Ric Edelman, CEO of Edelman Financial Center, in Fairfax, Va., believes an all-inclusive hiring process helps create a close-knit atmosphere with very low turnover at his company, which had 1998 revenues of $11.6 million. No applicant wins a job in any of the financial planning and investment management company's six subsidiaries without facing grueling officewide scrutiny.

First, potential hires are screened by telephone. Then as many as 10 applicants per job opening are interviewed, usually by employees from the division that has the opening. Finally, the top two or three candidates return for final interviews with teams of two or three Edelman employees. The employees who conduct the interviews receive training in the legal issues that surround job interviews, Edelman notes. "We're very sensitive to those rules," he says.

If any team turns thumbs down, not even Edelman can veto the decision. He says the strategy both reduces turnover and yields "high-quality people, because employees hire in their own image."