The #1 Competency for A Players

In hiring interviews, what is the #1 competency you should focus on – the one that correlates highest with candidates who turn out to be high performers, A Players?  If you’re a CEO, or any hiring manager for that matter, what’s the one competency your interviews should most focus on to make the company more successful?   And if you’re a Human Resources professional, what hiring competency is most important to measure in candidates in order improve Quality of Hire and reduce turnover?  It’s probably not what you think. We’ve tracked what dozens of companies list as their core competencies, but only Topgrading companies focus on the single most important competency.

Google “most important competencies” and you’ll see the most common competencies used in hiring. Typical competencies for managers are “leadership,” “strategic perspective,” “interpersonal skills,” “coaching,” and “team player.” These are all important and you should expect candidates to be strong in all of them to get a job offer. But none of these is the most important competency to focus on.

What are our “creds” to opine about competencies? Dozens of Topgrading™ professionals, for almost 40 years, have done extensive research on competencies. Topgrading Professionals have conducted thousands of interviews of candidates for executive positions. We routinely rate the candidate on – get this – 50 competencies. We have correlated those 50 competencies with actual hiring results to find which competencies most account for candidates turning out to be A Players on the job. The dozens of case studies show again and again that one particular competency correlates highest with overall performance: Resourcefulness.

Resourcefulness is a combination of competencies such as drive, passion, analytic ability, decision making, perseverance, resilience, and energy that, when applied, creates great ways to take advantage of opportunities. Resourcefulness snatches success out of the jaws of defeat. Resourcefulness is figuring out how to get over, around, and through barriers to success, and then doing it. Resourcefulness is the opposite of coasting along, giving up, running to bosses to solve problems, whining, making excuses, and then giving up some more.

All A Players are very strong in Resourcefulness, whether they are CEOs, sales reps, mid managers, or professionals in any industry. Resourcefulness is revealed in every response to every question Topgraders ask in the chronological interview covering successes and mistakes in every job. Even when candidates discuss a job they had 15 years ago, they reveal RESOURCEFULNESS today. For example, if a candidate says, “My mistake 15 years ago was not researching what competitors were doing and I was blind-sided; since then I’ve gotten really deep insights into competitors and have beat them.” It suggests that the manager is more RESOURCEFUL today. When discussing recent jobs the candidate might describe a special project in which she had to be highly resourceful in order to get the President’s Award.

Let’s go back to that research that led us to this conclusion. The Topgrading method screens candidates against 50 different competencies. “50?” you might exclaim – “I have trouble rating candidates on our 6 competencies.” You might be surprised to hear that 50 competencies are necessary, and you’ll find that you do have the ability to track and rate a candidate on all these competencies.

We’ve trained tens of thousands of managers to use Topgrading methods, including the thorough Topgrading Interview. When our trainees say, “I can’t track 50 competencies in an interview,” we ask which of the 50 competencies should we eliminate? Specifically, which of the 50 could your candidate be Only Fair or Poor on and still qualify as an A player? They always say NONE. We also ask, “How many of you think that after you conduct your first Topgrading Interview you’ll be able to accurately rate your candidate on 50 competencies?” No one raises their hand. But after they have been coached through their first Topgrading Interview, 100% of trainees are confident that their 50 ratings are accurate. They high-five each other, confident they can track 50 competencies, because they just did it.

Summary: A Players are very strong in dozens of competencies, but the engine driving those strengths is RESOURCEFULNESS, the one most important competency for interviewers to focus on.

I have a lot more tips on hiring and coaching people to create A Teams, and if you’d like to learn more, there are 4 ways to do it. You can:

  1. Subscribe on our homepage to get weekly blogs on the best hiring methods.
  2. Download the free eGuide, Topgrading401.
  3. Get details about our upcoming Topgrading Workshops.
  4. Read our case studies in which the average improvement is from 26% to 85% high performers hired.
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