How to Successfully Hire & Retain ‘A Players’ for Your Team

David Jenyns
David Jenyns

how to effectively recruit A players


System Architect | Adam Franklin:

Hiring new team members can be a nerve-wracking time, especially when you don’t have much recruiting experience. How can you possibly make the right choice based on reading a CV and having a short interview with a few candidates?

You’ll no doubt have been told that hiring A Players is a necessity in order to successfully grow your small business or startup. But knowing how to identify an A player is not necessarily as easy as it may seem.

By following the steps below, you have an effective process for recruiting A Players to your team, right from creating a job post through to giving a job offer. You’ll also find some great tips on how to retain your A Players so you can build a successful team who will stay with you for years to come.  Even if you have recruited a dozen times before, it’s always a good idea to re-evaluate how you do things especially if you’ve not been having much luck getting or retaining the right kind of people.

How to Hire and Retain “A Players”

Step 1: Write a Job Score Card (job ad) and publish it.

who would your ideal person be


• A Job Score Card contains a description of the role, what type of person would be most appropriate and your organisation’s core values.

Step 2: Create a job application form to allow candidates to apply.

• Align your questions to your core values. Include questions about the candidate’s area of work interest, how they found the job ad, their salary expectations, what their dream career would be and other interests.

• Suggestion: Create an online job application form using Google Forms or SurveyMonkey.

Step 3: Screen the application forms and run a competency exam for the shortlisted candidates.

• Suggestion: Let the exam be 30 minutes where candidates can show their skills working on a part of a real project.

Step 4: Conduct a short screening call with the candidates that successfully passed the competency exam.

you can spot an A player by the way they talk about their strengths


• Call duration is about 15 minutes and helps to further shortlist candidates.
• Great questions to ask include:
• What are their strengths and weaknesses? Most “A Players” speak confidently about their strengths and are very clear about their weaknesses.
• What will your previous bosses and references say about you when we call them?”

Step 5: Call and check the references of the successful candidates.

• Call not only the ones they put on the application but ideally their previous employers.

Step 6: Invite the shortlisted candidates to a face-to-face cultural interview.

• Interview duration is about 20 minutes.
• During the interview talk in greater detail about the questions asked in the application form and on the screening phone call. The primary objective is to ensure the candidate’s values align with the companies’ core values.

Step 7: Introduce the successful applicant to the team.

let your team decide if your chosen applicant is the right fit


• This process that takes about 20 minutes and includes:
• Introduction to the team,
• Applicant introduces themselves,
• Sharing examples of applicant’s previous work and expertise,
• Team members introduce themselves to the applicant,
• Q&A time.
• After the meeting, ask your team to vote anonymously if they want to work with that candidate or not. Note: All team members need to vote positively for the candidate to receive a job offer.

Step 8: Employ the successful candidate for a 3-month probation period.

• On day one, invite the new staff member to a “welcome lunch”.
• Send a small gift (e.g. a bottle of champagne) and a card to his/her home address at the end of their first working day.
• After the probation period, ask your team members to vote anonymously again for their colleague. If all vote “Yes”, hire the employee full time.

Additional steps to maintain “A Players”

Step 9: Set an organizational hierarchic system with a pay range for each level.

• Set an organizational hierarchic system for each position, with levels from 1 to 5 and set a pay range for each position and each level. Make the system and the price ranges transparent to the team.

Step 10: Conduct performance reviews and offer incremental promotions and pay raise to retain “A Players”.

• Performance reviews frequency: every 6 months.
• Identify 5 criteria for each team member and review their performance based on these criteria. Ask the team member to write a review of their performance as well, and compare both.
• Create an anonymous survey and ask each team member to assess the performance of each of their colleagues.
• The best performance leads to a promotion in the hierarchy and a salary raise.
• Quarterly (between the formal reviews), run informal reviews to discuss what’s nourishing them, what’s draining them and what they are looking forward to.
• Schedule a 5-10 minute phone call with each team member for a weekly coaching conversation.

As you can see from the process above, finding and hiring A Players does not have to be a difficult task. It just means carefully scrutinising the candidates that you get and asking them the right questions during the interview stage. It also means being meticulous with checking references and also getting your team’s input on how they think a candidate will fit in to your working environment.

Once you have recruited the most suitable A Player(s) for your team, hold regular coaching conversations and review meetings to ensure that they are performing well and if there is anything that you can do to make their role more enjoyable.


System Architect – Adam Franklin

Adam FranklinAdam Franklin is the Amazon #1 bestselling author of Web Marketing That Works (Wiley & Sons 2014), an entrepreneur, business owner and marketer who lives and breathes social media, content marketing and inbound marketing.

His Bluewire Media blog is Australia’s #1 business blog and he has written for The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald and Smart Company. Adam has been interviewed on 2UE, 4BC and ABC612 radio. He speaks with ‘in the trenches‘ experience from running his own company for 10 years. He also sends his weekly Bluewire News email to over 20,000 marketers worldwide.

Adam has delighted audiences around the world with his humorous and jargon-free presentations. He has been speaking professionally since 2009 and is often the highest rated speaker at conferences.

Ideal audience: Complete newbies and social media cynics from corporate professional to small business owners!

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