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  • Writer's pictureStefano Calvetti

How to Hire Top Talents: A Full Guide for Leaders, Entrepreneurs, and SME Owners

One of the most sensitive functions leaders perform is the hiring process. It’s sensitive because hiring the right talent is not just about filling a position; it's about securing your company's or team's future.

Every new employee has the potential to drive your organization forward or to hamper its progress. For leaders, entrepreneurs, and SME owners, the stakes are even higher because every team member plays a crucial role in shaping the company's culture and achieving its objectives.

"A professional meeting between two individuals where a man in a light beige sweater shakes hands with a woman across a table in a bright, modern office setting. Both have coffee cups beside their laptops, symbolizing a friendly yet formal hiring discussion. Hiring top talents is andeed a leadership function"
Hiring top talents is a function that leaders should not overlook

This blog post provides actionable advice on hiring top talents. By “top talents,” we mean the right people for the positions, those with the competencies and personality traits your company or team needs.

Employer Brand, Because the First Impression Matters

Think of your company's reputation as your shop window on the talent street.  A strong employer brand attracts top performers who also share your vision and values. Here's how to shine a light:

  • Craft a compelling mission statement. What problem are you solving? Why should someone be passionate about working for you?

  • Showcase your company culture. Highlight what makes your workplace unique - flexible schedules, a collaborative environment, or a strong commitment to social responsibility.

  • Leverage social media. Share employee stories, behind-the-scenes glimpses of your work environment, and company achievements to create a positive buzz.

Crafting the Perfect Job Description

Your job description is your first conversation with potential candidates. That’s’ why a clear definition of the role you are trying to fill is necessary. The definition should include the skills required and the kind of personality that would fit your team's culture. A clear job description will operate as the first filter, keeping out those who do not match the requirements or whose values are not aligned with the company’s culture.

As Simons Sinek advocates for in his book “Start with Why,” the description should focus on the "why," not just the "what," articulating the impact of this role – how will it contribute to the company's mission?

A useful twist is to use strong action verbs. Instead of "responsible for," you can opt for verbs like "develop," "spearhead," or "champion" to showcase the dynamic nature of the position.

Also, in the job description, you should highlight your company culture to let candidates know what it's like to work with your team – the environment you've fostered.

Where to look for the best candidates

There are many ways to advertise job openings. Platforms like Indeed or LinkedIn are great for outreach but could also attract a lot of “noise.” That’s why I suggest expanding your search beyond the usual job postings. Networking events and industry conferences allow you to connect with potential talent proactively.

Always remember that the best candidate might not be actively looking for a new job. That’s why you should have an “elevator pitch” ready to convince these people that working with you is the best choice they could make.

The selection

When you have a final list of candidates, you have to sort out the ones who are the best fit for you.

In this phase, you might be tempted to look for the best technical skill. Nothing wrong with that. However, as Adam Grant reminds us in his bestselling book “Hidden Potential,” there are other perspectives you should consider. Character is the most important.

Prioritizing character in hiring decisions brings a hidden advantage: you’ll have a team player whose values and personal characteristics are perfectly aligned with the culture in your organization.

In his book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins says, "People with the right character first, then the right skills, will produce the right results."

Here's why character trumps skills in many situations:

  • Skills can be learned, but character cannot. You can train someone on new software or marketing techniques, but grit, adaptability, and a positive attitude are inherent qualities.

  • Character fosters a high-performance culture. Honest, accountable team members build trust and psychological safety, leading to better collaboration and innovation.

  • Character predicts future success. Studies show that a strong work ethic and a coachable mindset are better predictors of long-term performance than technical expertise.

To assess the potential of a candidate, you can ask questions that will allow you to have a partial view of their character, like:

  • Looking back at the last 12 months, what are you most proud of?”

  • How do you manage and prioritize your day?

  • What will I learn from you?

  • (if they have a work sample to show) “What was the most difficult part of that project?” or “What would you do differently today?”

  • Can you describe a situation where you had to overcome a significant challenge?”

  • What’s the last feedback you have received, and how did you deal with it?”

Lastly, you could opt for personality tests to better understand their work style and values.

Making the Decision

After interviews and assessments, a holistic view of each candidate is crucial. As previously discussed, a common mistake is over-prioritizing one spectacular skill or achievement. Consider how they will fit into your team and their growth trajectory.

At the end of the day, you must work with the person you choose to cover a particular position. That’s why – even if it might be strange to say it – you must listen to your gut feelings. Can you build an effective and mutually beneficial relationship with this person?

At, one of the criteria we used to select our team members was, “Would I enjoy a drink with this person?"

This question reflects the culture we want to create in our company—a culture based on trust, fun, respect, and meaningful relationships.

Onboarding and Retention

Don’t get too relaxed: your job doesn't end after the talent accepts the offer.  A strong onboarding program prepares new hires for success and fosters long-term engagement.

In this phase, defining expectations and goals will help new team members understand their roles, performance metrics, and how their work contributes to the bigger picture.

Also, I strongly suggest investing in mentorship and training, providing opportunities for your new hires to learn, grow, and develop their skill sets.

Lastly, remember to keep the conversation going by promoting a culture where you regularly acknowledge achievements and provide constructive feedback to help them excel.

Hiring top talents is a leader's job

Hiring is a sensitive and crucial leadership function. The goal of the whole process should be to add someone to your team who will contribute positively for years to come. It’s about finding the right blend of skills, character, and potential.

In the words of Simon Sinek,

“If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”


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