My hiring system (and the 6 things that make it succeed)

A better system helps your business… and your life!
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Howdy readers! 

Today I’m breaking down one of my most important systems: 

  • The 6 principles to hire amazing people

Let’s do it!

Over my career, I’ve hired and managed over 4,000 people (directly and indirectly). 

I’ve made just about every hiring mistake there is.

It’s given me time to develop a hiring system that really works, and makes your life easier and your business better.

I’ll put a link to my step-by-step process at the bottom.

But success comes down to 6 counterintuitive principles:

  1. What makes someone great
  2. Test like it’s school
  3. The A-B-C player
  4. Resumes are bullsh*t
  5. Two-on-one interviews
  6. Write a hiring memo

Let’s walk through these.

1. What Makes Someone Great

I measure a great employee on the following 

  • Intelligence: are they smart enough for the job?
  • Culture: do they align with company values?
  • Skills: the ability to execute
  • Grit: your give-a-shit level
  • Personality traits: you want people aligned to the job

So how do you find these people? 

2. Test Like It’s School

Every person I hire takes 2 assessments. 

Criteria Corp does cognitive and skills-based tests. It tells me if someone has the job skills, and whether they’re quick thinkers.

Culture Index is for personality trait assessments. This tells me if someone is “wired” right for the job.

As my grandpa used to say, the right personality in the right role is like bringing a duck to water. 

Accountants should be deal-oriented. Salespeople should be people-loving.

Some people don’t like asking people to do “tests”. But remember: your initial job posting should be getting them excited about the position already (I’ve written about that here).

3. Every Job has an A-B-C Player

A players are the top 10% of candidates. 

B players are the middle 60%. 

C players are the bottom 30%.

Finding the A players is crucial — they’re not just a little better. They can be 10x better than a B player. It’s not linear.

Put the other way around, you’ll need to hire 10 B players to replace an A player.

The next problem: how do you tell them apart?

It’s definitely not by their resume…

4. Resumes are Bullsh*t

Two thirds of resumes have lies in them.

I bet my Chili’s server has “orchestrating financial transactions for a multi-billion dollar corporation” on her resume.

So how do you cut through the BS?

Here’s the secret: “Thread of Reference Check.”

Tell every candidate that you do up to 5 hours of calling references. This does two things:

Bad candidates drop out.

And great candidates want the job more — because business that do a ton of reference checks will be filled with other A players.

(Make sure you actually do the reference checks though.)

5. Two on One Behavioral Interview

I run my interviews with one lead interviewer and one wing person. Having someone there just listening is a great way to gut-check your impressions afterwards.

We spend 2 hours learning the candidate’s life story.

What makes them tick? Did they dominate prior jobs? Where are they strong? Where are they weak? 

Remember: the best predictor of future success is past performance. 

Plus, most people who go through it find it really interesting to look back on their life. (And we take breaks.)

6. Write a Hiring Memo

Before you make an offer, write a 2-page memo. Reflect on:

  • Where are they strong?
  • Where are they weak?
  • How can we help them?
  • Why should we hire them?

The best investors write investment memos, and the best business owners write hiring memos.

It’s also a great snapshot you can look back on.

Putting it all together

Use all these principles to inform your hiring process. 

Here’s an example:

  1. Advertise the role
  2. Collect Interest
  3. Candidates complete assessments
  4. Phone screen (30 mins) - sell them on you too!
  5. Review career history
  6. In-person interview (2-4 hrs)
  7. Culture fit interviews
  8. Call references (5 hrs)

This is pretty high level. If you want to see my 3-page detailed process, you can download it below. 

The whole process should only take a couple of weeks if you’re not screwing around. If you’re really focusing, you could get through it in a week.

And keep in mind, you can scale this down the more junior a hire is. You don’t need to spend 5 hours calling references for a dishwasher.

Download my hiring process:

Want to go deeper? I built a lot of my system from the book Topgrading, which is great (if dated).  

Have a great week!