How do you identify High Performance Employees?

One of the concerns I hear from almost every client is, “How do I know if they will stay with me long-term?”  Most of my clients want to make one key hire and never go through the hiring process again.  While I completely understand where they are coming from, statistics say that they will be hiring again in less than two years. Based on the resumes I see, the average tenure for a real estate assistant is about 1.5 years.  That is a disappointing statistic and lately I have been looking at ways to increase the odds that your new hire will defy the norm and will continue to grow with you for years to come.


I have talked about ways to retain and motivate your staff in other articles that you can reference here.  Today I want to talk about identifying a hire who has the capacity to stay and grow with you long term.  When you make a great hire your business WILL change.  The question is; does your new hire have the capacity (and desire) to grow and change with you?

In Gary Keller’s book the Millionaire Real Estate Agent key hires that have the capacity to grow with your business are simply referred to as TalentScott Engler with Corporate Executive Board  refers to these candidates as High Potential Employees and he says that they all possess three key characteristics; Aspiration, Ability and Engagement.  According to Engler -

 “Aspiration is the desire to take on responsibilities, challenges and rewards typically demonstrated by those in more senior roles.

“Ability is a combination of innate characteristics and learned skills.”

“Engagement is the employee’s emotional and rational commitment, discretionary effort and intent to stay.”

How do you know if your candidate is a High Potential employee?

Past performance predicts future behavior.

Here are some questions that you can ask to help uncover whether or not your candidate is a “High Potential Employee”.


  • Ask: “What did you achieve in your last position?” Instead of “What did you do?” (Are they achievement oriented or task oriented?)
  • “If you could create the perfect job for yourself at this point in your career, what would it look like?”  “What does the perfect job look like in 5 years?”
  • “What skills do you need to gain or experiences do you need to have in order to achieve your 5 year career goals?”  (Do they have a clear vision for their career path and do their aspirations fit in with the predicted growth of your business?)


  • “Tell me about a time when you were in over your head at work.  Maybe you were assigned to manage a project and you didn’t have the necessary experience or a serious problem came up that you hadn’t dealt with before.  What did you do?” (How do they deal with situations that put them outside of their comfort zone?)
  • After you have shared your goals: “What are you going to do during your first 90 days in this position to help me reach my goals for the year?” (How will they draw on their skills and experience to help them succeed in this new role?)
  • “Tell me about a time when you failed and what you learned from the experience.” (Everyone fails; it’s what you do with that experience that counts.  How did they recover and learn from their failure?)


  • Find out why they moved from job to job.  If they say that they were not being challenged find out how they addressed that with their boss.  Did they ask for more things to do?  Did they take on extra projects without being asked?  Did they identify new skills that they could master on their own?  Or, did they simply look for another job?
  • “If you felt like you had learned everything you could in your job with me what would you do?”
  • “What do you do when you are bored at work?”

While none of us have a crystal ball (and isn’t that a shame!) understanding what performance clues to look for during the interview process can help you better predict if you are hiring a High Performance Employee or not.

For help identifying your next High Performance Employee call to schedule a free initial consultation.