Top 5 Favorite Tips from “How to Hire A-Players”

“If your team is one Great Dane surrounded by Chihuahuas, your ‘big dog’ is at risk.”

That was one of the vivid, concrete points that really jumped out at me in Eric Herrenkohl’s new book, “How to Hire A –Players.” It’s hard to argue with the premise that our organizations would be more effective if we staffed them fully with A-Players, but Herrenkohl goes beyond the motherhood-and-apple-pie maxims, making strong arguments to change the way we approach hiring and offers specific tactics on how to actually build a team of solid A-Players.

The following are my top 5 favorite ah-ha’s from this practical guide:

  1. “IF YOU DON’T KEEP HIRING A-PLAYERS, THE ONES YOU ALREADY HAVE MAY START TO LEAVE.” The opening quote at the top of this post comes from that section. Of course, I want all A-players on my team, but I never considered the full impact C-players can have on creating an environment that does not foster and support the continual growth needed for A-players. In a very real sense, A+C+C+C=F. (pages 11-12)
  2. “STAY IN TOUCH WITH EVERY A-PLAYER YOU MEET.” Timing is critical. Either you may not have the right opportunity available, or the A-player may not be ready to make a move. Keep in contact and build the relationship, so that when the timing is right, you’re both ready to make the move. Not to mention, you’ll learn a lot from ongoing connections with A-players. (pages 47-48)
  3. “STAY AT NETWORKING EVENTS UNTIL THE BITTER END.” The same is true with meetings and workshops, the best dialogues happen towards the end or even after the official ending time. My career has been helped many times by being at the right place at the right time, and I did that by lingering after events. It’s a great way to learn a little more. (pages 85-86)
  4. “TAKE THE PROFESSOR, NOT THE CLASS.” Herrenkohl uses this statement to set up his point, “hire the recruiter, not the firm.” I like the professor statement because it has larger appeal beyond hiring A-players. In selecting business partners, if you are looking for long-term continuity, you may want to focus not relying on one person, but for short-term projects, go with the person who will be running the project instead of focusing on the biggest and best firm. (page 146)
  5. “INTERVIEW CANDIDATES, DON’T EDUCATE THEM.” This was a big mistake for me early on. I was always selling the job to the candidate (I still catch myself at times). It’s their job to sell us, and it’s our job to get them to open up and elaborate on the details of their previous experiences to determine strengths and weaknesses. (pages 159-160)

The next post will be an interview with the Herrenkohl and a chance for you win an autographed copy of the book. Stay tuned!