My wife and I recently closed on purchasing our first house. We had been looking for months, one we loved came onto the market, and we put an offer down. Being in Austin, Texas, one of the fastest growing cities in the US, you have to be somewhat aggressive. We put down about 7% more than asking price. Did I mention this was the same day the house hit the market?
Within 24 hours there were seven offers on the house. SEVEN. We didn’t get our hopes up, we were pretty sure someone else would get the home but then our real estate agent called us and let us know they were executing our contract. Oh shit. I guess we’re really buying a home.
After the first bit of shock and awe, we very quickly realized the amount of things we had to get in order before our close date about a month later. We had to do background checks and locate all our pay stubs. We had to put together all of our finances and savings that we didn’t even know we had and send them to our lender. We had to do a write up about ourselves for underwriting (…wtf?). We emailed all of our personal documents, social security numbers, and more to our lender so they could steal our identity if they wanted.
After we thought we gave them everything they need, I’d get an email and a call with about 8 more things they needed from us. I’d find those eight things, get them to our lender, and then they would have eight more questions based off our new documents.
To call it a shit show is probably a compliment. Nothing really seemed to drive the process to closing. We just had to keep jumping through hoops for the lender because if they didn’t say “we’ll give you this loan,” well, we were SOL on this home and back in this really competitive market.
We wished there was a better way to go about purchasing a home.
In the same way, recruiting is broken. It leaves our most valuable asset – people – feel as if they are worthless in our hiring process. Being in recruiting and always enjoying time around people, I was curious as to why the process is so broken, and what we could do to fix it. It doesn’t seem so mind-blowing to assume that there’s a way to humanize how we attract, apply, interview, and hire. In fact, it’s crazy we even have to talk about this if you ask me.
Without a doubt, there is and it’s really simple. All we have to do is stop glorifying bullet points of qualifications and experiences and, instead, focus on what it would take to be “successful.”
Can it really be that simple? I really believe it can be. Let’s break it down.
Here Ye, Here Ye: Attraction
How many businesses can you name off the top of your head?
Exactly. Unless you are Google or Apple, people likely don’t know who you are or what you do. They’re not motivated to apply, and you’re not alone. 98% of US businesses have less than twenty employees and suffer from the same attraction issues.
In the same way these businesses live and die by attracting potential customers, we HAVE to continually attract potential hires.
Look, people want to do good work. People want to be challenged and learn new skills. Does your job description get to their needs? Does it depict good work and growth? If it doesn’t, you’re missing out. Period.
Let’s take a look at one of your job postings. Just guessing here, but chances are there are 10-20 bullet points of experiences and qualifications and a title every other company has. Am I right? So a Director of Support may look like this:
- 10 years of managerial experience
- Ability to work without much management
- Expertise with technical support
- Insert 10 more really boring bullet points…
So, what did you learn from that? If I’m a candidate, I learned how to self-select myself out if I don’t fit every box. I assume you don’t want to talk to me. Pretty sad. The worst part? I still know nothing about what you need to accomplish.
But there’s a better bullet. Instead, try this:
- Lead the improvement of our customer satisfaction rating from it’s current 65% to 90% or above in 6 months for our 40 person team.
The candidate translation just changed. Here’s what they’re learning now:
- Customer satisfaction has to improve 35%
- I have 6 months to do it
- They have a 40 person team
In one sentence. I learn so much more about a company and what they need accomplished than I did with the initial description. With one sentence, I’m attracting the right people and discouraging the wrong people from applying.
Oh Horrible, Most Horrible: Application
As a recruiter, I sure don’t.
If we now have a great way to attract, and we give our potential hires the information that they need to do to be successful….Throw out the resume, and give them a call to action. I know you’re scared. Leaving the resume behind is scary, but follow me here. The resume makes it easy for us to hire titles over talent and persuade us that they’re a better fit. It creates bias.
Using the above attraction example, what if we asked job seekers to answer two complex questions related to the job instead of gathering their entire work history that, really, we don’t need. Here’s an example:
- “In detail, how have you improved customer satisfaction rating? Where were you, how big was your team, and how long did it take you?”
- “For you, why is now the right time for a change?”
You’re going to ask both of these questions at some point because they’re critical to success in this role. You can’t hire someone without asking this. Can you hire someone without asking about their job after college? Yes. So why not save the candidate time by asking it up front? Let them put into their own words how they work, and how they can help you.
Two things happen when you do this….
- People who are a good fit for the role nerd out, and you get a chance to see their enthusiasm and expertise first-hand.
- People who can’t help don’t apply. (Hallelujah, amen.)
Thus – Less applications but much higher quality. There’s nothing wrong with that. And now, you can answer every single applicant, even if it’s a no. Either they tell you how they’ve worked in the past and how they know they can help you…or they can’t.
All The World’s A Stage: Interview
Now, wait. Before you go for the full blown interview let’s go back to basics. Treat your candidates like humans who have options by scheduling an exploratory call to finish closing them on why your company would be a great company to work for.
Remember, prior to your “we’d like to interview you” e-mail, all they have done is seen a job posting > applied > gotten a response from you. Now starts that pesky recruiting thing.
When you have them on the line, ask one simple question: Is this still something that really interests you? Or, a variation: Does “being successful in this role excite you?” Know where they stand, why they’re motivated and where they want to be. All of these are answers that will help you close the deal later if there’s hesitance from your ideal candidate.
So the details of the interview are pretty simple. You want to..
- Search for more examples of this person being successful in a complementary task. (hopefully you have at least 3-4 more tasks to compare with).
- Ask about how and when they grew the scope of their job in past environments.
- Treat the person like a consultant.
- Share any red flags you see and allow for conversation.
And here’s why…..
- You hopefully need a few more things accomplished than just improving one thing. Share the other success indicators the hiring manager has communicated with you and ask for specific examples of things they have done that translate. More touch points is always better. 5 years experience is vague and doesn’t tell the story the way an experience will.
- You want to see that someone has shown opportunities of growth within a company, or, why they didn’t. Both are important.
- Look, you are hiring because you need something to get done or you need to delegate a new job off. That’s what consultants are hired to do.
- Bringing up red flags genuinely and allowing someone to respond gives a LOT of insight about a person’s emotional intelligences and teamwork. A lot of times they are not as bad as they seem, but let someone respond and you can confirm that upfront before disqualifying them for a perception problem.
The interview does not and should not have to be a grill fest. Honestly you should already know whether or not someone can accomplish the tasks you need done. The interview is to learn more in depth about their thought process and decision making skills, how much guidance they need, and if they might be the best fit.
Because let’s remember, at the end of the day we’re hiring a person, we’re not hiring a job title.
About The Author
Jordan Johnson believes that people are creative and genuinely want to do challenging work. He believes in connecting people to people in the form of hiring managers to their future hires. Having been someone who loves to recruit people to a cause, he started agency work in Technology and Financial Services in Austin, Texas.
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