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Internet company AOL Inc. reported higher fourth-quarter net income compared with a year-ago period weighed down by hefty restructuring costs, but revenue fell sharply on weak advertising sales. The company sought to reassure investors that its turnaround is well on its way toward fruition and said it will start to see growth in the second half of the year. During a conference call with analysts, CEO Tim Armstrong fielded a question about AOL's employee base and how the company works to hire and keep talented workers.
QUESTION: "It feels to us like talking to employees and talking to people joining AOL, that the quality of employee that you can attract at AOL continues to improve and you're able to retain these people. Could you talk about metrics that you think about in terms of how you're upgrading the employee base?"
RESPONSE (Armstrong): "When I got here, there was no hiring process. People were getting hired without interviews, and again I think I mentioned this in one of the earlier calls, we put in a hiring process to review every single hire that comes into this company.
"We review what levels they come in at, what their skill sets are, etcetera, etcetera. I would say AOL's talent, ability to bring in talent, again, is very, very strong. And as a matter of fact, on a weekly basis, I would say we are as comparable to probably any other Internet company that's in our space in general, and again, the press loves to talk about talent coming and going from AOL. But we are a net importer of talent and I think we will remain a net importer of talent for the foreseeable future.
"And then just on the quality side of things, I would say we have definite quality standards for each of the positions. We have the positions specked out and we hold very steady to those and the whole management team sits through the hiring meetings, and we have big hairy debates about individuals who are coming into the company. But very happy with the hiring progress."