How to Find High Achievers

These days everyone is looking for high achievers – otherwise known as Hi-Po’s, Rockstars, Ninjas, or Purple Squirrels (since they’re impossible to find).Purple-Squirrel

These are the people who can almost single-handedly lift the performance of your organization, as nearly everything they work on turns to gold.

So how do we find such a rare breed of employee?

Recruiting expert Lou Adler has been successfully spotting high performers for decades and recommends spending the first 20-30 minutes of every interview probing for what he calls the Achiever Pattern.

Below are twelve of the clues Adler says the ever elusive high achievers leave behind when they’re out there blowing away expectations. If a candidate has six or more of these elements, you likely have a Hi-Po Rockstar Ninja Purple Squirrel on your hands.

  1. They’ve been assigned difficult challenges ahead of their peers.

  2. They volunteer for or are assigned to projects that are ‘over their heads’.

  3. They’re put on important cross-functional teams and projects.

  4. They regularly get a chance to demonstrate their abilities to more senior executives.

  5. They get promoted rapidly.

  6. The reason they change jobs is long-term career focused.

  7. They’ve set and achieved major goals.

  8. They’ve been rehired by a former manager.

  9. They’ve rehired their former subordinates.

  10. They’re clearly the “go to” person inside their department.

  11. They’ve received formal recognition outside of their department.

  12. They were mentored and/or mentored others.

Looking for these clues in each interview will have additional benefits beyond spotting a high achiever. This line of questioning will also help the interviewer to raise their investigative skills and reduce the chances that they will make a bad hire, or be smitten by a misleading or superficial first impression.

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