Workplace Culture

For Success, Hire for Talent

If you had to choose between hiring a candidate for their skills or for their talents, which would you pick?  Let me give you a couple of quick definitions to assist you in your thinking:

  1. SKILL: A skill is something that you have learned to do. It is something you have experience with.
  2. TALENT: A talent is something that comes easily for you, a type of activity or patterned way of thinking. Think of talent as aptitude – something you are naturally good at doing or learning.
Given those definitions, which would you choose to focus on in hiring?

At ACHIEVE, we have chosen to prioritize talent in our interviewing process. We believe that when people are exercising their talents they will find more satisfaction in their work. And when they find satisfaction in something, they will seek to do more of that thing and they will get better at doing it.

Any one of us may have learned a skill like washing dishes, or operating a photocopier.  But the presence of that skill doesn’t tell us if the person actually likes doing that task, or whether they get satisfaction from it.  Some will, and some won’t!

Hiring should be more than assessing someone’s skills.  Hiring should be about placing people into positions where they are naturally suited to succeed: where they have talent or aptitude, and where the role or work will bring them satisfaction.

Four Questions for Assessing Talent

Here are four questions that we use in an interview to assess for talent.

  1. What kinds of activities or roles come easily for you? (Or, what do you learn quickly?)
  2. When you look back at the end of a work day, what kinds of things bring you satisfaction?
  3. What would your friends and family say you are best at?
  4. What kinds of activities do you lose yourself in because they are so engaging for you?

As we listen to the answers, we focus on what the applicant is saying about how their mind works.  The actual task they are talking about does not need to be exactly the same as what we are hiring for.  What matters is that it is in the same category.  For example, if we need someone who is good at organizing data, we see if the applicant is telling stories about how they have organized other types of things.

And don’t be afraid to ask similar questions about the applicant to their references.

Ultimately, when you hire, you want to put people into positions where they are naturally suited to succeed. This happens when the applicant’s talents match the role and tasks you are hiring for.

This blog is a sample from an upcoming book by ACHIEVE Publishing. The book will draw heavily on “A Great Place to Work” Survey. We hope you participate in the short survey – we would love to hear your input.


Eric Stutzman

Chief Executive Officer

To receive notification of a new blog posting, subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
© Achieve Centre For Leadership (
Interested in using the content of this blog? Learn more here.

Share this:
Keep up to date with ACHIEVE

Receive a free Conflict Resolution Skills E-Manual!
Sign me up to receive info on: