In the past twenty years, I’ve interviewed nearly 20,000 CEO’s, business owners, entrepreneurs and leading business executives as part of my research for books and preparation for speeches.

One question I always ask is, “what’s keeping you awake at night these days about your business,” and the one answer that I’ve heard in probably 99% of my conversations concerns finding and recruiting great people.

This week, I had the opportunity to spend time with Jeff Hyman, the author of the new book, Recruit Rockstars – The 10 Step Playbook To Find The Winners and Ignite Your Business, and, as Chief Talent Officer at Strong Suit Executive Search and someone who has spent his career building successful companies and recruiting talent, he knows more about the subject than anyone else I’ve ever interviewed and during our discussion he got straight to the point.

“With less than 2% unemployment among college educated workers,” Hyman says, “posting and praying won’t cut it,” and Rockstars, who Hyman defines as being the most talented 5% of workers don’t spend their time checking job posting sites and want ads.

According to Hyman, there are three common sense courses of action that every company should take to better their chances of recruiting sure winners.

  1. Recruit all the time – Hyman points out that most companies hire people on a just-in-time basis; someone leaves, they post a job, being a search and hope for the best. Hyman maintains that a ‘hire Rockstars’ culture must begin not with head of HR nor the CEO. Instead, he says, “a culture of talent must begin with the board of directors or board of advisors. The board has the proper authority to ensure that a company has a culture of recruitment, is constantly recruiting high achievers and measuring and monitoring talent and possible succession. “CEO’s should be spending 30-50% of their time on recruiting,” says Hyman, and in response to the strawman argument that they don’t have time, Hyman adds a stern, “Look, they’re already spending that much time dealing with the problems caused by having the wrong people in the wrong positions making bad decisions,” adding a rhetorical, “why not spend the time on the front side making certain you have the right people instead of fixing problems and challenges created by the wrong people?” Half your new hires should come from the best recruiters you could ever hope to have; your workforce. 
  2. Stop Spending Time in Interviews That Aren’t Predictive of Success – “Which school an applicant attended, their compensation history and previous titles held are not predictive of an applicant’s ability to do a job,” argues Hyman, adding that, “even Google, with the best hiring metrics in the business, long ago, stopped looking at GPA’s.” Instead, interviews should focus on creativity, attention to detail, the ability to get the job done which all add up to being a person’s DNA. The purpose of the first four interviews, says Hyman, should be designed to measure a person’s DNA and whether they’ll be a fit not only for the rigors of the position but the culture as well. There’s also magic in the number of interviews being limited to four. “Again,” says Hyman, “Google research has proven that each additional interview over four only adds 1% more accuracy to the applicant’s likelihood of success in the position.
  3. Take the Person Being Considered for a Test Drive – The most predictive thing a company can do when considering a potential candidate is to take them for a test drive and assign them a real-world project of between tow hours and two days. Hyman says there’s no better was to see people in action and he recounted a recent experience in which he was involved where a company was searching for a new CFO and was all set to offer the position to someone who looked like they’d been delivered from Central Casting. “The guy looked perfect, had perfect handshake and demeanor, had attended all the right schools and sailed through the first four interviews. “But,” Hyman says, “when he was assigned a two-day project to take the quarterly financial statement and use it to build a presentation for a group of venture capitalists considering making an investment in the company he botched it. His deck was so bad,” says Hyman, “that it was unintelligible, had misspelled words and even mathematical errors. He missed the plot entirely,” says Hyman, and adds, “imagine what a disaster the company would have had on it’s hands if they’d hired him.

Creating a culture of constant recruiting, ditching interviews that aren’t predictive of on the job success and taking candidates for a test drive might sound like simple common sense which recalls my favorite adage; the most common thing about common sense is how uncommon common sense is.

Read Jeff Hyman’s new book, Recruit Rockstars and you’ll be better for it.

To listen to the interview with Jeff Hyman click here.

To watch the interview on You Tube click here

To buy Recruit Rockstars at Amazon click here.

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