Kage Spatz
Oct 8 · 8 min read
Fletcher Wimbush

As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Fletcher Wimbush.

As the CEO of The Hire Talent, a talent assessment software company and Wimbush & Associates, Inc., a talent search firm, Fletcher Wimbush has interviewed over 8,000 job applicants. In addition to talent assessment and executive search work, Fletcher co-authored a book with his late father, “Hiring Talent Team Players: a guide to getting it right” and created the “Power Interview Guide”. Fletcher has spoken and presented at several business events, conferences, and online platforms, including Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), local small business groups, Chambers of Commerce, Bright Talk, SHRM Conferences, and CollegeRecruiter.com.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Oh boy, I was pretty much born to do this work. My father was a management consultant and self-improvement junky. I was raised under constant assault of the best communication and business practices. Maybe unlike others who despise their parents’ careers, I kinda liked this stuff and it was all downhill from there!

Subsequently, I was the captain of every football team I played on, became the student body president in my senior year of high school, wrote papers on the subject as a high school final project, lead my fraternity, and held supervisory or management roles from the age of 18 through 33 prior to taking over this business.

Leadership is in my blood. I am not necessarily a great leader, it’s just what I do, constantly working to get better at it. I have learned so much over my lifetime as an aspiring leader. First and foremost, I subscribe to the idea that people are any organization’s greatest assets. I have committed my life and leadership career to finding, identifying, and growing A players within the organizations I serve.

Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career and what lesson you learned from that?

I have spent my life studying the best hiring and talent evaluation techniques to predict performance outcomes. People are interesting creatures, to say the least.

One interesting hiring adventure was while I was working for a large commercial dish machine company. I was hiring a sales guy and throughout the process, there were a lot of indications this guy was a bit off his rocker, but there were a ton of signs he had been a very strong sales performer. In fact, our sales assessment tests indicated all this to be the case. My boss at the time and I looked at all the facts and weighed the pros and cons and eventually, I decided to hire this guy.

True to our expectations he ended up being a handful, always some sort of drama or problem complaint or negotiation required with him. He also, as we expected, turned out to be a year 1 presidents club winner and all around top performer. A few years after that he quit the company and ended up on the local news for vandalizing a tattoo parlor over some dispute he had with the owner.

I think what made this so interesting is we pegged this guy as a crazy high producing sales guy and sure enough, he turned out to be that and more. Trust the process and the assessment. Ultimately stay away from crazy people cause you never know what kind of trouble they will get you into!

Are you working on any exciting new projects at your company? How is this helping people?

We are releasing several new assessments. One will compete with DISC style assessment allowing people to get to know themselves better, post-hire. We are also looking for ways to implement more candidate friendly assessment tools and hiring processes. We don’t want to shortcut the need for careful candidate assessment but we do want to offer the candidates a better experience and insights so that it is a win-win for everyone involved in the hiring process.

New automatic reference checking tools and candidate scorecard tools will also greatly enhance our clients to more accurately predict who will be their next Rockstar or their next tattoo vandal!

The work never ends for us.

Wonderful. Now let’s jump into the main focus of our series. Hiring can be very time consuming and difficult. Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill? Please share an example for each idea.

I have done over 8,000 interviews so this comes from a little bit of experience but here they are:

  1. If I had only 1 interview question it would be the reference questions. Can you get a reference from your past boss(es) and what would they say about you and your performance while working for them? Strong academic research shows that people who cannot produce positive references are statistically more likely to fail on the job. So why is this not the very first meaningful question you ask every candidate? Their response to this question tells me more about the candidate than any other question and within minutes of meeting them, not after hours. It is a major predictor and time saver.
  2. Applicant Tracking System. Maybe this is too obvious but using a good ATS and all its features is a huge time saver. Candidate experience is a big deal. Being able to personalize candidate communications and do it in bulk is huge for sifting through the masses to get to the ideal candidate.
  3. Pay better and offer a better work-life balance. Income growth among the lower and middle classes have been at historic lows for the last 13 years, we are just now seeing some wage inflation. The cost of living is through the roof nationwide. Pay your people better wages and offer more flexible working arrangements to attract the best talent fast. For example, our recruitment division started two searches for a Tax manager for two different companies. One offered work remote the other didn’t, we found multiple highly qualified candidates almost instantly for the remote job and struggled to find any decent candidates for the in office long hours position. The remote workforce got a Rockstar. The old fashioned employer got the best B- player the market had to offer at that time
  4. Longevity in roles is not dead. I’ll tell you this, all my friends are millennials and the ones who have been doing the same job their whole career with the same company for most of it are very wealthy successful people. Malcom Gladwell noted that it takes 10,000 hours to become excellent at something, in the working world that is about 5 years. Don’t hire people who haven’t made it more than 5 years in a company or role, they automatically are not likely to be an expert.
  5. Use assessments! Make sure to match the suite of assessment tools to each position and use them regularly. Statistically, assessments will improve your hiring outcomes by a little to a lot so you have nothing to lose, except better hiring outcomes if you don’t use them!

With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top 3 ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?

  1. Have a more interesting message. Most companies are offering the same boring old job, offer people somewhere they can enjoy spending 2000+ hours a year and the opportunity to grow, we all go mad being stagnant.
  2. Referrals are hands down the number one way to find the best talent fast. If your best friend reached out to you and said, “Hey, my company is hiring and it’s an amazing place to work,’’ you would be first in line to learn more about they’re offering. All the studies show hands down that referrals drastically improve the quality of hire and speed to fill roles!
  3. If the industry and talent are well defined, simply use data miners to create a comprehensive list of every single qualified person in the industry and role you are looking to fill. You will never know if you have done everything possible to attract the target talent if you don’t know how big the pool is. You might be surprised by what you find out!

What are the 3 most effective strategies you use to retain employees?

  1. Training, training, and training. Nobody likes being stagnant in their jobs.
  2. Offer flexible working environments. People need work-life balance in this modern age so make it easier for them to take care of their family and personal needs without hassles.
  3. Meet with employees often to provide performance feedback and to receive feedback from them.

In your experience, is it important for HR to keep up with the latest trends? What are some examples of what this looks like?

Sure, of course it is. There are lots of SHRM groups and great websites like ERE.net that offer continuous learning. If you are not striving to get better at what you do every day, the fire will die out.

Can you give an example of a creative way to increase the value provided to employees without breaking the bank?

Simple work-life balance is so easy to offer. Give people the chance to take off when they need to and let them take care of their responsibilities as needed. Great people always get the job done and the bad ones will shake loose real fast.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Sure, pay people more. Look, the more workers earn, the better off the economy will be, the better off the business will be. Also, when people are not living paycheck to paycheck they have more time to do good for others and the planet. It’s a win win deal paying people more.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Your greatest expectations are your greatest disappointments” When you expect a little you will be pleasantly surprised on how much you will actually get!

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?

Bill Gates. That guy is amazing. I saw his Netflix special the other day and his tenacity to learn everything he can about the problems he is trying to solve and his commitment to trying to solve some of the world’s biggest, most challenging problems is amazing. He leaves no stone unturned and how he never half-asses anything is admirable.

Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!

About the Author: Kage Spatz went from inner-city Teacher to Forbes-featured 3x Entrepreneur — most notably Spacetwin & Milburn Shaw. Kage provides win-win-win solutions across many industries. His latest project is connecting employees (and their families) to additional HR benefits at zero cost to them or their company. Connect with Kage on Linkedin to strengthen your network anytime.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Kage Spatz

Written by

Forbes ft. CEO & Strategist for Good @KageSpatz. Increase the value of your network by connecting with Kage on your favorite channel anytime (via Kage.pro).

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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