Who was given to me by a friend of mine who is a partner at a venture firm. They have been using this to grow their practice, and giving it to all their CEOs. The text lays out a solid strategy for hiring ‘A players’ into your organization. It provides a set of steps that address many of the shortcomings in hiring that I have witnessed in organizations, in terms of lack of investment and rigor in the hiring process. Too often hiring managers just dust off the last job description they used, wait for HR to send some resumes, and then make a hiring decision based on gut. The authors lay out a much better approach, and break it into Sourcing, Selecting, and Selling, which are the same basic phases that I have written about for my hiring approach. It is a quick read with some good details, but there are of course summaries available that capture the broad outline well.

Sourcing starts with a rigorous evaluation of your needs for that particular role, all too often folks just start hiring without understanding the specific needs of the role. Hire specialists, not generalists. Sourcing includes all your personnel’s resources for networking. Sourcing starts before you have a role identified. I spend a lot of time on this stage, with or without an open role, and I think it is the largest area of neglect I have seen in the past. While they can be a partner, you cannot rely solely on HR to source and send you great candidates.

Selection is the meatiest section. The authors touch on many of the best practices from literature in terms of semi-structured, repeatable, job function, and corporate value focused interview questions. They lean heavily on a chronological narrative of past job roles, which to me seems a bit like reading the resume, so I might adjust that to dig in on resume items, but not exhaustively go through rehashing information that could be provided in written form. With such limited time to evaluate a candidate, I try to do as much research and asynchronous work as possible to make the face time high signal. Another area I am skeptical of is their reliance on mind games, constantly referring to their intention to do reference checks. This seems a bit heavy handed. They recommend seven reference calls for candidates in the final stage of offer, and they suggest that the candidate be asked to set those up to help encourage references to share more. That seems like a really big ask of a candidate who has not been offered a job, or even one that has and has not yet decided to take it. In many companies showing you are in the final stages of an outside offer is dangerous career-wise. Also, it allows the retaining company to bring a lot of pressure to bear with counters and appeals to stay. If you limit references just to previous employers that might address some concerns, at the cost of dated information, but seven references is a big ask. I think I would have walked from my Netflix offer if they had asked me for seven references. I am really glad I took the job, but I was also quite happy at Apple. Maybe this applies more readily to executive recruitment, as opposed to hiring engineers.

The Sell portion talks about the importance of closing the family of the candidate and helping the whole family envision their life in a new place. I don’t like Selling as a term; my personal biases frame that term as one sided, when the last stage of recruiting needs to be very much collaborative, which Who agrees with in substance. The closing portion of a hire is not complete until they show up on their first day, at the earliest.

Overall a solid book on tangible steps to take to improve your hiring practices. I arrived at many of the same approaches learning from some of the best hiring managers around at Netflix, but it took me a couple years. This is a great shortcut.