June 27, 2024

The 111 Steps of the Hiring Process


Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

More than you thought

There are 111* steps in the hiring process. Which means there are 111 places where everything can go wrong. And you wonder why everyone has a nightmare job seeking story…

I’ll back up. Last week I mentioned ‘knowledge illusion’ in my newsletter (here). It’s a fascinating aspect of human psychology. Literally all of us know only a fraction of what we think we know. And we’re unaware of this until we’re forced to explain things in granular detail, only using what’s in our heads. (No Googling, cheaters.)

Jeff Smith and I decided to do a 10 Minute Talent Rant on the topic and how it relates to broken hiring processes. (“Why Ghosting & Boasting Will Never Go Away” – here.)

So we gave ourselves a homework assignment: read an actual book on the topic. “The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone” here.

In the book, they take a few everyday examples of things everyone is familiar with (a toilet, a zipper, etc.) Then follow a 3 step process:

  1. Ask people to rate their knowledge of how it works.
  2. Ask them to explain in granular details the specific mechanics of how they work.
  3. Again ask them to rate their knowledge of how it works.

Unless you’re a plumber or a whatever-you-call-a-zipper-designer, the 2nd number is always way lower than the first.

Humans don’t know nearly as much as we think we do. But it’s the initial overrating of knowledge that puts the blinders on.

👉You can’t fix a complex problem if you think it’s a simple one.

And that’s one of the core issues behind hiring. Poor candidate experiences will never go away as long as everyone underestimates how complex the hiring process really is. (Go ahead, try to fix a toilet or zipper without Googling.)

Just for fun I used a cheat code on step 2 of this little exercise. I asked ChatGPT a few questions to estimate how many steps there really are in the hiring process (not high level phases, but granular details from preparation to onboarding.). It listed out 111, each of them unique (then it broke them all down into 3 parts, so perhaps 333 is the real answer.) 

I’d expect recruiters to do better on this exercise than hiring managers or execs, but literally no one knows all of this.

Long story short: no one person can ‘fix’ the hiring process (or crappy candidate experiences) because it encompasses too many areas of the business with too many people involved. Especially at scale.

But you start by admitting that you – with just the knowledge inside your own head – don’t know sh*t.

*No, I’m not delusional enough to think ChatGPT can produce the end-all number here.

Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

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