Seven Strategies for Hiring A-Players at Your Startup

Many startups have trouble attracting top talent. In fact, some don’t even make an effort to go after A-players.

As a startup begins to grow and move into the midstage, it becomes only as strong as the employees it hires. Even the best founders need talented employees who can execute their vision. Of course, bringing A-players to a startup can be as challenging as it is necessary. Fortunately, with the right approach, outlook, and strategies, any startup can increase its chances of hiring A-players. Here are seven things you can do to hire A-players at your startup.

Identify the A-Players

Before you can hire A-players, you first have to understand what makes someone an A-player. Not everyone with an impressive resume is necessarily an A-player. In addition to being qualified for the position, A-players will align with the values of your company. They will share your vision, agree with your methodologies, and have a startup mindset that will help them seamlessly fit into your startup.

Embrace Core Values

Part of identifying A-players is embracing your company’s core values during the hiring process. Highlight your core values and company culture to help find A-players who embody those core values. In some ways, that cultural fit will be more important than finding someone who just has the technical competence for the position.

Learn from Top-Grading Methodology

Brad Smart and his son Geoff Smart helped pioneer the topgrading methodology. The principles developed by this duo served as inspiration for our “Preparing to Hire an A-Player” tool, which acts as a compass during the hiring process to identify and hire A-players.

Leverage the Preparing to Hire an A-Player tool

With our proprietary “Preparing to Hire an A-Player” tool, the hiring process can become more targeted and streamlined. It helps to provide structure for evaluating candidates and identifying the characteristics that make someone an A-player. With this tool, A-player recruitment can be realistic for any startup.

Recognize Fast Integrators

One of the clear signs of an A-player is the ability to integrate into the culture of an organization quickly. They are quick to thrive in an environment that has new norms and values. By quickly assimilating with their new team members and the culture of a new company, A-players can create a positive ripple effect throughout the startup.

Reach New Heights

Adding A-players doesn’t just have an immediate impact on your startup. It can reverberate throughout the entire company and have a lasting effect. The right individuals can become catalysts for better productivity and greater innovation. A-players don’t just fill a need in the short-term. They can also help to raise standards of excellence for others to follow and help the startup reach new heights. Therefore, the potential impact of hiring A-players shouldn’t be downplayed.

Navigating Challenges

Competing for top-talent isn’t easy in any industry. It’s critical for startups to be proactive in recruiting A-players and agile in their approach. This means offering an attractive company culture and keeping up with industry trends that can help give you an edge. It’s also important to continually refine the hiring process so that you can continue to identify and attract A-players better over time.


We can all agree that hiring A-players will help a startup stay on the path to success. That’s why it’s critical to understand the impact A-players can make, know how to identify candidates who are A-players, leverage the right tools, and be prepared for the challenges that come up during the hiring process. Nobody is saying it’s going to be easy, but it will be rewarding when you find A-players for your startup who contribute to sustained excellence. With so much going into this process, the best thing you can do is embrace the journey of hiring A-players.