Hiring staff can be a very difficult task for business owners, particularly if you are looking for highly skilled and motivated A-Players.  These are staff who are talented, driven to succeed, adaptable and take great pride in their work.  An A-Player can play a significant role in the success of your small business and can help you push the business to the next level.

Steve Jobs famously attributed his success to hiring A-Players, saying:

I’ve built a lot of my success off finding these truly gifted people and not settling for B and C-Players, but really going for the A-Players.

Finding these extremely talented staff can make a huge difference for your business and is particularly important for entrepreneurs who are hiring their first member of staff.

If you can separate the A-Players from the run-of-the-mill applicants during the hiring process, your business can gain a significant advantage over your competitors.  This article will share a few tips for finding A-Player employees for your business.

The Characteristics of an A-Player

A-Players are people who have a variety of characteristics which sees them excel in the workplace.  Those attributes usually include:

Strong intrinsic skills and intellectual curiosity

  • They have a skill set that is ideally matched to the position on offer and the drive to broaden their skill set. They excel at integrating new knowledge and they are love to develop their skills — they are lifelong learners.
  • Great communication skills, interpersonal skills and teamwork
    They can express themselves very clearly, are personable, have highly developed social skills and function well in any workplace or social environment. An A-Player loves to work in a team and is usually capable of motivating a team.
  • Drive and initiative
    They don’t settle for substandard processes and mistakes. They are driven to constantly improve themselves and the business.
  • Passion
    They are passionate about their job and satisfied with their career choices. They enjoy putting 100% effort into the task in front of them because they are passionate about their work

Identifying and Hiring A-Players

Here are some simple tips for identifying A-Players when interviewing job applicants:

Search for hints of an A-Player in their CV

Job applicants can cleverly design CVs to hide their flaws — for that reason, the CV of an A-Player versus a B-Player will be almost identical.  It is one of the reasons why finding and hiring an A-Player can be difficult.  However, there are a hints that will help you spot the A-Players. 

A-Players are less likely to have been fired from a position

  • They will typically change jobs when they see a better opportunity to develop their career or they have decided to move to a different geographical location. If you see a CV with a job history littered with down-grades or side-grades, they applicant is probably a B-Player. This doesn’t always apply as some of the greatest A-Players such as Steve Jobs and Richard Branson struggled with the academic part of their lives, yet excelled in business.

A-Players will have impressive qualifications and hobbies

  • An A-Player is usually a very inquisitive person who is driven to learn more about the world around them. They will have some impressive qualifications with high academic performance (usually, but not always – see Branson, Jobs, Einstein and so many more) and they will also have some interesting and diverse hobbies.

A-Players have a track record of getting things done

  • While a B-Player’s CV may place emphasis on their qualifications and experience, an A-Player will also have plenty of examples of how they got things done (and this is where Jobs and Branson will sit). Their drive and initiative make them extremely productive in the workplace.  Their CV will have concrete examples of their achievements across their career. When asked in an interview, they will have many examples of successful initiatives they spearheaded at their current organisation.

A-players (or Superstar Candidates) will have glowing references

The previous employers of A-Players will be devastated to learn that the employee is leaving!  Typically, the references will be glowing and full of praise.  Place more emphasis on the references than other parts of the CV, but make sure you also contact all of those references. And do this before you offer them the job.

They can handle curveballs

Asking difficult questions and giving them tasks to do at the interview stage can help you identify A-Players.  They will comfortably handle any tougher questions and perform company and role-appropriate tasks without becoming flustered.  Ask them about failures and tough learning experiences from their previous jobs.

They already have ideas for how to improve your small business

A-Players only go into fields they are passionate about.  During the interview, they will be able to talk in great detail about your business, the market, the job and the future of the industry.  They will also already have ideas on how to improve processes or develop your small business. 

Look for A-Player characteristics in the interview

Devise questions to help you understand the extent of the applicant’s personal motivation, initiative, passion, knowledge, skills, intelligence, integrity, work ethic, interpersonal skills and professional development.  They will excel in all of these areas to varying degrees and much more.

Use talent assessments 

Because a CV cannot possibly tell you the whole story and a great communicator can bluff his way through an interview — talent assessments should be used to spot A-Players.  Set up short tests or scenarios where the candidate has to deal with a difficult problem.

Making Recruitment for Small Busy Easy

WingroveTailored can make hiring A-Players a breeze!  Our team specialises in recruitment for small business and helping business owners find these A-Players.  We can make hiring staff simple and provide you with exceptionally talented staff members without the hassle of interviews.