If you’re a big NFL fan like me, the only thing that saves you from the Super Bowl blues (that sad feeling in the pit of your stomach driven by the long wait before next year’s season) is the mid-spring reminder of our pigskin pastime: the NFL draft.

The first round is the most exciting as fans wait patiently for their team’s pick and respond with elation, annoyance or indifference at the player chosen to join their beloved squad. Watching the first round last night, it struck me that the NFL draft is a lot like hiring an hourly workforce.

A team’s players are on the front line, are highly visible and have a huge impact on a franchise’s bottom line. Your hourly workforce has more customer interaction than any other employee group, and one of the biggest determinants of bottom line success – customer service – is in your hourly workforce’s hands.

NFL teams have thousands of players to choose from during the draft, but they can only choose a few. So they use a series of filters to determine the players that could fit with their team: game footage, coaches’ recommendations, the combine, etc.

As an hourly employer, you could receive hundreds of applications for a single job opening, so you need ways to whittle the group down to the most qualified.  Building filter questions into your application process will screen for “must have” qualifications, and assessing applicants against the core characteristics of your business will highlight which applicants possess the qualities needed to succeed and immediately make an impact on your front line.

But when it comes down to the draft, NFL teams need to select the players that will be a right fit with the rest of the team. Many called Indianapolis’s Andrew Luck pick a “no brainer”, but Seattle taking Bruce Irvin in the first round made some analysts scratch their heads. While other players may have looked like better choices on paper, Seattle must have seen something in Irvin that made him stand out as a player that could make a difference for the team.

Similarly, an applicant with a lot of experience may seem like the best choice for your open hourly position, but experience doesn’t necessarily mean that the applicant will be a right fit. Evaluating for aptitude before experience can open doors to a new crop of applicants who may be better poised for success than those with years of experience in your industry.

Whether it be an NFL franchise or your franchise, the people who join your team have a big impact on your success. The best way to build the right front-line team is to narrow the field to the most qualified using filter questions and assessments and to look for the applicant with the aptitude to succeed in your business.

On to round two…