How Hiring Strategy Ensured Culligan’s Success

Job candidates awaiting interview

In the six years that Scott Clawson has been CEO of Culligan Water, the world leader in residential, commercial, and industrial water treatment, the company’s sales tripled from $450 million to $1.4 Billion. One of the changes that Clawson brought to the company, and a main contributing factor to this enormous success, was a new hiring approach. It was a tried and true methodology that Clawson had used successfully at other companies.

Upon starting at Culligan, Clawson reviewed assessments of the company’s senior managers and found overall performance to be disappointing. He ended up replacing five out of eight executives. Each new executive hire proved to be a high performer who helped drive the company to success.

The Hiring Process

The approach that Clawson used to build his new high performing team was uniquely thorough. Rather than have the Culligan team interview several candidates a day using standard interview questions, a skilled consultant was hired to spend several hours with each candidate performing a chronological interview.

Chronological Interviews

The interview that Clawson’s consultant conducted with each top candidate lasts for several hours and walks the candidate through their entire career history – from their education years to their current position. This type of interview allows the hiring manager (or in this case, consultant) to spot patterns in the candidates’ behaviors that reflect what they will bring to the team and if they’ll be a good fit for the company.

Thorough chronological interviews also drastically reduce the chances of hiring the wrong person for the job, saving the company countless hours and dollars in the long run.

Training for Continued Success

After restructuring his top team, Clawson had managers throughout Culligan trained in this interview method to ensure future hires at every level of the company would be top performers who fit the culture.

Culligan reports that 85% of their new hires and promoted team members prove to be high performers. The company’s Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Gary Parkinson, states, “I don’t know many HR professionals who have achieved anything close to the percent high performers hired that we’ve achieved at Culligan.” And he’s right; typical hiring results – across all industries and company sizes – are only 25% high performers.

The hiring methodology Clawson used is called Topgrading, and you can learn more about it here.

In Clawson’s tenure so far, Culligan has made 33 acquisitions and achieved 30% annual growth. “Our only limiting factor to continue to achieve such growth and success,” says Clawson, “is people. With Topgrading, we have been able to hire, retain, and develop A Player talent.”

To learn more about the methods Culligan uses to hire and promote top talent, download our free eGuide, Topgrading 101.

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