September 8, 2021

How to Know That You Don’t Know How to Hire


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

Episode Highlights

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Jeff Smith and James Hornick like to rant. But they also like to empathize. We’re nice people. 🙂

Look, hiring is hard. A lot of people are figuring it out for the first time. The biggest challenge is not knowing what you don’t know. Making mistakes that you don’t even realize you’re making.

It’s ok. We got your back in the 10 Minute Talent Rant, Episode 27, “How to Know That You Don’t Know How to Hire”

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

Episode Transcript

The 10 minute talent rant is live. I’m James Hornick, I’m joined by Jeff Smith and we are on the clock. The 10 minute talent rant is our ongoing series where we break down things that are broken in the talent acquisition, hiring space, maybe even pitch a solution or two. Before we dig in, all of our content can be found on

This week’s topic: how to know that you don’t know how to hire. James is this our moment to extend the olive branch? Yeah this is our, this is the empathy episode. Empathy episode. I love it. I feel good about this. The general gist of this is all of us are figuring this out as we go along. This whole hiring thing, especially now. There’s so many moving parts and no one entity or group of entities can possibly know what the right game plan is.

So honestly, if you’re struggling with it, misery kinda loves company in this particular instance. And maybe it makes you feel better to know that literally everybody else is struggling, even though it’s most that have unlimited coffers of money. It’s still hard to hire really in demand people.

So I think it’s totally understandable too. Like we get caught- I get caught a lot of the time saying like, how could somebody not know this? And of course you don’t know this, this isn’t your job. It’s not your job to understand recruiting. It’s our job to understand recruiting. You as hiring managers and even as candidates looking for jobs, you’re in your defined lane, we get that.

And it’s not hubris, it’s not sabotage, like sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know, to quote Mr. Rumsfeld. But I think the idea here is, and what we’re going to try and talk about is how to recognize it, how to recognize these behaviors and how to get better at it. Yeah. And there’s, I guess too there’s ways that well-intentioned interview

become ineffective or don’t work. So common scenarios. So there are some HR people who are absolutely great, but they’re HR people. They’re not talent acquisition people like they are two completely different competencies. And hiring may just not be their lane. A lot of organizations, they don’t have anybody in talent acquisition dedicated to it.

They lean on the HR person, that HR person, it’s just not where they came from. They may not know all their answers or best practices and that type of thing. Some organizations build it, build their talent acquisition function by hiring a junior person. If you have a few needs, someone junior can handle it, which can work out

but the issue you run into in those situations is the knowing the challenges in hiring is something you kind of gain through years of experience. So it’s understandable when that happens, right? Yeah. Throw the lowest common denominator recruiter at the problem and hope it fixes itself. Yeah, a lot of entrepreneurs, a lot of small business owners, a lot of startups-

I mean, their initial hiring is run by people who are, they’re in their defined lane, trying to run the business. They’ve never had to, they maybe made some hires before but they never had tried to hire at scale, which is a completely different thing. In any event, it’s really easy to fall into

here’s the process, just follow it, the policies, the policy, that line of thinking, especially when things don’t work. The kind of blame game and sues. Someone might tell you you’re doing something wrong, then others will get defensive. They kind of dig into their positions.

And as we know, change is hard. But anyways, let’s dig into this now though, because I do want to kind of get to the good stuff here. We’re going to discuss some things. This is just stuff to look out for. If you’re having a hard time hiring or if you’re doing some of the things on this list, you might not realize you’re making mistakes

and that’s really kind of the point here. So Jeff, why don’t you lead us off with a few? Yeah. I mean, these are things that you just don’t want to fall victim to, as James said. So like things like, “I don’t like the format of a resume.” I hear this all the time. We’re not printing our resumes out on like super thick paper anymore with special fonts and handing them off to like 10 different people in person.

It’s not that big of a deal. It doesn’t matter. Things can be subjective. “I didn’t like the cover letter. I didn’t like that it was perfectly written so that I’m the audience”- who cares? The likelihood of this person probably interviewing with 10 other companies, very high. We hear ‘”Went to a lesser college.

“They went to a state school.

I don’t think they can be a marketing analyst at our company.” Or even the- which this one has 10 million layers. “I wouldn’t get a beer with them.” Yeah, I hate that. But we hear it a lot. It sounds- so the person saying it, it seems like, ah, someone I want to hangout- but like there’s a lot of- maybe this is a whole another topic entirely, but this is not something you want to get fixated on when you’re hiring.

And people do. The big one is just like reliance and we talked about it in the last round. Like the reliance on reading job descriptions as gospel. Like you must, you have to read it verbatim. So if somebody doesn’t bring four plus years, they’re automatically not a fit. These laundry lists of things and skillsets are completely synonymous with what real people bring to the table,

right. I see it over and over again. There’s this over-reliance on focusing in on the minimum requirements and if every single thing isn’t hit, gone. That was a great want list, but that doesn’t mean it actually exists in the world, so. Right. And so I implore everybody and this is an early fix, like a little precursor but

focusing on the knowledge somebody brings to the table, the ability somebody brings to the table and like the specific skills, it’s way better than saying “This is great. We have somebody that has expert Excel skills.” Yeah. Get some more things. So let’s plow right through this.

If you have internal recruiters and agencies working on a job and no one can find people, there’s something wrong. Period. If no one can find the person you’re looking for, there’s probably something wrong with the requirements, the way you drew the job up or the way you communicated it, full-stop. That’s another red flag to keep realizing that like something’s wrong.

Similarly, along the same lines. If you’re getting multiple rejections, if for some reason you’ve got your fourth candidate reject you, there’s something wrong in your hiring process. That’s not- that’s a pattern, that’s a trend. It could be a lot of things. It could be the way you’re not selling the job correctly to the candidates.

It could be there’s just something about that. The market’s not into you or not into this position, that needs to be addressed and you need to figure out what that is before you just kind of continue aimlessly kind of going through. Yeah. I think the big thing for me right now, and I’ve seen it over and over is like these long times to fill. Like no job, no job,

no job should take more than 90 days to fill .If it’s written, marketed and out on the market correctly, full-stop. Next thing. If your entire process came from a book written by someone about Google or Apple or Facebook about how they did their hiring and you’re sticking to that, and you’re not flexing on it, there’s a lot you need to realize about these companies.

There’s a reason why they’re Google. There’s a reason why, there’s a reason why we use their name when we talk about doing internet searches. They’ve attained a level of success and stature, but to get there they went through hundreds of iterations in their process. All of these companies have and trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t work.

And a lot of these things they do are specific to them. A lot of these things do have to do with their culture or there’s just a lot of things that process-wise they have in place that are dependent upon- these interviews being successful in the way they do things are dependent on this process of being in place.

If you don’t have all that, if you don’t have that background, that infrastructure, it’s not going to work. And I think it’s understanding, like you can pick up a lot of good tips and tricks. You can pick up a lot of things in these books. I’m not saying the whole thing is stupid. Sure. I’m not saying it’s garbage- which is my favorite word, but really just kind of understand that you’re different.

You’re going to have to go through some growing pains, but the thing that’s going to cause more pain is if you just try to rip what someone else is doing without understanding what’s unique about your organization and what you need to modify for it to really fit. That’s a great point. Can we- can we stop with the homework?

Can we stop with the assignments? I mean, I get it. If you want to do like a writing sample, like a 15, 20 minute time commitment. I mean these folks who are sending out two, three hours worth of homework and a lot of cases in real world applications where they’re probably getting a little bit of free work out of it, let’s be totally honest.

It’s not a real thing. It doesn’t tell you anything. How somebody performs in a hypothetical project that isn’t necessarily based in the real world, it’s not indicative of how they will perform when invested in their own opportunity. I just don’t see how people are still taking value out of this whole exercise.

I can’t. It also just makes you look, from the candidate perspective like they’re just tuning you out. I think that’s the one thing that a lot of these companies miss when they’re doing this. Another thing is if you’re seeing- so last thing I want to kind of see, if you’re seeing salaries higher than your current staff, maybe higher than you’re making,

there’s a lot of assumptions about your comp bands that are completely wrong- period. And instead of thinking, okay I’m not finding the right people yet. You need to do a re-evaluation of kind of what your internal comp bands are because that’s a bigger issue entirely, but that’s something we see a good bit.

Anyways. Fixes. Really the fix is here- there’s a few things we have, but it’s being aware. Like I think everything we talked about, it’s just, if these things are coming up and you’re having a hard time hiring and any of this stuff we talked about, you can recognize in the organization, you need to take action.

Jeff, do you have some further ideas? TA isn’t HR. It can live in the HR world. I’m not saying that they’re mutually exclusive of each other but HR is personnel. There’s a reason HR was called personnel prior to it turning into human resources. It’s existing employees, like everything post start.

So the next hire, that’s TA. It needs to be somebody who’s experienced at that level, right? Hire that subject matter expert and don’t just rely on human resources folks to figure it out. Recognize that interviews, it’s just two people trying to figure out if they want to work together. That’s all an interview really is.

If you have large scale hiring back to what Jeff said, like you need to get someone who’s really sharp, who knows their stuff in internal talent acquisition or you can just use Hirewell. Whichever one. Works well for us. It’s a verb! You can hire well. Literally a verb. 11 minute talent rant. Yep. We are short on clock. We’re actually over. That’s a wrap for this week.

Thanks for tuning into the 10 minute talent rant, part of the Talent Insights series, which is always available for replay on as well as YouTube, Apple, Google, Spotify, and Amazon. Jeff, thanks again. Everyone out there. We will see you soon.

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