In 1980 I got hired at Bank of America as a corporate recruiter. I was hired by Bert Mastrov who was Vice President of the employment function. Bert was and still is one of the top minds in the world on the subjects of recruiting and selection. The reason I took the job was for the opportunity to work for the best.
Bert’s an early riser and liked to get in the office early so he could get a lot of work done before the day disintegrated. Little did he know I was a morning person as well. He would come into the office early in the morning and there I’d be, sitting waiting for him.
I’d start picking his brain by asking hundreds of questions. I really wanted to learn from the best. After a while, Bert would just hand me a book off his shelf. He had this magnificent library on the subject of recruiting and selection. He’d say, “Here, Go read this book.”
Basically, he did that to get rid of me.
Little did he know, that I would be back the next morning: “I’ve read the book and I’ve got about 100 questions.” He’d patiently answer all my questions, pull another book off the shelf, and say, “Here, go read this.”
This went on for about six months until I thought I had drained him dry. Finally I went to him and said, “Bert, I’d like to get some formal training on the subject of interviewing.”
Even though I’d been recruiting for years at this point, I had never had any formal training in the subject. Bert set me up for some training workshops and seminars. I ended up going to three or four different training sessions covering recruiting and selection. When I was done, I came back to Bert and said, “Do you know what? I’d really like to teach this subject.”
Then he sent me off and had me certified in a couple of different programs as an instructor. All during this time, I was still holding down my job as a corporate recruiter. I was interviewing hundreds and hiring dozens and dozens of people every single month for the bank in their I.T. group.
Most days I had my day job recruiting I.T. folks for Bank of America. Occasionally, I would take a day and go teach my constituents – my teams – how to interview. I was running formal classes in the various programs that I had received my certification. This went on for two-and-a-half to three years but I continued to be really, really frustrated. The reason I was frustrated was I was teaching these programs and deep in my heart I just knew there was something missing. My managers were not using the principles I taught and they were not getting better at choosing people
You could say the problem was with the instructor, but I’d like to believe that wasn’t the case.
I started spending most of my free time – as a matter of fact, it took me almost a year – developing my own recruiting and interviewing process. I looked at everything that wasn’t working and searched for a better way. It is important to note that I started with a clean slate. This was not going to be a modification of an existing program. You see, if all of the programs were showing the same problems, the only answer was they must all be built on wrong assumptions. So I took my clean slate and my laboratory (my day job hiring people in the real world) and created my own process. I would develop a tool or a technique and then go try it. Interview a couple hundred people using a specific techniques and you realize real quick if it works.
The ones that worked, I kept; the ones that didn’t, I discarded. This went on for a year until I developed a soup-to-nuts system on how to recruit and choose top people.
Another problem I had noticed in all the other systems that I had tried was that the managers wouldn’t use it. I talked to dozens of them to try and find out why. Why wouldn’t they use it?
The most common reason was because they were really busy. Everybody was busy back then, just as people are busy today. All of a sudden their busy day got a new spike in pressure when they had to hire someone. When they get this new task added to the their plate, none of them sat down and start running through a system they may or may not have believed in? The truth of the matter was that these busy managers did use the material. Instead, they reverted back to whatever they were doing previously.
They weren’t using the material because it was too formalized, it didn’t make sense, and it was too hard. Besides, every selection system that I had studied to up to that point had one fundamental flaw. That flaw was that the system forced these managers into a position they weren’t qualified for. They had to “figure something out”. They had to get into somebody’s head, to find out what makes somebody tick, to read a person. Do you know what? Even though we’d like to believe we’re good at reading people, the truth of the matter is we’re not. That is an uncomfortable place for all of us to be.
So I decided to create the Selecting Winners System – this was back in 1984 – with the basic principle to never put my managers in a position they’re not qualified to be in. I don’t want them to have to figure anything out. I definitely don’t want them to have to read people. We’ll give them tools so they can choose great people without figuring anything out!”
The other major piece of feedback I got from talking to all the Managers was that they were looking to cut corners. They wanted a system that made their life easier not more difficult. That’s when I decided that at every step of the Selecting Winners process I would figure out how a manager was going to try and cut a corner. Then I developed a tool or process that let them cut the corner without losing any of the value of the program. I anticipated their moves (laziness) and found a way to get the job done without losing effectiveness. To believe that a busy Manager is going to fill out a bunch of forms and use a complex, un-intuitive process is just naive.
That’s how I differentiated Selecting Winners. We give busy managers the tools to cut corners without losing value. We show them how to recruit and hire in the least painful way. And finally, I created a program designed to never put a hiring manager in a position where they’re not qualified.
That’s the history of how the program was developed. Then I took the big leap. In 1984, I quit my corporate job (and guaranteed paycheck) and started marketing my new Selecting Winners program. I knew some people, who took a shot and let me train their management team. And lo and behold, it worked. From 1984 to 1990, it was just me. I was Selecting Winners. I was very careful to take time every year and incorporate new ideas and tools into the program.
In 1990 I started expanding, and have grown into what we have today, which is a truly global organization. We’ve had more than 100,000 people trained on the program in just about every industry you can think of. And, we have delivered Selecting Winners in 65 countries.
That’s where we came from. It was a very humble beginning. Our design philosophy was and continues to be at the heart of the success of Selecting Winners. It’s also what really separates us from every other program out there.
10 Things That Make Us Different
You certainly have other choices when you choose the system you want to use to for finding and choosing employees. Here are 10 reasons that we believe will help you make the decision:
Reason # 1 You don’t have to “figure out” anything. Most of the systems you run into will require you to “get into” the candidate’s head and figure them out. Your odds of successfully doing this are not great. It isn’t realistic to believe you are going to figure someone out in a short interview. Selecting Winners takes all of that guess work out of choosing people. We give you a system that makes figuring people out completely unnecessary. You will never be in a position to have to figure anything out.
Reason # 2 You don’t have to read people. Too often when hiring you are forced to try to read the candidate. And unfortunately, many of the popular hiring systems only enhance the notion that you should read people. They attempt to give you ways to get better at reading people instead of showing you that you should not even try. We don’t believe that you should have to read people to make a good hiring decision. You wouldn’t have to go through 8-10 years of specialized training to become a psychologist if reading people were so easy. At Selecting Winners we give you a model that eliminates the need for you to read people. We never put you in a position you are not qualified to be in.
Reason # 3 You use skills you already have. Reading people and figuring people out all require new skills. With Selecting Winners you will use skills you already have to gather the data necessary to make great hiring decisions.
Most of the feedback we get from Managers, who are struggling with interviewing, is that they can’t get a good read on the person. And they are worried that the candidate may be better at “playing the game” than they are. Instead of trying to get you to be something different, we take who you are and show you how to use a proven process. We tell everyone that there is no reason they can’t be a great interviewer.
Reason # 4 No more guessing if the person will succeed. At the end of the typical interview, you still need guess whether or not the person will be successful on your job. With Selecting Winners you will use the most powerful statistical predictor ever devised. You won’t wonder … you will KNOW that the person will be successful on your job. All the fear, uncertainty and doubt are removed from the decision because you have the data to back-up your decision.
Reason # 5 You never lose control of the interview. Have you ever wondered whether or not you are getting the information you need? Or, are you simply getting what the candidate wants to share with you? The best way to stay in control of the interview is to ask the right types of questions. To often, competing systems advise you to use questions that allow the candidate stray from the point. Just getting the person to talk is of no value if you aren’t getting good data. With Selecting Winners, you learn to use only the 6 types of questions guaranteed to get the exact information that helps you predict success.
Reason # 6 You won’t be lied to. Selecting Winners gives you a four-step process to guarantee you get the truth. You get real data when you ask the right questions in the right order. Here is an example; A competing system recommends you ask the candidate how they would solve the biggest problem facing your organization. Do you see how this immediately puts you into a position to have to interpret and figure out the answer? What reliable proof do you have that the person will actually do what they say? We don’t believe you should ever be in that position. You will get factual data that makes it simple to predict success when you ask effective questions.
Reason # 7 You will only ask effective questions. Every interview and selection system talks about questions. Almost all of them insist you use open-ended questions designed to get the person talking. Although this might seem to make sense on the surface, we know this is not effective. Of course you need to get the person talking. But, it is a waste of time if they are not giving you data that helps you predict success. “Give me an example of a problem you solved” is a classic example of a poor open-ended question. Here’s why. First, you put the candidate under the pressure of having to figure out an example. Second, you open the door for the candidate to give you the book answer (what they think you want to hear). Third, there is no statistical predictor that shows the person will actually do what they say. And finally, by asking the open-ended question you have lost control. The candidate decides where to go with the conversation.
With Selecting Winners, you will learn to use only effective, closed-ended questions (What was the most difficult problem you faced on the ABC project? How did you deal with that problem?). You will never again have to guess whether or not a question is good.
Reason # 8 You won’t fall victim to any of the classic hiring problems. There are any number of hiring problems. Unfortunately, most of them are systemic. This means they are built into the process and therefore you repeat them each and every time. Selecting Winners has researched every hiring problem and rather than look for a band aid to cover it up, we incorporated techniques into our system to eliminate the root cause. You can’t make systemic errors when you are using a proven process.
Reason # 9 You will never “get lost” in an interview. Too many systems have no logical approach to structuring an interview. You end up bouncing all over the person’s background. And worse, you are never quite sure where to go next. Selecting Winners has eliminated this problem by giving you a simple model that organizes the entire interview and selection process. You will never wonder what to ask next or how to keep the conversation on track.
Reason # 10 You don’t need a complex decision-making formula. Most of the systems you will consider use complex decision-making formulas involving weighted averages and sophisticated grading systems. Why would you want to complicate this process? We have never figured out how to explain the difference between a 7 and an 8 using a 10 point grading system. We at Selecting Winners believe the decision should be the easiest part of the process. You get a system that takes advantage of all our data gathering tools to make the decision simple, quick and most important, based on OBJECTIVE data. You will know exactly how to remove most of the subjectivity from the decision. The only reason you should ever hire someone is because you are absolutely convinced they will be successful on your job. And you should not have to agonize over that decision.