Being able to filter through candidates quickly is key to getting A-players into your business. Here I’ll look at the five filters that will help you to that.
But first, let’s look at who these A-players are.
When you’re hiring new people, your aim is to bring in those who’ll become long-term assets to your business. They’re the people whom you can trust and offload tasks to so you ultimately keep scaling your business and freedom.
You want someone who is enthusiastic about your company and your purpose first and foremost. And looking for people who are eager to grow and have gotten results before in previous roles.
To find them, you must always start off with knowing what you need to hire for. You can do this by tracking your time and building a task description off that. We always want to hire for attitude or culture first as well as skills and competency.
Knowing how to filter through candidates quickly to find the A-players is going to be a real help for your business. It’s going to save you time, energy, effort and money because you won’t have to waste your valuable resources repeating the hiring process over and over if it doesn’t work out.
You’ll be way more likely to find the right person for your business to continue to allow you to break through levels, as you ascend upwards in revenue and complexity.
I have five filters that I like to run all of my candidates through for any role. You may find that these help you to attract and hire the A-players who’ll benefit your business most.
Filter #1 – Reasons for Leaving
The first filter applies for the level one application stage. It’s a great way for you to screen out the A-players from the B’s and C’s who apply fast.
This is essentially a short questionnaire asking candidates to talk about their reasons for leaving their last roles. Make it clear that you’re going to talk to 3 references that they’ve provided to you, so make it a must that they include their reasons for leaving.
I find that this is a great filter for the simple reason that A-players have nothing to hide. The best people aren’t likely to have left an employer or client because they couldn’t do the work or because they caused disruption.
This filter may work best if you have dozens of applications that you need to screen quickly. You may have 50 candidates and can immediately see that 20 of them can go because they’ve had five different positions in the past year. You’ll also likely pick out a few others who just aren’t going to be good fits.
So, your first round of screening may cut those 50 candidates down to about 20.
Filter #2 – Questions and a Small Task
The second filter is a few questions that you send out to the people you have left along with a specific and small task which is relevant to the role.
I find that a good mix of questions works best here. You may want to select a few based on cultural competency and a few more that focus on problem solving. A list of 6 or so should do the trick. Ideally, your questions will make the candidates stretch and give you insight to how they handle themselves.
You can grab the entire Five Filter framework and example interview questions here.
Small, Specific Task
A good idea for the small task is to have them fix something that is broken. An example for a customer service role would be fixing an email response to an upset customer.
Watch out for how they respond to the questions and their attention to detail regarding the task. This will help you get a good idea of what each candidate has to offer, which means you can disqualify a few more who just don’t make the cut.
Note: If they are a contractor and not someone who is joining you as an employee, pay the candidates for their time. If they’re going to take half an hour to fill out the questionnaire, make it worth their while. That’ll help you pull out five or 10 people to focus on.
Filter #3 – The 30-Minute Interview
Say you now have 10 people on your shortlist you think might be a fit. Review their resumes and set up a 30-minute interviews with each of them.
Getting to Know You
Ask questions about what they have going on at home but keep an informal tone. You will want to conduct this on a video call using a tool like Skype or Zoom so you can do this face-to-face. That gives you a chance to connect and observe them as they answer and check out their body language to build rapport.
That’s likely going to filter out a few more people, too. Some candidates may not feel comfortable about talking face-to-face.
Watch carefully here. It may suggest they’ve got something to hide. It may also mean that they’re just not confident in meeting you face to face. This happens more often with freelancers from overseas such Philippine VAs because culturally these amazing people can be a little shy.
Record these interviews so you can play them back to spot things you might have missed.
Filter #4 – References and Personality Tests
Remember that from day one you let the candidates know that you’d reach out to their references. This is where you’re going to do it. I recommend talking to at least three references.
Call up each reference and engage them in a conversation about how the candidate performed. You may find that these conversations pull up a few red flags that the candidate managed to hide from you. The true A-players have nothing to hide though, so if the references come back good, the candidate’s likely someone you want working with you.
The next important step is to have the candidates take personality tests. There are a few out there, but I recommend Tony Robbins’ Free Disc Assessment and the 16 Personalities test. These will take them 30 mins max to go through and will be incredibly insightful for them and you.
When you have the results back you can assess whether they’ll be a fit for the role at hand.
From 50 people, you may now have whittled your list down to four or five.
Filter #5 – Tandem Interview
This is another face-to-face interview, but it’s a lot tougher on the candidate. There’s only so much time that someone can wing it before the cracks start to show!
What’s really important is that this is a tandem interview. That means you have somebody in the room who’s observing and maybe adding a few questions of their own. This gives you a second opinion to lean on if you’re really not sure.
Take Your Time
This longer interview aims to highlight any potential issues now so you don’t discover them 3-4 months in. It also gives you another chance to watch the candidate respond to your questions. You may want to expand on subjects you covered in the previous interview, too.
On this call you go through their role and all the things they will be responsible for and see if this is something they are capable of and why.
Of course, keep the rapport going as well. Be warm and friendly and encourage them to ask questions of their own. Be open about how uncomfortable interviews are to create a safe place where they can feel at ease.
The Final Word
This five-filter process may help you whittle a massive candidate list down to a couple of potential A-players.
You will find it takes a little time at first. But remember that slow is smooth and smooth is fast. After repeating this filtering process a few times, you’ll get it down and apply it even faster.
Plus, you will save tons of time not having to deal with the B and C players who aren’t going to serve your business and truly help you create the impact that you have been put on this planet to create.
If you want to entire framework, example interview questions and the exact handouts we’ve given our high-end clients, you can grab them here.
And of course, if you want to avoid the whole issue with dealing with a massive pile of resume’s, you can take advantage of FreeeUp’s fast hire experience.
Aaron O’Sullivan is the CEO of Systems, Culture & Impact. He’s been building eCommerce brands for the last 6 years and has sold several million in product sales. Aaron and his team work with 7/8 figure companies to turn their email lists into profit centers by driving sales on and off Amazon while removing the back office operations from the owners’ plates so they can finally work on profit generating activities like creating product ideas, opening up new marketplaces and growing their brand. Aaron speaks at events around the world including The World Bank, Sellercon and The Prosper Show. He lives in London, UK.