Category Archives: recruitment

….hey…you all that are hiring…lisssen up!

Three times this week, I had three hiring managers literally yell at me because they were pissed. The candidate they thought they were going to hire from us took other jobs. And I’m just one guy of 20 recruiters. Five of my other associates claimed the same thing. The hiring authorities were actually mad at us because the candidates decided to take other positions.

One of these outfits literally interviews the candidate over a four-week period of time putting her through a “gauntlet” of all kinds of hoops like having her make a presentation to a group of people in their company (in spite of the fact that she had literally a 20 year track record of outstanding experience with all kinds of awards and promotions. And they want to see how she presents? ErrrVey!). “Well, we have to do that with all of our candidates!”, the VP told me. While they were evaluating her presentation skills, one of our other clients interviewed her three times and hired her in a matter of two days. The first client was mad as hell.

We got another one of our candidates’ three offers and he took the one he thought was best for him. One of the clients we presented him to was furious when the candidate took one of the other offers. He literally told us that he thought we should have presented the candidate to him and waited until he made a decision about the candidate before we presented the candidate to anyone else. He was serious.

I understand back during the recession when folks weren’t hiring very many people and hiring organizations really had nothing else to do but to come up with some kinds of cockamamie processes and procedures to make sure that they “don’t make a mistake” in hiring. The blunt truth is that all of those procedures really don’t keep a company from making a mistake in hiring. I’ve seen just as many hiring “mistakes” made with very short one or two interview processes as I have with ones that carry-on for three or four weeks and involve a whole bunch of people. The number of people involved in the interviewing process does not protect anyone from making a mistake in hiring.

The market is hot! We’re having a harder time finding good quality candidates and we have to assume that every time we get a candidate an offer here she is going to get two or three others. I know our clients think that when we tell them they need to move the hiring process along as fast as they can, that what we say is just “recruiter pressure” and “recruiter speak” just so we can get them to decide on hiring our candidate. It wouldn’t surprise me if all of those clients that my associates and I had been upset with thought the same thing… “pushy recruiters. All they want to do is get someone hired. Well, they won’t push me around. We will hire on our own sweet time, because we have a p-r-o-c-e-s-e-s-s…And our process is very important.”

For your own good, if you are looking for quality candidates, everyone else is also. Please, do yourself a favor and make your hiring process short, efficient, and mindful. Please don’t yell at us when the candidate you want to hire takes another job. We’re trying to w

…the ‘other side of the crazy coin’

Last week I wrote about some of the crazy instances of what people do from both the candidate as well as the hiring authority situations. There are lots of folks that also do it right:

  • The candidate who presented a 30 – 60 – 90 day plan of what he would do in the first three months of the job if he got it.
  • The candidate that had called the competitors, dealers and customers of the company he was interviewing with. He also called previous employees as well as some present employees.  He had taken excellent notes and offered a “report” to the hiring authority. (The hiring authority said it was so well done that he sent it two levels up in his company.)
  • The candidate who sold his features, advantages and benefits so clearly that the hiring authority said it was the best presentation that he had ever seen.
  • The candidate who ended the interview by asking the employer, “Have I made it clear about my experience and abilities… Do you have any questions that I might need to clarify? How do I stack up with the other candidates you’ve interviewed?…and ..What do I need to do to get the job?” (he got hired!)
  • The candidate who was persistent enough with the hiring authority that, even though he was told that he came in third in the initial interviewing process, kept calling the hiring authority, sending him emails as to why he was the best candidate they could hire. The hiring authority got tired of the first two candidates putting him off and not being enthusiastic about the job, picked up the phone and simply hired the candidate who wanted it most.

And a few hiring authorities who also do it right:

  • The hiring authority who interviewed for candidates on Monday, had two candidates back on Wednesday to go through a number of interviews in the company and hired one on Friday.
  • The hiring company whose managers who did the interviewing (all four of them) asked the same questions of all of the candidates (all four of them) making it very easy for all of them to compare the quality of the candidates and have a clear system of hiring and everyone knew.
  • The vice president who called every candidate back, exactly as she said she would. She gave them excellent feedback on how they interviewed and, for the ones she was not going to pursue, let them down gracefully. She kept the door open for two of the candidates on down the line.
  • The hiring authority who admitted that he wasn’t exactly sure what he was looking for and admitted it. He simply asked us to send him the five best candidates we had and he will interview them, relying on our judgment, since we see so many candidates and have a better comparison than most any hiring authority.

People might be crazy, but sometimes they overcome their own craziness and manage their business competently.

….the “team interview”…(for the employer)…”if you were an animal, what would you be

“Well, Tony, we’d like to have your candidate in for the ‘team interview.’ We always have the ‘team’ interview the candidate we think we’d like to hire to make sure that everybody will get along.”… kumbaya!

Unequivocally and indubitably, this is the biggest crock of crap that I hear as a recruiter. What this really says is, “I really don’t have the guts or the courage to make a decision on my own, by myself, as an intelligent, wise businessperson or leader. I need to rely on the opinions of other people to help make a decision that I ought to be making by myself.”

Now the truth is, I really never hear this above statement. What I hear is, “Well, we like the group to help out here, because, you know, they all have to get along, you know, they all have to be together, you know, so, we think it’s a good idea that the ‘team’ get a chance to decide whether or not they like them and whether or not they can live with them.” It’s the most exorbitant form of passing the buck that there is in business. It provides a hiring authority the chance to spread the decision around the company so that if the decision to hire someone doesn’t work out, the hiring authority can always claim that the ‘team’ helped make the decision and they were just as poor at the decision as I was.”

Now, don’t let me be taken totally out of context. It is not a bad idea to have one or more people in the company interview a candidate. I’ve always recommended, however, that it should never be more than three people (including the hiring authority) and those people should only be folks whose livelihood depends on the performance of the person being hired. But I do not recommend a group.

The major problem with the group interview setting is that all of the people in the group are just as concerned about being “impressive” with the peers in the group as they are in trying to qualify the candidate. The interview becomes political. People are more concerned about how they appear to each other than they are about the qualifications of the candidate. This puts a candidate in even more of an awkward position. There are two levels of conversations going on.

The group interview becomes a “popularity” contest rather than its purpose of qualifying a candidate’s ability to do a job. If you’d like to find out what all of the people or any of the people in your organization might think of the candidate (which is again, kind of silly unless their livelihood depends on this person) set up one-on-one meetings with the candidate and all of the individuals you wish them to speak with. It’s really simple.

Twice last week our organization referred two excellent candidates to two clients with very hard-to-fill opportunities. One of these organizations has been trying to find the right person for almost four months. The hiring manager in the “four months old” situation was absolutely thrilled with the candidate. He told us that his search was over and he was absolutely thrilled with the candidate we had referred to him. But, he explained that he had to follow company protocol and have the candidate interview with “the team.” The team couldn’t convene for a one-week period of time. When “the team” finally got together to meet the candidate, one of the members’ cell phones went off three times during the interview and one of the team members had to leave the meeting with the candidate early. The feedback to the hiring authority was that “the team” just wasn’t quite sure of the candidate. As of Friday, the hiring authority was so frustrated he couldn’t see straight.

The second situation involved a candidate who is a 20 year veteran of her profession. Again, the hiring manager was absolutely thrilled with her, but “the team” had to meet with her. “The team” consisted of two relatively senior people and one millennial. According to the candidate, the interview went reasonably well until the millennial, addressing a 20 year veteran, asked her, “If you were an animal, what would you be?” The candidate was so surprised, she started to laugh and said she just didn’t know what to say. After a long pause, she said she just couldn’t think of anything. Needless to say, our candidate didn’t pass the test with “the team.” The hiring manager just didn’t know what to do, so he did nothing at all.

These thoughts probably won’t make any difference with organizations that think “the team” interview is really important. I’ve been doing this since 1973 and I’m absolutely certain that the relegation of a hiring decision to “a team” does not make a better hire.

….Hiring the “overqualified candidate”

If I don’t hear this daily, I hear it at least three times a week, “We don’t want to hire anybody overqualified, because they leave us when they first get the chance.” Being overqualified, admittedly, is a relative term. It probably isn’t wise to hire an experienced controller who has been making $150,000 for an entry-level accounting job at $55,000. Nor, is it probably a good idea to hire a sales person in a job where they are capped at earning $100,000 when they have earned $250,000 pretty consistently.

But a very strong case needs to be made for considering candidates who have been one, or maybe even two levels above the position an employer might be searching for. There are a number of good reasons for this.

First of all, the job does not “make” the person. The person actually makes the job. It is amazing what quality people can do to make an average job phenomenally creative and bring more value to the company than anyone might have imagined. Because of just the kind of person they are, they make the job better than it was before. Their value becomes greater because the job could become greater. So, secret here is to look at the possibilities of what the job could be rather than what it always has been. My guess is that at least 60% of the jobs out there could be expanded on and enhanced by hiring a person with the right attitude and ability.

Secondly, and I wrote about this a couple weeks ago, if people are relatively happy with what they’re doing and who they are doing it for and who they are doing it with, they don’t simply look for another job on a whim. If people are 70% pleased with what they’re doing and feel they are fairly compensated for what they do (… I didn’t say “overly” compensated, but “fairly” compensated) they don’t go looking for a job even if a recruiter, like myself, calls them.

This attitude of being “pleased” probably has more to do with the environment, the people they are working with and for and most importantly, the feeling that they are growing as a person. This is a difficult aspect of a job to quantify. But again, if people really like what they are doing they aren’t going to “go look for a job” that easily. How do I know this? It’s like I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m a recruiter. I call people all of the time and my tagline is, “Are you having fun and making money?” Now, they may ask, “What did you have in mind?” But, no matter how phenomenal an opportunity that I am representing is, unless they are pretty displeased with what’s going on with their job, they tell me they’re not interested. Why? Because looking for a job is a pain in the ass. Nobody really likes looking for a job. It is an emotionally stressful, time-consuming, risky endeavor. And unless a person is pretty damn unhappy with what they’re doing they don’t just “go looking for a job.”

Third, we, as hiring managers, have this fear inside of us that our new hire, especially if he or she appears to be “overqualified” is going to come into our office in six or seven weeks and say something like, “I’m resigning because an opportunity came along that is more commensurate with my experience and my ability and I owe it to my family and myself to accept the job.” And you, as a hiring authority, as well as your superiors are going to say something like, “Well, you dumb ass, you knew that he or she was overqualified for the job to begin with and that  they would keep looking and eventually find a better job, commensurate with their previous skills and money.” You then spend the next few days kicking yourself, and you keep telling yourself, “I’ll never over hire again!”

The vast majority of times, however, the candidate isn’t leaving because they really found a job “more commensurate with their skills and ability.” They are leaving because they either don’t like you, don’t like the people they’re working with, don’t like what they are doing, or all of the above. They just don’t want to tell you that. They want to get out of where they are as fast as possible, as well as, as gracefully as possible. So, they tell you how wonderful you are, how wonderful the company is, how much they appreciate the opportunity, etc. but, “Gee whiz, this is such a great opportunity that I’m leaving for, I can’t pass it up.” They don’t have the guts to say, “You suck, the people here suck, this job sucks and his company sucks…so, I’m outta here.” They just want out as fast and as easily as possible.

For most professionals, the intrinsic value of their job overrides most everything else. Provided the compensation is reasonable, people want to feel like they are growing personally in what they do. If they genuinely like what they do and they feel like they are becoming a better person in the process of doing it, i.e. challenged and satisfied with the challenge, as well as liking the people they work with and for, they don’t look for a job just because some recruiter like me calls them.

The bottom line to all of this is that if you have the kind of job where a person can grow, if the working environment is good and if the people are great, hiring a candidate who is “overqualified” may be one of the best things you can do.

…getting “Yogi’ed”

For those of you that are not local or Dallas Mavericks basketball fans, the recent development is that Yogi Ferrell, who signed a 10 day contract with the Mavs in January 2017, not only got to stick around but was named NBA all rookie second team after that season. He averaged 10.2 points, three rebounds and 2.5 assists a game and was the only Maverick to play all 82 games last season. The reason he made the news this last week was that after signing a two-year, $5.3 million contract with the Mavs, he suddenly changed his mind and agreed to a two-year deal with Sacramento for $6.2 million. In other words, Yogi, after accepting a job and agreeing to a start date, etc. reneged and took another job. The Mavs got “Yogi’ed.”

How often does this happen? A lot! Very few people really want to talk about it. Job candidates who do this kind of thing justify it for all kinds of reasons… Yogi’s was $900,000 more money. I’m sure that just about everyone would agree that this is a real significant reason, especially considering the “shelf life” of a professional athlete. When most people do this kind of thing, however, the reasons are nowhere near as great. However, they do justify them to as great an extent.

If you’re an employer that this kind of thing has happened to either last week or 10 years ago, you remember it. It is an indelible memory. You hired a candidate, made a big announcement about it, told everyone in the world, proudly bragged about your excellent business decision and then had egg all over your face when your new hire (… the second coming of Willie Mays who is going to revolutionize your company) “Yogi’ed” you by taking another job. You and your company are embarrassed and downright pissed off.

The same kind of thing can happen even after your new employee shows up, works for three or four weeks or even a month or two and then comes in to your office and announces that he or she got an offer from a company they had been interviewing with before they came to work for you and they are going to leave. They will give you all kinds of rational reasons as to why they did this…even things like, “I got a $50,000 raise in salary,” (which is always a lie). No matter how devastated you are, they don’t care and are leaving anyhow.

It does absolutely no good to curse the fact that this kind of thing happens or is going to happen. If it hasn’t happened to you, you either haven’t hired very many people or it’s going to. So, here are some of the things you can do to minimize the damage.

First, whenever you hire someone, give yourself a percentage probability that your new “hero” will renege at the last moment. In other words, not only should you be prepared for it, but you should try to figure what probability there is of it happening. You certainly would be more confident at a 10% probability then you would be a 50% probability. What is the “Yogi probability?”

Secondly, make sure you ask a candidate when you hire them what other kinds of opportunities they are considering and how those opportunities stack up with yours and, especially, why they chose your opportunity over the others. If the candidate says something like, “Well I haven’t heard from one of the opportunities that I was really hoping for,” or “The other guys I was talking with were just plain too slow,” or anything of this nature give a higher percentage of being “Yogi’ed” than if you hear, “This is the only offer that I’m seriously considering and you are the best opportunity available,” or “I love the opportunity with you better than anyone else I have spoken with and I see a great future there.”

Third, be prepared for this kind of thing and don’t stop interviewing for the job until you have two, or ideally, three solid candidates that you could consider if you get “Yogi’ed.” There’s no harm in telling a candidate that they came in second and that if something should happen to the first candidate that you’d like to hire, you will call them. About 30% of the job offers made are turned down anyhow. ALWAYS HAVE BACKUP!!!

Fourth, set a start date for as soon as possible. Even though a candidate will mentally, emotionally and physically “stop” looking for a job, the longer he or she goes without starting your new job, the more possibility there is of someone who they’ve been interviewing with, that they might have dismissed as an opportunity, will call them  and offer them a job. Most candidates…at least 85% of the time will turn down any job offers once they have started a new job. (Unless of course there is something like a $900,000 difference in salary!) Starting a new job is an emotionally difficult thing to do and most people don’t like doing it. Once they have begun to settle into a new job one of the last things they really want to do is to start another. They have already mentally and emotionally as well as physically made a commitment and really don’t want to go through it again.

Whatever the hiring authority does, they should not, in my opinion ask the potential employee or the new employee, “What can we do to get you to change your mind?” If a candidate is going to do this kind of thing before they even start a new job or after they’ve started a new job, they are going to feel like they have the upper hand in the relationship. That’s not good. This same psychological issue applies to having counteroffers accepted. When a candidate or recent employee has mentally and emotionally decided to do something else, whatever an employer can do to get them to either recommit our stick around, is temporary. The good feeling that earning more money provides wears off after a while and for whatever reasons the candidate or new employee got distracted from your job are still going to be there.

Being “Yogi’ed” is a fact of business life. Being prepared for it is high business acumen.

Although I’m sure the Mavs ain’t happy…most of us can understand a $900,000 ‘raise.’

 

…”we are a Christian company”

I don’t hear it every day, but I hear it often enough for me to say, “that’s great,” because we aspire and subscribe to the same principles. But I say to myself, as I express the fact that I’m glad to hear that, “we’ll see!” I have been a practicing Catholic all of my life…notice I say “practicing,” because I’m sure that I will never quite arrive, so to speak, in this world. All of us that espouse Christianity are trying to practice as best we can.

What was so interesting about this fellow’s comment…he was the CEO… was that he kept saying it as though he was trying to convince me as well as himself. I let it go without much of a response, thinking, again, “well, we will see how you all act.”

Over a period of four weeks, the VP of sales told us that he would interview our candidates on two separate days and changed the day, one time the night right before and the second time, the day of the interviews. (There were six interviews.) After finally getting together with the candidates, who were quite frustrated with having to rearrange their day twice, the VP of sales told every candidate that they were a great candidate, just exactly the kind the company wanted to hire and they would probably have them back within a day or two. I knew something was wrong when the third candidate called and said that he was told that he was an excellent candidate, exactly the kind the company wanted to hire and that they were going to bring him back in the next day or two, which is exactly what the two candidates before him had said. Of course, I’ve seen this kind of thing before and so it was no surprise when the sixth candidate called and reported exactly the same thing.

Okay, we will give the benefit of the doubt. The VP was just one of those kind of people who has hard time saying ‘no’ to anybody and wanted to make everybody feel good. Not the nicest way to do things, but understandabl. All of these candidates thought that they were going to be called back within a day or two, as they were told. We called and emailed the vice president who did the interviewing for five days and never heard a word from him about the candidates. Out of frustration for our candidates we nicely emailed the CEO explaining that the VP promised these candidates at least a response in a couple of days after the interviews. Three days later the VP sends an email stating that he wanted to have two of the candidates back to meet the VP of Marketing.

In spite of our calls and our emails asking him feedback on the other candidates, we finally come to the conclusion…the obvious conclusion…that he wasn’t interested in four of them. We passed along to our candidates who were eliminated that they obviously did not make the cut. Unfortunately, we were not able to tell them why they were not being considered. It was as frustrating for us as it was for them.

The candidates that were supposed to go speak with the VP of Marketing smartly called the VP of sales to get his ideas about what the VP of Marketing would be most interested in seeing or hearing from them. Not surprisingly, they didn’t get a phone call back. One of them wrote a very nice email and, again, not surprisingly didn’t get a response. The interviews with the VP of Marketing were arranged by the CEO’s administrator and it was all done via email. Obviously, not a lot of love being shown here

.The two candidates who interviewed with the VP of Marketing were told the same thing that they had been told by the VP of sales, that they were “absolutely perfect” and the company should be getting back to us and to them within a day or two. She couldn’t be more convincing of each candidate that they were perfect. She even gushed to each of them how wonderful they were. We called the VP of Marketig, the VP of sales, the CEO, and the CEOs admin for a solid week. We heard absolutely nothing. On the Monday of the second week, one of the candidates got a call from the CEO’s admin, informing her that the CEO would like to have her in for one last interview before they hired her. The admin followed up with an email that she also sent to us and it said that the company wanted to hire the lady. The candidate was understandably guarded, but needed the job.

The CEO spends two hours with the candidate and tells her that they’re going to hire her. They discuss everything… duties, benefits, start date, money…etc.  The candidate thinks she’s been hired. Then, you can guess what happened…nothing. Neither she nor we heard anything from the company the next day, a day after, the day after or the day after that. The candidate called the CEO twice. She even called the admin once and got no return call. Responses to her emails were not returned either. She even texted the CEO….nothing!

One week after she had been told she was going to be hired we getting email from the admin…not either of the VPs….not the CEO…that they were not going to hire our candidate. We tried to get a response from the VPs, the CEO and even the admin and nobody called us back.

The last candidate, who thought she was going to be hired, found a connection on LinkedIn who had worked for this firm. She tracked down the contact and found out that the company runs just about the same way that all of our candidates had been treated. Her contact holder that despite their espousal to “being a Christian company,” it couldn’t be further from the truth based on how they treated people. It was a big joke in the company. It was probably a good thing that we didn’t place anybody there.

Now I realize that we are all sinners, trying to aspire to a higher level. I assume that there are lots of candidates out there who preconceived or assumed we were going to find them a job when we couldn’t. I realize that sometimes, even our actions can be misconstrued as not caring. But you don’t stay in this business we are in since 1952 if you don’t genuinely concern yourself about people. We may not be able to help everybody but we certainly try to be as compassionate as we possibly can be. We know the golden rule and we strive for it.

I will have to admit though, that this company was just downright rude. Even if they would’ve hired someone from us I can’t see how they were being “Christian.” Their actions spoke so loudly about who they were and what they were, we could never really hear what they said.

So, when someone says “I’m a Christian,” or says “we’re a Christian company,” watch out for what they say. Judge them by their actions. Pray for them either way.

“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” – C.S. Lewis

“Treat others the way you wish to be treated.”

….hey, hiring managers…there’s a new set of rules

The amount of time that good candidates are on the
market is shorter than it has ever been.

The number of good candidates that are on the
market is fewer than it has been in ten years.

The money you paid two years ago or even one year ago
won’t get you the kind of candidate you really want.

Candidates are not as prone to “fill out your online application”as they used to be.

Candidates won’t talk to your 22 year old corporate recruiter
whose job it is to screen them.

Candidates are not going to go to your “tracking portal” to
apply for your job.

Candidates don’t want to talk to anyone but YOU . . . the
hiring authority . . . WHY? . . . Because the people who are also
trying to hire this candidate are also having their managers
talk with them directly.

The candidate you prefer is likely being considered by at
least three other organizations . . . he or she has many choices.
If you tell a candidate that you’re going to get back to them
by a certain time, you had best do it . . . a year or so ago good
candidates had to “live” with being treated poorly . . . they
don’t have to put up with that any more . . . they have too many
choices. Your competition is “courting” them heavily.

A “lowball “offer is likely to be rejected.

“Meeting the team . . . just so you can get a feel for our company.”
The REAL TRUTH is: “So they can possibly eliminate
you as competition.” This request will be ignored or outright
refused by many candidates . . . The majority of the time they
are employed and are getting so many “REAL” interviews, they
don’t need or take the time for team meetings.

Candidates are more likely to receive counteroffers than
they ever have in the past.

Candidates may not have an updated resume . . . in this
market, they may not need one . . . please don’t recite the mantra
of “Well if they’re serious about looking for a job they’ll
have a new resume” . . . their “seriousness” simply depends on
whether your opportunity allows them to better themselves.

Assume that if you’re going to make a candidate an offer, so
will two other organizations.

Candidates won’t tolerate the “nine person interviewing process
that we have to use in order to be careful and hire the right
person” . . . they don’t have to put up with this anymore . . . Your
competition is interviewing them no more than three times and
making them an offer . . . and doing it quickly!

Candidates don’t have to consider “temp-to-perm” types of
opportunities . . . there are too many companies that are willing
to hire them permanently from the get-go. While you’re
trying to be “careful” by hiring them “temp-to-perm,” your
competitor is making a perceived long term commitment, with
benefits that start immediately, etc.

SELL YOUR JOB . . . Give candidates real good reasons
why they ought to be going to work for you . . . The idea that
“anyone would be lucky to work here” just doesn’t fly anymore.

Treat every candidate as though they were being ‘recruited’
. . . happy with their job . . . with a number of suitors and
choices.

Your interviewing cycle needs to be short . . . anything
beyond ten working days is a risk . . . your competition is moving
faster than that.

Respectfully explain to your H.R. recruiting department
that you need to streamline the usual hiring process. Their
well-intentioned, protective compliance activities may be
costing you top candidates. The HR Dept. may not understand
how hard it is to find these folks, because they don’t have sales
quotas to meet. No one in their department sees you doing the
work of two people while you are trying to fill a vacancy . . .
they’re trying their best to follow procedures but it often costs
you candidates.
.

. . Also, talk to the candidate directly. If candidates have
to go through your H.R. department/recruiter/admin./office
manager/screener, etc., they don’t feel loved and will be more
likely to go to work for hiring managers who establish a personal
rapport with them.

Please stop saying to candidates that “hiring is one of the
most important things I do . . .” then act like hiring them is not
a high priority by not returning their calls, keeping in touch
with them, postponing a decision, keeping them in the dark,
going ‘silent’ etc.

Stop looking for “Mr. or Ms Perfect “. . . the purple squirrel
who doesn’t really exist or, if they do, are happily employed
and making more money than you can afford . . . it will take
you months to come to the conclusion that you’re not going
to find this perfect person and you’d best try to hire the best
athlete you can find . . . the person who has been a winner at
most everything they’ve ever done but, just not in the exact
area you are searching. In the time it takes to find Mr. or Ms
Perfect, you can hire one of these best athletes and train them.

Try to avoid writing a wish list of “requirements” that
reflect your fear of hiring the wrong person . . .We got one of
these lists recently and it had 32 items on it . . .the vice pres
ident who sent it to us laughed, saying that he’s not sure why
he wrote all this stuff down and that even he didn’t have all of
these requirements. He didn’t know of anyone who did!

…hiring authority’s top 20 lip loads that kill an interview

Most hiring and interviewing authorities don’t know that 60% of the interviewing mistakes are made by them as opposed to the candidates they interview.  Most interviewing and hiring authorities claim that “good hires” aren’t made because of poor candidates or poor interviewing techniques on the part of the candidates.  But the truth is that good candidates are often turned off or discouraged from pursuing an opportunity because of what hiring or interviewing authorities say.

Here are the top 20 “lip loads” that hiring or interviewing authorities use to kill perfectly good interviews and the messages they send to good candidates:

“I’m not sure what we’re looking for, we can’t agree, but I’m glad you’re here, now tell me about yourself.”Message: We have no idea what we’re looking for, wouldn’t know it if we found it, can’t agree…. this is a shot in the dark.  We’re surely an indecisive group of folks.

“I will know the right candidate when I meet them.”Message: I hire and fire by feeling.  I don’t want to be bothered by details like qualifications and the ability to do the job.

“We are in a big hurry… we’ve been without someone in this position for some time….. Our process takes four weeks, if we’re lucky. ” Message: This makes us look like we’re working.  On top of that, it gives us plenty to complain about…that we can’t find good people.

“Let me tell you about our company, the job… me … my boss … why we’re looking to hire … what hasn’t worked in the past … what we think will work in the future … why I  like the Cowboys… the Mavericks’ … the Stars.”Message: I’m going to do all the talking. Then I will decide on your qualifications and ability to do the job.

“I’m sorry, I’m 15 minutes (…20 minutes, 30 minutes) late but I had to take a phone call…talk to a customer…. had an emergency… talk to my boss.”Message: Interviewing you or anybody else just isn’t that important.

“Excuse me for a moment, but I have to… take a call… talk to a customer… have an emergency… talk to my boss… in front of you.”Message: Interviewing you or anybody else just isn’t that important. I’m just a busy person as well as inconsiderate.

“The last person we had in this position was a real jerk and the one before that was awful.  Our luck in finding good people seems to be really poor.”Message: I will talk about you and I will talk about the other people who left.

“We want someone who is a cultural fit.”Message: You are too old.

“My boss, who you will speak with, is a real piece of work.  We never know which personality is going to show up on a daily basis.”Message: The boss is a real piece of work.  No one ever knows which of his personality is going to show up. He is very difficult.

“How much money are you making? We know we’re not really competitive in the marketplace, but it is a great place to work.”Message: We underpay and expect a lot.

“We really need a water-walker… someone with at least 10 years of experience, an M.B.A. from an Ivy League school, a tremendous track record and we will pay at least $60,000.”Message: Our expectations are totally unrealistic and they keep getting higher with every candidate we interview…we just can’t afford to make a mistake.

“Thank you for coming to the interview.  You know what happened to me.  I just went through an awful divorce… my 16 year-old ran away…. I was in an awful car accident two weeks ago…. we just found out my mother has cancer… “Message: My personal life is more important than interviewing you.

“I’m the decision maker, but I like to get the input of five (… four, six, etc.) other people.”Message: I’m not really the decision maker, I just wanna’ look good.

“This company is one of the hardest places to work in the whole world. But if you have lots the courage and can weather the constant storm it is really interesting.”  Message: This Company has a lot of turnover.  They are unreasonably demanding.

“I’m the first person in the interviewing process.  Although I am in H.R. (…the ‘screener’…the admin to Mr. /Ms. Big), my job is to make sure that the hiring authority interviews the right kind of candidates.”Message: I need to look good. You might be able to do the job, but I am not going to send you or anybody else past me unless I think you’re a perfect candidate.  I’m really not certain of what we need because; I am not really in that department.  I have this list of qualifications that every candidate has to meet. I check boxes. I don’t want to look bad.

“You are one of 20 candidates that we have interviewed over the last six weeks.”Message: We have no idea what we are looking for. Our hiring process is an endurance race. We can’t understand why we can’t find good people!

“We are really careful about who we hire. We make sure every candidate knows what they are getting into.”Message: We are so picky. We want everyone in the company to like the person we hire.Your ability to do the job isn’t as important as what everyone thinks of you.

“Everyone we talk to wants to come to work here. The lucky ones get to.”Message: You are darn lucky to be interviewing here. We don’t have to tell you why you ought to work here. We are the only company in the world worth working for.

“Along with our interviewing, we have a battery of tests you will need to take. But don’t worry, we all took them and they only account for 25% of the hiring decision.”Message: The tests decide who gets hired. They are the “first” 25% of the decision.We don’t have to make a decision because the testing does it for us.

“You are exactly what we are looking for. We will get back to you when I get the other people that need to speak to find out when they can interview you.”Message: I tell this to everyone. We are unorganized and our process will take a very long time.

Other “killers”:

 “I’ll call you tomorrow (…in a day…two days…)” Then never doing it.

“I’m so busy… we need to reschedule this interview.”

Never giving the candidate honest feedback.

Not selling the job and the opportunity to candidates.

‘Cultural Fit’

I hear it once a day…a euphemism for age, gender, race, faith, ethnicity…anything you can think of. Few folks will be absolutely open about it. They kind of mumble the words in an uncomfortable, low toned, embarrassing manner, with their revealing guilt. Sometimes, rarely, a good business reason underlies the discrimination. Thirty or so years ago, I remember the owner of a trucking company telling me he wanted to hire an overweight, older lady to do the front office scheduling and bookkeeping. He insisted that he didn’t want the drivers hanging around the front office ogling and flirting with the woman he hired. It wasn’t illegal to discriminate this way back then. Although it still might have been wrong, I totally understand his point.

I really understand the rationale behind this issue, though I disagree. A tribal mentality will always exist. Let’s face it, an employee with growing children probably wants to be home for dinner with the family in the evening rather than endless happy hours with younger peers and ‘clients’ with nothing better to do. And if that is a part of their business, it just may not fit some folks. It often, though, may never cross the mind of managers that happy hours may not be the only way of being effective.

Young, inexperienced managers often shy away from hiring  very experienced, older employees for fear of being treated like a ‘kid’ instead of a boss. Older managers claim they don’t want to mess with ‘raising’ kids by putting up with the strains and distractions of youth…romances, social life, that is more important than work, etc. They say, “I’ve already raised my own children, don’t want to raise any again.” Both ends of the spectrum aren’t universal.

This ‘cultural fit’ issue is just one variable some employers refuse to deal with. I get it. Business is rough enough without having to worry about an issue that might become a problem. And if companies only hire the ‘same’ kind of folks, they’ll never know what else might work.

As a job seeker, it is useless to rail against this bias. It may not be right, but it ain’t gonna change. Quit expending energy on it. There are lots of wrong things in the world. As the need for good employees increases, these biases will decrease because of demand.

I’ve experienced European firms as well as East Indian firms who hire Americans simply because they need them in order to do business in America but I can tell in speaking with them that they have a disdain as well as a condescending attitude towards Americans and American businesses. They often look down their noses at us, implying that we really don’t know what we’re doing. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism. I don’t know.

And then there are some cultures like my heritage, Middle Eastern, where it is simply accepted and assumed that everybody lies. Well, a milder way to put it is that they don’t always tell the truth or all the truth. That doesn’t mean that all Middle Eastern folks lie. Most of us don’t. It just means that bending the truth is a lot more accepted in the Middle East than in America. I know one president of a company who is East Indian who won’t do business with most East Indian companies because he says the way they are taught to do business in India isn’t the way he chooses to operate. Bending the truth, he says, or telling people that they will do something they don’t really intend to do is accepted in that culture.

The truth is that lots of people at any age act crazy. Lots of folks of different races, genders and ethnic backgrounds see the world differently than you. Some outright lie and some outright don’t like the rest of us.

Some of these issues are perceptions and some are total misperceptions. I placed a 64-year-old sales guy with a woman-owned sales organization where the 14 women who comprise the organization averaged 32 years old. He’s doing great and they all laugh about the perspective that he brings. (I doubt, though, it would be easy to get used to “cultural” lying.)

We’d all probably be a little better off if we’d simply forget employees fitting into the “culture” of our company. Just be aware, though, that as a job candidate you may very well run into cultural bias. Complaining about it probably won’t do you one bit of good. You are still not likely to be hired. Be aware, however, that you probably have some of those cultural biases yourself.

 

 

 

…but they lied to me… I just can’t believe it… They lied to me

Here’s the problem: hiring authorities, no matter what they say, are afraid of hiring. They are afraid of making a mistake in hiring. For this reason, they are going to tell you as a candidate all kinds of cockamamie stuff. It’s not that these people really want to intentionally lie to you. They don’t. But they’re not sure of just exactly what they’re going to do in the hiring situation. I had an employer a number of years ago that told nine people in a row that he was going to hire them during their interview. Go figure.

For most employers, hiring is a very confusing, difficult thing. No matter how often they do it, they still have a problem with it. Think about it! If you are an accountant and you make a mistake you can go back to your computer and fix it or, at least, your pencil has an eraser on it. If you’re an engineer and somebody discovers that your design isn’t very good, you can go back and fix it. But when a poor candidate is hired, it doesn’t show up for five or six months, sometimes even a year. And what’s even worse, everybody in the company can see that a doofus has been hired. So, how does this make a boss look? You don’t need much of an imagination to figure this one out.

This whole conundrum is embodied in the phrase “we don’t want to make a mistake!” So all kinds of things are used, not so much to hire the best candidate but, more importantly, not to make a mistake. And, when people “play” out of fear of loss rather than vision of gain, the pressure is increased.

On top of all kinds of relatively unnatural acts, like hiring consultants, psychologists, psychiatrists, administering psychological and aptitude testing, etc. most companies increase the layers of people to do the interviewing. 50% of the time the people that are doing the interviewing have absolutely nothing to do with the job itself. But, the attitude is, the more people we have involved in the process of interviewing, the less likely we are to make a mistake. (totally erroneous!). More than one or two people are involved in the interviewing process and, at least 20% of the time, they are not reading from the same page. Often times, people involved in the interviewing process have’t even spoken with each other very much about candidates and qualifications, etc.

just last month I was involved in in three situations where the people who were interviewing didn’t know all of what was going on or wanted people to perceive that they were hiring, but they wern’t. In one of these instances, the hiring authority who had been interviewing for four weeks got fired on the fifth week. His boss told me that the guy had been on a performance plan all along and knew that he was probably on his way out. The second situation involve a hiring authority who would drag to the process of hiring on for more than four weeks and then abruptly left the company. She knew all along she was going to be leaving the company but didn’t want to “raise any red flags” by not continuing to interview as though she was staying.

The third situation involved a hiring authority who was so confused about who to hire, he involved six different people in the interviewing process. Three of these people had absolutely nothing to do with the job itself but offered their opinions about candidates as though they did. We’ve been interviewing now for six weeks and we’ve been through close to 15 candidates. We explained to the hiring authority that we couldn’t keep doing this. He explained that the last two people that they hired were mistakes and that since he was afraid of making a mistake he wanted everyone’s “buy-in.”

These are extreme cases, but not far off from the ordinary hiring process…if there is such a thing as “ordinary.” You can just imagine with lots of people involved in the hiring process and with the fact that not all of these people are reading from the same page they are telling you as a candidate all kinds of different things. Just this last week, we had the hiring manager of one of our clients tell all of the candidates that he hoped to make a decision by last Friday. By the time our Candidates met with his boss, his boss told him that it was going to take at least  another month to make a decision. Someone has their story really messed up.

Some people involved in the interviewing process don’t even know why they are involved. They are often very uncomfortable with the whole thing and will often say things to a candidate that they really don’t know just to keep their conversation from being too awkward. The candidate doesn’t know that some of these people don’t know what they’re talking about, so he or she takes the information to be the truth. When it doesn’t happen, the candidate wonders why folks lied to him.

Well, they really didn’t lie. They just told them what they thought was true in the moment.

So, when you are “lied to” as a candidate you know why and how it happens.