If only every employee you hired could be a high performer. Or, the better statement may be, “I wish I could predict who the high performers would be before I hired them!

Here’s one strategy for changing the way you hire today to increase the odds of selecting outstanding performers in the future.

Step 1: Identify what an “Outstanding Performer” looks like.

Note: Do not proceed with any other step before this one. The whole process will fail without it!

One approach is to ask yourself, other managers, and co-workers what defines a “high performing employee” at your company. Perhaps it’s those who prioritize effectively and get work done in the time expected. Maybe it’s the employee who is constantly learning and improving the way they work. In some positions, the superstars might be those who understand the value of relationships with customers and co-workers and constantly work to create & maintain them. It could be a combination of the above, or something else entirely.

Create a checklist of behaviors and traits you see in current or past high performers. Use these checklists to create a “profile” of high performance for each role you need to hire for; or better yet, make one for each role in the company.

Step 2: Select Candidates Where Past Performance Can Be Inferred from Their Resume.

The key change to your hiring process is to find a strong correlation between what you see on the resume and what you are looking for in a high performer. It seems intuitive, but it’s a frequently overlooked step (especially if you haven’t been hiring based on a profile as outlined in Step 1!)

In particular, if you need a goal-minded person, look for resumes that feature “Past Responsibilities” written in terms of goals or results instead of tasks. If you want someone who is conscientious or detail-oriented, don’t look for how they describe themselves. Select only resumes that SHOW the candidate’s attention to detail – good layout / formatting, consistent information, no spelling or grammar errors.

Step 3: Use Personality and Aptitude Assessments on Selected Candidates.

After identifying candidates with a higher probability of performance based on their resume, ask all candidates to take a personality and aptitude assessment.  


With the exception of probationary or trial employment, personality and aptitude assessments are the most valid, reliable, and effective method of increasing your odds of a good hire out of any other step in the hiring process.  In addition, a significant correlation is shown between a candidate’s assessment results and how their performance was rated after being on the job. Take a look at the table, below:


Percent of Restaurant Mgrs

Who Were Rated

Outstanding on Job Performance

Aptitude ScoreBottom 1/33%
Middle 1/310%
Top 1/329%
Personality ScoreBottom 1/35%
Middle 1/315%
Top 1/325%


When viewing the assessment results, compare the candidate’s score in each area to your outstanding performer checklist. Reduce the candidate pool to those who scored in the middle tier or top tier of results, with an emphasis on those in the top tiers.

Step 4: Conduct Structured Interviews Based on Your “Outstanding Performer” Profile.

Structured interviews are shown to be more successful than unstructured interviews, and if the structure is built around your profile, the chances of success could increase.

In addition to finding supporting evidence that a particular candidate meets your qualifications, take this time to probe into any other pieces of evidence you found that seem contradictory, or to give the candidate an opportunity to discuss areas of weakness.

One example: If the candidate looked like a driven worker on resume, but their assessment score for work drive was low, ask them to provide narrative to situations that would highlight this trait.


Step 5: Set clear, well-communicated, and realistic expectations.

During a follow-up interview with the final candidate(s), share the “Outstanding Performer” checklist created in Step 1 with them. Be clear and direct about what’s expected of the role. Watch body language and listen to verbal responses to evaluate if they’re still confident they’re the right fit for the job.

Before you extend a formal job offer, review the  job responsibilities list before you present the offer letter to the selected new hire. It should be consistent with what is outlined in your performer profile.

Remember: You Can’t Make Up in Training What is Missed in Testing.

Align yourself with a trusted, experienced, reliable assessment vendor prior to hiring any candidate. Give them a call and talk to them about your needs and find out what assessments are best for you to get the best results. Pre-employment assessment authorities like Resource Associates, who have over 150 job-specific assessments, can create custom testing around the qualities you’ve identified as most important for your high performers.