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Rethinking Rigid Standards: The Unexpected Success

The Hire That Almost Never Happened

It was 3:08 PM. I had just debriefed four candidates, and my internal interview hadn’t shown up yet. I cut my last meeting short to avoid keeping him waiting, but so far, he was a no-show. 

As I answered some emails, I realized I hadn’t eaten lunch and considered grabbing a quick bite. Just then, my phone buzzed—John was in the lobby.

When John finally showed up, I couldn’t ignore the implications of his lateness. Was it chronic lateness, poor organization, or personal problems? 

I walked to the lobby, prepared to dismiss John within 15 minutes. His resume was impressive, but his slight nervousness made me consider ending the conversation early. Plus, his lateness was all I could really think about.

At this stage in my recruiting career, I’d interviewed hundreds of people face-to-face, and I tended to make snap decisions based on the smallest bits of information. I was confident in my ability to infer much from little, earning a reputation for being exacting. 

Mostly because there was a story floating around about how I once abruptly ended an interview over a folder.

It’s true; in one of our small conference rooms, an interviewee pulled out a blue five-star folder with a hole in the front—it looked like his pet gerbil had chewed on it all night. 

When he opened the folder, spiral notebook paper stuffed inside shot out tiny pieces of tattered fringe all over the floor. At that moment, I decided he should teach organizational classes because you know what they say about the Cobbler’s kids. It was a snap judgment, but in my defense, I was still building my hiring muscles.

Although there is no perfect profile that guarantees hiring your next top recruiter, several key skills are essential for any recruiter. One of them is being on time. It’s just one of those habits you can’t be successful without.

Back to John. After spending a little more time with him, it was clear he had potential. 

Most importantly, he had a track record of success; he was steady, adaptable, accomplished, and smart—all crucial for a recruiter. 

However, he didn’t address his late arrival. So—naturally, I asked him what happened. 

John, new to San Francisco, explained he caught the wrong train and took responsibility for the mistake. Despite interviewing several other candidates, John’s potential stood out, possessing eighty percent of the qualities needed for a successful recruiter. This experience underscored some key recruitment strategies.

Actionable Recruitment Strategies You Can Implement

Investigating Potential Problems

Lateness is a major concern in recruiting. Candidates late to client interviews can harm their chances and our credibility. When John didn’t address his lateness, it worried me. Great recruiters don’t let small issues with big consequences slide. Addressing problems promptly prevents wasted time.

Probing Deeper

John’s confidence grew with each interview. He was punctual every time after our first meeting. His willingness to risk a career change, report to someone younger, and take a salary cut impressed me. We bet on John, and he bet on himself. He became one of my most successful hires, leading winning teams and hiring top recruiters.

Avoiding the Perfection Trap

Hiring decisions can create new problems. Focus on hiring the right people and updating your knowledge of what works. Perfection is not a high-performance requirement. John’s journey shows the importance of avoiding the perfection trap.

Adjust and Use Flexible Thinking

Flexible thinking in hiring is like using a GPS; adjust your route as needed. Overemphasizing one skills test can lead to missed opportunities. Address concerns with deeper evaluations like reference checks and additional interviews.

Select High Performers by Regularly Analyzing Your Results

Regularly review and adjust your hiring criteria. Flexible hiring practices help incorporate lessons from previous hires. Update your hiring profile as you learn what skills and habits lead to high performance. Establish quarterly review meetings to analyze new hires’ performance metrics and refine your criteria.

Invest in Identifying Key Skills, Including Adaptability

High-performance hires start with high competency in specific areas. Assess a candidate’s willingness to learn and adapt. Fast learners and highly adaptive employees can quickly master new skills. High performers take feedback and apply it immediately.

Establish and Create Testing Mechanisms

Implement trial projects or additional interviews to gather more data before making a final decision. The best way to evaluate someone is to work with them. Use role-play sessions and presentations to assess abilities, confidence, and organization. Testing mechanisms should be used near the end of the interview process. Flexibility and seeing beyond first impressions can lead to remarkable outcomes.

Sharp Recruits Fail in Bad Systems

Great systems can make average employees look like superstars, while bad systems can turn smart recruits into failures. If hires continue to underperform, it’s likely a system issue. Evaluate the role, product training, quota expectations, onboarding, sales cycle, customer success, sales enablement, solutions engineering support, internal communication channels, leadership, and client onboarding systems.

Beyond the Resume: Factors That Matter

While John’s qualifications were impeccable in a different role, his adaptability, eagerness to learn, and willingness to take risks made him a standout hire. In agency recruiting, risk-taking is essential. If it overwhelms you, you won’t last long enough to become proficient.

Product Knowledge

Hire salespeople genuinely interested in solving customer problems. They will naturally become product experts, building credibility, identifying pain points, and understanding product value.

Company Fit is Unique to the Team, Leader, and Company

Your perfect fit might be someone else’s terrible hire. The best candidates excel in the role and work effectively on your team. Identify must-have factors and don’t assume a candidate great for another team will be great for yours.

High-Performance Recruiting

Hiring one high performer can achieve the outcomes of a team of four. Top sales performers learn from and compete with each other, driving results. Hire the best you can, learn from each hire, and improve your process continually. Track metrics to create a feedback loop, leading to a team of high-octane sellers.

Push for Great Results by Hiring the Best

Hire the best you can, learn from the process, and hire better the next time. Create a feedback loop by tracking metrics that lead to successful hires. Consistently assessing your hiring will lead to a team of high-octane performers and a competitive advantage. Depend on real data, not just gut instincts, to hire top performers.

Ready to optimize your hiring process and secure top talent? Email us at [email protected] or schedule a consultation today.