How Not to Fuck Up a Perfectly Good Chance to Hire Someone

TL;DR I reflect on hiring process and write fuck 14 times.

If your hiring process feels like process, you are fucking it up. If you’re on autopilot during an interview, you’re fucking it up. Here is a list of things to avoid if you want to stop fucking it up.

First, if you have an internal referral and that referral is not conflicted by monetary gain, then that referral is a vote to hire. If you trust the person making the referral your default action should be to make an offer barring a strong reason not to hire. If you put the candidate through a full loop, or pass based on a so-so factor, you are not only missing a good hire, but alienating your employee. If the hire sucks, that becomes the referring employee’s problem. Think like the mob.

Second, don’t request or read resumés. Resumés are stale lies. Everything you need to know about an applicant can either be prompted for in conversation or in a background check (do background checks). Instead try emailing the person. Ask them questions like, “How many years of experience do you have with X?” Or “What companies have you worked with?” Ask the questions that you actually have and would typically try to divine answers to from a resumé.

Third, stop letting HR fuck up applicant screening. They have no idea what they are doing. I’d equate the effectiveness of HR applicant screening to spam email filtering, but these days spam filtering has gotten pretty good. Let’s say it is as effective as spam filtering in the 90's. Screen applicants yourself. Do the hard work.

Fourth, don’t request or call references. Civil liabilities associated with acting as a reference aside, this is just plain bullshit. Let me spell it out for you. The situation is, “someone you don’t know wants to work with you.” Your plan is, “ask someone that the applicant knows, but who you do not know, if the applicant would be a good fit.” This is not how three party authentication works. If you need more opinions to make a decision involve more interviewers.

Fifth, before an interview know what the fuck you want to ask and what a good answer sounds like. There are few things as frustrating or telling as a situation where an applicant knows what an interviewer is trying to ask, and knows that they fucked up the question. It is even more embarrassing when the interviewer refuses to acknowledge the mistake. Further, if you ask a question and a response fails to improve your ability to make a hiring decision then you failed to understand how to evaluate the response.

Sixth, don’t test for skills that a person admits to lacking. If you ask an applicant, “What are your skills?” And the applicant omits something that you are looking for you might follow up with a targeted question like, “Do you have experience with X?” If they say, “No” do not spend the next four hours asking them to perform some task related to X. Doing so is a sure way to make the applicant mutter, “Fuck you.” It is sickening that this made my list.

Seventh, instead of testing for specific skills discover an applicant’s skills and their ability to learn skills. Instead of asking yourself, “Can this person perform a specific task that I need done?”, ask yourself, “What can this person do for me?”

Eighth, unless you suck to work for, your facilities suck to work in, or your company just plain sucks, do not give the impression that you suck to work for, your facilities suck to work in, or your company just plain sucks. If you do then any offers you do make will only be accepted with trepidation or more likely rejected.

Ninth, treat an interview like you would treat a date. Be on time. Clean up a bit. Get the trash out of your car. Don’t make them pay. Don’t over cycle on details. Engage in conversation. Ignore your phone. Close your laptop. Leave email alone. Don’t ask them questions when their mouth is full. This is all just basic social behavior that some completely throw out the window during an interview. This is all about respect, and candidates are judging you based on minutia at least as much as you are them. Burn this date and not only might you fuck up the hire, but you might lose a fucking customer.

Hiring fuck-ups fuck up everyone involved. I could go for days on this subject, so instead I’ll end abruptly. Stop fucking up.

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