What the NBA Draft Can Teach You About Hiring

By Tommy Mello

As you contemplate adding new employees to your business, you may want to pay attention to the upcoming NBA draft.

Oftentimes, a team inevitably reaches to take on a young talent with a wealth of physical gifts. He is tall, he can jump and he’s ridiculously fast. Then, a year or two later, we’ll see that player riding the bench after bouncing around from team to team.

In the 1999 NBA draft, there was one team that looked past the obvious choices and gambled their second-round pick on a slightly too short, left-handed player who lacked the physical abilities of some other options in the draft. Eighteen years later, Manu Ginóbili is still a crucial element of the San Antonio Spurs and has helped them win no less than four NBA Championships.

How did they know it? The fact is that the Spurs looked past Ginóbili’s skill set and focused on his intangibles. They saw an intelligent and driven player who knew how to make his teammates better. In other words, someone who had the right attitude to thrive in this environment.

If you are not Google, Facebook or any other big corporation, it's going to be hard to hire the most skilled players in the market. So, like the Spurs, you need to change your hiring approach and look for more than just a list of credentials.

Here are my best tips to help you hire smarter:

The Best Employees Are Already Employed

Don’t bank on finding your perfect candidate through job boards. The right person for you is probably already in a job. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in a new opportunity if the fit is right.

Building your network is a critical asset you can use when the time comes to hire your next superstar. Go to key events in your industry and pay attention to the people who really impress you, connect with like-minded people on LinkedIn and -- why not? -- keep an eye on your competitors' best employees.

You know the old saying "You should always be selling?" In this case, "You should always be scouting."

Soft Skills Matter

While having the proper skills to perform the tasks needed for any given job is important, it’s the soft skills that make an employee truly great. Technical skills can be taught, but motivation and work ethic cannot. As you interview your candidates, look for someone who is motivated to be a part of your team. A person with amazing sales skills isn’t worth much if they’re only motivated two to three days a week. By focusing on soft skills, you’re choosing to find a person who is an effective worker. Communication, time management and punctuality are all qualities of a great employee. However, nothing is more important than integrity. Ask a couple of questions to test the integrity of each applicant to ensure you find someone who shares your values.

Ask The Right Questions

We all know the “What are your greatness weaknesses?” question and dread it. No one likes to admit their flaws, especially when they are trying to impress a prospective employer. Instead of asking this question, ask them, "What are you not interested in doing professionally?" This takes the emphasis off of their weaknesses and puts it on the job. By answering this, the applicant will tell you a lot about what skills or passions they lack.

Another great question to ask is, “What were some low points during your last job? What did you do to improve them?” This is essential because you’ll find out if this person is able to admit mistakes and solve problems. Do they blame their boss or coworkers? It’s a big red flag if they do.

Make Them Feel Valued

The work is not done just because you hired a great candidate. To a great extent, you get out of your employees what you put into them. That means you need to invest in proper training. Without proper training, employees make costly mistakes, get frustrated and feel lost.

You also need to bite the bullet and pay them what they’re worth. If you pay on the low end of the scale for a position, you’ll get equivalent work. Employees who are paid well feel appreciated and are much more likely to put forth their best effort on the job. Paying a great employee well is still cheaper than paying less for poor work and constant turnover.

Then, go beyond the paycheck. What kind of perks can you offer that may make your employees happy? Extra time off, work-from-home days or even free snacks can go a long way. You don’t have to invest a lot of money. Just be creative and give them something that they value.

Choose The Unconventional Approach

Smart NBA executives think outside the box when they draft. They look beyond the physical stats for each player and look at their basketball IQ, work ethic and personality. Then, they look at their own team and determine where their weaknesses lie. Finding a perfect fit to strengthen that weak spot is key. If you can get a superstar, great, but don’t overlook the Manu Ginóbili’s of the workplace.


Tommy Mello is the owner at A1 Garage Door Repair.

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.