Another Travesty

Who book coverThe Wall Street Journal (October 29) favorably reviews Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. I’m hooked.

In short, if “health care” is a dangerous oxymoron, it is matched, if in a less deadly fashion, by “rigorous interview” in the all-important world of hiring. Mssrs. Smart and Street are said to rip, tear, shred, spindle, mutilate, thrash, and trash the typical prospective employee evaluation process for its shallowness. And the reviewer also reports that the authors provide a ton of solid research and professional experience to support their sorry conclusions. I am disposed to the authors’ assessment based on my own, if less extensive, observation—and flawed personal practices.

Smart and Street argue that the hiring process should have the same rigor as the evaluation of a prospective corporate acquisition. “Candidates who appear excellent on a first pass,” the reviewer writes, “may fall to pieces on the third or fourth look—others look better and better.” If the roster is the heart of team success—then the acquisition thereof could logically be called the most important thing an organization does. Right? (TP opinion: Right.)


You and I have probably read a dozen, or three dozen, books on “business strategy.” (Right?) And perhaps have been to a course or exec course or two or three on the topic.

Have you ever read a full-fledged book on assessing folks for employment?
Have you read a dozen articles on the topic?

My answer to both questions is an embarrassing “no.” Worse yet, as best I can remember, I have never written—in 15 books—even a chapter on the topic! Dear God! I can argue that I’ve “skirted” the topic in many ways—but I’m not sure even that’s the whole truth. (I am especially chagrined because I am a graduate of McKinsey & Co, one of the rare “good guys” on the Recruitment Excellence list—it doesn’t seem to have rubbed off on my research or writing.)

The reviewer concludes, “In short, hiring is the most important aspect of business and yet remains woefully misunderstood [my italics].”

Ye gads, I think he might well be right.

(If so, what am I going to do about it?)
(If so, what are you going to do about it?)