Hiring a “10”

Written by Brad Surkamer


Hiring a 10It’s been said we can easily spend as little as an hour determining who we’ll be spending half of our waking hours with. Yet, don’t we all hope to find a way in that hour to end up adding another “10” to the team?

I’ve been a part of more than 50 teams in my life. I’m proud to say all of them have achieved a high purpose, and many have accomplished exceptional results. One thing is true about those great teams: They had a lot of 10s—very smart people who worked as a team.

As a leader at Hewlett-Packard, Extended Systems, and now CLM, I’ve found a way to interview and select great people—using a same-day, team approach.

Step 1—Define the top attributes needed in the job. Attributes are things like technical competence, initiative, organization, judgment, etc. And the most important ones vary dramatically between roles.

Step 2—Form an interview team that’s cross-functional, includes at least four but no more than necessary. Assign two to three key attributes to each interviewer, and make sure they’re ready with the right questions to determine if the candidate has those attributes.

Step 3—Conduct the final interview yourself, focused on recall, integration, and thought process. Ask the candidate to recall each interviewer and what they asked about. Ask them what they think of the interviewer to check on integration. Then ask one or more intentionally tough questions to evaluate thought process.

Step 4—Close the loop with a team wrap-up. A great first question: “Will the company’s average IQ go up or down with this hire?” If that answer is up, then proceed round-robin style reviewing based on the assigned attributes, and seek a consensus decision.

Every 10 is exceptional, therefore not easy to pinpoint. The above process is a way I’ve found to increase the odds of identifying these stars, while building team consensus, and saving a lot of time.

We’ve created a printable handout to help guide you in preparing for your interview process, or to keep as a handy reference.