How to hire high achievers

How to hire high achievers | The most expensive employee

The four types of candidates

Candidates typically fit into one of four categories - (1) unsuitable, (2) maybe, (3) looks good, and (4) looks good and are brilliant.

When it comes to categorising candidates, the biggest challenge for recruiters is separating the category three candidates from the category fours, as both appear to be high achievers.

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How to hire high achievers | The four types of candidates


Clearly not suitable for your role and easy to eliminate. A junior will be able to screen these candidates out.


Right personality but lack experience - or vise versa. You could train them, but there is a higher risk associated.

Looks good

Resume is of interest, they interview well and pass reference checks, so we hire them. However, we later regret it.


Look good and are brilliant. We hire them and they are true high achievers who stay and excel for years to come.

How to avoid category three candidates

Category three candidates are the most expensive employees you can hire.

Their overall performance is unsatisfactory and below par however, it is never bad enough to warrant a termination. These candidates have a high opportunity cost, as they will stay with your business for years.

At 11 Recruitment, we create an Assessment Matrix for every job we fill, which functions as our recruitment blueprint. It enables us to distinguish between category three and category four candidates.

In the Assessment Matrix, the selection criteria for a role are listed down the left side, while our recruitment process is listed along the top. All selection criteria are addressed at least once during the recruitment process – with important criteria being addressed multiple times.

Recruitment is all about minimising the risk of hiring the wrong person. If we get three independent observations that all lead to the same conclusion, then we have minimised the risk for that selection criteria. If a candidate has two positive observations and one negative, that does not necessarily mean they are unsuitable for the role however, it does mean the risk is higher for that criteria.

Next time you use a recruitment agency, ask the consultant to detail their process and Assessment Matrix. If they can't show it to you, you have the right to question if you are getting value for money.

How to hire high achievers | How to avoid category three candidates

Christian Madsen | Managing Director
Christian Madsen
Managing Director
11 Recruitment

Recruitment tips & advice

  • From the video, it appears that every recruiting agency invests a lot in all of their chosen candidates; yet, the recruitment process itself requires a stringent and comprehensive procedure, as he stated it will cost them hundreds of dollars. This article has helped me better understand how a recruiting agency works.

  • Great article. I would have to agree on 3 been the most expensive hire. They often “talk the talk“ but can’t can’t preform and become totally disengage. However if they hang around for years I would then say their superiors would be the most expensive hire for not addressing the issue.

  • Marisa Romeo says:

    Great article!. The matrix would be very useful as a multiple checking tool when recruiting.
    In my experience many recruiters fail to address “organisational fit” within the key selection criteria, this is perhaps why we get more 3’s than 4’s.
    Adding 3 or 4 criteria to identify candidate attitudes, beliefs and motivations I have found helps, along with an honest recount of the role expectations and organisational culture may save us from hiring the expensive employees.

  • Michael ackrell says:

    Totally agree too many times you run checks have a great interview. Then you hire and they are world champions for the probation period. Then they go bad I like the idea of the triple check would be ideal to spend the time to get the right candidate for the job

  • Frank Kennedy says:

    Great article Christian. Spot on with the candidate types and a very good solution provided to find the ideal employee.

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