Category Archives: employers

….”the guy is wonderful”…”the guy is a slug”

One of  the most mysterious… sometimes wonderful and sometimes not…aspects of my calling is that I deal with just about every and in the spectrum of people. One of the most glaring oddities of working with folks happened this last week.

I had a candidate referred to me who had been in his most recent job for two years and the job before that for 15 years. In interviewing him, he not only seemed like a reasonable guy, but had a really solid track record to go along with the stability.

He’s been involved in a fairly small, narrow sector of business but also a very dynamic one. I know a number of managers in that sector, so I began to call the managers I knew to see who would be interested in speaking with him.

He was leaving his present position for “cultural differences.” I knew exactly what those cultural differences were because his new boss was an old client of mine and saw the world in a rather driving, bombastic manner. This style was certainly not what my new candidate possessed and I could see why they would part ways. Everybody agreed to “play nice in the sandbox.” My candidate agreed not to say anything disparaging about the company or his boss who he was leaving and those folks agreed not to say anything negative about him. I could tell by just reading between the lines that this was an agreed to compromise to let everybody go about their separate ways with dignity and no negative comments. They gave him more than a reasonable severance with the understanding that everyone would be gracious about what they say about each other.

It was clear that the guy was a performer, but his style was certainly not that of the new boss he was leaving.

I called for clients in the vertical that this fellow had worked in. One of the clients said that he knew the candidate and that the candidate was nothing but a “slug.” This hiring authority claimed that my candidate was successful where he was only because he had been working for people who protected him and liked him and made sure that he was taken care of. This particular hiring authority made it very clear that he would never hire my candidate.

The fourth guy that I called said that he knew the candidate and thought the guy was absolutely wonderful. He agreed to meet with him and since their meeting, the interviewing authority is having my candidate talk to his boss this week and they would like to make him an offer as soon as possible.

Now, this is about as interesting as it gets. One hiring authority says he knows the guy and says he’s a slug and the other guy says he knows him and thinks she’s absolutely wonderful… top performer, etc.

I know this may come as strange to a lot of people who aren’t in the recruiting business and, truth be told, it is strange. Having done this since 1973, I don’t think I ever will understand how people can see things so differently. I’ll probably never be able to figure it out.

 

 

… Always court two or three candidates at the same time

all hiring authorities need to be aware that they should never focus on one great candidate to hire and not also keep at least two other candidates in the process.

This came to light…again… This week when after a whole six weeks of interviewing the one candidate they narrowed it down to our client made an offer, only to have the candidate turn the job down. Our client was so darn sure that the candidate would take the job, she quit interviewing our other candidates.

The number one candidate they were looking for gave them every reason in the world believe that he was going to take the job. We kept telling the VP that she should keep interviewing as well as keep the other two very well-qualified candidates in the process. We kept reinforcing our experience that it’s best to keep two or three candidates in the queue while pursuing a first choice. The VP said that she knew that’s what she ought to do… But didn’t do it.

The process, which was only supposed to take two weeks, had dragged on so long the best candidate, the one VP tried to hire, decided the company didn’t really know how to make a decision.The VP kept giving us all kinds of excuses as to why she could move faster, Including her one week of vacation, and that she was so darn busy, she knew she needed to move faster but just couldn’t. She didn’t even have time to call the other candidates and let them know that she was going to do her best to make a decision and that they were still in the running. In fact, she wouldn’t even give them the time of day, return their calls or their emails. She was just so darn sure her first choice was gonna take the job. There just didn’t seem to be a need to keep the of the other candidates hopeful.

We even told the VP that our (her) number one candidate was actively interviewing and other companiesso…me of ours and a couple of once he had found on his own. She gave us lipservice that she understood that but was just so busy she get to it when she could..

When she made the offer, the candidate hadn’t heard from her in a whole week. He wasn’t feeling loved or a high priority of the VP. When he turned it down he explained to her that she just simply hadn’t been in touch with him nor made him feel needed or wanted and felt like he needed to go to work for someone else.

Instead of being apologetic, she got mad. She couldn’t believe that he had “strung her along” by implying that he wanted the job and then didn’t take it. The candidate called us to explain that his gut was certainly right and that she showed her true colors. She was not somebody he really wanted to go to work for.

Although the VP was very frustrated and downright mad, she called us and wanted to get two of the other candidates she had interviewed back in the queue. One of these candidates couldn’t believe that she was calling him six weeks later to see if she would be interested in the job so she turned it down and the other candidate had gotten promoted where he was so decided to stay with his company.

The VP was so mad that she had to start all over that she was literally yelling at us for not keeping the other two candidates available. (Like we had control of that…right!). Yesterday, the VP got fired. She claimed that the CEO let her go because she bungled the interviewing and hiring of our candidate. We really doubt that that’s the only reason that she got fired. But, I’ll bet everything I own that she probably managed everything else she was responsible for the same way that she went about hiring and probably botched that stuff up too.

Regardless of her competency as a manager, the lesson is, that it’s always good to keep two or three candidates in the queue until you actually hire someone.

…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.

…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.’

 

…inattentional blindness and your job search

Daniel J. Simons is a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois. He studies human’s attention, perception and memory. In most every study he has ever conducted, he has discovered that most all of our skills regarding attention, perception and memory are nowhere as good as we think. His most famous study was conducted in 1999. He asked subjects to view a video of six people passing two baskeballs back and fourth. The subjects were asked to count how many times three players wearing white shirts passed the basketball while ignoring the players wearing black who passed their own ball.After a few passes a person wearing a gorilla suit expectantly walks through the scene. 50% of subjects failed to notice the person in the gorilla suit. ( You can find this video on YouTube.)

Simons’ proves the theory  that there is a big mismatch between what we see and what we think we see. This condition is called “inattentional blindness.” He has even tested the effects of this in real world conditions. Subjects were asked to follow an experimenter on the backof a truck while they were jogging. While jogging, they were to monitoring how many times the experimenter touched his hat. As they were jogging along a predefined route, they ran past a simulated flight scene in which two other experimenters were “beating” a victim. They found that even in broad daylight, only 56% of the subjects noticed the fight.

So, the lesson is that people see about what they want to see and forget to look at the rest. This applies to the interviewing and hiring process more than most people will ever admit. Employers especially will get hung up on one or two issues in a candidate’s background… sometimes for better or for worse… and disregard or don’t pay attention to other aspects of it. One prime example of this is the candidate who is had three jobs in the last two years. The vast majority of employers are going to get hung up on that fact and hardly go beyond it to delve into a candidate’s experience or performance. They simply stop and move on to another candidate. Candidates often do the same thing when they consider looking at a company and get hung up on what other people might say about the company, its size, the kind of business they are in and literally hundreds of other things that distract them from really investigating the company.

What this simply means is that, if you’re a candidate, you need to be aware of the things in your background or experience that may distract a potential employer from interviewing you or realizing all of your abilities and potential once they do interview you. There may even be some positive issues that will distract a potential employer from your negative ones.

Just be aware that inattentional blindness is a reality and it has a phenomenal impact on your job search.

 

 

…more misguided (… Stupid) advice

So this week some job search guru goes on LinkedIn and writes an article about how interviewing and hiring authorities have an obligation to give you feedback about your interview with them… The guy goes on and on about how hiring authorities should and ought to give you feedback on the interview you had with them and how if you keep calling them, the good ones realize their obligation and will give you feedback…

Hokum… Garbage… BS… Laughable… Like what planet are you living on?… It’s obviously clear that this guy has never spent much time finding people jobs… It’s totally misleading to tell people that they’re going to get feedback from an interviewing or hiring authority more than, maybe once out of 15 times…

This guy goes on and on about how good managers, interviewers and hiring authorities should and will give you honest feedback  about your interview…DON’T BUY ONE WORD OF IT… I don’t know what this guy is smoking or where he dreamed this idea up… But the truth is 99.99% of all of the people you will interview with, unless they are really interested in hiring you and are incredibly nice,  are NOT going to give you any feedback about you or your interviewing…

Should they be willing to give you feedback? … Yes!… Will they tell you that they will?… Yes! Do they know it’s courteous to do that?… Yes!… Will they do it?… NO!!! is it rude?… Yes!…  Is it discourteous?! …Yes!… But, are they going to do it?…NO!

It’s not a matter that they are intentionally mean, or insincere, or rude… They are simply unintentionally mean, insincere, and rude… So you ask “how can people be that way?”… Really easy… They just are! You notice me writing about ‘spiritual beings acting human?’… Well, this is a manifestation of spiritual beings acting human…

So, you may ask for feedback from folks you’ve interviewed… Just plain don’t expect it… If you get it, you are blessed… but just don’t expect it. Don’t waste your time wondering why, hoping, wishing, begging, wondering, speculating… Just accept the fact that you’re not going to get it, quit cursing the darkness and move on to the next opportunity…

Having done this for more than 40 years the only reason I can imagine that people will be, at best, inconsiderate is because they are so busy and so wrapped up in their own lives that giving you feedback on your performance in an interview is just  not a high priority to them… Ironically,  when they become a candidate and go to look for a job they can’t believe that interviewing and hiring authorities are so rude…

So, quit losing any emotion over this and move on…

…seven years later

might have metioned it before, but i presented a candidate to an employer…they really liked each other…the deal didn’t work out at the time…

the candidate was smart and kept in the touch with the employer…the employer liked the guy…they did have a more than normal appreciation for each other, but nothing spectacular…

every once in a while, the candidate would call the employer…they would go to lunch..

the employer eventually hired the candidate…seven years after they first met…the employer had changed companies twice and the candidate three times..

lesson: never burn a bridge…be nice to everyone..what goes around comes around

…lessons from dr.phil

went to appear on the dr. phil show…it will air april 29  …spent two days taping in LA…

i don’t know much about television, but i have been watching businesses grow siince 1973…i have never seen such a well run business as the dr.phil show… this guy runs one of the smoothest, most precision operation i have seen

there are 300 people that work for the dr.phil show…there are 10 producers, each with 10 or 11 folks working for them …the rest are technical people…each producer manages one show at a time..

they tape three shows a day, four days a week…and, i mean the “trains run on time”…everything runs on time…the preperation for each show is amazing…everyone knows exactly what they are suppose to do…and they had better do it right..

phil mcgraw is one of the nicest guys i have met…he has tremendous compassion for people and everyone that works there admires him and the organization…some of those folks have been there 13 years…since it started…some have left and come back…

those coming back will tell you that they go to other hollywood shows and they aren’t run near as well as mcgraw’s…they really appreciate working there..

i have really only spent two or so hours with dr.phil himself…but the organization reflects him and his values..it is a tremendous group of people…and, as with most firms, the get their character from the top guy

it was a real pleasure to experience this guy’s business…

even the guy who drove me from the airport was saying how much trouble most of hollywood was having…and that one of the bright spots was the success of the dr.phil show..

i can see why…

..working for friends

..heard from a candidate of mine over the weekend…”well, you told me so..” he began

frankly, i had forgtotten what i did tell him…it was six months ago and i have slept since then…he remnded me that, when he told me he as going to go to work for a good friend of his, in that friend’s small company, i shared with him that it rarely works out…that you loose a friend and usually the job in a relatively short period of time…

and that is exactly what happened..it was even more difficult because my candidate thought that his friend was sidestepping the law on certain issues…i.e. payroll taxes…

apparently it got ugly and my candidate is looking for a job again and did loose, what he thought, was a good friend….

i guess anything is possible, but really think twice about going to work for friends..even “distant” ones…if you have to feed your family and that is the only job you can find, you may not have much choice…but ask yourself before you do, “how easy will it be to quit?”.. “what happens if they fire me?” …”am i willing to loose ‘friendship’ over this?”