The Who Method: Your Key to Hiring Top Employees

Published 14. 4. 2023

Making the mistake of hiring the wrong leaders can be one of the costliest blunders a company can make. Not only do unsuitable candidates fail to drive the business forward, but they also often leave chaos and frustrated employees in their wake. Fixing these issues can be both time-consuming and expensive. However, by implementing the Who method, companies can avoid this mistake and ensure they're only hiring the very best candidates for the job.

While many individuals focus on developing their own skills, they often overlook the crucial aspect of surrounding themselves with a team of top experts. Building a talented and knowledgeable team is just as important as personal skill development, yet it's a step that many fail to take.

To avoid falling into this common trap, consider the advice offered by Geoff Smart and Randy Street in their bestselling book Who: The A Method for Hiring. With their expert insights and proven methods, businesses can effectively identify and attract top talent to join their team, helping them to achieve their goals and succeed in their industry.



4 steps for hiring the right people

The Who method simplifies the hiring process by breaking it down into four comprehensive steps that can be easily followed by any manager:

  1. Scorecard

The first step involves creating a clear and detailed document outlining the expectations for the new hire. The scorecard will serve as a benchmark for evaluating whether potential candidates are a good fit for the job.

  1. Source

Once the expectations have been clearly defined, the second step involves actively seeking out suitable candidates. Regularly scouting for top talent provides a constant overview of the job market and can help build a database of potential candidates. By making this a priority, businesses can increase their chances of finding the best talent and avoid settling for less-than-ideal hires.

  1. Select

The process of selecting the right candidate typically involves several interviews and fact-checking of applicants to ensure that they have the necessary skills, as well as the right personality and motivation to succeed in the role.

While this phase can be time-consuming, it's essential to ensuring that the right person is selected for the job. By thoroughly evaluating each candidate, businesses can make informed decisions and find the best match for the position.

  1. Sell

The last stage is critical to securing the best talent and convincing the chosen candidate to join your company. By effectively communicating the value of the position and the company culture, businesses can make a compelling case and ultimately secure the right person for the job.



Let's take a closer look at the steps to hiring the best possible candidate.


Scorecard: Create a detailed manual

The scorecard document serves as a guiding light throughout the hiring process, providing a clear framework for evaluating candidates and avoiding the pitfalls of personal bias, time pressure, or other external factors.

By reviewing the scorecard before each interview, businesses can stay focused on their goals and ensure that they're selecting the best candidate for the job.

The scorecard should include the following elements to ensure that the right person is selected for the job:


  1. Mission

The first element to include in the scorecard is a clear and specific description of the job's purpose and mission. This should go beyond the generic job description and provide a more detailed explanation of why the job exists and what the new hire is expected to accomplish.

For instance, if the job is for a sales director, the scorecard should describe the specific mission of the new hire, such as increasing sales by building relationships with large companies.


  1. Outputs

Next, determine the specific goals that the new hire should achieve. These goals should be aligned with the mission and should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, as outlined by the SMART method.

For example, if the mission of the sales director is to increase sales by building relationships with large companies, the specific goals for the role might include:

  • Increase sales revenue by 20% by the end of the year.
  • Acquire at least three new clients from large companies within the first six months.
  • Develop and implement a new sales strategy that targets large companies within the first three months.

It's important to include 3-8 goals that are relevant to the job and achievable within a reasonable timeframe. By setting specific goals that are tied to the job's mission, businesses can evaluate the candidate's ability to achieve them and ensure that they're selecting a candidate who can meet the company's needs.


  1. Personal qualities

Identify the qualities that are essential for success in the role, such as efficiency, organization, proactivity, and drive. Additionally, think about qualities that will help the candidate fit in with the team, such as time flexibility, ability to stay calm in tense situations, and being a team player.


business team


To create a comprehensive list of desired qualities, write down the characteristics that an ideal candidate must possess in order to excel in the role. It's important to identify not only the must-have qualities to succeed in the role but also consider qualities that would make them a good fit for the company culture.


  1. Consistency and compatibility

It's essential to think about how this position fits into the bigger picture of the company's goals and objectives. You should ask yourself questions such as:

  • How does this position contribute to the overall company strategy?
  • How does it interact with other positions in the company?
  • What dependencies are there between this position and other positions?
  • How does this position support other positions or departments?
  • Are there any potential conflicts or overlaps with other positions or departments?

By considering these factors, you can ensure that the new hire will not only contribute to the success of their specific role but also to the success of the company as a whole.


Sourcing: Build a database of potential candidates

Many companies make the mistake of only searching for new employees when they have an immediate need to fill a position. However, top CEOs agree that finding new talent is crucial to their company's success and make it a priority.

To ensure a consistent pipeline of potential hires, the search for new talent should be an ongoing process, not just a reaction to an immediate need. It's important to explore various resources to locate your ideal candidates, such as LinkedIn, specialized conferences, and other communities where like-minded individuals gather.

By actively engaging in your search on a regular basis, you can gradually build a database of potential candidates who could be an excellent fit for your company in the future. This way, you'll always have a pool of talented individuals to draw from whenever you need them.


Select: How to choose the best candidate

Once you have a pool of potential candidates, the next step is to choose the best fit for the job. Relying on a single interview to decide is not sufficient.

To make an informed decision, Smart and Street recommend a four-round interview process. This process helps to thoroughly evaluate the candidate's skills, experience, and cultural fit within the company. Each round should focus on a specific aspect of the job and allow for a deeper understanding of the candidate's qualifications.

By utilizing a structured interview process, you can ensure that you are making an informed decision and hiring the right candidate for the job.


  1. Screening Interview

To avoid wasting time on interviewing unsuitable candidates, you can use a short phone call to quickly filter out those who don't meet your criteria.

During the call, you can ask the candidate about their goals and what they hope to achieve in the next few years. Additionally, you can inquire about their strengths, weaknesses, or what they don't enjoy doing in a job.

By conducting a brief phone screening, you can narrow down the pool of potential candidates and focus on those who are the best fit for the job.


  1. Topgrading Interview

The key interview round involves a detailed examination of the candidate's work experience. It's essential to understand the person you are about to hire during this round.

Many of the tasks and challenges the candidate has faced in their previous jobs will be similar to the ones they will face in your company. Therefore, it's essential to go in-depth and ask probing questions to gauge the candidate's knowledge, skills, and experience.

Don't hesitate to spend a considerable amount of time with the candidate during this round. It's not uncommon for senior managers to spend up to 3 hours interviewing a candidate. This allows you to thoroughly evaluate the candidate's qualifications and make an informed decision about whether they are the right fit for the job.


topgrade interview

  1. Focused Interview

In the subsequent rounds of interviews, you can shift your focus to the outcomes listed on your scorecard. You can ask the candidate how they plan to achieve the goals and objectives that you expect them to accomplish.

It's also recommended to involve other people in your company in the interview process. This can help you test the candidate's aptitude for success and ensure that they are a good fit for your company culture.

By involving other team members in the interview process, you can gain different perspectives and insights into the candidate's qualifications and potential. This can help you make a more well-rounded and informed decision when it comes to hiring.


  1. Reference Interview

To improve your recruitment process, you can obtain relevant references from people who know your candidates best. You can use your topgrading interview notes to identify areas of strength and weakness and ask candidates to provide you with contacts of people who have worked with them.

When speaking with references, it's important to ask specific questions about the candidate's strengths and weaknesses. Try to gather as much information as possible about the candidate's previous positions, including any challenges or difficulties they may have faced. This will help you evaluate whether the candidate is a good fit for your company.

By obtaining references, you can gain valuable insights into the candidate's work history and performance. This can help you make an informed decision about whether the candidate is the ideal fit for your company and increase the likelihood of hiring a successful candidate.


Sell: Make an offer that can't be refused

It's not enough to just find potential candidates and choose the best one - you also need to persuade them why they should work for your company. In today's job market, top talent is highly sought after, and you may compete with other companies to attract the best candidates.

To stand out to potential hires, it's important to understand what they are looking for in a job. Smart and Street have identified five key areas that most candidates consider when evaluating a job opportunity:

  1. Fit

Show the candidate how their life goals, strengths and values fit into your offer and company culture.

  1. Family

If you are trying to convince a candidate to move to a new city for a job, it can be helpful to highlight the benefits of the city and surrounding environment, particularly when it comes to family life and raising children.

  1. Freedom

Micromanagement can be a major turn-off for many employees. To attract top talent, it's important to demonstrate that you offer an environment that fosters independence and autonomy.

  1. Fortune

While money may not be everything, it is certainly an important factor in motivating employees. Linking the bonus system to the output of the scorecard can also be a powerful incentive for employees to achieve their goals and perform well.

  1. Fun

Creating a positive environment and fostering a sense of teamwork can be a major selling point for potential candidates. When employees feel comfortable and supported in their workplace, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated to do their best.


Wrap up

Finding the right people to grow your business is undoubtedly a major challenge. If one of your key team members leaves and you need to hire a replacement quickly, the task becomes even more daunting. Many companies then resort to a trial and error approach, wasting time and resources, and ultimately relying on luck to find the right candidate.

However, relying on luck is not a sustainable solution. To avoid this, Who: The A Method for Hiring by Geoff Smart and Randy Street offers a comprehensive guide on how to consistently build a successful team. By implementing the Who method, you can increase your chances of finding and hiring the right people who will drive your company's growth.


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