Ultimate Guide to Hiring A-Players

Crack the Code and Hire A-Players in 5 Steps

Step 1: Use a Scorecard to Rate All Candidates Fairly

Before beginning any hiring process, you should have a scorecard that includes a list of hard and soft skills required to be successful in the position. Score each candidate during their interview. Then, compare all of the scorecards at the end of the hiring process along with interview notes and test scores to determine the most qualified candidate to hire.

Check out the Nicole Munoz New Hire Scorecard here.

Step 2: Screening/Filtering

When you post the position, consider including a uniform test such as a personality or behavioral test. You’ll be able to quickly filter through many applications and quickly find the top candidates.

Personality Test to Consider

Below are a few of the popular tests recruitment agencies use.




Caliper Profile
  • Measures behavioral traits, abilities, and potential
  • Compliant with government guidelines
  • Provides guarantee
  • 60 minutes to complete
  • Results are not delivered right away
  • Costs ~$250 per person
SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ)
  • Reveals behavioral work style
  • Measures 32 personality traits
  • Optimized for mobile phones
  • 60 minutes to complete
  • Additional practice psychometric tests recommended
  • Costs ~$79/month
DiSCⓇ Profile
  • Short test time
  • Compares adapted behavior to natural behavioral style
  • Reports can aid in coaching methods to improve team dynamics and productivity
  • Costs ~$50 per person
  • Too many variations, resulting in inaccuracy
  • Highly complex test results are easily misinterpreted
Kolbe (recommended)
  • Short test time
  • Free Team Collaboration Survey
  • Measures natural instincts that motivate action
  • Individual and team assessments
  • Reveals conative attributes or motivations for behavior
  • Costs ~$50 per person

Step 3: Pre-Interview Call (Informal)

Once you’ve identified some applicants that may be a good match for the position, reach out to them with a screening phone call to ask basic HR questions like:

  • Why did you apply for this job?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Where are you currently located?
  • What is your desired salary?
  • Personal background

Ask or Don’t Ask?

You may have a lot of questions about the candidate, but BEWARE! You have to be careful about what questions you ask, and how you ask themThere are ways to go around a question that does not cross legal boundaries or risk the possibility of discrimination. The global employment website Monster.com demonstrates some of the ways you can still get the information you want while steering clear of illegal questions. Find out here.


  • Age
  • Gender
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Religion
  • Education
  • Marital Status
  • Pregnancy Status
  • Family
  • Housing or Residence
  • Citizenship
  • Health Concerns
  • Financial Status
  • Criminal Record
  • Disability
  • Physical Data
  • Social Security


Step 4: First Interview (Technical Skills)

Now, we’re getting down to business. This step focuses on all the technical skill sets needed to be successful in the position. You’ll assess the candidate’s relevant professional experience and what they bring to the table. This is the time to evaluate how they can help the company to grow.

Step 5: Second Interview (Cultural Fit)

Having made it this far in the hiring process, it’s now time to determine how well the candidate would fit into the company values and goals, as well as whether or not they have what it takes to be a leader in your company.

You can ask situational interview questions that will help you gauge their abilities to work with your team. Ask questions to learn how they deal with pressure and conflict, lead projects, manage deadlines, and motivate others. It’s important to know that they are well-rounded. 


Step 5: Final Interview (Testing)

It’s time to put them to the test! One of the best ways to see if an applicant can work for you is to put them through practical tests that are applicable to the position they are applying for.


Create a simulation of a typical project for your candidate and ask them to complete it. See if they can accomplish it satisfactorily, without regard for your company’s established processes. You can see if they are able to successfully perform the tasks. Since A-Players always bring something new to the table, don’t be surprised if they also introduce you to a more efficient process.

Practical Test

Practical tests simulate how they will apply their skills and knowledge in the real life office environment. Actually bringing them in the office for a few hours will give you a good idea of what they will be like at work, and how well they get along with the team and adhere to company processes. A staff member can facilitate, grade, then give feedback after the test.

Results from the practical test and the scorecard, coupled with insights from interviews will help you identify the very best fit for your team!

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15 Questions to Ask A-Players

Spotting an A-Player in an interview is relatively easy. Often, they skillfully and confidently answer key questions every A-Player is prepared to answer. Here are some questions to ask during the hiring process:

Bag of Tricks

#1 What are your best skills?

A-Players know their strengths and are proud of them. They will clearly identify them, articulate why they are valuable, what they can do for you, and how they will achieve it.

#2 What accomplishments are you most proud of?

This question will help you determine the magnitude of their previous work experience, and what you can expect from them. Probe for challenges they faced and tactics they used to overcome them. If they are truly A-Players, they welcome challenges, and have a history of overcoming obstacles. They are likely to explain how they succeeded, and the far-reaching results of their efforts such as: impacting the whole company, improving standard operating procedures, or influencing product design that pleased customers.

#3 Have you ever been promoted?

A driving force of success, A-Players are never overlooked by their employers. Once a company sees A-Player potential, they will test them with challenges. When the A-Player has successfully overcome the challenges of their current role, it’s time to promote them. The promotion acknowledges their accomplishments while challenging them further, boosting their energy and drive to be your most dependable top performer. Every A-Player will have been promoted at least once before. 

#4 Have you ever been fired?

While this question poses a negative impression if an employee has been fired, it’s well worth listening to the story and their experience. Listen carefully to how they responded to the situation and assess whether or not the candidate should continue the interview process. As an A-Player yourself, you may have experienced toxic workplaces, not conformed to unethical practices, or had a C-Player supervisor. It’s possible for unfortunate experiences to help people become better versions of themselves.

Ahead of the Curve

#5 What projects have you led and what were the results?

A-Players are quickly given projects to lead. Leadership challenges provide an opportunity for A-Players to prove their capabilities, strengthen their pride in their work, and build their loyalty for the company. If they are successful, you have to continue to engage them in challenging projects. Otherwise, they are likely to grow restless with boredom and start looking for another job. Before you know it, they can be working for another company that challenges them.

#6 Tell me about a work crisis and how you handled it.

An employee who maintains grace under pressure can also resolve critical issues. Unlike ordinary employees who may panic, A-Players know how to deal with their emotions and are able to think rationally under pressure. They may be skilled in root cause analysis, and can play a valuable role in determining the cause of a problem and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

#7 What type of leader do you look up to?

This question helps determine the leadership style they hope to emulate. This will help you gauge how well they will mesh with your company culture.

Fire in the Belly

#8 What do you like about our company and what would you change?

If an applicant is eager to apply and work for your company, most likely they have researched your company and your processes. Their ability to answer this question shows their interest and that they may already be thinking about how they can be an asset to you. 

#9 What new skills have you recently acquired?

A-Players never stop learning. This is one of the biggest differences between A-Players and B- or C-Players. It’s important to know that your potential employee is self-motivated to keep up with best practices, industry trends, and technology. 

Together, We’re Stronger

#10 How well do you get along with other people?

A-Players are team players and have a knack for getting along with many different personalities. But they must also be able to contribute to YOUR company culture.

Cultural contribution advances the concept of cultural fit. Today, employers consider not only if the applicant can blend in and fit the company culture, but also if they would be able to contribute to it, enhancing the environment for everyone. Asking an applicant to explain how they get along with other people shows their adaptability and flexibility when working with other people. 

#11 Tell me about a problem you had with a fellow employee.

As leaders, A-Players will work with a team on a daily basis so they need to know how to resolve conflicts. The response to this question will help you determine how skillfully they can reconcile problems while keeping the team motivated and on schedule.

#12 Do you prefer to work alone or on a team?

This question also refers to their ability to work in a group or if they are more successful working alone. By knowing this, you can determine if they are a fit for the demands of the position.  

That said, A-Players are ALWAYS team players. While they have terrific leadership skills, they are a good team player, too. They excel when working with others.

#13 Describe your dream work environment?

A-Players thrive in competitive and challenging workplaces. If you sense excitement and eagerness to work in such an environment, you might have found your valuable A-Player. A distinguishing characteristic of A-Players is their ability to thrive in challenging environments. 

#14 When you work on a team, do you prefer to lead or follow?

Without fail, A-Players possess great leadership skills and are eager to lead. This is because they are driven to succeed. Among all the players on your team, A-Players are the most likely to succeed. They never quit, and will inspire and motivate the team while encouraging a fighting spirit in the midst of crises. 

#15 What makes you exceptional?

This question is an opportunity for them to succinctly synthesize their wealth of experience with your specific needs. Does their response reflect new details they learned from speaking with you today? Do they display a true understanding expectations? Are they articulate? A-Players anticipate this question. They prepare their answer before they step into the interview and incorporate new information in real time.

BONUS: Watch Out for What They Ask YOU!

A-Players are critically assessing your opportunity as much as you are evaluating them. They don’t sit passively, waiting for your questions. Instead, they will ask about your company, your processes, and what else you have in store for them. 

You can also expect that they have done their homework and are aware of news stories or industry speculation that includes you or your company. Don’t be surprised if they ask about it. Don’t hold it against them. They are displaying awareness of issues that may be on your mind while trying to anticipate the degree to which they may be affected — telltale signs of an A-Player!

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5 Awesome Websites to Find Potential Hires


#1 ZipRecruiter

  • Easily link jobs posted on ZipRecruiter to display on your website 
  • Resume bank with over 16 million resumes
  • Unlimited searches

 #2 Upwork

  • The place to find freelancers 
  • Used by more than 5 million employers
  • Use Upwork’s payroll services to easily pay freelancers 
  • Team of dedicated advisors to help you hire the best of the best

#3 Indeed

  • Mega site with 250 million monthly visitors
  • Post jobs for FREE or pay for a “Sponsored Jobs” 

#4 FlexJobs

  • Leading site for full-time and part-time remote/telecommute positions 
  • Every job is vetted to ensure there are no hiring scams
  • Flat fee for unlimited job postings and resume searches 

 #5 Guru

  • Matching freelancers and businesses for over 20 years 
  • Among the lowest transaction fees of freelance job sites

No time to read the entire guide now?

Don’t worry! We can send the PDF over to you so you can read it anytime you want.

The Ultimate Guide to Hiring A-Players

Finding and hiring a winning team is a crucial part of moving your company to the next level.