Hire slow, act fast

Ed ChanFounder & Non-Executive Chairman, Chan & Naylor

When recruiting the right staff, I pay very little attention to degrees and certificates. I have seen candidates with MBAs and all the qualifications in the world, but lack common sense and simply could not do the job. On the other hand, I have people straight from high school that I have trained and they were brilliant. So qualifications simply get you to an interview.

I pay more attention to what candidates have done in the past and whether there was any trend line of increasing productivity, such as promotions and increased responsibilities over time.

I focus on this particularly when they have been in one place and are promoted. This is because leaving an employer for a better job elsewhere is not necessarily based on merit, but rather the ability to perform well during an interview.

When one gets promoted within the same job, working their way up the ladder through promotions, they do so through merit and producing results, and therefore being recognized.

It’s all about productivity.

And this productivity means different things based on the role being performed.

For a Grinder

What are Grinders?

Grinders are your production staff. They work well on their own, are good at taking instruction, and like to keep busy.


You can always teach someone skills, but it’s much harder to teach attitude. An example of good vs. bad attitude is a candidate talking about what they can do for the business, not what the business can do for them. Can you get along with them? You don’t have to like the person and be best mates with them. 

Being able to do the job and get results takes priority over ‘liking’ them.


Candidates claim they can do certain things to bulk up their resume, but the only way to validate their claims is by getting them to perform three of the tasks they say they can do.


Some people can do the task, but they may take three hours when it should have taken 30 minutes. Their productivity is low, which means they are very expensive. So, time them when asking them to do tasks to see how long they take to complete them.

I have used all sorts of psychometric testing in the past and they were 50% accurate. Using the above is 80% accurate for a Grinder.

For a Minder

What are Minders?

Minders suit the role of your firm’s senior production managers. They oversee technical staff, but can also play a communication role. 


Just like Grinders, take notice of their attitude. Do they behave like a team player? Or are they leaning more towards a ‘me first’ attitude?

People and communication skills

The best way to test someone’s people skills is by understanding if they have managed other people before. You can even ask some of the people they had managed in the past to see what kind of a manager they are.

They need to have excellent communication skills. Test both their written and spoken English. Ask them to explain technical questions in layman’s language so the clients can understand. 


Did their previous team achieve budgets and low turnover? Did staff productivity soar under their management? Look for references that indicate this trend of increasing results or promotions.

For a manager role, psychometric testing has a greater degree of success compared to production staff. But using the above is 70% accurate because it’s simply about managing others to get things done vs. getting things done themselves.

The first three months

Once you have your preferred candidate, you will know in the first three months if they are the right choice—what they do in those first three months is what they will do for the next 30 years.

The first three months tell a lot about a hire, but you need to pay particular attention in this period. Often, when you are unsure of your decision during those first three months and extend the probation period to six months, you’re just confirming what you knew in the first three months—they’re not the right fit.

So, it’s best to fire fast and hire slowly in this case.

It’s better to leave a seat empty than have a seat occupied by an incompetent staff member.
Ed Chan, Wize Mentoring

WizeRecruit Philosophy

The WizeRecruit Philosophy is ‘hire slow, act fast’, so once the process does start, we act fast to secure the best candidates. Good candidates don’t last long, the market hires them quickly, so we must screen fast before another firm hires them.

As a rule of thumb, the best candidates show the following attributes during the hiring process:

  • Co-operative

  • Responds quickly

  • Completes all details within forms

  • Technically skilled with technology

  • Shows attention to detail

  • Ask good questions

  • Shows they’re looking for a good employer

  • Organized

Every interaction with a candidate reveals their commitment and, most importantly, their attitude.

Attitude is the one thing you cannot change and is almost everything when building a team. Avoid the smartest people with the worst attitude!
Ed Chan, Wize Mentoring

Our Wize recruitment software automatically screens most of the candidates. Once they are in the software, we choose who to interview. With the candidates, we are primarily looking for a history of promotions within the one firm and two-plus years of service. We want to avoid the job hoppers as much as possible.

Hiring isn’t an exact science, but we can minimize the risk by using a methodical process. Remember, your staff are your greatest asset but could also be your greatest challenge.

To meet the greatest challenge, you require great leadership.

Ed Chan
Founder & Non-Executive Chairman, Chan & Naylor

Ed started Chan & Naylor from a small home office in Sydney and grew it into a National Financial Services Organisation that now works without him, with offices in most capital cities around Australia, servicing more than 10,000 clients.

In 2018 he co-founded WIZE Mentoring, a network for accountants who want to know how to successfully grow their firm and have it run without them.

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