June 2, 2014

The ‘A’ Player Checklist: What Top Talent Expects from Your Interview

In this age of information overload, it’s hard to survive without structure and organization.

We rely on project management software, note-taking apps, and email filters to keep our tasks, thoughts, and lives in some semblance of order. High priorities in this folder. Follow-ups in that one.

It’s the same for separating prospective talent in the hiring process (if it’s not, you’re doing it wrong). ‘A’ players are your top targets that clearly stand out from the rest. They get their own bucket (figuratively, of course) apart from those with potential and those with glaring red flags. (These candidates get their own bucket, too. It’s called the “circular file.”)

But what are you doing to stand out from the rest while pursuing those ‘A’ players? Just because YOU think you’re a great company doesn’t mean they do too. These aren’t wide-eyed recent grads ready to jump at the first opportunity offered. These are game-changers, and it’s your responsibility to prove your team is the right place for them.

Here’s how:

Put them under a microscope

‘A’ players expect a challenge. In fact, they welcome it. There’s a difference between being confident and being prepared, and top talent can walk this line. They’ve done their homework and have insight on how they can make your team better, so ask them real questions about what skills they can bring and what ideas they have to improve your team. If they bristle or get annoyed at tough questions in an interview, how will they respond to tough situations or critical feedback in the work environment? The ability to think quickly and stay calm under pressure are key ‘A’ player attributes.

Treat them like every other candidate

Don’t allow special treatment in the hiring process for top targets. Run background checks, call references and follow your established protocol. ‘A’ players understand a company is making a huge investment when it makes a hire, so they don’t expect to get a handshake and a job offer right from the start. Top talent wants to work with qualified teammates, so prove to them that you take the time and effort to properly vet your hires.

Stay on task and on schedule

Successful people understand that time is the most valuable commodity, so don’t waste it around them. Have a plan and a schedule for your interviews and stick to it. Don’t let a one-hour meeting become 90 minutes. ‘A’ players expect management to have discipline and structure, even when it comes to getting to know a prospective teammate.

Talk about salary expectations

We’re all adults. We can talk about money. Ask about their salary history and what their expectations are of the position. All this does is save time for both sides if the demands or expectations aren’t realistic.

Be transparent

Don’t dodge legitimate questions or protect information the candidate genuinely needs to make an informed decision. How is your business doing? Are you profitable? How are you financed? What are your plans for growth? These are all questions that ‘A’ players SHOULD ask, so be prepared with great answers and background about lessons and mistakes you’ve learned in the past.

Sell them on why they should join your team

More than anything, ‘A’ players expect you to prove your worth to them. If they truly have the talent to back up their confidence, they likely have opportunities to interview with your rivals or other companies with similar needs. They will leverage these opportunities against each other, which means you must prove your worth. Have a plan for selling them on the long-term opportunity your company offers.

Have you been in an interview with a company that did not do these things? Were you surprised at their lack of due diligence or inability to sell themselves? I’d love to hear your stories. And we’re always looking to add more ‘A’ players to our team. Visit our careers page if you’re a game-changer interested in joining our fun, fast-paced environment.

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