Professional Development Tools & Skills

4 Major League Baseball Tips for Hiring Managers

Written by Miranda Pennington

As a rabid Mets fan, the only advice I really want to give hiring managers is to suspend the guy who slide-tackles your favorite second baseman (I have some other choice word for base umpires). Fortunately, over at ERE Media, Herb Greenberg has some more level-headed advice for hiring managers.

Now that the playoffs are officially in progress, we can look back at the decisions made by managers of the most successful teams and see what tactics can translate to less-stadium-based workplaces. Conventional wisdom in baseball is to look for strength, agility, batting average, etc—and in the workplace, we tend to prioritize advanced degrees and certifications, an impressive track record at big name companies, technical knowledge, and professional networks in place to embellish our business. But what if you looked for qualities instead of quantities?

1. Mental Toughness

Look for resilience, level-headedness, and a tolerance for stress. An interview question that tends to highlight this strength is the classic, “Tell me about a time you struggled at work” or, “Tell me about a problematic work experience you found difficult to handle.” Listen for signs of self-awareness, persistence, and collaborative conflict resolution.

2. Assertive and Positively Aggressive

Look for candidates who are comfortable taking ownership over their projects and are willing to compete, either with rival companies or in pursuit of excellence during group problem solving. This is something a candidate themselves might tell you about frankly—but it’s also something to delicately broach with their previous supervisor.

There’s a not-all-that-thick line between assertive and bullying. One you want on your team, the other just got suspended for the final two games of the Mets-Dodgers series.

3. Disciplined and Detail-Oriented

Employees—and ballplayers—who show up early, stay for the whole practice, and focus on achieving their goals and correcting their flaws are the ones you want to work with. When you ask them to tell you about a project they were excited to work on in their last job, these are the candidates who will be able to explicitly describe their work for you and the ones that past colleagues wish they still had on their team.

4. Strong Problem Solvers and Decision-Makers

The employees you want working with you are able to recognize patterns, learn on the job, acquire new skills, and balance their ambition with caution to achieve innovation and a high level of quality in their work. You want the people their colleagues describe as decisive, thorough, and capable of wrapping their minds around even the thorniest of problems.

As we turn our eyes back to the playoffs, we’ll have a chance to see how the unconventional wisdom of Mets manager Terry Collins and his staff has paid off—a combo of younger guys and older guys, recovering from injuries and champing at the pennant race bit for the first time.

During your next hiring process, remember what magic can happen when you take a chance on a diamond in the rough like Bartolo Colon or a Wilmer Flores. They may surprise you with their talent, grit, and heart.

 Here’s What Your Hiring Managers Can Learn from the Major League Baseball Playoffs


About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.