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Chris Adams

All that is involved in hiring, training, and leading a team sometimes wonder why a particular person may not fit in a role or be able to perform beyond a certain capability. Instead of being frustrated by this, read Hiring Talent by Tom Foster. Success depends on hiring candidates and promoting existing team members that will blossom in your organization. Tom Foster takes the levels of work research by Elliot Jaques and applies an interview process.

The book Hiring Talent starts at the interview process and offers guidelines on how the process should be conducted. Foster’s book, besides providing the tools necessary for the hiring and selection process, talks about time span and levels of work. This is the most interesting take away for me in this book. All roles in an organization have a level of decision making. If a decision is not clear based on the situation, a level of problem-solving is needed. This thinking not only applies to fresh talent but of what we are asking of our team.

Timespan thinking helps in two ways. The first is in hiring and the second is in promoting. Although the book relies heavily on the interview process, the idea of “time span” thinking resonates throughout all levels of an organization. As you make your way through the book you will see why some new hires or team members struggle.

There Are Five Levels of Work:
  • Level 5: 5-10 years
  • Level 4: 2-5 years
  • Level 3: 1-2 years
  • Level 2: 3-12 months
  • Level 1: 1 day-3 month

Are new hires or team members failing because the right questions were not asked in the interview process or are a team member not able to think beyond a particular scope? When one thinks in terms of time span and team members it becomes clear that some levels of work require different scopes of thinking. For instance, a leader or manager is strategizing beyond a particular job (level 2 or 3), a tradesperson is focusing on the job in front of them (level 1) and an owner or CEO is thinking about where the business is going (level4 or 5). Another topic the book shares is the interview process. When interviewing a candidate ask a specific behavioral related question related to experience. Too often we ask a question starting with “how would you?”. This gives the candidate carte blanche to make up any answer.

We need to ask those questions starting with “how did you?”, “tell me about a time”, “explain to me how often you met with your leadership, or they met with you”. These types of situational questions elicit responses that give insight on the candidate’s ability to share real answers and gives insights on the supervisory needs or time span responsibilities a candidate had in their particular role.

Do not be frustrated by the performance of an existing team member, reflect on what level of work you are requiring of them and lead and train from there. As you bring on new staff, for a particular role, identify the role and responsibilities and frame your interview process to see where that candidates ‘time span” lands. Hiring Talent gives you the tools and insight to prepare your team for the future.

All the best,


Hiring Talent- Tom Foster- Foster Learning, 2013

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