September 6, 2022

We’re Evaluating Talent Wrong


Episode Highlights

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With age comes self-reflection (hopefully.) Those moments where you look back, ponder your existence, and question if you’d do anything differently.

If you’re thinking “you mean how we’ve been evaluating talent all these years?” we thought the same!

That goes for how we conduct interviews and how we manage teams. Everything from “bad” answers that really weren’t bad answers. To whether our KPIs really value results over time spent (or wasted?)

The 10 Minute Talent Rant turns 50 (episodes) this week so Jeff Smith and James Hornick are celebrating their show’s mid-life crisis with We’re Evaluating Talent Wrong

Episode Transcript

The 10 Minute Talent Rant is live- again. I’m James Hornick joined by Jeff Smith. We are on the clock. We had some technical difficulties earlier as this is actually our second time attempting this. So we joke. The 10 Minute Talent Rant is our ongoing series where we break down things that are broken in the talent acquisition and hiring space,

maybe even pitch a solution or two. Before we dig in, all our content can be found on This week’s topic, our 50th episode anniversary, which is exactly when you expect to have to rerecord things because it didn’t work. I know. Well that’s- yeah. It’s like our midlife crisis. We- yeah, I know. We all, we can’t use technology anymore.

Today’s topic: we’re evaluating talent wrong. And I, when we say we, I don’t mean me and Jeff- although, well, maybe we are, but it’s really everybody. And we want to kind of break down some things that we see repetitively over and over again. How many times have we seen posts that like hiring is broken?

Let’s actually talk about some of those things a little more specifically summarized and maybe point out some crap that should actually be canceled. We think there’s a lot of grift out there. So we want to kind of maybe, I don’t know. Let’s just hash into it. Tangent of all the things we’re doing wrong, three things we had specifically that we want to dig further into. Jeff kick us off. Everyone’s least favorite topic, office culture, the whole idea, remote versus onsite.

Sorry, everybody. We don’t want to talk about it anymore, but we’re going to. We have some new points this time, so. We do. We do. Like I said, we’re sick of talking about it. We’ve said repeatedly that remote culture can and will allow you the access to the best, most representative population of candidates.

But specific to this rant, it doesn’t mean that amazing onsite cultures can’t exist. They 100% do. And I want a preface that we work with many of them. I just think we need to get past the idea that like one is more productive than the other. I mean, we went remote two years ago and we’ve tripled not only in headcount, but in revenue as well.

I think everyone’s seen the meme, dynamic work culture, beige cube, like it’s objectively hilarious, right. Folks are going into the office with a majority of the time being, just sitting in front of a Zoom call anyways, at this point. So what are we doing here? And like, why is all of this important?

Another thing that we need to point out here is that the whole concept of an office, an office culture in a historical context, it’s new. It’s recent. I mean we’re talking- the entire human history of civilization goes back I don’t know, a couple of billion years old, whatever. Like humans didn’t start recording anything until 10,000 years ago.

So there’s God knows how much like history we don’t have any like knowledge of what happened on- office culture. Eh, it’s like 60, 80 years old, something like that. I mean this in the grand scheme of things. There was a really good podcast people should listen to, Derek Thompson- yeah, Derek Thompson’s plain English podcast.

The big winners and loses from the remote work revolution. It gave us some kind of thoughts on this, but he kind of really broke some things down. The concept of a career is like only a hundred years old. Right. Like there have been places to work, but the concept of the office where everyone shows up and reports, that’s like a post World War II thing, you know? It like literally goes back to like mad men, that’s it?

Yeah. That’s when the office culture started. Yep. And even then still it’s iterated a few times. Like then like computers came out and then the internet came out and you have to expect like how we kind of evaluate and kind of judge things are going to change over time. And kind of the reason why I bring this up is that

so much, big personalities, extroversion, building relationships- these things are still the main drivers for upward mobility and climbing the ladder at work, as opposed to like getting the job done and being good at what you do. Like, I think we all recognize that as an issue. And that’s all been perpetuated by who stands out in an office.

Like when you look on social media about the people who are really big into this stuff about “you have to return to the work” it’s like the same people that talk about like a firm handshake and hang out with your coworkers after hours. It’s like the same BS as opposed to like being good at what you do.

The unfortunate bottom line in all of this, we’re going to go there. We resist going there, but I’m going there because it’s important. Office culture is a construct built by predominantly white, rich men. The rich being really, really key in this. It not always, but there is this veiled line of maintaining power and hierarchy.

So we’re not saying that all modern office culture is necessarily completely like that, but I think both of us are very adamant in saying it’s important to understand where all of this came from. It’s important to understand the history of it and it’s important to keep it in mind. It’s definitely part of why there is a big resistance to going back into the office.

It’s why it’s being met with arch resistance. Exceptional employees get work done sitting anywhere they have a computer and a phone. It’s just a fact. The question that I would argue that you should ask is, why can’t we develop exceptional people anywhere but the office? That’s the real thinker.

Great point. Moving on. The second thing we want to get into, work history gaps, short stints, freelancing, those types of things. Right when the pandemic hit, 2020, there’s a lot of jokes and memes about like, “Okay, how are you going to explain your work history gap through all this? Half the country is unemployed, it seemed like, right?

And it was kind of a joke, I don’t know, just like show ’em your COVID test, show the receipts of your vax card. But we’re kind of slipping back into that old mindset it seems like. There’s this old legacy mindset of like long histories and work stints. And I get it.

You want people to have consistency and have shown growth on these kind of things. But at the same time too, we want people with broader ranges of experience that can solve more problems and have seen through different types of projects in different environments and the people who have this, the people who have changed jobs more or have done contracting and freelance work.

We want a utility tool, but they have to have stayed in that utility tool role for like eight years. It’s just like completely counterintuitive. And I get there’s some organizations out there that do a well-rounded job of always challenging their people. But come on, it’s not the norm.

You find someone who’s good at their role, they tend to stay in it probably longer than they should. It’s just how it works, you know? And then there’s the exception of the rule is like, “We want people who come from consulting sometimes or agency because they’ve shown they can stay with this long company long term yet, get all this other kind of experiences and whatnot.”

But look- how many times have we heard people say, “We want someone who’s entrepreneurial”? So many times. All the tim- it’s just like every company wants someone who’s got the entrepreneurial spirit. There’s nothing more entrepreneurial than running your, doing your own work. If you have to be your own marketer, your own salesperson, your own finance and accounting person, your own customer service person. It’s such a tremendous value add.

It’s just mind boggling that it there’s still that stigma attached to it. That’s amazing. All right. Number three, bad interview answers. So this whole idea, the genuinity of answers versus like the bullshit perfect answers, right? Yeah. What do we as interviewers really want? So this one can’t- I actually, I posted about this a few weeks ago talking about

the traditional thinking is if someone’s negative about their company, you gotta rule ’em out. It shows they have that in them and they didn’t have the whatever. Yet all this talk about, we want our teams when they join us to have radical candor, to be able to- we don’t want group think we don’t want, yes, men.

We want people who can actually say what they really mean and feel to kind of just make things more efficient so we don’t get stuck in the same ruts and whatnot. We want people to master this, say the right thing, dance in interviews though. So like we’re bringing people on based upon their ability to basically lie to us.

100%. Yeah. Yet when they get here, we don’t want them to do that, you know? And it’s even beyond that one, I mean it’s just kind of one example. But there’s a lot of people who vocalize they want more work life balance and that being looked down upon, because it shows they don’t want to work hard and all this, you know, whatever.

Ultimately everyone out there has had at least one bad experience out- everyone’s taken one job that turned out to be a total mistake. And I think why do we have to put a stigma around it and make people dance around it versus just like don’t we want more people being real? Yeah, totally. I mean half the time, at least external recruiters and hiring managers, they know which shops are complete dumpster fires anyways.

We do this for the gossip. Yeah. Like literally I can- I’ve had many opportunities to just talk to a candidate when they’re dancing around. I’m like look, dude, I know they’re a mess. We know. They’re the worst. You’re the third person we’ve talked to from that place.

Yeah. Yeah. We know it sucks. You don’t have to, you don’t have to worry about it. I just- people get dinged for these sorts of things. They get dinged for not being passionate or extra, this idea that extraversion gets rewarded more than introversion. Like I think you’re- like a lot of the time, they’re completely missing the point that some people have anxiety issues.

Me included. They are neuro divergent. There’s just too much attention being put on that particular persona. And for us laptop lackies, laptop class, jobs are done solo anyways. Like we’re not engineers, so what does it really matter? Yeah. Two additional points I want to make here because these are points that other people pointed out to me.

One was that, Joshua Gaskhole- hope I pronounced that correctly. I missed a hedge in this one. So the only time I’ll say this is completely wrong is if you do talk to someone who had 10 jobs and they dumped on every single employer and every single manager. Okay, that’s probably not a coincidence.

Maybe that person is a bit of a mal content, but. Right. And then the other point, Stephanie Con pointed out, which I love this one. The best answer to give is “The company no longer aligns with my personal values” which such a great F you. And the funny thing was I read that and then like two days later there was some viral posts got 10,000 likes or something like that from someone who is a fairly high role at Meta, maybe it was like a VP of HR and put that straight up in there in paragraph three, “Why am I leaving my dream job?

Because they no longer align with my values.” And that’s probably why it got so much- I don’t know. That’s hysterical to me, but anyway. She finally- they got to the point where Meta had even become too much, which is- so that’s it. We’re short on clock. That’s a wrap for this week. Thank you for everyone out there for tuning into our 50th episode.

Woohoo. For the 10 minute talent rant. Jeff, thanks for always hosting these shows with me. I really appreciate it. And we’re looking to do a hell of a lot more. Once again, replay at You can also get the podcast on YouTube, Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify and Amazon.

50 more buddy. Everyone out there, see you soon. Let’s go.

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