Wall Street Journal Trashes Employment Interviews

The title of the October 4 article is: “The Case for Hiring Managers Sight Unseen.” The author, Sam Walker, researched methods used to hire managers. He was certain some form of interviewing would prove most effective but found none. He cited problems such as candidates hyping their accomplishments and hiding failures, interviews that don’t reveal much, and hot new hiring apps that don’t work. So, he gave up and could only suggest that reference calls be the basis of hiring managers. Well, you know that most companies prohibit managers from taking reference calls, so that’s a problem he didn’t learn about. And too bad he hadn’t discovered Topgrading. So today I wrote the following letter to the Wall Street Journal:

Dear Editors,

Sam Walker’s article, “The Case for Hiring Managers Sight Unseen” correctly identifies the many problems using interviews to hire managers. He cites a Gallup poll in which only 18% of candidates showed the ideal set of skills. Walker might find four things about Topgrading interesting:

  1. A Topgrading interviewing program at General Electric (Jack Welch years) helped GE become the most valuable company in the world, with the Topgrading Interview achieving over 80% A Players hired.
  2. Global 100 CHROs said only 20% of the people they hire turn out to be high performers (close to Walker’s 18% in the Gallup poll); the Topgraders in the room said they achieved 80% high performers hired.
  3. For the past three years, Forbes has listed my son’s company, ghSMART, to be among the top consultancies based on CEO ratings. ghSMART uses Topgrading interviewing methods to help CEOs hire almost all high performers.
  4. Finally, at TopgradingCaseStudies.com are dozens of named case studies, with the average improvement in hiring increasing from 26% to 85% HIGH performers hired; CEOs say the company is more successful because of their use of Topgrading methods, the most important of which is the Topgrading Interview.

Walker suggests that reference checks be used to hire managers instead of interviews. Trouble is, almost all companies prohibit managers from taking reference calls, for fear of lawsuits. Topgrading solved that problem (and the problem of candidates not telling the whole truth) decades ago; hiring managers actually talk with the managers candidates have reported to, and there is no phone tag because candidates arrange the calls.

Walker’s conclusions are all wrong and I take the blame. When I met with CHROs of the world’s largest companies they blamed me for being invisible, for not spreading the word about Topgrading. So, we’re doing a bit more, like weekly blogs; but if you are a Topgrading advocate, how about letting your friends and associates know that there actually is a proven, highly effective hiring method?

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