Re-Post: Jeff Booth interviews Geoff Smart, Who: The A Method for Hiring

I read this post from Jeff Booth a few months back and it’s worth re-posting so here it is:

Talking with Geoff Smart, Author of Who: The A Method for Hiring

by JEFF BOOTH on OCTOBER 29, 2008

I recently read a book that is I think will go down as one of the business classics. It’s a must read for any business leader dedicated to superior performance.

The tiltle of the book is WHO: The A Method for Hiring. The premise is that most companies focus on the “what” rather than the “who” and that hiring A-players is the most important part of any leaders job.  A-players are the right superstar for the job, meaning that they not only have the skills to be successful but they also fit within the culture of the company.

I am a fellow YPOer with Geoff Smart, one of the authors.  So I thought I would make a connection with him and ask him a few questions about the book so I could share those thoughts with you.  I asked him:

The A Method for HiringWhat lead you to the Top Grading Approach and the writing of the book?

Mostly seeing what a big problem hiring is. We have a genuine interest in the solution and we thought there needed to be a very clear “How To” method for solving one of the biggest challenges of business.

In your estimation, how many companies truly practice Top Grading or hiring “A” players?

Less than 1% and this is true regardless of size. Typically, larger companies have more structure around the hiring process than smaller companies but in either case, the effectiveness is about the same.

Have you been able to develop a quantifiable business case for the “A” method?

Peter Druekers research from years ago suggests that 50% of hires are mistakes and there is recent research to support that the number has not changed much. For the book we took examples of companies that had 90% hiring success around “A” players and backed into what they do. When we applied the process to other companies we saw them increase from the baseline of 50% to 90% within a year. In our own firm, we have had 100% success in hiring “A” players.

How has your book been received?

It has been amazing.  It was the number one book in the world sold on Amazon for two weeks. It has been on the New York Times best sellers list since it came out. When Randy and I came up with the idea to write the book 3 years ago, we looked at the great books on my bookshelf and analyzed what they had in common. From that initial look we determined they had:

1) A topic people care about.

2) Real stories – exclusive examples

3) Science behind the research – it could not be just a gut feel.

4) A simple how-to method.

Overall, our conversation was very informative.

I have to admit that as I read through the book, there was some real pain for me as I have personally made many of the mistakes during the hiring process that Geoff and Randy talk about in their book.  It also became clear that their system is one that we could easily use to increase our effectiveness in bringing the right people to our growing team.

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