Harvard Business Review USA - April 2014 by Harvard Business Review

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More and more executives sacrifice the long-term prospects of their companies in order to meet the short-term expectations of the financial markets. I think the delay in seeing Jensen’s future come to pass stems from a structural paradox embedded in the LBO model that he thought might replace the public corporation. LBO firms have traditionally obtained capital from limited partners on the promise of a return within five to seven years—and to provide that, they need to take their privatized acquisitions public again.

Is it my fault? Is it something I did as a manager? How did we miss the less-than-positive signs? Managers at other companies appeared not to care, assuming that it was normal for a third of new hires to wash out. But it seemed so inefficient. As we considered the situation, it became clear that we were being influenced by aspects of an interview—such as someone’s manner of speaking or behavior in a restaurant—that have no bearing on how a candidate will actually perform. Some people are amazing interviewees and charm everyone they talk to.

But Automattic is profitable and fast-growing. With an applicant-screening process that gives candidates genuine job responsibilities and relationships, we can hire smarter, retain strong employees longer, and reduce terminations and turnover. The key? Tryouts. PHOTOGRAPHY: LIZ CARUANA THE IDEA In its early years, Automattic relied on traditional résumé screening and interviews to do its hiring. But over time Mullenweg came to focus on tryouts, in which final candidates are paid to spend several weeks working on a project.

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