How Can You Make Sure You’re Hiring A Players, Not C Players?

Hand holding we are hiring

You know, there’s the old saying that “A players hire other A players, and B players hire C players.” And if only it was that easy because most people think they are A players.

The reality is that you should be looking at various data points to determine who is an A player. Here are the ones I like using:


A. Use The Eye Test.


My guilty pleasure is watching football on TV. From time to time you’ll hear one of the announcers say a team or a player “doesn’t pass the eye test.”

The commentator means that even though the player is successful, something doesn’t look quite right. That’s the same in business too.

Use your instincts as a first pass for whether or not you have a team of A players. Your instincts should match the facts. If they don’t match, you need to dig deeper. Then…

B. You Need To Gather Feedback.


Hopefully, you’ve built an open collaborative culture where the team feels free to share opinions (Read: Why Your Startup Culture Is The Key To Your Company's Success). Let’s say you have an employee you believe is an A player, you should get feedback from various members of the team that confirms your opinion.

Also observe how the employee works with other employees. And then observe how the other employees communicate with the employee.

Cultural fit is part of being an A player. So look to see if there seem to be genuine respect. Look to see if the employee fits in.

And then keep digging if you get negative feedback. Then…


C. You Should Look At How The Employee Handles Herself.


A players never make excuses because A players own their mistakes. Does the employee communicate clearly and honestly up and down the organization?

A players know how to communicate. Even the geekiest A player engineer I’ve ever worked with could communicate well. Then…


D. You Need To Look At The Results.


At the end of the day, A players produce A level results. B and C players don’t produce A level results.

A word of caution on this one because sometimes force majeure (unforeseen circumstances) do happen from time to time. And an A player naturally takes ownership even when failing.

Sometimes A players set crazy-hard goals for themselves that are unrealistic. They may only get 70 percent of the way to their goal, but that 70% is 10X better than anyone else.

So use these four techniques (Eye Test, Feedback, Looking At How The Employee Handles Herself, and Results) and you’ll have a good idea of who is and who isn’t an A player.

For more, read: How Can You Prevent Your Team From Misleading You?

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