Hiring Lessons from the NFL Combine


The NFL Scouting Combine was held in Indianapolis two weeks ago. All eyes in the football world were on this year’s potential draftees as they ran through a series of tests and drills. But the system is completely flawed.

The scouts are timing these players running 40 yard dashes, counting their reps at the bench press, measuring their exact heights and weights, and giving IQ tests—but at the end of the day, those are not the things that make a player successful! The teams that win consistently have players who are able to make plays on a football field. There is so much more that goes into playing successfully in professional football than just the things you can measure and test. You can’t draft players based on those tangibles alone and expect to win. The best teams go and find players who can make plays against an opponent in game situations, who solve problems for the team as the play is going on—and that ability cannot be measured in a 40-yard dash or weightlifting competition.

Business is much the same.

In Thomas Friedman’s recent article How to Get a Job at Google, he relayed this quote from Google’s hiring manager, Laszlo Bock: “G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. . . We found that they don’t predict anything.” He goes on to say the number one thing that Google looks for in a new employee is general cognitive ability—your ability to learn new things and then apply that knowledge.

The other top traits that Google looks for when hiring a new employee include leadership, humility, ownership of problems, and adaptability. One of the attributes that is least important to them is actually expertise!

So apply these lessons in your own business. Find people who are qualified to work with you, but not just because they aced a test or have a prestigious degree; find people who can make plays and your business will be successful.

This video is one of this month’s weekly coaching sessions with Fran Tarkenton. Log in to your account and select Coaching to see more. Not a member yet? Get started for less than $20, here: http://ow.ly/uj35o

Fran Tarkenton

Fran Tarkenton

Fran Tarkenton is an entrepreneur and NFL Hall of Famer, and the founder of GoSmallBiz.com and Tarkenton Companies. With a passion for small business, he’s started more than 20 businesses during and after his NFL career. Fran is a small business coach for entrepreneurs and business owners, providing advice and guidance through sites such as GoSmallBiz.com, SmallBizClub.com, and more. He has written about business issues in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. New and World Report, and USA Today, along with regular appearances on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. You can follow Fran on Twitter @Fran_Tarkenton.