It’s baseball season! For diehard fans of America’s favorite pastime, this is an exciting time of the year. Just the sounds and smells of the stadium on a warm summer night are enough to get the heart of most enthusiasts pumping a little faster. However, not everyone shares the same passion and love for the game. Some believe it to be slow, boring, and difficult to watch. Personally, I think it’s all about perspective. 

Consider that 80% of the players on the field are all facing the same direction. The other 20% (the batter and the catcher) are facing the other players on the field. And the catcher is the only player that has this perspective and the only one involved in every play for the entire game. The catcher is the field commander and sees the game like no other. This makes being a spectator from behind the plate an enlightening experience where a 6-4-3 double play looks like ballet and a sacrifice fly to right field a bank heist. For this reason, it’s no wonder so many catchers ascend to the role of big-league managers. They look at the game differently.

In business, you can be more successful in your recruiting efforts by following the lead of a catcher and taking a different perspective on the process. 

In the current job market, highly-talented job seekers can afford to be selective about the companies they consider, making it more important than ever for small businesses to correct internal deficiencies before beginning the recruiting process. This is especially true for small businesses that must compete for the same pool of candidates as well-funded national and international companies.

When your goal is to recruit people who are serious about building a career rather than just working for their next paycheck, you must realize these top-notch candidates will have dramatically higher expectations of the companies to which they are applying. Just as you ask tough questions during an interview in an effort to make sound hiring decisions, talented candidates also want to be sure they are making the right career decision when hiring into a company. 

By candidly considering a few hardball questions before recruiting new hires, you can gain valuable insights into just how attractive your company will be to highly talented candidates. Ask yourself how well you’d score if you were asked the following questions during an interview.

If I had the chance to speak privately with three of your current employees, how would they describe you as a business leader and as a person?

If it were me asking this question, I would want to know how long each of these employees have been with your company. This would give me insights into the company’s culture and into you as a business leader. If they’ve been with the company for a long time, I would want to know why they have stayed. If they haven’t, I would be asking if they were hired to fill a vacated position, and if so, why the former employee left.

On a professional level, how do you manage your people and the business? 

Is the company growing? Why or why not? How aggressively are you pursuing new business? How aggressively are you marketing your services? Do you know why your customers buy from you and not from your competitors?

True professionals are looking for professional disciplines and practices. As someone who is looking for growth and opportunity, I would want to hear that all positions and departments in the organization are given clear performance expectations and that performance is measured against challenging yet realistic goals. I would also want to know that this philosophy is supported in practice through routine feedback, reporting, meetings, evaluations, coaching, and support. Don’t just say, “There is the goal. Go get it.” Provide the resources, training, and support necessary to be successful.

How do you conduct yourself, and what do you stand for? 

I wouldn’t be expecting anyone to be a saint, but would I need to worry about the future of the company because of reckless behavior? Behavior that might cause you to make impaired business decisions. Or behavior that might show up in the news or in a YouTube video, embarrassing me and the company and possibly threatening our futures. 

What have you done in the last three months to recognize outstanding performance by one of your people or teams?

All-expenses-paid trips or unsustainable raises aren’t expected, but do you recognize people with a simple “thank you” when they do a good job? Do you ask for their opinions and solicit their input before making business decisions? High-level candidates have more to offer than just a strong back and great customer service. Are you a strong enough business leader not to be threatened when one of your employees offers their opinion or actually wants to take ownership of their job?

What areas of professional growth are you, yourself, working on right now?

There’s a short ladder to climb in most small businesses and I’m probably not going to pass you while you’re standing on it. This means my professional growth and income potential is limited by yours. Since I’m the kind of employee who’s looking to make a contribution to the company where I work and who wants to grow in my career, I want a business owner who’s doing the same. So, do you invest time and money in your own professional growth or has your thinking and management style calcified into “This is the way we’ve always done things”?

Are the work issues that keep you up at night now any different from those that kept you up at night a year ago? 

When I have a business-related problem I’m not able to resolve, I’m going to ask you for help. Where are you seeking help from if you’re continuing to struggle with the same problems?

If you won the lottery tomorrow, would you close the business?

If your answer to this question is yes or if you even hesitated when I asked it, then why would I want to risk my future by coming to work at your company? It’s not that I’m worried about you actually winning the lottery, but that might be an indication that you’ve mentally checked out, are burned out, or you’re just not committed for the long haul. None of these are good from a company’s growth perspective because it means the company isn’t getting your full efforts. And if you’re not willing to give the business everything you’ve got, why would I?

In the same way most fans and even players are blind to the shortcomings of their own team, most business owners are blind to their company’s deficiencies and the way others see them. Without a different perspective, most people see both baseball teams and companies as they really are. Asking yourself tough questions to gain an outsider’s view before someone else asks them can help you build a workplace and a culture where people want to build their career.