How do you identify top talent – what makes a superstar?

By Katrina Park

You’ve been through the “processes”, the hoops have been jumped through, and you’ve got a winner.   Are you sure?  It always seems to be an easier decision to put people forward to a Hiring Manager that it is to take on the responsibility of hiring said person yourself, with your neck on the line, your budget at risk and your business and reputation being gambled on with this call.  It takes courage to make this call, to put your hand on your heart and say “This person is the future of our business!”

Some are pretty easy to see.  They stand out like beacons.  Those number one draft picks you see in the sporting codes.  Number One is always known before draft day.  That’s the easy bit.  How about those who blossom into stars later on? How do you spot them?

Here are some things to target throughout your process just to give you a bit more of a hint.  Please note, these are not all-inclusive, there is no such thing as an easily identifiable “Super hire”, if we had that formula then, well, this job would be easy and companies like Resource Solutions Group would not be needed (and we can’t have that!)

Putting that risk aside find ways to identify top performers.

They’ve established and achieved major goals.

Find out what they’ve wanted to achieve and what they did to accomplish this.  These people get stuff done.  No excuses, no blame, but responsibility and action.  Probe around outcomes (Quick note, if a sales person cannot tell you their financial goals, in regards to quota and where they sit in the quest for said quota… keep walking, they aren’t serious talent)


Find examples of how they’ve persevered to achievement.  Let’s face it, it’s called work not play, it’s tough, find proof of being able to roll with the punches and not giving up.  Failing isn’t a sign that the person isn’t a star.  We all do it, what did they do to bounce back? Do they stop at problem or find a way around it? What was the FINAL outcome?

Energy and Positivity

One of my favourite quotes is “Attitude is contagious.  Is yours worth catching?” These people with that energy and optimism, whilst performing, bring other people up as well.


Stars know they are stars.  I’m not talking about the Prima Donnas, the arrogant ones. I don’t want them in my organisations.  I’m talking about that inner confidence, the look in the eye you receive when you shake their hand.  Their confidence in their ability will be transmitted to you.  It’s a great moment when that happens.

Consistent and/or rapid promotion

You can see this in a resume.  This is always something to probe.  Why? What did they do differently from their peers?

Job changes

There will be a pattern or reasoning behind each move.  Most likely onwards and upwards.  You want to see a drive there, a sound reason for leaving and a sound reason for accepting the next role, for the right person, there will be a bigger picture in play with these decisions. You also want to see job stability, I prefer to steer clear of serial job hoppers.

They get recognised

They’ve received formal or informal awards.  Find out why, always great stories, even in this age of “everyone gets a trophy” mentality.  Building on this, they may have a reputation in the wider market place.


Will find a way to keep these people on their team, whether they move projects or companies.  It’s a great sign if a Manager keeps bringing the person into a new company for them.  As a Manager, you’d only do that if you knew the person would make you look like a star too.


On the flip side of that, probe to see if their staff have followed them to new organisations, there’s a great reference without a word being said.

The greatness you feel when you identify and hire a star, someone who has true potential and X factor, that top talent that makes the whole market envious of you, that is why we do this. That good feeling you get, the buzz and excitement – let’s face it, it’s fun.  Bringing stars into the organisation, watching them prosper and being able to say “I helped do that!” That’s why we do this.


I would love to hear other people’s tried and true methods of identifying that “top talent”.  Feel free to leave a comment