June 25, 2024

Why Ghosting & Boasting Will Never Go Away


Episode Highlights

If It Ain't Broke You Should Still Fix It


The Complexity of Hiring: A 111-Step Process


The Automation Paradox: Why AI Won't Fix HIring


The Fatigue of Corporate Bravado in Job Interviews


Fixing Hiring Must Be Top-Down Mandate


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It’s amazing how so many companies tout how they’re great places to work, then ghost you after an interview. I love irony.

Corporate arrogance and poor candidate experience seem to go hand-in-hand. They’re well-known issues. But no matter how much they’re talked about, it seems like they only get worse over time. And it’s often ghosting victims (read: literally everyone) who perpetuate it when they’re in the hiring seat. Why is that?

James Hornick and Jeff Smith will break down the psychology of it in episode 91 of The 10 Minute Talent Rant, “Why Ghosting & Boasting Will Never Go Away”

Episode Transcript

The 10 Minute Talent Rant is live. I’m James Hornick 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 and hiring space, maybe even pitch a solution or two. Before we dig in, all of our content can be found on talentinsights.hirewell.com. This week’s topic. Jeff, are you ready? Science. I actually learned- we learned a lot in the last- learned a lot this week. Episode 91: why ghosting and boasting are never going away. And I really do mean never. So background on this a little bit. I wanted to talk about like interview chaos stories you hear on social media,

people getting ghosted, you know, whatever. They just keep like reaching new lows. I mean, I hear people from people directly. Like a long time contact of mine had like five interviews, had 24 hours to do a whole like business plan with slide decks and presentations and analysis. Got good feedback and then heard nothing.

And that’s not even like a rare thing. Everyone has that story. Everyone’s frustrated with these types of things. There’s not a day that goes by without us hearing again from someone. Like someone’s going to probably post in comments about how they had the same experience. 100%.

And it’s so topical for us because we’re always the scapegoats as recruiters where the proverbial message deliverer, or in this case, no message delivered at all. It’s also the same on the flip side, when we talk about boasting. When we say boasting, we’re talking about those companies out there who,

let’s be honest, all of us like to say good things about ourselves and oneself. And it’s no different than for a corporate entity that you’re so amazing. They’re convinced they’re doing everyone this great grand favor by having job openings, Even when they definitely have skeletons in their closet or even worse,

they probably kind of suck. Yeah. Why won’t these issues go away though? We’ve been talking about them forever. And ultimately we’re going to get into this a little bit of human psychology here. They’re not company problems. They’re human problems. Like it literally cannot be fixed on a macro level for everyone

everywhere because it’s human psych- it’s human psychology and lack of awareness that drive these things. Now you might be thinking, James, what the hell are you talking about? Like it’s simple. Recruiters need to communicate better and stop being assholes. But if it were that simple, if it were really so simple that people need to be more considerate, how amazing is it that like every low EQ, uncaring sociopath in the world decided to become a recruiter, like uncanny. Everyone.

They all just picked that profession. It’s a good point. It’s hilarious, but it’s a good point. Look, anytime there’s gridlock, the cause is always far too complicated to understand, you know, with just general superficial knowledge. Fact. Yeah. Things are way more complex than they seem on the surface.

So there’s this great book. It’s called the knowledge illusion and it explains this problem pretty succinctly, pretty perfectly. People overestimate their knowledge base until faced with the need to actually explain it. They can’t admit there’s a break in the process if you can’t admit that they don’t know enough about the process in the first place if you’re applying it to like the corporate setting. Yeah.

And that’s just how we’re built. The mind isn’t capable of getting into details about everything works. We’re just really good at spouting off like these high points when and if it’s necessary. Yeah. Now, there were two examples in this book that were kind of hilarious. Right? So the first was a toilet. How well do you know how a toilet works, right?

You use one every day, multiple times a day. I would 100 percent say very well, by the way. Yeah, yeah. Everyone out there, you’re like, of course, you know how toilet works. Okay, explain how it works though. Like explain how the siphoning effect works. Explain how the bends and where they are with the water levels and the mechanics behind the toilet.

I bet no one listening to this can actually explain the mechanics of how a toilet works unless they’ve been a plumber before. And there was another one. They had a similar example. They were talking about zippers and they said that they actually did a study on this one, which was hysterical. They asked the people.

They asked 100 people, 1000, whatever it was. Rate 1 to 10 your knowledge of how a zipper works. And the average score was like a 7 or an 8, right? Everyone uses it for every day. It’s really easy. Okay. Then they said, okay, explain how a zipper works in as much detail as possible and everyone couldn’t write it like scribbled notes.

Could not get into it. And then they asked this 1st question again. Explain like your knowledge of how a zipper works. Everyone gave themselves like a 2 or 3 out of 10. It’s not- A 2 or 3 is still too high. It’s not until you’re actually faced with needing to explain in detail how a thing, a processor, system works that you realize you don’t actually know how it works.

You know how to use it, but how it works is completely different. Exactly. So if you apply this to the office dork world, it’s exactly the same phenomenon with hiring systems, processes. If company A’s hiring process gets people in seats, then it works? Even if the details of what get you there are a complete and utter disaster for everyone else.

Right? So think of it this way. There’s no push to fix things that don’t appear broken to people who aren’t in the weeds. And I’m not, we’re not trying to call out every C suite. We’re just applying the point. Why would a CEO or a leader who has all the people he or she needs to do things, look at hiring when it’s seemingly isn’t broken, right?

They’re never going to go a level down to realize the interview process, for example, could use improvement. Like the feedback loops are too small. These are the points we’re making. The ability to make those changes requires a deeper understanding of how that actual process works and not just the superficial details.

Just for fun. And I think I know a thing or two about recruiting. I wanted to do the myself do the zipper example, but with the recruitment process. So went to chat GPT, which we’ll get into automation in a second here. But go ahead, like, so rate yourself, how well- if you’re a recruiter out there, you hopefully rate yourself fairly high. But let’s say you’re a hiring manager and not a recruiter. Rate yourself 1 to 10

how well you think you know how the hiring process works. Put this on. Okay. So give yourself that rating. My next question obviously is going to be, okay, list out every step in the hiring process. So put this on pause, take some time, list it out, see how far you get. Yep. I even thought about doing this myself.

Like, I just don’t have the time for this. But just for fun, I went to chat GPT. I asked it, okay, like, what are the steps of the hiring process? It gave me a real general answer. I said, okay, take each of those steps and really get granular with it. Like break it down each individual one. So it first started out just for an example, like, the high level was preparation phase, employer branding, recruitment strategy.

I’m like no, no. I want, like, really kind of getting the meat of it. So it was, like, creating a job description and creating a candidate profile, selecting the job board, posting it out, whatever. Total steps it came up with- and it even told me, it depends how granular you want me to get. But as a baseline conservative estimate, 111 steps. And they were legit steps. They were like no, we can’t remove that because again we both fancy ourselves as a bit of subject matter experts. 111. Then actually broke each of those steps down into like at least three more parts. So it says, or maybe it’s 333 steps.

I don’t know how granularly want me to get with that, but anyways. So two points, no one, no one does all these steps. No one. The point that the book makes really, really well is this is all just a giant collaboration. It requires collaborative human process with multiple handoffs. Yeah. I cannot do this singularly. And 111 steps, point number two, means there’s 111 opportunities

to screw it all up. Yeah. Which is really what’s happening. Well, it’s not just someone forgot to call you back. It’s this giant process that’s often not documented. It’s in the heads of multiple people and something along the way went haywire. Yep. And that’s why it happens. And interestingly enough, like even AI and automation can’t really fix it.

So there’s the automation paradox, which is the other thing is book had and I didn’t realize. But the more autonomous and more complex the process, the less you’re able to fix it when it gets fucked up. So if we automate more and more of the interview process, but no one actually knows what’s automated, what isn’t, or what goes into that automation,

there is more a chance that when it breaks down, we’re less likely to be able to fix it because all the component parts along the way we’re done by a machine or a program or something that no one else actually knows what goes into. Exactly. So moving away from, you know, these like more scientific posts centered more around the boasting aspects of things,

when we’re talking about some of this illusion on the corporate company side, objectively speaking, we know as reasonable human beings that the assertion that we are the best company in the world when you’re in interview process can’t possibly be true. However, many senior leaders and particular, again, no slight to founders, but it does happen a lot with founders.

They can’t understand why applicants and often even their own employees don’t see the same thing they see, which is i.e they are the best company in the world. So there’s reasons for that. Like hey, it’s your baby, it’s your life’s work. There’s a lot of stuff that goes into that- the book doesn’t even get into. Two points here.

Every company that those applicants are meeting with are saying the exact same thing all the time. So you can see how disingenuous this process becomes for an applicant and it happens fast. There’s a lot of fatigue hearing how great 17 companies are back to back to back to back. Yeah. Number two, it creates a false, by the way, sense that applicants need to grovel and jump through hundreds of hoops just to be even considered for your, you know, prestigious organization. Newsflash, everyone now, and even two or three years ago, can chat GPT, the Excel formula needed to do the required job skills.

Yeah. Not that big of a deal. This is how things go off track so fast- companies, and again, kind of more specifically, like the leaders who aren’t in the weeds have a false sense of like the thrift and utility of their stuff in the world. And it’s strong enough that it often blindly sabotages

something as simple as recruiting. If it’s happening in recruiting, it’s happening in other places too. And it’s all for some weird purity test. Like it’s no different than the politics of the day right now. You’re either absolutely in or you’re absolutely out. And you can’t just, you know, show up for a good day’s worth of work and clock out and go do your thing anymore.

One more thought kind of on that, good point Jeff, and ghosting, because these things are kind of interrelated. The only real way to fix them- and I want to say this because when I say that things aren’t fixable, I don’t mean they’re not fixable on a macro level, but they are on a micro level.

They can be changed at your company. It’s like, it’s not fixable. It’s just like having an understanding of like what’s going on in here. You have to have a top down process or top down initiative to mandate a new process. The C suite just wants butts in seats. That’s why butts are getting in the seats but everything else a trainwreck.

But if they say, we want butts in seats and we want you to follow up with every candidate within 24 hours of the interview. If that’s actually the plan that’s put in place, a new process will be created that will mandate that. And those metrics are tracked. The urgency has to be there. I guess that kind of leads us to takeaways here. For sure.

Every single person who is a hiring leader was, is, and will again, at some point, most likely be a job seeker or an applicant again, more or less. If everyone who got ghosted and dealt with the shitty interview processes, took it upon themselves to just say, “You know what? The next company I go to, I’m never going to let this happen.”

Poof. The whole thing goes away overnight. Every company would provide this amazing candidate experience and we’d be out of all of this. So see. See how easy that was? Not so easy in application. Projection by definition is a defense mechanism. So you have to look at it that way versus like this character trait or behavior.

Main takeaway for me with the book was we are all prone to it. Everyone. No matter how good you are at self identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Self awareness is the root of all of these issues. And to your point at scale, it is just not solvable. We’re wired this way. What you can do is acknowledge it.

And move towards mitigating those negative effects at the best you can, to your point, the micro level, at your company level. You have to kind of will this stuff to happen and consistently reinforce to, you know, again, limit those negative effects on your processes. Yeah. And in order to create a ghost and boast free process, companies, they have to understand the downside.

There’s downsides to how they treat people. Like that’s kind of the core thing. And if they realize that, even if they might not realize they’re doing it, but if they realize that’s it, you know, do onto others- like you were saying, if you’ve been burned, take it upon yourself at your company to make sure that’s not something that’s happening there aside from the goal of getting people in the door to actually work at your firm.

And then again, this is top down, like execs need to mandate how they want people to be treated to the process, take an interest in how that is, make sure there’s metrics set to kind of track that, make sure that is part of the process, not just like a negative externality or whatever the process.

Again, none of this can be solved industry wide. Thus the title of today’s show because every company has, it’s its own closed system. But there are companies who don’t do this already. That not every company goes to boast. There are companies that have already done this. Whether or not they realize they’re doing it or not, they’ve done a great job.

And so you probably don’t hear about them because they’re doing what they’re supposed to. So be one of those companies. There it is. We are short on clock. That is a wrap for this week. Thanks for tuning in the 10 Minute Talent Rant, part of the Talent Insights series, which is always available for replay on talentinsights.hirewell.com as well as YouTube, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon. Jeff, thanks again as always. Everyone out there, see you soon.

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