Notes from ‘Who’ by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

As a middle manager in a inner city school one of the activities I spend part of my time is the recruiting of new teachers. In the last academic year we had to recruit six new teachers for my faculty, and for some of those posts we did not appoint on the first time round. In addition if the wrong person is appointed; this will create additional work, and potentially have a negative impact on educational outcomes.

I saw this book on Amazon and thought it would be worth a read.


“The most important decisions that businesspeople make are not what decisions, but who decisions.”

– Jim Collins, Author of Good to Great

  • The book opens by explaining the problems of finding the right people, and quotes The Economist in 2006 stating that “finding the right people is the single biggest problem in business today”.
  • The author states that the hiring process is something that has resisted an orderly approach; this is in a culture that every other management process has been studied and codified.
  • The first thing that is needed is a ‘scorecard: a blueprint for success’; it is important to consider what is needed in the individual that is being hired. What specialisms, skills, and other needs are best suited for the roles. Don’t hire the generalist, hire the specialist.
  • When creating a scorecard consider the following things:
    1. Mistion
    2. Outcomes
    3. Competencies
    4. Ensure Alignment and Communicate
  • There is a list of critical competencies that should be looked for in ‘a players’:
        • Efficiency – Able to produce significant output with minimal wasted effort.
        • Honesty/integrity – Does not cut corners ethically.
        • Organisation and planning – Plans, organises, schedules, and budgets in an efficient, productive manner.
        • Aggressiveness – Moves quickly and takes a forceful stand without being overly abrasive.
        • Follow-through on commitments.
        • Intelligence – Learns quickly.
        • Analytical skills – Able to structure and process qualitative and quantitative data and draw insightful conclusions.
        • Attention to detail.
        • Persistence – demonstrates tenacity and willingness to go the distance to get something done.
        • Proactivity – acts without being told what to do. Brings new ideas.
  • When looking for potential new employees don’t forget the power of business and personal networks.


  • When interviewing the following tactics need to be used:
    • Don’t be afraid to interrupt to get the interview back on track.
    • Use the three P’s:
      • Previous
      • Plan
      • Peers
    • Push versus Pull – were they pushed out of any previous roles.
  • Watch out for the following ‘major flags’ or ‘stop signs’
    • Candidate does not mention past failures.
    • Candidate exaggerates his or her answers.
    • Candidate takes credit for the work of others.
    • Candidate speaks poorly of past bosses.
    • Candidate cannot explain job moves.
    • People most important to candidate are unsupportive of change.
    • For managerial hires, candidate ha never had to hire or fire anybody.
    • Candidate seems more interested in compensation and benefits than in the job itself.
    • Candidate is too self-absorbed.

Selling the Job to the Candidate

  1. Fit – tie the candidate’s goals, strengths, and values with the company’s needs, vision and culture.
  2. Family – take into account the broader trauma of changing jobs.
  3. Freedom – make the candidate aware of the autonomy they will have to make decisions.
  4. Fortune – reflects the stability of your company and the overall financial upside.
  5. Fun – describes the work environment, and personal relationships that the candidate will make.



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