The B Filter: Is Your New A Player Really a B Player in Hiding?

You've just found the perfect candidate for the position that's been sitting open on your team for 6 months.  Their resume looked good enough, their phone screen raised no red flags, and now they've won you over after completing your interview process.  Congratulations!  Well, almost congratulations.


While navigating the open waters of candidate search and landing this prize catch clears your open req and leaves you free to focus on building your product, if you really want to build a great team and can't afford to settle for merely a good one, your work is far from over.  Here are a few of my favorite approaches.


If it's at all possible, ask them to solve a current problem on your plate. The goal here isn't to get the right answer for your business per se, but rather to assess how the candidate thinks and if they're able to bring any new insights to your team. If you can't ask them how they'd approach a current problem, consider using one your team has already tackled.


Ask them how they know they've done a good job. You're not trying to ask a trick question, so be aware that's how it may come across. You're trying to ascertain how this candidate judges their work. There's no right answer to this question, but it should reveal whether they put more stock in their assessment of quality or that of their coworkers or manager. As a follow-up question, ask them how they know if someone else does a good job (hint: often we apply different criteria to ourselves than our peers). Again, there's no right or wrong answers here, but these questions should be able to help you filter out the A players for your role from the B players fronting.


Lastly, there's no excuse, you have to do the work. Invite the candidate to work with you, either on a short term project or with a clearly defined probationary period. In either case set clear goals and benchmarks for what will be acceptable performance. Here's the rub: if you don't set A player benchmarks here, you won't catch the B and C players who've made it this far. Set your expectations high. If the candidate is an A player they'll crush it and even if they don't meet your benchmarks, you'll know you don't want to let them go.


Remember, A players hire A players. Make sure you're doing the A player work required to hire them.


What are your favorite filtering techniques?  Are there methods unique to your industry that have high success rates?  I'd love to hear from your hiring experience!