How To Hire Your Next A-Player

People can either make or break our business, so hiring the right people is essential. Here are five qualities to look for in your next job candidate.

Photo: Ken Gosnell, CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience); Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Ken Gosnell, CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience); Source: Courtesy Photo

People can either make or break our business, so hiring the right people is essential. As Wendy Keller, founder, and CEO of Keller Media says: “The smaller your business, the more critical each person becomes.”

A bad hire cannot only drain cash flow but also devour hours of the leader’s time and energy that are too essential to waste. Every startup and small business will become better when they attract and hire better personnel, and more intentionally.


Five Qualities of A-Players

Here’s a look at five qualities to look for when you need to hire your next A-player:

1. Trustability

If you don’t think you can trust a person, they will never be able to succeed at your company.  Trustability is all about finding people who exhibit character.  Competency and education are important. But often employees can acquire training and experience for a position that is unfamiliar to them.

A person’s character is the essence of who the person is at their core, which usually doesn’t change. That is why it is essential to start with people of high character. Every organization benefits from having a good set of interview questions and other tools to help discern trustworthiness.

Consider these questions as you interview candidates and gauge their trustability:

  • How would you handle a situation where you are tempted to go against the wishes of your boss because you might think you have a better way?
  • What would you do if a colleague shared something with you in confidentiality, but you knew the business would be better if you shared the information with management?
  • What does integrity mean to you?


2. Reliability

Is this person reliable? This is one of the most important traits of a great team member. Leaders must know they can count on a person to do the tasks an individual is responsible for completing. When a leader does not believe their team is reliable, they will either do the task themselves or find another person who can do the task.

Consider these questions to access a person’s reliability:

  • Give me an example of a time you were asked by a manager or a colleague to help complete a project you were not directly responsible for completing.
  • If you had to pick one outcome that is the most important to project completion, what would it be? a) completing a project on time and on budget, b) completing a project with excellence, or c) completing a project that fulfills the goals of the leader.


3. Teachability

As your people progress, your business improves. Teachability is an essential characteristic of growing leaders and companies. Legendary basketball coach John Wooden once said: “It is what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

When a person has a teachable disposition, they have endless opportunities to improve themselves and thus their organization. Wise leaders hire and reward people who focus on self-improvement and personal development.

Here are a few questions you can ask a candidate to assess their teachability:

  • What is your favorite way to learn?
  • What is the most significant lesson have you learned in the last six months?
  • Explain a time when you had to stretch and grow professionally in order to succeed?  How did you do it?


4. Likability

Teams spend a tremendous amount of time together during working hours. One essential quality to look for in an A-player is likeability. Others should want to work with them to accomplish various tasks. Likability adds energy to an organization.

To assess likability ask a candidate the following questions:

  • What values do you embrace when working with your peers?
  • What is your viewpoint on lifelong friendships?
  • What personality traits and characteristics are key to working well as a team?


5. Sustainability

High employee turnover damages the progress and success of any organization. This is why it’s important to evaluate every prospective new hire in terms of their longevity (i.e., how long they believe a person will stay with the organization).

Startups and small businesses do not have the luxury of time or money to continually hire and replace departing—or poorly performing—employees. When you find a person you believe will stay with the company for an extended period of time, you know that you have found a strong candidate.

Consider these questions as you interview for sustainability and longevity:

  • Where do you see yourself professionally in the next five to ten years professionally?
  • What is one thing you want to accomplish to move towards professional success?


Smart leaders focus on finding and retaining the best talent. When companies miss this crucial principle, everything else suffers.

Focus on the best qualities and characteristics of potential hires, and you will position your company to grow, scale, and achieve next level business success. When your team gets better, your business will too.


Ken Gosnell is the CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience). He serves leaders by helping them to have great experiences that both transform them and their organizations that enable to go further faster. He has worked with hundreds of CEOs and leadership teams to enhance strategic, operational and people accomplishments. He is an author, coach, and strategic partner with CEOs. Ken is the creator and facilitator of the Christian CEO Linkedin Group and creator of the CEO Experience Impact Assessment. He is married to Shonda, and they have four children. Connect with @ken_gosnell on Twitter.


© YFS Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Copying prohibited. All material is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this material is prohibited. Sharing of this material under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International terms, listed here, is permitted.


In this article