specific job boards; Indeed and Zip Recruiter aggregate job boards and are the leaders. You will be sure to receive many resumes from them, so use the Topgrading Snapshot to narrow these down to the resumes that are most likely to be A-Players.
6. For high-level positions, engage an executive search firm, but require it to use Topgrading methods; its reports should show failures, along with successes, which means weaknesses along with strengths of every candidate.


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