Do you have a Hiring Combine?
“Speed, strength, and the inability to register pain immediately.” ~Reggie Williams, when asked his greatest strengths as a football player
Each year the NFL hosts its annual combine. It is the annual job fair for prospective new NFL players. For six days, players are put through a series of drills, tests and interviews with more than 600 NFL staff including head coaches, general managers and scouts. These coaches and scouts assess every aspect of athletic performance. They measure the hopefuls in strength, speed, aptitude, and position specific skills. Teams will make multi-million dollar investments and they want to know what they are getting. There is more at stake than just winning games. Superstar players drive team licensing, merchandising, and advertising revenue. Management doesn’t make players into household names out of the goodness of their hearts. This is an important business decision. If not assessed correctly the first time, it could become extremely costly.
What would you think of an NFL team if they had a short telephone interview with the young player, making up the “probing” questions a few minutes before the call? Maybe, on the basis of that call, they will “like” the athlete and fly him in to visit them at the team offices. Suppose the player meets with the coach and a few assistant coaches. But since everyone is so busy they have the towel boy to take him to lunch and then on to the airport afterwards. The next day a few of the coaches swap some email comments about the player or maybe stop in the hall to ask the highly inquisitive question “What did you think of so and so?” Based on this exhaustive process, the coach calls the player, makes a multi-year, multi-million dollar offer and the player accepts. Later they are astonished to see the player fail. I wonder why the NFL doesn’t do it this way.
You wouldn’t think much of an NFL team who hired players like that. Yet companies make multi-million dollar hiring decisions every day in just the same way. Maybe if companies approach hiring top talent with the same rigor as the NFL they’d find more “superstars” – and profits.