Building Careers. Powering Businesses.


The Payoff of Hiring Top Talent

When you need to recruit new talent to fill important, mission-critical roles at your company, you don’t want just any warm bodies. You want the best employees possible. In fact, you can’t afford to hire anything less.

Which is why the ability to identify, distinguish, and attract high-potential talent (or to work with a partner who can) makes all the difference between your hiring initiative being a soaring success that wins you a fat bonus, and just another year where your teams fail to hit their numbers.

So, just how exactly do you spot these superstars before ever placing them? Well, let’s see what science has to say.


It’s a well-known fact that 1% of your workforce accounts for 10% of your organizations productivity, 5% accounts for 25%, and 20% accounts for 80%. That’s according to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic at Harvard Business Review.

The first indicator of an employee’s potential ability to succeed in a role is their general aptitude for the job. The single-best predictor of this ability to a work sample test, where you can observe the candidate actually performing the tasks required to do the job.

But for more strategic, director-level roles and above, the “ability” in question is cognitive ability, and the ability to master the requisite knowledge required. Logic tests, or even IQ tests, are good predictors in this area, as high-ranking business officers require a substantial cognitive component for success, as well as motivation to continue to adapt and learn.

Social Skill

Businesses are necessarily social endeavors, and the ability to “play nice with others,” as it were, is a key indicator of success. The most common factor in employee turnover is relationship problems with management and subordinates.

Emotional intelligence is key, and what aspect of it your company should value varies based on the role you are trying to fill. Complex, strategic positions require an ability to manage oneself and one’s tasks, and the emotional intelligence to recognize where they are struggling and need help, and where they can feel justified in taking calculated risks to attain more success. For senior, managerial roles, top talent should be able to develop “sophisticated political skills,” and we don’t mean kissing babies and shaking hands. They should be able to read an audience, infer and interpret “unwritten rules,” and seek solutions that satisfy the disparate (and often contradictory) demands of all key decision-makers and stakeholders.

There are multiple psychometric tests which can assess emotional intelligence, and many are already being employed by Fortune 500 companies.


Motivation can be a fickle thing, but the top recruits have it. In fact, ability and social skill may be “talent” indicators, but even the most able and skilled employees will go no further than their drive to succeed and accomplish new tasks takes them.

So how do you measure for it? Standardized tests exist when screen for conscientiousness, achievement motivation, and ambition. But more clearly than that, it can be observed when a recruit is given a task. Are they willing to gladly embrace a certain degree of psychological discomfort and uncertainly? Are they eager to learn new things and take on new roles simply for the sake of advancing in their personal aptitude?

Recruits that demonstrate these tell-tale indicators of drive have the potential to go much, much further than those who don’t, both for themselves and for your company.

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By investing not only in high-potential talent, but in the means to detect and predict it, businesses can not only fill their ranks with top-performing individuals, but they can realize a far greater ROI on their recruiting activities, as well.


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