Who: The A Method for Hiring

Physical Copy:


By: Geoff Smart

Rating: B+

I want to continue to grow as a businessman and leader. I know “what got me here will not get me there”, as they say. One of the areas I want to grow in is learning to build a team. This is the first of three books on the subject that I want to learn from.

What is the problem?

Who not How or What

Man leaders focus on the “Whats” or “Hows” in their organizations (the strategies, products and services, systems and processes). How are we going to solve this problem? However, without the right people in the right place, the problems you fix will resurface again. When you address the “Whos”, the “Whats” and “Hows” will naturally fall in place.

The Solution?

Find, hire, and retain the right whos.

The A Method for Hiring

  1. Develop a Scorecard: Your Success Blueprint

You cannot hire the right person until you know exactly what success in that role looks like.

You need to develop a scorecard that describes what excellence looks like with measurable KPIs addressing each of these .

  • Mission: Why does this role exist? Where does it fit within the company’s strategy, culture, and goals? What’s the goal?
  • Outcomes: What must this role deliver? What are the specific measurable targets? Both leading and lagging.
  • Competencies: How should this job be done given the job requirements and company culture?
  1. Source: Build a Talent Pipeline

You have to be proactively building relationships with potential A players before you need them. Putting pressure and urgency on filling a vacancy is not ideal and rarely works for the long term.

The best way to find A Players is through referrals not advertising for them.

To gather referrals, build your network in every area of your life:

  • Personally: Tell your story to friends and family and ask for introductions. 
  • Professionally: Consistently go to lunch or coffee with people you do business with or that are in your industry. 
  • Current Employees: Share your vision and future needs with your team. They can be more sets of eyes and ears searching for A Players. 

External recruiters (headhunters) can also be a good resource, if they are talented.

  1. Select: Identify A Players with 4 Interviews
  • Interview 1 – Screening: A short phone-based interview to weed out the B and C Players and save you time.
  • Interview 2 – Topgrading: A lengthy interview (2 – 4 hour) to cover the candidate’s career in chronological order. The goal is to understand their story; their career ups and downs and trajectory.
  • Interview 3 – Focused: A 45 – 60 minute interview to gather information on their competencies and review the scorecard together in depth.
  • Interview 4 – Reference: Call multiple references and verify details from the Topgrading interview.

After the 4 interviews, grade the interviewee with an A, B, or C. Only move to the next phase with candidates that score an A.

  1. Sell: Secure the Candidate

If you want to hire your candidate, sell them on how the role will address each of the 5 F’s (Fitness, Family, Freedom, Fortune, and Fun).

Selling the candidate must occur in all 5 phases of the hiring process: during sourcing, interviews, waiting on them to accept your offer, after the offer is accepted, and during their first 100 days on the job.


  • Develop a scorecard with KPIs to fully understand a role before searching for talent.
  • Build a talent pipeline with referrals and headhunters.
  • Identify “A” Players with 4 intentional interviews.
  • Close the hiring process by selling the role benefitting fitness, family, freedom, fortune, and fun.

I really enjoyed how prescriptive the author was in each step. Developing KPIs for a role before hiring is often overlooked but I think is one of the most important things you can do to provide clarity for everyone involved.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: