How to Hire Awesome People

These five tips can score you studs not duds.



For CEOs, recruiters and managers, hiring can be a stress-filled situation. No matter which way you look at it, welcoming a new team member into the fold is always a gamble. Will they add value to the company and their team? Do their skills measure up to what you were sold on during the interview? There’s simply no way of knowing the answers to these questions until they take the job and show what they’re made of.

Still, there are some tactics you can use to give you a better chance of hiring the right candidate. Even better, the tactics shared below are pro tips on how to hire awesome candidates.

Here’s how to hire for awesome:

Know your core values and recruit accordingly. Your core values describe who your company is and what it stands for. They are the words etched into the wall in the company lobby that visitors see the instant they walk through the door. Some companies call it a mission, others call it a philosophy. While others might get creative and call them “family core values.” But in each case, it’s all just words on the wall if those words aren’t embodied by those who work there.

Making sure of this actually starts with how your organization does its recruiting. If your company’s core values state that the organization strives to create remarkable experiences, then questions on how to create remarkable experiences or what “remarkable experiences” means to a candidate should very well be a part of the recruiting process.

Stay true to the company’s roots and ask probing questions to find out if candidates reflect those roots.

Never mind work experience, who’s their favorite superhero? When’s the last time you dusted off that centuries-old employment application? I bet you’re still asking questions like “How did you find out about this position?” and “Do you have relatives who work here?” Good information to have, but is it really going to help you find the right person for the job? Use the application as an opportunity to get to know someone. After all, they’re not just an applicant, they’re a person, an individual.

So, in addition to your standard set of questions, try a few of these out for size.

  • “If you could have lunch with any two people, who would they be and why?”
  • “If you had a theme song, what would it be and why?”
  • And then there’s my personal favorite: “If you were a superhero, who would you be and why?”

Although they sound like just fun hypotheticals, these questions will elicit a deeper look into how a candidate thinks.

Awesome leads to more awesome. The good thing about hiring for awesome is that it begets more awesome. That said, I implore you to involve team members in the hiring process by implementing group interviews. It sounds intimidating — or maybe even unnecessary — but it doesn’t have to be if you make it less about an interview and more about a discussion. A discussion infers a dialogue which means the candidate has as much stake in it to decide if they’re an ideal fit for the company.

Allowing existing team members the chance to get in on the discussion and to help assess candidates will undeniably help you hire a candidate who’ll easily add to the culture and thrive within the organization. It’s also an interesting peek into how existing team members think about skills assessment, hiring and team advancement. You’ll have the opportunity to learn something new about your team when participating in a hiring group.

You’ve got the art, now add some science. Behavioral assessments help you get a feel for communication styles and other work-related behaviors before a candidate is hired. For instance, the Predictive Index assists managers with understanding what specific behaviors are required to be successful in a role. They can then develop recruitment ads specifically designed to attract candidates who possess those qualities.

Use behavioral assessments as an added perspective and to help you consider more qualified applicants during the process. Always keep in mind the goal — to hire a qualified candidate who can integrate well with the existing team as well as add a new outlook.

Hire and fire for awesome. No one likes to talk about employees being terminated, but it must be said: If you’re going to hire for awesome, you must also fire for it. Knowing what your company stands for and what it seeks to embody from a core values standpoint, means that some employees should be released for the good of the team if they don’t meet those standards. A decision such as this has no bearing on a person’s abilities or personality. It simply means that the company and the individual are not a good match.

Do you have more suggestions on how to hire for awesome? Let’s hear them! Please share with me in the comments below.

Tom Kulzer is the founder and CEO at AWeber, an email marketing service provider located in Chalfont, Pa. Over the company’s 17-year history, Tom has nurtured it from a small start-up to an organization with 100 team members serving more than 100,000 customers worldwide.