Better Hiring With The Eight-Point Success Matrix

By Barry Deutsch

Why do 56% of all executive hires fail in their first year to eighteen months?

Because most companies don’t hire according to a documented process. They use outdated techniques and depend too much on luck when trying to find and hire successful candidates.

Typical hiring evaluations go something like this:

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Bob and Sue meet in the hallway after the interview with Charlie. Bob turns to Sue and says, “So, what did you think of Charlie?”

The hallway conversation of the evaluation of Charlie will most likely be filled with ambiguity, superficial statements, and silly platitudes.

The comments will take the form of “seems like a nice guy, appears to be bright, showed a lot of enthusiasm, asked some good questions, impressed that he showed up on time.”

That is worthless feedback. These are not the insightful, rigorous, probing assessments to determine if the candidate can do the job.

My firm’s trademarked Eight-Point Success Matrix overcomes the traditional method of water cooler comparisons and forces a fierce conversation around whether the candidate can deliver the desired results and do it with a set of behaviors and style consistent with your values and culture.

To eliminate interviewers’ ingrained tendency to focus on superficial criteria and miss substantive evidence, we developed a structured tool to help each interviewer evaluate each candidate objectively, fairly, and comprehensively.

The matrix is the tool we have our clients use to rate fit based on the examples, illustrations, specifics, results, accomplishments, and patterns of behavior that emerge in candidate interviews.

It is quick to use, easy to understand, and focused on the job itself. Perhaps most importantly, it calibrates interviewer ratings, keeping everyone on the same page. Built around the five key predictors of success in our trademarked Success Factor Methodology, the Eight-Point Success Matrix forces interviewers to ask the right questions and probe until they have enough information to complete the form.

What Goes Into The Matrix

Candidates are rated on these eight dimensions.

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1. Work history and education
2. High initiative and self-motivation
3. Flawless execution
4. Leadership of teams
5. Similar success
6. Adaptability
7. Personality and style
8. Culture and team fit

Candidates are rated on a scale of 0 to 3.
0 = Less than required.
1 = Meets requirements.
2 = Exceeds requirements.
3 = Greatly exceeds requirements.

Free Copy Of Eight-Point Success Matrix
For a free sample Eight-Point Success Matrix, please email with the subject line Success Matrix.

Accountability To The Interviewing Group Is Vital

When interviewers know they will have to justify the ratings assigned to each candidate to the entire group of interviewers, the whole process is taken more seriously.

Because each member of the interviewing team fills out an Eight-Point Success Matrix form after each interview, by the end of a long interview cycle a candidate’s file may contain 20 or more. The full file allows the person with final hiring power to evaluate a full spectrum of evaluation on all success factors. Skimming the right column helps the hiring executive to rapidly compare the same candidate interview-to-interview, and also to evaluate candidates’ qualifications against each other, on equal footing.

Warning About Use Of The Form

The most important consideration in using the matrix is this: do not, under any circumstances, put off completing the form after each interview. Human memory fades rapidly four to six hours after an event. Once details are gone from short-term memory, they are lost forever.

You absolutely must ensure that your hiring process does not fall victim to procrastination and memory loss (“Er, gee, I think this was the guy with the orange tie who used to work at Enron, yeah? Or was that Exxon? Shoot, I don’t remember.”).

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The hiring team leader must make sure each interviewer sits down immediately after the interview (or by that same day’s end, at the latest) to complete the sections for which they have gathered enough information.

It is almost certain that no interviewer will be able to fill out an entire matrix after just one interview. That’s fine—they should leave blank any sections that require more information, and make notes regarding what questions to ask in the next interview in the comments area.

We highly recommend that somebody on the interviewing team—preferably the hiring manager him- or herself—be charged with distributing and collecting the Eight-Point Success Matrix forms before and after each round of interviews. When people know they’ll be held accountable at the end of the day, they won’t put off what needs to be done.

While there are few rules about using the matrix, there are several tips to keep in mind:

• The form should be explained and discussed fully among the team before interviews.
• Each interviewer should understand the difference between a score of zero, 1, 2, and 3.
• Each interviewer should understand what each of the factors is intended to measure.

A candidate who rates zeros in any category is probably not the best choice for the job.

The sweet spot on the Eight-Point Success Matrix form is a ranking of 2. Not too hot or too cold—just right. Depending on the job, it is possible that a candidate with one or two ratings of 1 might still be up to the job.

Define Success By SOARing

The SOAR method is an alternative to the traditional method of writing up a job description. A job description doesn’t predict or manage performance. Most job descriptions are designed to define minimum education requirements, minimum skills and knowledge, vague behaviors and attitudes, (for example, “Gets along well with others”).

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The SOAR method, however, is designed to define success. SOAR is an acronym which means:

S—Situation. Describe the situation or problem. What aren’t you getting what you need?
O—Obstacles. Describe the main obstacles your new employee will encounter as they try to deliver the results you want.
A—Action. What action needs to be taken to solve the problem? Each action step should map back to each obstacle.
R—Results. What are the measurable/quantifiable results required? Tell the candidate specifically the result you’re looking for and show how each action step contributes to that result.

Share the key success factors by stating specifically how you want the candidate to contribute. “You’ll help us launch two new products this year,” or “You’ll help us reduce costs by 50%.”

Clearly, this looks very different than your typical job description. Both you and the candidate know exactly what results are required from the position and what actions must be taken to achieve them. More important, because those results are closely aligned with the company’s most important objectives, achieving them means that everybody wins.

Testing Is Also Valuable

Using an in-depth work style and personality assessment is a valuable adjunct to the Eight-Point Success Matrix, which will uncover useful information about personality traits, potential for high achievement, and other factors that might not be immediately evident in an interview situation.  Note: please use an assessment that has a minimum of 164 questions.  Otherwise, you will have an incomplete picture of the candidate or staff member.

However, there are several cautions about assessment instruments.

Be wary of free online tests. Unless they come from a highly regarded institution, they may not be valid and reliable.

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The instrument must be administered and interpreted professionally. An in-depth work style and personality assessment is difficult to interpret for a nonprofessional. HR professionals are generally not qualified to administer psychological or behavioral tests.

Some companies choose to administer an in-depth work style and personality assessment for pre-hire and others after the job is offered and accepted.  If a potential personality or communication mismatch is discovered, then all parties can be briefed ahead of time so needless conflicts can be avoided.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2023

Barry Deutsch is a principal with Impact Hiring Solutions. His phone number is 310-378-4751 and his email is . He is co-author of the book You’re Not The Person I Hired!

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLCTesting Division provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, skills testing, domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication.  Business Consulting for Higher Productivity Division provides stress & time management workshops, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills, leadership training, market research, staff planning, operations, ERP/MRP selection and implementation, refining a remote work force, M&A including due diligence – success planning – value creation and much more.

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