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“Who: The A Method for Hiring” Book Review

  • July 21, 2016

Geoff Smart and Randy Street are the authors of “Who: The A Method for Hiring,” a book that has paved the way for businesses to develop thorough and effective processes around recruiting and hiring. For Aldridge, the book has been a cornerstone in establishing the company’s foundation for hiring employees as it outlines how businesses can avoid common process pitfalls, identify “A” players in the industry, and ensure such candidates have an incentive to join their organization. Luke Blankenship, Director of Human Resources at Aldridge, describes how the book has been a key element in establishing the Aldridge interview process.

“When we read the book, everything was helpful to us because we did not have a formalized interview method in place at that time. It was more conversational in nature. Of course, we asked the technical questions for the technical positions, but there was nothing implemented to guide our procedures. We literally wrote an entire interview process that follows the book step by step,” said Blankenship.

Blankenship heard about the book through an executive peer group he attends. “Who” was based off of Brad Smart’s book, “Top Grading (How to Hire, Coach, and Keep A Players.” Essentially, Randy Smart condensed his father’s book so the information was easier for businesses to understand. Blankenship said he read Brad Smart’s original version of the content and found the text to be hard to follow.

“Randy Smart took out a lot of the sociology, psychology, and scientific parts of his father’s book and broke it down into things people could relate to and understand,” said Blankenship.

“Who” addressed several of the staffing problems Blankenship encountered at Aldridge.

“We had a high turnover rate, higher than we wanted it to be, and we knew we needed to do something to standardize and formalize our processes. Once Patrick and I read the book, it made total sense. “Who” outlined all of the problems we had already recognized within the organization and explained why they were occurring,” said Blankenship.

Aldridge employed what the book called a “voodoo” technique of interviewing prospects. Blankenship explained that before applying the book’s advice, Aldridge would implement a method for hiring that lacked a thorough analysis of the individual’s background and job history.

Blankenship said the book’s career history interview process proved to be one of its greatest contributions to Aldridge. The method requires businesses ask the same questions for each of the prospect’s previous roles.

“The point is to learn about their professional history, but when you start asking the questions the book prompts you to ask, it creates a conversational approach to the interview, but not in an unproductive manner like Aldridge employed before. You’re creating a pattern because you’re asking the same questions over and over. Essentially, you’re getting the person to talk about their professional lives, but sometimes, personal aspects emerge as well,” said Blankenship.

Such interview processes can extend for eight hours or more, depending on the candidate’s extent of experience.

“If we’re interviewing someone who has held 25 positions over the past 30 years, then we are going to ask them the same list of questions for each role they have fulfilled. It creates a discussion you would not normally experience when asking the standard interview type questions,” said Blankenship.

According to Blankenship, “Who” is a fairly quick read, but is targeted primarily toward those looking to hire advanced level managers, directors, vice presidents, etc. However, by modifying the processes described in the text, the book’s hiring method can be suited to fit almost any employer’s staffing needs.

“If you’re going to read the book, you can’t determine it won’t work for your business just because you aren’t looking to hire in a high-level position. You have to make the book work for you and your particular situation,” said Blankenship.

Overall, “Who” provides businesses with a clear set of guidelines on the best method for hiring. The text is broken down into sections that provide the framework for the different types of interviews to hold with a prospect.

“The book presents readers with scripts outlining what to say to a candidate during the interview process. Basically, it tells you the questions to ask and by the end of all of the interviews, you have painted an overall picture of the individual and their story. That’s really the summary of the book: how to interview and hire an A player,” said Blankenship.

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