Why Being a Job Candidate Sucks

And why most companies are hiring wrong.

  1. Companies don’t respect candidates. Instead, they see themselves as important and in a position of power. There’s a huge lack of empathy for candidates and the time they’re putting in: research, cover letters, LinkedIn connections, leveraging their network, and god-fucking-forbid spec work projects.

  2. Here’s an example from most application replies:

    “If you’re a good fit we’ll get back to you and let you know.”

    Fuck. That. How about instead, you acknowledge my time and effort, and as a respectful human get back to me either way.

  3. When it comes to applications, don’t make it too difficult. Sure this leaves the door open for some shitty people to get in. But, you’ll also respect the time of people who are really good.

    Instead, optimize your screening process and weed out the wrong candidates quickly (but always tell them when they’ve been cut).

  4. Most interviews are a waste of time, but they don’t have to be. The typical interview offers no analysis of skills or capability. Instead, it usually focuses on hypothetical situations and bullshit exercises.

    “If you were the Product Manager at Amazon in 2003, what would you do!”

    Umm... how about this instead. Ask what I've actually done in my career, and why. Then, ask me about the teams I was on and the impact I made. That will be a much better indicator of my ability to do great work. Then afterwards, follow up with some people who have actually worked with me, verify what I told you.

  5. Make things more causal. Nervousness sucks for everyone. Be conversational and manage the tone of communication in a way that eases everyone’s mind.

    Interview time? How about coffee or beers. Or, at least, “how’s your week going?”

  6. Hiring reflects your brand.

    Job hunting is a personal journey and commitment. It will be on the forefront of every candidate’s mind. You can bet they’ll be telling friends and close colleagues all the details.

    If your company sucks at the hiring process, the candidate will feel disrespected, and they will tell that story.

  7. Spec work projects. Just stop.

    Really good people ask a lot of questions and rarely pretend to know answers. So, if they do offer answers in some project — they’re doing it to meet a requirement and they know they’re halfway bullshitting you.

    Instead, build a 'project' about what they’ve done in the past and ask them to show the process. Hell, have them write up an essay on their life’s journey. Just don’t throw an unscoped, undefined, hypothetical project their way. And definitely do not ask them to solve your business problems! That is real-world value you’re asking them to give you — for free. Fuck. That.

  8. Sadly, most recruiters and hiring managers are not timely or responsive.

    “We’ll follow up with you in the next week”

    ...unless we get busy, or forget, or don’t think you’re a good fit and therefore don’t care.

    Get back to candidates! Keep up your side of the bargain. Candidates worked hard to get on your radar, they want to hear back so much more than you know.

  9. For fucks sake, give feedback! People put in a lot of time applying and interviewing. Sure, maybe it didn’t work out, and that’s okay. But respect their effort and leave the door open for them or their network down the road.

    Screw the legal bullshit and help them understand what they can do to grow and get better. Explain why the fit wasn’t quite right or what skills they were missing. People respect getting feedback because no one is giving it. No one.

  10. Be empathetic. Remember how it must feel for these candidates. This is their livelihood. You’re asking them to spend a sizable chunk of their time and life-energy focused on your business. That’s a big deal and deserves respect! Show them the same effort and diligence they’re showing you.