I recently bought “Who?” based on a recommendation from Atul Gawande who recommended it in Checklist Manifesto. In my experience starting Punchh, this is an area where I made a few mistakes and so I was looking for ideas on what I could have done better. What I got from “Who?” was a whole playbook for effective hiring.



In the past I have tried a number of different approaches. I have tried letting everybody on the team talk to the candidate and throwing in a board member for added perspective. After everybody has had a chance, we ask each interviewer to share feedback and to vote on the candidate. Predictably this method yielded mixed results as all interviewers were using their personal judgement which is often dependent on the interviewer’s mood, the meeting the interviewer had prior to the interview and even whether the interviewer had an altercation with their spouse or kids that morning.

At the other extreme I had designed a sophisticated scorecard where we will have 4 interviews where each interviewer will be tasked to evaluate a competency area needed for the job. At the end we will all get together and score the candidate and make a decision. This method again did not work too well as different interviewers had different standards for grading a competency and a complete realistic picture of what a candidate could do was missing.

Who? does a great job of giving you an actionable checklist for implementing an effective hiring process. It starts with recommendation on how to set up a good job description and a scorecard, talks about best ways to source talent, an interview plan (full with specific questions to ask and what to listen for) and a process of eventually selecting and landing the right person for the job.

Randy Street and Geoff Smart are thorough about the process of selecting A players and their checklist seems actionable and complete. In fact, one of the key components of the process, the “Who?” interview is something I have been using for a while without knowing. All in all it seems like a really practical and comprehensive approach to hiring talent. Even though prose is a little bit dry and focussed on the methodology, I highly recommend “Who?” to all entrepreneurs or hiring managers looking to improve their batting average.

An aside for the entrepreneurs: This book has a lot of great ideas for anybody looking for startup ideas. The sourcing of talent (referrals apparently drive close to 70% of hires), managing of the process in a prescriptive way, tying it with performance tracking and review etc. present opportunities for automation in the form of an enterprise SaaS platform.


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