The Four Aces of Hiring

There are four aces in hiring. It is not about playing cards; it is about picking people who will help you win ... and won’t make you feel like you lost your last dollars playing poker. These aces are your most important hiring cards, yet they are not equal in value. You must know exactly what you want to measure—and following is the ideal sequence.

Performance mindset

This is your ace of diamonds. Detecting top players who are naturally high performers is your highest priority. The No. 1 reason to hire someone is to get the job done. When looking for the performance mindset, consider the following.

  • Does the applicant mention measurable results and achievements in her job application?
  • Are references listed that clearly support her achievements?
  • Does the applicant provide practical, results-oriented examples of some past performance, rather than mostly action-oriented ones?
  • Does the applicant feel at ease with your results-oriented questions?


This is your ace of hearts. Many call it positive attitude. Some people are naturally willing to work hard, to learn more and to do new things. Showing a positive attitude when problems arise can make all the difference in the working environment, especially when working in a team. There are a few good detectors that can help you separate top players with high willingness and the right attitude.

  • When asked, the applicant can easily provide examples of situations on the job where she had to demonstrate a positive attitude in order to solve a problem.
  • When challenged during a simulation or role-playing, the applicant shows evidence of willingness to respond and solve the problem.
  • The applicant can show evidence of willingness when she had to solve problems in order to help a group.


This is your ace of clubs. You want to have competent team members who can at least master the basic technical skills as required on the job. The best and easiest way to measure an applicant’s practical, nonacademic skills is to put the person to the test. Following are some important rules, no matter what the desired technical skills are.

  • Never trust academic or educational evidence of know-how found in a job application.
  • Never rely on an applicant’s previous experience to demonstrate technical know-how for your vacant position.
  • Put the applicant in a real or simulated situation and observe her action and reactions.


This is your ace of spades. Why is personality your ace of spades? If you play cards, you might know that the ace of spades is usually called the death card. Personality can be called your hiring death card for two good reasons. First, if you allow yourself to be influenced by an applicant’s temporary personality, chances are you will fail and hire the wrong people. Second, you definitely need to detect those vital job-related soft skills because you know this is what will determine success on the job. You should measure personality last; not because it is the least important evaluation criterion, but because if you let yourself be influenced by a nice personality, it could offer trouble, or destroy your business

Ensure your hiring procedure focuses on invisible personality-related skills. Business is often a gamble, and the odds of success lean on your ability to judge the aces at your disposal. Don’t trust the poker faces that present themselves in interviews; know your hand so you can guarantee that the house will win.

Patrick Valtin is the author of No-Fail Hiring (M2-TEC Publishers, 2011) and is an international public speaker. He has trained 85,000 business owners and executives in the field of people management, personnel selection, sales, business strategies, leadership and organization. He can be reached at 877-831-2299.

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