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Who: The A Method for Hiring
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Who: The A Method for Hiring

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  3,256 ratings  ·  248 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 188 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by Ballantine Books (first published August 19th 2008)
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Jan 31, 2009 rated it liked it
"Who: The A Method for Hiring" by Geoff Smart

One-third of this book is an advertisement for itself: how great it is, how the methods are truly awesome, tested, etc.

The book is for hiring CEOs and financial industry managers, not your day-to-day workers.

The advice can be boiled down to a few principles:

1. Prescreen the heck out of your applicants so you only use your valuable time interviewing only those who will fit the position.

2. Ask a lot of questions that get the applicant off of their
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was recommended as THE book for hiring by Matt Mullenwegg (the “WordPress founder”) on his Tim Ferriss podcast.

It starts from the basic premise that the Who is by far the most important decision in a company. The Who help define the What, so to have a happier more productive life and company, you should invest a ton of time in hiring the right people. And not hiring the wrong ones, or getting rid of them ASAP. So even if you’ve done loads of work in interviewing, and you find one thing
Ola Olusoga
May 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
Great read on implementing a highly effective hiring process that not only aids with recruiting A players, but also assists in improving review, promotion and success planning.

If you're an employer, employee, person who makes a living working with others, or just interested in the people aspect of business, read this book.


Who is your number one problem. Not what.

Who mistakes happen when managers:
- Are unclear about what is needed in a
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-to-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Robins
Jul 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Read it because Gawande recommended it in his excellent Checklist Manifesto; it's not terrible, but could be distilled into much less text and it's laced with advertisements for their consulting service. Has some worthwhile methods, however - the scorecard, topgrading, determining fit.
Greg Seguin

Sound advice but the content is more befitting a blog post than a book...padded like a high school English paper trying to hit a word count
Natalia Amelina
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
a good recap of executive search tools.
This book shifts you hiring approach from subjective "I like him / he seems like a good guy" to objective "he fits a role by x%, he has these competencies which I need"
Apr 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recruiting
This was a really good book full of very useful information for hiring and selecting people.

Whoever is reading this book: all the important tidbits in the book are highlighted in grey boxes.

This book starts out by saying that recruiting is not easy so relying on simple strategies or not having a strategy does not work.
An example of no strategy is to invite someone for a chat with no preset questions or agenda.
Given that a strategy/process for recruiting is important the authors specify the
Jul 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
My boss asked me to read this. It's basically a couple of blog posts stitched together with some redundant anecdotes and a bunch of unnecessary fluff. Knowing there are people in the world out there who subscribe to this kind of thinking, who are hell-bent on commoditizing and reducing people into "A-player" hires, is unbelievably depressing. There is, in fact, a section about how to adopt this hiring methodology at your place of work and one of the steps amounts to this: fire any managers who ...more
Tamara Miner
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
The method outlined in the book is sound, for the most part, and definitely would improve many hiring processes significantly. However, the entire book reads like an ad for their company - there’s even a section promoting the workshops they offer at the end of the book. It leaves a bit of a bad taste. Also, it’s interesting they don’t mention how this scorecard helps with diversity hiring - it levels the playing field to some extent, but they clearly aren’t interested in that as much (only 4/80 ...more
May 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Who's a typical "business process" book -- it's to-the-point, provides good coverage of accepted best practices, and is lacking in analysis or coverage of its methods. I would have liked more information on how the authors arrived at their conclusions, as there was plenty of asserting that sufficient study and analysis had been gathered with very little coverage of the data itself. Most the points, though, are common sense, and having it all in one place is helpful for future reference. The ...more
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a short but practical read to help in effective hiring. It focuses on how to go about hiring "A" quality workers in a methodical, systematic manner. Having been on both sides of the hiring process many times, I can attest to the haphazard way in which hiring often happens.

This book offers simple, clear, pragmatic, proven solutions to effective hiring. It is broken up into chapters reflecting the sequential process:
1. Identifying the problem
2. Scorecard: Defining characteristics of hire
Brian D.
Feb 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book easily could have been a blog post. There are a few good tidbits, but they are wrapped in a giant turd of a business book that rattles on about 'the "A" method for hiring,' and other zingers. If biz-bro is your thing, then you'll probably love it. Otherwise, avoid.
Mar 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
The authors ask the right questions, but fail to provide the right answers.
There are so many things that are wrong with this book that I don’t even know where to start.
Putting a chosen number on a subjective topic doesn’t make if magically an objective assessment.
There are simpler and safer ways to assess candidates, but also to identify the keys skills needed for a job.
It doesn’t seem like the authors have done proper research on scientific results on these matters, especially in the field
Kevin Fanning
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this for work. I have to admit that even though I hate business books & how-to's and corporate non-fiction this was interesting and helpful. I've been a recruiter for ~14 years and there was a lot I thought was interesting and helpful and I'm excited to try it out at my job. UGH SHUT UP UGH
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Practical tips on how to hire, how to spot talent, and how to test for qualities for a good culture fit.
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good, short read on a systematic way of hiring for your company. The essence of the book can be boiled down to a few pages, but the book is padded out with examples of clients who have used the Smart methods successfully. The method is more suited towards finding senior, more specialised employees (IMO) but there are some broad methodologies which can be applied in all cases.

I found the "Select" chapter particularly helpful and will be using it for future hires.
Glenn Burnside
Short focused and actionable

One of the better hiring books I've read. Gets to the heart of the problem with hiring - you need to know what you want, what it looks like, and how you're going to measure it. Then use the same hiring practice for every candidate. My only concern with this book is its over-focus on executive hiring. I couldn't always tell how this would relate to an individual contributor or functional/but-not-people leadership role.
Sebastian Perez Saaibi
Why are most examples of successful leaders in this book male, whereas struggling ones female?
I feel this book suffers from several cognitive biases. If all you are looking for is A players that are white, straight, male... guess what... that’s all you will find. Even “better”, you will be able to write about talking about how essential it is to hire for this folks and not get sued in the process.

Despite a couple good example, this reads like a modernesque Hiring guide for the mad men era
Dorai Thodla
The book is well written and has lots of useful tips on how to hire senior management. I did not find it as useful since I hire mostly developers. If you are hiring CXOs or VPs, this is certainly a must read.
Eliot Burdett
Jan 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scaling-up
Respectable book on the basics of hiring great people. Nothing groundbreaking or things you won't find in other books, but covers all the basics.
Jeffrey Tarter
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Introduction to Who announces that hiring decisions are the "number one problem" for business managers. My first reaction was "typical author hyperbole." What about products, technology, finance, marketing, etc.? But then I thought a bit more about all the companies I've known, successful and not successful. The premise of Who is absolutely on target.

Moreover, it's pretty clear that something is very wrong with the whole hiring and recruiting process. Typically, we create huge pools of
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Peter Keller
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing, best book I've ever read on recruiting and hiring "A-players".

Here is my hiring flow for my business, Fringe Sport that I wrote and refined based on Who:

How to Hire for Fringe Sport
Establish WHY we are hiring
Set the budget
For the employee (comp package)
For the referral
What will we pay to the person that refers a hire that lasts 6 months?
Create a scorecard for the role
3-8 outcomes
Including their Top 5 and Top 1 of 5
Create a 3 & 12 month success check-in
When we review them at 3
Chad Warner
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: business owners, entrepreneurs, hiring managers, recruiters
Recommended to Chad by: Aaron Schaap, Brent Weaver
Shelves: business
This shows how to make better hiring decisions by basing them on data rather than vague feelings. It explains how to create hiring criteria and assess candidates rationally. It's based on the authors' significant firsthand consulting experience and input from many successful executives and hiring managers.

It's about hiring employees, but can be applied to hiring independent contractors too.

I've been focused on building the team at my web agency, OptimWise, for the last 2 years. As I read this
Neil Sharma
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it
A more accurate title:
"How white male billionaires hire male execs at fortune 500 companies".

Its a quick read and has some good points, but take all the advice with a grain of salt

There are a few good points in this book:
- Listen and sell throughout the interview
- dive deep into the candidate's past experience (there is a helpful script for this)
- have a standard rubric/scorecard to rate each applicant. Scorecards are a combination of job objective, very specific goals with deadlines, and
Alejandro I Sanoja
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you are in the process of hiring people, or you will soon start doing so, you MUST read this book.

Also, if you are a job-seeker (which we all are) it wouldn't hurt to read the book as well as it will expand your mindset (and improve your understanding of the hiring process) by taking a look at what the hiring process looks from the other side.

The book does a great job of explaining the mindset, the strategy, and the details of the executions. No wonder is so highly recommended by
Vincent Tsao
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book provides a solid framework for approaching hiring, which the authors call the A method. If you're just starting to interview and hire folks, I'd probably recommend this book a bit more. As is, the "Select" section of the book contained the lion's share of value for me because interviewing effectively is something I struggle with. I tend be a "nice guy" interviewer.

The "Source" section can largely be summarized as the following, "if you don't clearly define what you're looking for,
Angela Lam
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Managers who want to get good at hiring A players
As a non-HR specialist, I found this book really useful. However, I must caveat that this book is probably most suitable for :
1. Companies specifically looking for A-Players (I do know people who believe that it's better to hire average folks whom they can "control" or manage...then this book is not for you)
2. Mid to senior roles. The method is supposed to be applicable to any level in the organization, but I don't know if it really makes sense in practice for menial or junior roles given the
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the advice in this book is absolute gold. If you ever are involved in hiring anyone for any kind of job, it's well worth the read, just for the suggestions around interview questions. However, I feel that those who are responsible for hiring high level executives will benefit most, as the rest of the advice is really targeted at them.

It's a quick and easy read. The rationale for the approach is clearly explained, and seems to be backed by solid data. The anecdotes are both entertaining
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Dr. Geoff Smart is Chairman & Founder of ghSMART, a leadership consulting firm that serves Fortune 500 CEOs and boards, billionaire entrepreneurs, and heads of state. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Who, Leadocracy, and Power Score: Your Formula for Leadership Success.
“Do not hire anybody who has been pushed out of 20 percent or more of their jobs.” 2 likes
“We define an A Player this way: a candidate who has at least a 90 percent chance of achieving a set of outcomes that only the top 10 percent of possible candidates could achieve.” 1 likes
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