4 Simple Ways to Spot “Star” Power in Candidates

I like to think that I’m a real movie buff, like my sister, Sue. But I’m not in her league. Sue beats me for sheer number of movies seen in a given year and for her thoughtful critiques as well. (Siskel and Ebert are her patron saints and Leonard Maltin’s Annual Movie Guide is her Bible!) Although I’m the film lightweight, we have a good time with movie talk, especially during this Golden Globe-Emmy- Screen Actors Guild- Academy Awards time of year.

To attempt to get somewhat to Sue’s level, I try to actually view the movies I want to see before the awards shows. While I never seem to see them all (especially now that there are nine “Best Picture” nominations!), I give it a good shot.

During Oscar season a long time ago, I saw a young Leonardo DiCaprio in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, still one of my all-time favorites. I wonder sometimes how a director and/or producer can spot such talent, especially in young actors who haven’t had much experience. How do they identify that “star quality”? I’m sure they have their “formulas.”

leonardo-dicaprioSimple Formula for Spotting Talent

It’s the same thing when it comes to hiring potential stars for your business. You need to spot talent that not only will perform right away, but will also mature with your company and propel its future growth. To help you do that, think “STAR” power.

The STAR Behavioral Interview Methodology is a simple and quick way for you to ask questions that will easily identify a potential top performer. It’s easy to use and, if you stick to the formula, reveals invaluable information, helping you make a decision about whether to move forward with a candidate.

Here’s how it works. Each letter in the word STAR represents a word – a word that will uncover what you really want to know about the candidate. The words are:

  • T – TASK
  • A – ACTION
  • R – RESULT

In short, you are asking for their behavior in a specific situation. You are asking candidates to identify when they were in a challenging situation, the task that had to be done, the action they took to get the job done and the result(s) they achieved.

Here’s a somewhat over-simplified way to use this behavioral method:

  • S – SITUATION: Ask your candidate to describe a specific situation that was a real challenge. For example, if the candidate has been in a start-up or very small company, you may want to ask about getting the first customers, developing the first marketing plan, presenting to potential investors, etc. If they’ve been in a larger organization, ask for a situation where they had to do something quickly.
  • T – TASK: Ask the candidates to detail what specific tasks they had to perform to be successful. What did they actually have to achieve? For sales, this may be a sales quota, opening a new territory or increasing existing business. For marketing, this could be designing a marketing plan, branding a product or incorporating web technologies into existing programs. Look for areas where the candidate’s tasks may be a close match to your position.
  • A – ACTION: Ask for lots of details about the specific actions the candidates took to get the job done. Ask about the resources that were used. Did they have lots of support or was there minimal support? Was it a group effort or an individual one? Was the action creative or innovative in some way, or was their thinking “inside the box”? You get the idea.
  • R – RESULT: Get the actual, tangible outcomes of your candidate’s efforts. Again, ask for details about what the candidate achieved and the impact that the result had on the company itself.

Using these four easy steps, you can quickly identify whether the candidate will be a star performer for your company.

If you take them through this line of questioning and still have some doubts, start at SITUATION again, asking for another example. If they don’t dazzle you the second time, you probably want to cut short the audition (I mean interview!).

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