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In this instant New York Times Bestseller, Geoff Smart and Randy Street provide a simple, practical, and effective solution to what The Economist calls “the single biggest problem in business today”: unsuccessful hiring. The average hiring mistake costs a company $1.5 million or more a year and countless wasted hours. This statistic becomes even more startling when you consider that the typical hiring success rate of managers is only 50 percent.

The silver lining is that “who” problems are easily preventable. Based on more than 1,300 hours of interviews with more than 20 billionaires and 300 CEOs, Who presents Smart and Street’s A Method for Hiring. Refined through the largest research study of its kind ever undertaken, the A Method stresses fundamental elements that anyone can implement–and it has a 90 percent success rate.

Whether you’re a member of a board of directors looking for a new CEO, the owner of a small business searching for the right people to make your company grow, or a parent in need of a new babysitter, it’s all about Who. Inside you’ll learn how to

• avoid common “voodoo hiring” methods
• define the outcomes you seek
• generate a flow of A Players to your team–by implementing the #1 tactic used by successful businesspeople
• ask the right interview questions to dramatically improve your ability to quickly distinguish an A Player from a B or C candidate
• attract the person you want to hire, by emphasizing the points the candidate cares about most

In business, you are who you hire. In Who, Geoff Smart and Randy Street offer simple, easy-to-follow steps that will put the right people in place for optimal success.

From Booklist

Think of Who as the literal and figurative son of TopGrading (2005), by Brad Smart. Coaches and consultants Smart and Street have broadened the how-to-hire process from interviews to a 360-degree perspective on recruiting A players. It’s a compelling read for many reasons: the research is solid and expansive, based on actual work, CEO/top-management interviews, and statistics analyses from a top graduate business school. It’s simple: instead of 6 reasons here and 10 steps there, the authors boil down their recommendations into a 4-step process, from scorecard and source to select and sell. Who wouldn’t like to read stories from well-known CEOs like George Buckley of 3M, opening up the mysterious method of executive hiring? And finally, it’s a book laced with humor; anecdotes about interviewees who’ve told their stories all too well are not only laughable but memorable, too—for all the right reasons. Like the candidate who bugged his boss’ office because he never received any performance appraisals. Intended for executive readers—and human resources’ follow-through. --Barbara Jacobs

Review

“Seventy percent of the game is finding the right people, putting them in the right position, listening to them, and alleviating what gets in their way. Who is a practical guide to making sure you get the right people to start with! Excellent advice and guide.” –Robert Gillette, president and CEO, Honeywell Aerospace

“Geoff Smart and Randy Street have done an amazing job distilling the best advice from some of the world’s most successful business leaders.” –Wayne Huizenga, founder, Blockbuster Video

“A great read–it really is all about finding, keeping, and motivating the team.” –John Malone, chairman, Liberty Media Corporation

“The key point in this book is that those of us who run companies should include who decisions near the top of the list of strategic priorities.” –John Varley, group chief executive, Barclays

“Who is the only book you need to read if you are serious about making smart hiring and promotion decisions. It is the most actionable book on middle- and upper-management hiring that I’ve read after twenty years in HR.” –Ed Evans, executive vice president and chief personnel officer, Allied Waste Industries

“I wish I had this book thirty years ago, at the beginning of my career!” –Jay Jordan, chairman and CEO, the Jordan Company

“This book will save you and your company time and money. In business, what else is there?” –Roger Marino, co-founder, EMC Corporation

“You’ ll find yourself nodding yes, saying ‘That’s right,’ and thinking, Oh, I’ve been there, all the way through this grand slam of a book. Whether you’re starting a company or running a part of a big one, the level of success you achieve is almost always a result of choosing the right people for the right jobs at the right time. It’s all about the who!” –Aaron Kennedy, founder and chairman, Noodles & Company

From the Author

Please find our newly-released Who and Power Score tools and templates at geoffsmart.com/smarttools.


And to polish your skills for hiring talented teams and then running them at full power, bring your team to SMARTfest 2016 Denver. Register at geoffsmart.com/smartfest.

About the Author

Geoff Smart is the chairman and CEO of ghSMART, the management assessment firm for CEOs and investors.

Randy Street is the president of ghSMART Executive Learning and a top-rated international public speaker.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Your #1 Problem

What does a who problem look like?

Remember the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel find work at a candy factory? They’re supposed to be wrapping chocolates, but they can’t keep up with the pace. So instead of letting the candy pass them by, they start shoving it into their mouths, down their shirts, and anywhere else it will fit. That’s when a supervisor looks in and congratulates the new hires on the empty conveyor belt. Then she calls to someone in the next room, “Speed it up!” And with that the chaos really ensues.

You could spend countless hours trying to optimize the line, but that wouldn’t get to the heart of the matter. The supervisor didn’t have a conveyor problem. She had a Lucy problem.

The Lucy problem is a who problem, but chances are yours is neither as funny nor so far down the chain of command. As an engineering friend of ours often laments, “Managing is easy, except for the people part!”

In an October 2006 cover story, “The Search for Talent,” The Economist reported that finding the right people is the single biggest problem in business today.* We doubt that surprised most readers. The fact is, virtually every manager struggles to find and hire the talent necessary to drive his or her business forward.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all heard the horror stories of the CEO who sank a multibillion-dollar public company, the district manager who allowed his region to fall behind competition, even the executive assistant who couldn’t keep a schedule. Most of us have lived those stories and could add dozens more to the list.

Even we have made bad who decisions. A few years back, Geoff and his wife hired a nanny we’ll call Tammy to look after their children. Unfortunately, Geoff had what his six-year-old calls a “space-out moment” and neglected to apply the method this book describes when he hired her.

Not many months later, Geoff was on the phone in his home office when he saw his two-year-old running naked down the driveway. He immediately hung up on his client and raced outdoors to stop his daughter before she ran into the street. Fortunately, the FedEx truck was not barreling up the driveway at that moment.
Then Geoff went looking for Tammy to find out what had happened. All she could say was, “Well, it’s hard to keep track of all of the kids.” It is, but as Geoff explained to her, that’s exactly what she had been hired to do. Sometimes a who problem can mean life or death.

Needless to say, Geoff’s next nanny search commenced immediately, involved the method presented in this book, and resulted in a much better hire.

The fact is, all of us let our who guard down sometimes. We realize how inflated resumes can be. Yet we accept at face value claims of high accomplishment that we know better than to fully trust. Due diligence, after all, takes time, and time is the one commodity most lacking in busy managers’ lives.
George Buckley grew up with adoptive parents in a boardinghouse in a rough part of Sheffield, England, went to a school for physically handicapped children, and worked his way up to becoming the successful CEO of two Fortune 500 companies, including 3M, where he works now. It’s the sort of background that breeds a healthy skepticism about resumes.

When we met with Buckley, he got straight to the point: “One of the hardest challenges is to hire people from outside the company. One of the basic failures in the hiring process is this: What is a resume? It is a record of a person’s career with all of the accomplishments embellished and all the failures removed.”

Jay Jordan, CEO of the Jordan Company, told us how he once hired a candidate who looked great on paper but failed in the role. The executive demanded some feedback from Jordan on the day of his termination. Jordan didn’t want to add insult to injury, but finally couldn’t stop himself from saying, “Look, I hired your resume. But unfortunately, what I got was you!”

Due diligence is also lacking in what Kelvin Thompson, a top executive recruiter with Heidrick & Struggles, calls “the worst mistake boards make–the ‘la-di-da’ interview: nice lunch, nice chat. They say this is a CEO, and we cannot really interview them. So you have a board who never really interviews the candidates.”

The techniques you will learn in the pages that follow will help everyone–boards, hiring managers at every level, even parents hiring a nanny–find the right who for whatever position needs filling. The method will do the due diligence for you. It lets you focus on the individual candidates without losing sight of the goals and values of your organization.

Before our method can work to its optimal level, though, chances are you might have to break some bad hiring habits of your own.

* The Economist, October 7—13, 2006.

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4.5 out of 54.5 out of 5
944 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

f1shst1x
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I probably would have liked this book more if the company I was working ...
Reviewed in the United States on August 22, 2017
I probably would have liked this book more if the company I was working for hadn''t tried to implement the information found here in a situation where it wasn''t very applicable. The main problem is that this book is mostly geared toward hiring for executive-level positions,... See more
I probably would have liked this book more if the company I was working for hadn''t tried to implement the information found here in a situation where it wasn''t very applicable. The main problem is that this book is mostly geared toward hiring for executive-level positions, and a lot of the principles aren''t transferable to hiring for other positions (an executive-level candidate might be OK going through 4 separate interviews, but your average Joe probably won''t stay in the process that long). If you''re hiring for the C-Level the this book is probably very useful; if not, you can still get some useful advise here, but don''t plan on restructuring your hiring practices based on that.
45 people found this helpful
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Emily
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A great framework for all hiring managers
Reviewed in the United States on February 25, 2018
A great framework for all hiring managers. Incredibly detailed and formulaic. I find the process they use around scorecards for determining job criteria to be the most helpful part and the one I''ve got my company to adopt. The very specific interviews questions have been... See more
A great framework for all hiring managers. Incredibly detailed and formulaic. I find the process they use around scorecards for determining job criteria to be the most helpful part and the one I''ve got my company to adopt. The very specific interviews questions have been less useful as I''m hiring more junior people where prior work experience is more limited and specific skills are more needed.
10 people found this helpful
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Keith R. Kaminski
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Practical strategies that work, but beware...
Reviewed in the United States on July 5, 2021
I have been applying the tools and strategies outlined in this book for more than year. As a hiring manager, I have saved countless hours as I am no longer spending time with B and C level applicants that would never be successful with my company. Beware as you will scare... See more
I have been applying the tools and strategies outlined in this book for more than year. As a hiring manager, I have saved countless hours as I am no longer spending time with B and C level applicants that would never be successful with my company. Beware as you will scare a lot of candidates away. I have found that it takes longer to fill open positions, however, the A level talent you do attract will appreciate the rigor of he extensive hiring process outlined in this book.
One person found this helpful
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Brian Smith
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Best Hiring Book Available
Reviewed in the United States on August 10, 2016
I''ve been working with an executive coach for years to improve our success rate in hiring, and have learned a lot of hard lessons from hiring toxic people. Usually these things happened by a) not defining the role crisply and ensuring I know what I''m hiring for and why b)... See more
I''ve been working with an executive coach for years to improve our success rate in hiring, and have learned a lot of hard lessons from hiring toxic people. Usually these things happened by a) not defining the role crisply and ensuring I know what I''m hiring for and why b) poisoning the interviews with things like leading questions, "selling" the candidate on the position, or giving too much information so the candidate parrotted the right answers to me; or c) failing to be really data-driven in managing people and figure out what works and doesn''t over time. Of all the books that I''ve read, "Who" is by far the closest to the hiring and management processes I''ve developed with my coach''s guidance. (And my coach is a GENIUS at hiring, by the way. He should write his own book.)
24 people found this helpful
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Julie H. Rogers
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great Read!
Reviewed in the United States on November 4, 2018
This book is effective in showing what useful hiring practices look like in successful companies. It is useful for those who are taking classes in management that need to see different concepts put to work by actual business leaders. The authors have a very narrative... See more
This book is effective in showing what useful hiring practices look like in successful companies. It is useful for those who are taking classes in management that need to see different concepts put to work by actual business leaders. The authors have a very narrative quality which makes the book enjoyable to read even though there are a lot of data used along with the text. Overall, the book laid out a detailed action plan that can help you analyze what you need to improve and what you need to change. It is thought provoking for people who are about to start in the business world, forcing us to analyze our preconceived notions about hiring.
3 people found this helpful
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Stephen
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Such valuable insights
Reviewed in the United States on November 16, 2016
What an amazing book on how to hire. I wish everyone was required to read this before hiring anyone or interviewing them for that matter. If 95% of interviews I have been to were conducted by people who understood this material I would have HOURS and DAYS of my life back,... See more
What an amazing book on how to hire. I wish everyone was required to read this before hiring anyone or interviewing them for that matter. If 95% of interviews I have been to were conducted by people who understood this material I would have HOURS and DAYS of my life back, so would they, and we would also feel more secure about the decision either of us made in the end. Just read this book whether or not you''re in a position that hires, as a person who gets interviewed it''s valuable as well.
13 people found this helpful
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William D. Levesque
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Pragmatic and tested advice to find A Players for your business
Reviewed in the United States on April 29, 2016
I have heard it said that the average hiring mistake costs 15 times an employee''s base salary in hard costs and productivity loss. Can your company afford this? The A Method for Hiring provides a 4 step process for getting hiring right by finding A Players that are a... See more
I have heard it said that the average hiring mistake costs 15 times an employee''s base salary in hard costs and productivity loss. Can your company afford this?
The A Method for Hiring provides a 4 step process for getting hiring right by finding A Players that are a fit for your roles and company culture. It steps you through specific questions and insights across 4 different types of interviews you must use to make the right choice. Not to fear, it also shows you how to economize your time by quickly identifying B and C Players so you can cull them out of the process early.
6 people found this helpful
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Cindylou
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
To the point and actionable, needs more references
Reviewed in the United States on September 24, 2017
Who is a quick read and accessible for anyone in an organization that hires team members. There are clear steps to take and implement along with the stories to contextualize. Given their business and the number of leaders they reference by name, they have a fair amount of... See more
Who is a quick read and accessible for anyone in an organization that hires team members. There are clear steps to take and implement along with the stories to contextualize. Given their business and the number of leaders they reference by name, they have a fair amount of credibility behind their statements, but I wish they had shared their research, at least in the footnotes, or had corroborating research from other organizations rather than only their own.
2 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Ryan Purvis
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Read It
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 25, 2018
Excellent content! I’ve been looking for a book like this for ages. For me it was less about the hiring process and more a self evaluation exercise.
2 people found this helpful
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Straight Talking
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
One of the few recruitment books that I’ve been impressed with
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 3, 2019
A very good book covering some interesting recruitment techniques and search methods to keep the company full of the right kind of people. It’s a little bit technical but for a recruiter it might be worthwhile
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A readable version of Topgrading from Brad Smart''s son. ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 20, 2018
A readable version of Topgrading from Brad Smart''s son. Much more applicable in real life than Topgrading and the material is still really comprehensive.
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L.U.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Extremely useful advice
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 30, 2021
A must read for entrepreneurs and hr professionals. Extremely insightful and useful tools. Wish I had this earlier.
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Jan Exner
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Somewhat less useful for me
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 18, 2017
Solid advice, and applicable immediately if you''re hiring c-level or vp. Somewhat less useful for me, as I''m hiring individual contributors. Still interesting, and the process described still applies to an extent.
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