Process of recruitment: Here’s a better idea

Process of recruitment

I’ve written a lot about process of recruitment and hiring over the years. I want to believe that HR is getting better and closer to that “seat at the table,” but in reality at most orgs it’s becoming less human. I’m not sure exactly why the same department hires and monitors the firing of people, but maybe I’m somehow naive. By and large, though, what it’s handed us is a crappy hiring process that alienates, as opposed to draws in, the best candidates. We massively overrate supposed “competence measures” like GPA while underrating what managers really need on their teams. (That would be stuff like curiosity and adaptability.)

Every year, we claim our recruitment methods will change and this will be the year it gets better. Maybe it will even be the year of People Analytics! But then the “real priorities” (i.e. making money) of the company take hold, and everything about hiring goes to pot. Why? Because it’s rooted in HR, and executives don’t care about HR. They want it like over-taxed moms want their kids at the zoo: be seen, but do not be heard. (“If you cry because of that lion, I will take that ice cream from you — and don’t ask me about your seat at the table either!”) We allow hiring managers to heap ridiculous demands on HR as they bellow about headcount and meow about the skills gap. HR often has no clue what a hiring manager really needs. It’s all been a series of half-ass meetings where the hiring manager talks about how busy he is. The wrong candidates make it through the funnel, largely driven by horribly generic interview questions, and we somehow call this whole ball of wax a “talent management strategy.” OK then!

Maybe there’s a path through the muck and the mire. Just maybe our process of recruitment can get better.

What are the process of recruitment pain points?

That’s how you sell, right? ID the pain points? Let’s run down a few:

OK. Now we know some of the problems. Let’s turn to a potential solution.

Drum roll, please

From a Business 2 Community article called “How To Create A Hiring Process That Consistently Strikes Gold:”

After each candidate applies, send them an email immediately asking them to answer about 5 job-related questions. The questions should pertain specifically to how they’d handle typical job tasks, should require them to think, and take around 20 minutes to answer.

Pretty simple. Some companies do it, but a surprising amount do not. Why would this even matter?

  • You screen out the lazy/passive applicants.
  • The company can get an idea of how different people would approach issues related to that specific position. 
  • Candidate-side, they get a sense of what the daily work might be like.
  • At Step 2 of the process of recruitment, we’ve already sliced the funnel and given everyone some context.

What normally happens?

At most places I’ve worked at or applied to, it’s this:

  • Job description is copied from a competitor or one from six years ago is updated by a single sentence
  • Recruiters use some amplification tool to blast to 200 networks
  • Candidates roll in
  • HR looks for context from hiring manager; “No time for that!” echoes the reply
  • Some “powerful automation suite” HR bought screens out 93 percent of candidates, including probably the best 2-3
  • A bunch of turd-guzzlers come in for interviews
  • Questions like “Tell me your biggest weakness, Tom” are tossed about
  • Someone is hired hastily because of an “urgent deliverable” for the team they’ll join
  • Six weeks later, they twiddle their thumbs all day
  • 11 months later, they’re gone
  • You essentially just lost money, but because it’s not directly on a balance sheet, no one cares

In a few bullet points, I just explained the core issues with HR in the modern age. It should matter — deals with people, gets talent — but because it so massively doesn’t matter to people with decision-making authority, everything becomes a train wreck. And, you know, teams get bad people. Those bad people become bad managers. The cycle continues.

Will this one email tweak save the process of recruitment?

No. But will it make the whole thing a bit more contextual and get the right people out of the process of recruitment quickly? Yes. And that is half the battle. (Or more.)


You can’t stand up at “key stakeholder” meetings and discuss the “war for talent” when you don’t actually care about the process by which you’re bringing people in. And yet, that’s exactly what most executives do. It’s 100 percent disingenuous and miserable, but we tolerate it. That’s hierarchy, folks. A lot of these guys care about profit and process. “People” is a distant third “P.” Whenever they talk about people or building the right teams, what they are really saying is “I want to make more money and prove growth and I don’t care how but this sounds right.” 

That’s where process of recruitment dies. The true decision-makers don’t care and toss it, devoid of context, at others. So maybe if we could add a few wrinkles back in, instead of automating everything out, we’d really do a “war for talent.”

Thoughts on the process of recruitment?

Ted Bauer


  1. I think you’re really on to something about the “Temple of Busy” concept, and I think hiring managers’ perceptions of themselves as “TOO BUSY TO DO _____” is a big part of what gums all this up.

    If you’re a Person in Charge at an organization, part of your job is finding the time to put a team together. I don’t buy the whole “I’m too busy for this” line; without something concrete to show to back up the claim (e.g. a daily work schedule), it’s generic enough a phrase as to be a cop-out. Most of us are pretty busy, but we find the time for important things because we, oh I don’t know, recognize them as important.

    • You nailed it. But somehow, to many people, this is … I don’t know, confusing somehow? Gotta see a balance sheet first? Flummoxing.

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