UX Advantage with Jared Spool & Karen McGrane

What does it take to create a culture of design? How does putting user experience first change the way organizations work? At UX Advantage, Jared Spool & Karen McGrane interviewed inspirational pioneers who deliver user experience as a competitive advantage to their organization. The UX Advantage Podcast traces the journey to that event with short bursts of insight.

Episode #16 The Candidate Experience Is the Customer Experience

February 12, 2016  ·  59 minutes

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The challenges we have ahead require top talent to execute. Design leaders, who could lead our organizations to new heights, are a rare gem to find and recruit. A designed approach to hiring will change the caliber of your team. From first contact through the candidate’s start date, the hiring process needs to be thoughtfully designed. You’ll see a performance-based talent system that replaces the talent repelling old-school HR processes.

Full Transcript

Lou Adler: Jared was telling me last night, and he just mentioned it again today that you guys have some hiring challenges in hiring teams.

Can I just hear a few of those so I know what we're about here? Then I can tailor some of my remarks, at least, specific to those. What are some hiring challenges you're facing? Say them as loud as you can.
Audience Member: Retaining.
Lou: Say that again.
Audience Member: Retaining good people.
Lou: Retaining, because you're hiring people that don't work out. Are they good?
Audience: [inaudible 0:24] .
Lou: Got it.
Audience Member: We want co-location, but we're not located in the "hippest"...
Lou: So location's always a challenge for everybody. Keep on going. Some more?
Audience Member: Our department has no idea how to hire for UX.
Lou: No idea how to hire. Keep on going. Are you seeing enough good people? You seeing enough good people?
Audience: No.
Lou: Are you hiring people who are demotivated, possibly?
Audience: Yeah. 

Lou: Actually maybe the managers are. That was actually the humor part of this show...


This could be along hour here, Jared. I've got the answer to all of your hiring challenges are in this little card here, which would be pretty remarkable if it's true.

I'm going to give you that card, but not quite yet. Your name is Alana? You're not sure huh? That's OK. I'm going to give you those cards, but don't hand them out yet. Just leave them there. Don't let me kick them.

What we're going to do is we're going to talk about hiring today. As Jared said, I wrote a book, and I talk about a lot of stuff. The essence of it is performance-based hiring. How do you actually hire people from a system, and a process standpoint?

Before I do that, I want to do something a little bit of...First of, if you have your hook up to the Internet, and you would like to get the handout for this, you can download it at budurl/uxoverview. I'll show that again, if you want to get the handout.

I want to do something a little bit unusual. I'm glad that chairs are here. Sometimes I sit down, and I say something pretty crazy. There was force. This could be nice comfort here. I'm going to say something a bit unusual.

I want to go fast forward to next year. How many of you going to be hopefully hire two, or three, or more people? So everybody. Let's say, a year from now, which would be August 19th, 2016, you've hired two, or three great, great people.

Because of that little card, you said, "Lou's card was great. It is unbelievable. I actually used it, and I hired two to three great people." Now, at the end I'm going to open up the Q&A. If you get the book, you hire five, or six great people. The card's still pretty good. You'll hire two to three.


You send me on Slack, whatever Slack is an email. You say, "Hi, I just hired some great people. I want to thank you for the card." I say, "OK. Why were they great? What about them made them great?"

Think about the best people you've hired and the best people you will hire. You'll have to say a year from now, "These are great people." What evidence would you demonstrate that they're great? Just give me some ideas. Loudly as you can.
Audience: Self-motivated.
Lou: They're self...they don't need a lot of direction to get it done. Keep on going.
Audience Member: Fit.
Lou: They're what?
Audience Member: They fit.
Lou: They fit with the team. They work well. Great. Keep on going. Is that what you meant?
Audience Member: Willing to learn.
Lou: Say it again?
Audience Member: Willing to learn.
Lou: Willing to learn. Great. And they have learned. Not only willing. They could be willing to learn and be stupid, but they're willing to learn and they learn and they apply, right? Sorry for that. Hope I didn't offend anybody on that last remark. If I did, you wouldn't know it anyway.


This is actually...well, it must be Baltimore. Keep on going. Great person. Why are people great?
Audience Member: They work hard.
Audience Member: They actually have talent.
Lou: They have talent. They work hard.
Audience Member: They work well with a team.
Lou: Work well with a team.
Audience Member: Dependable.
Lou: Dependable. You say it. They're going to get it done. Here's the thing. I've asked this question to a lot of people, engineers, market people, salespeople, executives. Here's the top traits of top people. If I miss some, put them down.

Consistent, high quality results. Not just once. They always get high quality results. In terms of design, whatever they do, they do great design. Whatever needs done, they do it well. They coach/manage themselves and they help others. They mentor others. They can work well with a team.

They have what I call "leadership." In my mind, the definition of leadership is a vision and the ability to execute on that vision, whether it's big or small, but, "Hey, here's what I think we should do." Then they go do it. They don't just talk about it.

They can figure out a problem and they come up with a resolution they actually implement. They're flexible. They can deal with change. "Hey, we got to change this. We're doing this."

They get it done. "Hey, yes. I need it done." "You need it done next week? Fine." They'll get it done, and they exceed expectations. There's probably other things that great people do, but do you think that's a pretty fair list?

Well, I'm going to contend that every one of those things is predictable before you hire the person. The answer to do that is in this little card. I'm going to walk you through it.

But just think about self-motivated and directed. First off, you have to be able to predict the people we hire. All of those mistakes you've made, if you've followed it, you knew those were going to happen.

You don't want random results. They happen all the time, because we're using a process that doesn't predict quality of hire. So you think about it. Part of it is in every one of those cases, you've defined the work. The work, they exceeded expectations.

They did the work on time. They did more than they're required to do. They dealt with change, but it's always about the work. If you don't define the work before you hire the person, it's random luck if you'll hire the right person.

By understanding if, "Hey, this is the work I need done. Let's see if we can get comparable work that you've done in the past in a comparable situation."

If they're growth rate...if you'll get their track record of performance over time, if it's like this, you've probably got a good person. If it's like this, you don't know. If it's like that, you've got a bad person.

Just by looking at their work history and see the size of the projects, the teams they worked with, you can start saying, "Hey, this is probably a pretty good person."

I call it the "achiever pattern." You can look at any person, and look at their track record, and see if they're in the top 25 percent of their peer group. In sales, people make quota time after time, year after year after year. In engineering, they win awards, they have patents, they give white papers, they speak to groups.

There's things that people do that you can forensically look at their background and say, "This is a good person." If you tend to always hire top 25 percent people, they'll probably wind up being a top 25 percent person.

They fit with the manager. This is as critical as anyone. If you're the hiring manager, and you don't work well with that person, it's bad for the person. The reality of the managerial fit is as important as the ability to do the work.

Also, from the candidates perspective. This [inaudible 6:42] talk, I want to talk about the candidate experience which is critical. Candidates want to know the work they want to do before they do it.

If a candidate says they're not sure what the work is when they accept the offer, I would think that's problematic if the person will be successful.

"Fit" is this person tapping into that candidates' intrinsic motivators. Certain people like to do work with teams, certain people don't. You got to tap into that and figure that out ahead of time. Does the candidate see that as a career move in comparison to everything else he or she is looking at?

This is what I want to do. On this card, you can assess all of those things. That's what we're going to do today. Here's what I call, "The five pillars of an exceptional candidate experience."

My background, some of you know it. I'm pretty old. I've been in the recruiting industry since 1978. I actually worked for a living prior to that for 10 years, so you can tell pretty quickly how old I am. Was running a manufacturing company and I literally been in thousands of search assignments.

We're working with companies now around the world, helping them design hiring processes. When we talk to candidates, here's what the decision to hire or not...how it affects their decision.

Number one, and from a company standpoint, do you have the right strategy in place to go after top talent? When I look at 9 out of 10 companies, they have the wrong strategy. They have a "weed out the weak" strategy, not "attract the best" strategy.

Number two, the job itself. Is this a job that a candidate can clearly say, "Yes. That's a career move"? The first moment the person hears about it, they have to make that decision.

The third one is the recruiter. How many of you guys use recruiters to find people? I want to see that again, because it was only about a third. How many of you use recruiters?

The recruiter is your sales rep for that job. If he or she doesn't know the job, you're missing on a lot of good people. We train recruiters and hire management in the world, the recruiter is the sales rep. If he or she doesn't know the job, you're done for.

You, the hiring manager. You think, and there's a motto here, or an adage, that says, "Hiring managers hire in their own image." The truth is, the best candidates accept jobs in their own image. If you're not a leader, you're not a mentor, you don't know the job, they're going to dis you pretty quickly.

The process. Is the process professional from the moment of the first contact to the final close? All of those things are critical. We're going to have time to talk about those at a pretty much highlight level. Again, there's the hand out if you want it. [inaudible 9:01] url.com/uxoverview.

If you want to reach me, I think it's probably on the card here somewhere, info@louadlergroup.

Just read this, Jared knows about this. I was contacted about five months ago from a professor at Harvard. He sent this very nice email to me, and we're doing work with Harvard right now, so just take a look at that, where we're going here.

The problem is, I didn't tell him I could summarize it all on this little card. He would have taken the email back. Now let's talk about the right strategy. When you think about hiring, there's only four big decisions that are typically made. Everything you do can be divided into one of four buckets.

First off, let me just ask you this question as I get into that. Is there a surplus of great talent for your jobs, or is there a scarcity? How many of you would say scarcity? Surplus anybody? Hard to find surplus. Let me just make this statement, and then I'll prove it.

You cannot use a surplus of talent strategy in a scarcity-of situation world. I'm going to contend most companies, and I've looked at a lot of your job descriptions, you believe there's a surplus. There isn't a surplus. There is a scarcity.

When you think about the hiring process, there's four big decisions. The "Having" decision is a person supposedly has to have on his or her skill set and resume. Skills, experience, academic background, levels of this, and competencies, and all this stuff.

"Getting" is what a candidate gets on day one. They get a job title, they get a compensation, they get a location, and they get a company name. "Doing" is what they're going to do in year one. It's the actual work itself. "Becoming" is what they can do if they do the work well.

Most companies build a strategy from left to right, weed out the weak. "Let's post a boring job description, let's let everybody see it, and let's see if we can get good people." It doesn't work.

There's not one great person that says, "Yes, I'm going to get another year of doing exactly the same work I've done before, get another year of skills." Nobody thinks that way, but our systems are designed that way.

A scarcity situation, you have to emphasize what people can do and become before you worry about the skills. I guarantee that if they can do the work they have all the skills they need, and it's not what you've written on your job description.

I'll say that again, if they can do the work, they have exactly the skills needed, in exactly the right balance. I have to prove that, but I'll say it. If you want to hire great people, you've got to emphasize what they can do and become. Not what they have and what they get.

This requires, I call this the double shift. You the hiring managers have to define the work, not the skills needed to do the work. Recruiters have to tell the candidates, "Hey, don't worry about the money, lets tell you the career move first." If your recruiters can't make that pitch, you're not seeing 90 percent of the candidates you should be seeing.

You recruiters will determine the success of your hiring capability if you use recruiters, but it starts by you taking responsibility for telling the recruiter what he or she needs to know. The idea is, we're going to go from a right to left strategy, attract the best, not weed out the weak, that's step one.

If I just asked you, what do you think is the strategy you're using? A weed out the weak or attract the best? First let me ask you, how many think you have a strategy that's to attract the best, just to give a sense? Three. How many of you have weed out the weak? Four. There's 500 or 300 of you.

The point is, if you post boring job descriptions that emphasize skills and experiences, using a surplus strategy, which will not work in the scarcity of talent in our world. It's also demeaning. The other word must have you got the wrong strategy. I had certainly a terrible candidate experience.

Let me show you some other work here that I want to emphasize. I do a lot of work with LinkedIn, we did a big survey, and I'm going to be talking to a number of people next week on the results of the survey. How do the best people get jobs?

I've done some other surveys, but the essence of it is, and here's a chart we did. It's subtracted down, but nonetheless, it's almost 3,000 people. The blue line and the orange line are the most important. The graph on the far left, on the chart in the far left says, "Underemployed, or unemployed?"

We asked candidates, "How did you get your last job, and when you go it, were you active, were you kind of semi-active, or were you passive?" On the far left were active candidates who were underemployed, almost two times as many people got their jobs via network.

The orange is network, and the blues applied through a job posting. The second line from the left says, "Employed and active," so they're fully employed, but active almost a little bit more people got their jobs via networking. Even for active candidates, 60 to 70 percent of the active candidates got their job via networking.

I'm going to say there's a pretty small pool of active candidates. Passive candidates, the ones in the middle in the third column over from the left, these are people who've started to think about leaving, but just tiptoed into the market. Four to one got their jobs via some employee referral, or some networking, or some person they knew.

A passive candidate is 20 to 1 networking. When I talked to companies, most people spend 80 percent of their time on job postings, and wonder they can't find enough good people. Which is not only a bad strategy, it's also a bad approach to finding these people, because you're using the wrong tools.

I'll make it even worse. Only 10 to 15 percent of the total market is active. That's not a lot of people, because there's 85 percent that isn't active. 15 to 20 percent have started to look, and 65 to 75 percent are passive.

You're sharing 10 to 15 percent of the total market with everybody else who's competing for the same people. Indeed there was 31,000 new UX and UI design jobs. Probably more than that, but that's what I found, and I'll show you a couple of postings.

The idea is, if people get their jobs through networking, then you've got to spend most of your time leveraging your employee referral program or your networking program, or using recruiters who are highly networked.

Just start thinking about laying the landscape, you have a strategy that has to focus on what they can do and become, and a sourcing approach on how to get jobs via networking.

Let me kind of define it. I did this with a huge company yesterday in New York City, they said they're not seeing enough good people. I said, well, you see this little x, which is the 5 or 10 percent of the people you want to hire, and you're sharing that with 50, or 30, or 100 other companies that also want to find that person.

These people are skills and experience qualified. They have all the skills you want and they're applying, not necessarily the definition of a great person, a person who's great who has all the skills, wants to do something other than what you've written there.

Now, there's another group of people that's at least 10 times bigger than that, who saw the posting, or didn't see the posting. They actually are skills and experience qualified, but the job posting was so boring and cumbersome, so hard to apply, they didn't even want to engage themselves.

That's 10 times, but now there's a group that's 20 to 30 times bigger than that x, who are performance qualified. I talked about the strategy. They can actually do the work, but they have a different mix of skills and experiences. They are active candidates who actually if they saw it would say, "That's a pretty good job, maybe I'll take that."

There's an even bigger market, 50 to 100 times that are performance qualified, but they're passive, and they need to be contacted and nurtured. You're just seeing such a fraction of the market. Many of your problems are such that you're just not seeing enough good people.

Even if you were seeing them, the jobs that you're posting are boring, so it wouldn't matter if you saw them. There's a lot of overhauling that needs to be done here.

One overhauling is that, you can't use or find your posting in a haystack for candidates, you apply in some boring demeaning process, and you weed out the weak, which is a surplus strategy.

To get the best people, you've got to reach out to them and nurture them, and it takes time. The hiring manager is a critical orchestrator of this time process. Finding people who apply is very transactional. Finding a great person, and the outer rings are there, is consultative recruiting.

You have to nurture the person, you have to actually say, "This is an interesting job, would you be open to talk about it?" Different process, the job itself you have posted, now I'm going to show you a few in a moment here.

They're pretty bad. They're ill-defined, they're at best lateral transfers, versus a career move. One of the criteria of a great person is, they have to see it as a possible career move.

They have to see about it in the writings that you put out there. They have to hear about it from the recruiter, and they have to hear about it when they have a conversation with the hiring manager in the first time. If it doesn't clearly that, they'll opt out in droves.

The final piece is, we're focusing on quality of hire on return on investment, not cost and efficiency. I talked of HR leaders around the world, heads of talent, and, "I've got to reduce the time to fill, I've got to reduce the cost to hire." They never talk about, "I've got to improve the quality of the people I'm seeing."

I don't know who's in charge. I say, "Well, whose in charge of quality of hire?" They say the hiring manager. I talk to the hiring manager, "No, it's HR." To my mind, the best hiring managers demand great people, and they'll go out of their way to get it.

So I'll put the burden on the hiring manager. That's the person who should be responsible. That's his or her team. The idea is, you're only seeing a fraction in the market because you got the wrong strategy. The market is, 95 percent of the market, or 99 percent of the market, is outside of what you're doing today.

One way to solve the problem that you've identified earlier is to expand the pool, but to expand the pool, you have to change your process and the strategy as well.

Let's understand why people take jobs. This is very important, so you can get a sense of, from a macro level to a little bit more micro level. I've asked recruiters and done surveys around the country, and I ask recruiters, "When you first talk to a candidate, first conversation, what do they want to know?"

The criteria during that, what do they want to know before...? You get a name of a good person and they say, you call a person up and what do they want to know? They always want to know what they get on day one.

They get a title, they get a compensation package, they get a company name and they get a location. Not interested, not interested, not interested. With most people, you'd think that would be logical.

However, this is another survey with LinkedIn. This is actually the survey I'm going to be doing next week, but I've known it for many years.

When you ask the same people three or four weeks later when they actually get the job, who have they really a strong person, "Why did you accept this job in comparison to everything else you looked at?" Totally different.

It's the career opportunity, the job and the impact. The hiring manager and the team they're going to work with is critical to the decision. The compensation and work-life balance is there, but it's not number one on the list, it's fourth or fifth of the list. As long as you're above the threshold, that's not important.

As long as that's the fare, if you're really below, then it a problem. But as long as you're above the threshold, then the work itself and the team they're working with is much more important than the compensation, even the location.

They also want to be invested in the company culture and the mission of the company, because they say, "Business and this an industry I want to be part of." That's the criteria. But if you screen people on the criteria to engage, you're going to lose them. That's day one criteria. That's again going back to the surplus mentality.

Recruiters say, "OK, you fit with my budget. They have the right skills. Let's go forward." That's not how great people make the decision. They make the decision based on what they're going to do. At every step, you have to focus on the career opportunity and the career move.

Let me just give you one sense if I had a class of recruiters here, because at this point in time, it's, "Well, what do I do?" They say, "What's the money?" Every good recruiter wants to know that, because 99 percent they [inaudible 20:51] , "What's the compensation?"

I do a lot of work in Silicon Valley and I'm moving around. I told recruiters, "Is this what you say? If the job doesn't represent a career move, it doesn't matter what we pay you. Let's first see if it's a career move, then we'll figure out if we can work the pay."

The idea is when you have to nurture person, it takes hours to figure out the criteria to accept over an extended period of time. Two to three weeks. "Let's just talk about it. Let's nurture." They got to understand that they've got to convince themselves, but what if they're not looking?

You call a passive candidate at 10 o'clock in the morning. At eight o'clock when they left for the office, they weren't looking for a job. The recruiter gets in touch with that person 10 or 11 o'clock, that person goes home at 9 and says, "I got a call from a recruiter."

The spouse or significant other, best friend, says, "I didn't know you were looking for a job." "I wasn't, but it sounds like an interesting job." The best friend says, "What does it pay?" The candidate then's got to say, "It's not about the compensation, it's about the career move. This looks interesting."

Plus candidates don't just sell themselves, they got to sell every person they know. Recruiting a passive candidate is different. Totally different. It involves a hiring manager, it involves recruiter, it involves the hiring team, collectively. That's the experience. It is a different experience.

You have a transactional process, You're not going to hire great people. All the problems you said, in my opinion, are result of a transactional hiring process, not a consultative hiring process.

Now, you're tracking the right audience. My wife said I should not put this picture of this new Miata up there. But I saw this Miata at an art show when where I lived in Laguna Beach, and I said, "I had to have that car." My wife says, it's a new Miata, says, "You're too old. You don't need a car."

Then I'm reading about this Miata. It's designed for 40-year-old males, who have $30,000 and no kids that they can spend, just because they want a new car. I told to my wife, "You're still too old for the car." [laughs]

I just looked at that, and I didn't know that was designed for a male, 40 years old, whose kids are leaving, and had a little $30,000 extra to buy a car he didn't need. I said, "That's me. I want that car. I still want it." I was thinking about, "How can I talk to my wife, and let me have that car?" I cannot figure out how to do that yet, but I'm still thinking about it.

The point of that is, it was designed for the right person advertising. It's just a car. Just hit me. But now what's your target audience? Does your advertising, and we all talk about the design. Advertising is part of design. Does it meet your target audience?

This is how your job postings look on Indeed. One of the primary sources of where active candidate see it. I just put in the words, "UI," or "UX," 31,000 job postings. They're boring.

Look at this Senior UX Digital Design. Read these words. This is the words. Number one, "Senior UX Designer, Mobile Apps." That's hot. "UX Designer for..."


"UX Designer. Four plus years of experience as a professional concept designer. Will build the life full polished products that excite." Number two. "The successful will be able to build strong relations across the organization. Apply for UX Team now." You should be embarrassed.


But now I pick the few. If you think this is bad, here's what the best I could find said. The best, and it was pretty bad. "User Experience Designer. San Mateo, California." This is the hottest market in the country, just north of San Jose.

"Marketo is the world's most loved marketing software platform. It's loved in large part because of the experience." Then it says, "What does Marketo do?" They don't tell you. You have to go to another website.


"What do Marketo UX designers do? Here's an example." You got to go to another website. "What makes a good Marketo UX designer? Creative." This isn't very creative, you come up with new solutions.

OCD. Here's interesting. This was actually interesting, but it was more for an English major. "OCD. Does it bother you that there's a misspelling in this question?" Don't worry it's there.


Then that number four was concise. I'm sure the person who wrote that said, "Oh, that's so funny. They'll laugh about being concise."

Here's a more typical one. It has all the list from the ATS system, which is how you post jobs through the Applicant Tracking System. None of these stuff matters.

Why can't some designers get into the idea system? No candidate cares about the location of the title, or the administrative stuff that's on top of the design. This is a terrible design in and of itself.

Then is says, "Mandatory technical skills." That's really appealing to somebody who's looking for a career move. Yet, what it says is actually pretty interesting. It says, "Discuss projects with clients to understand their business objective, scope and plan, understand..."

That's actually not a technical skill, that's actually the work. In some way, it's OK. It's not great, but it's OK. I'll give you a great one. But to me, this is how you start. That's why you're only getting one percent, you're not seeing very many good people.

I always suggest is have a great posting, even though the 99 percent aren't going to go, that you can drive people to the posting. It is critical you have a great posting. I'll give you an example of an email that can be converted to a posting.

Now, I'm talking about person descriptions versus job descriptions. I looked at about 30 of those and they were all terrible.

It doesn't surprise me you're not hiring good people. A job description with skills, at least what's published, skills experience, academic background. [inaudible 26:25] comes in, says, "What are you looking for?" A recruiter asks you, you take the assignment.

This is what you put, "I will need, seven years of this, two years of this, his skills got to be great at this, great at that. His competencies, because you have a competency model, and a better responsibilities."

But when you think about other than responsibilities, that is not a job description. I'll say it again. That is not a job description. It is a person description. A job doesn't have skills. A job doesn't have academic background. A job doesn't have competencies. A person has those things.

When you think about, let me just ask you this. Have you ever met someone that has all of those of those skills and competencies who is not a top performer? Have you ever met somebody? Has all the skills and competencies. He's [inaudible 27:10] , right?

Have you ever met someone who is a top performer who doesn't have exactly that background? Have you ever met someone who is a top performer? I would tell you a hundred percent of every top person doesn't have that.

The definition of a top person is getting more done with less. You get assigned bigger projects in the first year. You get promoted more quickly. By definition, the best people have less experience. They just do more with their less experience.

If you're a top person, you say, "Yes! I want to do exactly what I've been doing, and beat the meat in the process." That's really what you're saying. The candidate experience for people who apply is miserable. That's why smart candidates understand how to network, which is I teach for recruiters how to get names of people via networking.

When I ask a hiring manager, I said, "Let's put this person description in the parking lot. 'What does the person need to do to be successful?'" This is the question I asked you earlier. I said, "You've hired people, and on August 19th, 2016, you sent me an email and thanked me."

I ask, "What did these people do?" You described it. "Why would you think these people are great people? It's because the work they do, so let's define the work they need to do to be successful." That' not rocket science, it's common sense.

A job description is a job. It's things that people do. They grow sales. They launch new products. They build teams. They evaluate processes. They do stuff. It all starts with an action verb, not a passive, "Have to be responsible for...Mandatory."

It's passive this, and if I want to do their work, that's a good move. "I want to grow sales by 10 percent in northeast territory. I want to build a team of four accountants to launch a new international [inaudible 28:51] practice [inaudible 28:52] consolidation project." Then people want to do that stuff.

I guarantee, if they can do that work and hold that as a standard. The ability to do that work and be motivated to do that work, they will have exactly the skills needed. Exactly. They couldn't do the work if they didn't.

You don't have to say the work. You say, "Hey, can you do this work? Let's prove it. Prove it to me you can do the work and have the skills." Here's the difference maker to match my quality of hire.

Focus on what people need to do with what they have, not what they have. Define the outcomes. The outcomes are direct. They determine the skills needed. The best people need less skills.

I talked to a director of engineering of a big high tech firm, had to have 7 to 10 years for this new the little chip design, a high-powered chip, it was a few years ago, had to have 7 to 10 year to had to have a senior designer.

I said, "What if I found somebody who had three to four years who could do that work. Would you want to see him?" I said, "An exceptional person who could do, would you want to see him?" "Absolutely, I'd want to see that person. It means he's an all star." I said, "But you never will, because this says you have to have 8 to 10 years."

I said, "Define this result. You got to design a state of the art circuit, I can accept that. But don't put in these qualifications that are meaningless or demeaning. Focus on the work, what they can do and become as a result of that."

I ask these people, I've asked this question literally from 1990 to today to 30,000 hiring managers. This question. "Who would you rather hire, someone who can deliver the results, or someone has all the skills?"

How many for results? I got to have 105. How many for skills? I'm not adding any. Did you just raise your hand? [laughs] It's a mistake. It's all right, I'll subtract that one from that, it's 104.

The idea is this is performance qualified. That opens up the pool 10 times the skills qualified. It all sums the pool. The diverse candidates, returning military vets, just the total change in focus.

If they can do the work and are motivated to do the work, you got a hot candidate. Why would you exclude that group by using a surplus model, which is having, getting, doing, becoming that surplus? Let's focus on what they can do and become, and screen them on that.

A couple of companies I knew I guess are coming up with different ways of screening people based on what they can do and become. But the idea is, it's a heck of a lot more exciting to focus on the work itself.

Let me ask you this. If you use recruiters or you've ever been approached by a recruiter, all right let's talk about it from a consumer's perspective.

How do you feel about a sales rep who approaches you or tries to sell you or your company something, or even in a retail environment, where the sales rep doesn't really know the product? They're just trying to hustle for the sale. How do you feel about that? Pretty bad, right? You just want to walk out.

That's how candidates feel about recruiters, who don't know the job. They're just trying to hustle to feel. It's your responsibility to make sure your recruiters understand what that job is.

You, as the hiring manager, have to say, "Yes. I will see 100 percent that people can do that work, but you have to prove to me they can do that work."

I talked to, was it Bill? Bill, are you here? You're here, I know. I saw you. It was Bill from PayPal. We spoke yesterday. He told me he embeds his recruiters to his department, which is a critical component. Recruiters have to recognize.

The hiring manager have to know the people, have to understand that not only the job, but also the experience. Focus on performance quality. It opens the pool from 10X-100X. Then, I always ask this question.

Why would a top person want this job, if it weren't for the money? What's the employee value proposition? Why is this a great job for someone who's not looking, and isn't going to take the job, other than money?

If you can't answer that question, you will not hire a great person. Just post your boring job and get the best you can. Because if you can't answer that question, you'll never hire a great person. When I take assignment, I just say, "I can't do it."

If you can't answer that question, you're affecting a person's life here. If you can't answer the question, you're not going to hire a great person. Not only defining the work, but then, why is this a great job for the right person?

Now, you probably can't read this, so let me read it for you. I don't think you can. I'm going to read this email. I was talking with somebody, who was Dana. You're from Michigan, right Dana?
Dana: Yup.
Lou: Remember I mentioned I had a company in Michigan. It was in Kalamazoo. I was talking with Division President needed to VPHR. I was trying to think, "How can I get anybody to go to Kalamazoo?"

I can't believe I did it, but this email helped. It says, "Subject letter, an open letter from the CEO to my next VPHR." Jane. That wasn't necessarily Jane. It was Marge, the right name. [laughs] "I need help making our business become as big as it possibly can, but we can't do it without you. Here's some background."

"Our company is growing very rapidly and more stretched our current nature policies, procedures, and town's acquisitions program to the breaking point."

"We need to become totally focused on what really matters, every single person in this company, and everyone we'll be hiring in the future. If we get this part right, there's no stopping us."

"To put off though, we need topnotch VPHR, and to build the right type of HR organization and infrastructure to address this unusual global opportunity. Without the right HR executive, we will not be successful."

It goes on to say, "Hey, not only we have a seat at the strategic table, you also lead it." I found 60 or 70 people on LinkedIn. We're not looking 40 percent, one that talked to me about this job, 40 of the 60. Didn't even list a single skill.

Not one skill is listed there. Big objective is turn around a company, from the HR perspective. Capture their intrinsic motivator that turns something big. The way we said it is, "If you're interested, send us a half page write-up of something you've done that's most related."

40 out of 60 people sent little summary of what they did, which I thought was remarkable. For advertising purposes, tell stories. Don't list a bunch of boring jobs. You don't need to list skills. There's no law that says you need to list skills.

A person can take the number one labor attorney in the country. David Goldstein, Luke Mendelssohn. You do not need to list skills. You just have to have something that's objective. This person needs to turn around a large $100-million organization. It's objective.

Capture the intrinsic motivator in the story. Emphasize what they going to do, what they going to learn and become, the doing becoming the future. Attract the best, not weed out the weak, and sell the discussion, not the job. It's not transactional. It's consultative.

I told recruiters, "Don't sell the job. Sell the conversation about the job, about the career remove. Sell the next step, not the fill the job." Too many recruiters were in this transactional mode. "I got to do this quickly. I got to do this quickly."

No great people are going to be hired quickly. This is where I'm going to do something a little bit unusual. I have time to do this too. One of the most important question I ask is, once I understand the job, we have to launch a new product line. You're responsible for this part of it.

Whatever the task is, I ask the candidate to describe something they have accomplished, that's most comparable to that. Obviously, I don't have an open job for each of you here. I have 110 or 120 people. I'm going to ask my more generic version of the most significant accomplishment question. 

You could still ask this question. This question is, think about your most significant career accomplishment, the best thing you've ever done in your career. If we have 15 minutes to talk about it, what would you like to talk about?

The way I set the scenario up, I'm going to interview everybody now on that question. I'd like you to think. Imagine that you're coming into my office. We're going to talk for 15 minutes only.

The question will be is, I want to hear for 15 minutes your most significant career accomplishment. You got 15 minutes to tell me until it's the end of the interview. This should be a career defining moment.

Something that if somebody understands that, they get a good sense of who you are as a person. Take 20 seconds to think about what you want to talk about, and I'm going to go through here. I'm going to get ready to interview everybody in the room at the same time. This has never been done in a public group.


That's why I need to sit down. These chairs are so sleepy though. I don't know if I'll make it. This one, I'll take 15 minutes. I'll take three or four minutes to go through it. I'm going to ask you a series of questions. Do not write down anything.

I urge you just to think about how you would answer the questions, if you are actually being interviewed this way. You'll learn it better that way. This is the card I'm going to give you. It's on here. You just have to follow the rules here. These are valuable card here.

You come into my office. I say, "Hey, very nice to meet you. Why don't you give me a quick overview of your most significant accomplishment? You can give me 30 seconds, 1 minute, 1.5 minute overview.

If you talk more than two minutes, I'll shut you off, but now I get the essence of it. I want you to give me a sense of...first off, how did you get this assignment? How did you get it? Did you volunteer for it? If you volunteered, why did you volunteer?

If someone assigned you this project, why did they assign you the project? Let's go to the beginning. In fact, when did it actually take place? Give me a sense of the month and the year just so I get a feel for it.

Give me a snapshot of it. What are the big challenges you face right away, when they got there at the headline level? Let's go fast forward to the end. By the way, how long did it take to complete this? Let's go fast forward to the end.

Give me a snapshot of the end. What are the big changes you made? Snapshot at the end. Let's go back to it. If you are to pick the one or two biggest challenges to overcome that, what were they?

One or two biggest challenges. Got it. OK, good. In that channel, what was the environment like? When I mean the environment, what was your manager like? What were the resources you have? What was the pays?

How do people make decisions? Is that an environment you like, or is that one you just live with? I assume you had a bunch of skills you brought into this job. How do you apply those skills? What were they? And how did you apply them on the job?

Did you learn any skills? How'd you learn those skills, and how'd you play those on the job? Let's get into initial. Where did you go the extra mile? Give me some examples of we did something we didn't require to do. You just went overboard with it.

I want you to give me two, three examples of we took the initiative. What was your single biggest success? Walk me through that. Why do think it was a big success? What's your biggest failure?

You say, "I wish I hadn't done that." I assume you put a plan and place for this. Walk me through how you did the plan. How did you build the plan? How did you get the resources of your plan? How did you manage to the plan?

By the way, did you achieve the plan? Was there any time you were going off plan, you had to recover? Walk me through how you did that. What was the single, biggest problem you had to face? How'd you overcome it? How'd you address it?

What was the single, biggest decision you had to make? How'd you make that decision? How'd you make the trade-off analysis? Why did you choose that way? In your mind, in retrospect, was it the right decision? We're getting close to the end here.

If you could do this whole project over again now today, versus X years ago, would you do it any differently? What have you learned? Would you learn about yourself? I assume you grew as a result of this significant career challenge.

How did you change as a result of this? As you think back in retrospect, what did you like most about it? What you really you inflow? You're highly motivated. Would you like lease, so you just got it out or delegate it? Time is up.

Wait, wait. I got one last question. What's your significant career accomplishment? What kind of recognition did you receive for it? In your mind, was the recognition appropriate for what you did? Thank you very much. Hold off handing this out. I just want to ask a few questions.

Given that, would I have learned anything about you? Not one question. Probably would. The idea is, if we have a smaller group, we have people write what they've learned about you on that.

They say tenacious, good technical skills, team project orient, what motivate...you could see it's a bunch of behaviors and competencies they write. Great at problem solving, whatever it is.

I'd say, "I didn't ask you a behavioral question. I asked you an accomplishment-based question, where you had to provide all your skills and competencies, collectively to accomplish some task."

People realize that's cool. I really learned a lot. Not just the form of the question I can ask, whether there are different ways of asking the same question. Typically, a lot of behaviors and skills standout as a result of this.

There's a lot of times managers, "Well, the candidate didn't tell me that." I said, "It's not their responsibility to tell you. It's your responsibility to get the information." If you are judging the person on his or her own presentation, you're not judging performance.

You're measuring their personality and presentation skills, not their ability to do the work you want done. You got to dig deep, to get this information. Let me ask you this question from a user experience standpoint. If someone interviewed you that way, how would you feel?

Would you feel good? How many of you would felt positive about this kind of interview? How many of you would have felt a little bit concerned or uncomfortable? You feel free.

Some people who have a few accomplishments, I tend to give people the accomplishment question ahead of time. Thing about it that I want to know what they've done. I'm not trying to trick them. I really want to know what they've done.

When I listen to candidates who said that, when a manger asks these questions, even when I don't get that job, that manager knows who I am. They know when I'm capable of doing. "I want to work for that person."

For managers who start selling right away, "I don't want to work that. They have low standards, or just trying to hustle me into a job." The idea of a deliberate, structured, in-depth interview, makes candidates feel better.

They feel, "Hey, if everyone else is hired this way, this is obviously probably a good team." This is a professional interview, and it needs to be done. You have to understand. Even if you know the candidates got used you got to ask it. I spend 10 or 15 minutes on this.

I also ask it multiple times. I ask similar questions for every job, so I start seeing a trend line of performance overtime. It does start the recruiting process. What I do is, I look for gaps between my job. Am I able to find my work? I know what work it is.

I built a performance-based job description. What I'm looking for is, this is the candidate. Here's my job. There's actually some stretch factors here. I look for, is there a difference of two biggest stretch?

If the candidate's too light, if there's no stretch, the candidate's too heavy. Put 10 or 15 percent stretch that has a good job. That's how I can demonstrate that the job's a career move. The interview is really key part of that.

Fact finding, peeling the onion is the key. Let me do this. Do you think this card would be helpful? It also says how to assess the candidate. It also shows how to define the work. Summarize my whole life 30 years of work in this little card, which is depressing, but I did.


I got the idea from Baja Fresh. They have little three pork menu. I said, "That's cool."


We've got cards. We'll give you each one. Remember, if you use that, a year from now, you're going to call me. Give me one minute to hand those out. Jared, I thought you had a fast group here?


We have a performance issue here.


Does everyone have one? You get one. Very deliberate group here. Here they're coming. Let me talk about the process a little bit, and then we're going to open up for some questions.

When you think about the hiring process, there really is a funnel. When you look at the total market, if you just use the people who apply, you're seeing less than one percent of the total market.

You tend not seeing the best one percent of the total market. What typically happens is, you have to build a pipeline or a list of names. You got to contact these people. You got to nurture these people. Hiring managers even need to engage with people.

A lot of it involves networking, leveraging employee refill programming, building out your networks. You got to recruit these people, then you get them to become serious candidates. Interview them, and you hire them.

It's a lengthy subject, process. What typically happens is, most companies have with this active process, they filter people through this having and getting screened. Eliminate the best people is the result. They still want to do that faster.

The guys, "We're doing it real fast." Doing the wrong things faster isn't necessarily a good thing to do. A scare strategy means you have to do all of the steps, all of the steps. That's what performance-based hiring is. In fact, I was with a company that has tens and hundreds and millions of dollars.

They're redesigning a new job board. They invited a group of people up to San Jose area for a full day of totally redesigning the job board, which was cool. I was really excited about it.

It turned out they had three or four ideas. What they're already doing, they just asked us if we like that idea or not, which I thought was disappointing. One guy, next to the designers in the room.

One guy said he had this cool design for the apply button, really fancy. I said, "What do you think of this design? It was a real UXA designer." I said, "I don't like it." I said I would design a button with four rings."

I just drew this chart. The outer ring is explore. Don't make people apply, because 99 percent of people don't want to apply. They want to just explore and have a conversation with the recruiter or hiring manager.

Maybe even a video conversation, or just even a video from the hiring manager. "This sounds interesting." That's the first step. The second step is, "Hey, would you seriously consider this?" The first step might be 5 or 10 minutes. The second step might be a couple of days. Let's have a serious conversation.

This could be a cruel ponder at, little bit more in-depth. The next one might be, and I forced this issue is, I want all candidates to meet the hiring manager before they ever come on site in a phone screen, 15-20 minute phone screen.

I urge you guys to do that. It's an exploratory conversation with the candidate. You describe the job a little bit. You ask the candidate what they've done. You give a short version of the most significant accomplishment question. 

Then, you invite the candidate, "Hey, I really like your background. Would you like to come on site?" That's the way it would work. It's just this nurturing process. If you do it slowly, it can still be done. But it takes a lot of time, hours, at least to understand, "Hey, this is a career move."

If you do that, number one, you never have to meet people who...it's a waste of time to meet anybody in person, who's not at least in the top third, a real possible hire. It's just a waste of time.

At least this way, you meet a few more people on the phone and to record what he or she is doing. You meet some good candidates. Then, they push the apply button. Yes, I do want to apply, because there are some legal requirements when they apply for a job.

Nonetheless, there's no legal...let's say this. You have a lot of leeway, with respect to legal aspects of candidate movement and evaluation. Before they apply, you have some rigid rules once they apply for the job. This is the process.

It's a little slower process, spread over a couple of weeks. But it starts by, "Do you have a career move?" If you don't have a career move, you have nothing. That's what performance-based hiring is.

In that little card, it's totally summarized. Let me give you the quick take. A performance profile is the performance-based job description. You have to know what he work is. You have to know what the work is, in terms of outcomes.

Every job can be represented by four or five key performance objectives. Number two, talent centric sourcing is going after everybody in the total market. The 99 percent that don't apply, how do you get those people? It's better advertising, better networking, and nurturing with the recruiter and a hiring manager.

The third step is the interview. The hard core of the interview is what I've just done here with you guys, asking the most significant accomplishment question. Not again to the other part. You get the book. I also get into the work history of you.

Again, I'll ask some questions in a few minutes here. You can ask some questions in a few minutes. Whoever asks some good questions gets a copy of the book, and then you'll hire five or six good people next year. Then, you got to close the deal. I don't close the deal on money.

I close the deal on this, what you guys should do. Three or four days, or a week before you want to make a candidate an offer, either you or the recruiter asks these questions.

"Let's put our compensation package in the parking lot. I know it's important, but let's put it in the parking lot. Do you want this job?" You listen to the candidate.

If the candidate can't tell you why he or she wants this job at the internal gut level at the intrinsic motivator level, you're hiring the wrong person. The person will underperform, because they're only taking it for the compensation package. 

They got to not only sell themselves. They got to sell their family, co-workers, friends, other recruiters, other person. They're going to offer more money. If you can sell them in their long-term intrinsic motivator, you're going to hire a great person.

If you sell them on a short-term what they get in the compensation package, it's problematic if you hired a good person. Works now and then, but it's pure luck. It wasn't planned. Performance-based hiring is a business process for hiring not a point solution.

Interviewing is a point solution. If candidates don't want to be interviewed, it's a useless solution. Each one of those things separately is a point solution. Putting it together, you have a business process. That's the idea.

There's four pillars to what I would consider an exceptional business process for hiring to pull it off. It's you the manager. I don't care all the complaints you have. I worked with Chrome companies that have great managers, they hire great people, because that's the domino thing.

Candidates will accept jobs for managers. Number two, you have the right strategy. As far as I'm concerned, hiring manager has to describe a strategy, if you're at the HR. Recruiting department won't. Most important of all is the job itself. You might be a great manager.

If you can't clarify expectations upfront and tell people what they're going to do, the likelihood of hiring the right person is problematic. Who knows? You got to tell people what the job is, at least the top four or five performance objectives.

The process has to be focused on a scarcity of talent, respectful process. The recruiter better know your job. Those four pillars, they're all different balances. They all have to be in place, to hire great people every time. Let me open up the questions, then I'll give a quick summary.

We got a few minutes for our questions. Remember, if it's a good question, you get a book. Jared would be responsible for asking, because he pre-screened these questions. I might go a little bit less structured here. Which is the first one, Jared?
Jared: Where Joan Willis? Right there.
Joan Willis: Good morning. How do you recommend we work with our HR Departments that tend to be more compliance and legal-driven, who put us in situations where we're going into the very static, descriptive...
Lou: I can understand that. I apologize for cutting you off. I know we don't have a few minutes. I can see this clock going down here. If you are the hiring manager, you get a lot of control.

First of all, you'll get a copy of the book. You'll turn to page, whatever it is. It's page 192. You see a white paper from Luke Mendelssohn and David Goldstein, the number one labor attorney in the US.

He says, "What you're doing today is fundamentally flawed." Luke Mendelssohn says, "We could do this. I'd like to try it." That's how I would do it. Just try if you want. We always do a try in a little bit of pilot basis. That's how I would overcome it.
Audience Member: Good morning, I have question about company's top talent programs. I find now, especially in upper mid-level management. Folks really want to know what is your top talent program.

How are you going to nurture me? How are you going to get me to the next level? They're very comfortable having those conversations, more comfortable than the HR Department are.
Lou: These are candidates asking these questions?
Audience Member: Uh-huh.
Lou: I think if you really clearly understand what the job is -- hey, you're going to be responsible for launching a new product line.

The key thing is, if you pull that off, obviously you're going to get bigger projects and more success. It really hinges upon we need you to launch a new product line, take over 10 percent of the Northeast territory, and get this thing globally launched within 9 months.

You pull that off, opportunities are going to be galore because here we're growing at 15 percent, and your company's growing at 5 percent. The reason they're asking those questions is because you obviously haven't clarified the work they're going to be doing. It's hard to believe.

I've talked to so many people that they are confused. They're missing something in the equation where they have to ask that question. I think it's a very fair question, but I suspect it's because the work that they're going to be doing isn't fully clarified. That would be my guess. I would at least try that.
Jared: What does Rob say? Oh they you are. Mark's next, and then Robin.
Mark: If you close a candidate on the vision and outcome of the performance side of things only to deliver them a substandard compensation package because you've put it in a parking lot, isn't that a waste of a lot of their time and for customer experience?
Lou: No, I don't think I said that. I think you said it. I never said substandard. I first said, as long as you're above a threshold of equitable fairness which is probably at the 50 percent or 60 percent level, if you're in the lower third you have a challenge.

There's no question about it. You have to be very honest about it, but I said here's the compensation package. Do you want the job irrespective of the compensation package? 

If they can't justify that they want the job, then I wouldn't hire them. It is certainly the job and the compensation package together, but I want to separate those two things.
Mark: Thank you. I missed those specific two words.
Lou: Now you've got them, yeah.
Rob: Hi, Lou. I know technology doesn't replace...
Lou: Wait, who's talking? I can't see them.
Jared: I can.
Lou: Oh, thank you. [laughs]
Audience: [laughs]
Lou: I hear these voices coming, and I can't see where.
Rob: This is Rob.
Lou: They're very weird here, I tell you.
Rob: I know technology doesn't replace relationships between recruiters and candidates. Yet recruiters often have to find candidates through key word searches and things like that in their applicant tracking system.

My question is, what does a great performance-based applicant tracking system look like then?
Lou: That's a fair question. I can only tell you that I'm working with two of them, but I don't know that they are great -- Greenhouse and lever.company.

They allow folks to actually not use traditional job descriptions. They can have the internal job description. They recognize it doesn't have to be the external job description.

No company actually takes their product specifications and publishes them for marketing purposes. You've got to be an idiot to do that. If there's any HR people here, why would you do that? Draw a little picture of that [inaudible 55:45] , whatever it is, it's those kinds of things.

I think those ATS systems that offer that kind of flexibility, different titles, different structure, different ways of communicating amongst all the team. We get into the spec details, but I was doing them yesterday.

That's why I know those issues. Hopefully, that's a fair question. Any other questions? We can go more. I only have four books though, so you guys will get them -- just four.
Jared: Julie Mont? Where's Julie? Over there.
Lou: If you ask a good question, give me your card and I'll send you a book -- if it's a good question.
Julie Mont: What are your thoughts on portfolios? I know a lot of jobs require that you input a portfolio, but oftentimes the work that we've done in the past...I'm a user space researcher. Most of it's internal use only, so it's hard to actually visually show anything in a portfolio but maybe it can be described.
Lou: There I'd say I like to actually see samples of the person's work. Actually, that is a good predictor of on the job performance, the sample. I've had people look at financial reports and do some kind of analysis.

I've had people bring in products. I had one guy actually wheeled in almost a wheelbarrow, which I think was a little bit over the top.


This box he built. I said, "Oh, God," the fact that he would do that literally. I said, "Bring in a sample." I was hoping it would be small, and something. I can't answer the question exactly.

If there was a way you could relate the complexity, the scale of the scope and the design capability with something that you've done to a physical design, I think you could get there.

It would be hard for me, I'd have to actually see the job itself and why there wouldn't be some kind of physical work that could be done. But basically, that's what I'm really try to do is trying to find out, seeing what physical product has this person delivered that's comparable to what I need done?

I know that was probably not a satisfactory answer, but I've got 46 seconds left so I had to go with it.


Guys, I think that little card -- I know I was being a little bit facetious about it, but if you follow that card and you build a performance-based job description, you tell your recruiters what they're looking for. You reach out and do a lot of networking, you will actually be able to hire great people every time.

You will be able to call me a year from now and say, "Lou, thank you very much for hiring much for hiring great people." Thank you very much for today. Thank you, everybody.