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Book Review: “WHO-The A Method for Hiring”

Book Review: “WHO-The A Method for Hiring”

This is a topic I feel very strongly about. I have long said that for most businesses today, the only defendable competitive advantage left is the quality of the talent that you can get, grow and keep on your team — and the relationships your employees create with your customer. This is especially true if you own a small business, as just one or two bad employees can literally ruin your business and one or two really great employees can massively grow your business. That is why hiring the right people is so incredibly critical, yet most companies are pathetic at doing a truly superb job of finding and hiring top talent.

Luckily, Geoff Smart and Randy Street have written what I feel is the single best book I have ever read about the hiring process. In their new book, “WHO – The A Method for Hiring,” the authors spell out a step-by-step process for exactly how to screen, interview and hire top talent. They give lots of examples, scripts and tips to help you or your HR manager ensure that you are bring the right people into your company. But, why do people do this so poorly now? Smart and Street say there are four main reasons:

  1. They are unclear about what is truly needed in the job.
  2. There is a weak flow of quality candidates.
  3. The person doing the hiring does not trust his or her ability to pick out the right candidate from a pool of similar-looking candidates.
  4. They lose candidates they really want.

According to the authors, these “WHO” mistakes can be very expensive, as the average hiring mistake costs the company fifteen times an employee’s base salary in hard costs and productivity loss. For a more senior hire, that can be huge! Even for an hourly position, a bad hire can chase off good customers and possibly other employees. I can also tell you from personal experience that “tolerating mediocrity” is a common issue that companies I work with often list as a top problem in company cultures.

To overcome these obstacles, Smart and Street have developed what they call the “A Method” of hiring, in order to ONLY hire real “A Players.” The system has four elements:

See Also

  • Scorecard. The Scorecard is a document that describes exactly what you want a person to accomplish in a role. It is not a job description but rather a set of outcomes and competencies that define a job well done. By defining “A-level” performance for a role, the scorecard gives you a clear picture of what the person you seek needs to be able to accomplish.
  • Source. Finding great people is getting harder, but it is not impossible. Systematic sourcing before you have slots to fill ensures you have high-quality candidates waiting when you need them.
  • Selecting. Selecting talent in the A Method involves a series of structured interviews that allow you to gather relevant facts about a person so you can rate your scorecard and make informed hiring decisions.
  • Sell. Once you have identified the people you want on your team through selection, you need to persuade them to join. Selling the right way ensures that you avoid the biggest pitfalls that cause the very people you want the most to take their talents elsewhere.

If you need to hire anyone, I highly recommend this book because, as the authors put it, “In business, you are who you hire. Hire C Players, and you will always lose to the competition. Hire B Players, and you might do okay, but you will never break out. Hire A Players, and life gets very interesting no matter what you are pursuing.”


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