Identifying High-Potential Employees During the Interview Process

Posted by The Garner Group on May 31 2016


Are you frustrated at your lack of high-potential employees sitting in your office? Maybe you have a lot of high-performing players, but you know there is a fundamental difference between a workers' performance and workers' potential. High-potential employees are critical to the viability of every organization, especially CPG companies. Looking around the facility, if you feel your talent pipeline is scarce, consider a new way to ensure you’re hiring high-potential employees when you interview them. To identify these employees during the interview process there are a few questions you can ask to uncover attributes and aptitude. 

Does the interviewee have the skills you deem necessary for your talent pipeline?  

Ability is a prominent characteristic to look for during the interview process for any employee, but there’s a good chance you’re asking about talents wrong. Instead of the blanket question, “What are your strengths?” look at your company benchmarks for what you consider a high-potential employee. Your specific criteria is what you will need to effectively measure a candidate’s ability to be a leader. If their strengths do not align with the leadership characteristics you have established then perhaps they are high-performing, but they are not high-potential. Before you interview for high-potential employees, you need to know what your organization needs regarding a future leader and anticipate the roles you will require. Ask interviewees about their skills and measure them against the attributes you need for a future leader. For example, if one of your credentials for a high-potential employee is the ability to apply criticism, ask the employee about a situation where they took advice and successfully implemented it to their previous position. Or if you’re seeking a leader who earns the respect of their boss and subordinates alike, look for that personality in their interview and from letters of reference. It is crucial to know your high-potential employee criteria before you conduct interviews, so you have a point of reference to measure interviewees against.

Does the interviewee aspire to a leadership position and crave the inherent responsibilities?

Don’t ask “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” That generic question will yield a generic answer. It is too easy for employees to say, “A leadership position.”  This inquiry does little to help you decipher the potential employee's goals and if their goals are aligned with where you want that person to be. Try asking more specifically if the person were in a leadership position what would it look like? Dissect their leadership style, how they would train future employees and their ideas for company growth. A high-potential employee must crave recognition, and aspire to responsibility. You can also try asking about the interviewee's “dream job” to see where they ideally want to be. If their ideas match up with your expectations, then you know you have a goal-oriented employee who is a good match and who could move into a more independent position in the future.

Is the potential employee dedicated and engaged with your organization?

Another indicator of a high-potential employee is if they have done their research about your organization. Nearly everyone has a website and social channels for their business, so researching a company mission and goals is fairly straightforward. Ask your interviewees what they know about your business, or to be broader trying asking if they have any questions about your organization's structure and culture. If they can ask questions regarding company goals, responsibilities, and current leaders then you know they are interested in senior positions in your organization. Their ability to communicate and ask questions about your business is a sign of their interest in your company. A high-potential employee needs to be interested in staying with your organization and have the dedication required to be senior level personnel. If they haven't done research about your organization either they were rushed, or they do not care enough to make the effort which is not conducive to being high-potential.  

All that stands between you and the high-potential employees you desire is a renewed approach to interviewing. Remember that before you can identify a high-potential worker you need clear expectations and traits to compare prospects to. Know what positions you may need to fill in the future and see if candidates measure up to these expectations. Instead of using age-old, canned interview questions make sure you are getting the information you actually need. By asking the right questions, you can determine if an interviewee has the right level of dedication and interest to be a leader and if they aspire to that goal themselves. If their vision for their future in your company aligns with where you want them to be then you know you have found a good match.  

Topics: interview

Subscribe to Our Monthly Newsletter

Recent Posts