The Recruiting Tool I Want- Baggage

Every couple months, DISH network puts a few "free" channels on our service for us to try out for a couple weeks. Channels come and they go. Right now, the Game Show Network (GSN) is one of the free channels in preview. Now, I really haven't watched game shows since.....well, since I don't know when. Probably back when that cool British chick was asking REALLY hard questions on that show The Weakest Link. Well, GSN has a great new show I'm loving and I think it would be great to have at work as a recruiting tool. It's called 'Baggage'. You can check out a clip here.

The premise is that Every Person Has Baggage they bring into the relationship. Jerry Springer is the host and he brings out contestants who get to choose a date based on the other contestants revealing their "baggage" that progressively gets worse. Let's pretend the main contestant is a man. So, at first, all three ladies reveal a small suitcase with some minor baggage. It might be something like "I snore at night", "I am always late for dates", etc. Next, three medium sized bags are opened but the man does not know which lady the bag belongs to. These bags take it up a notch to things like "I live with two men" or "I shave my whole body".

The man eliminates the baggage that is a "deal breaker" for him and then learns which lady the bag belongs to. She's out of the game. Now, the remaining two ladies have to reveal their large suitcase, the one with the most baggage. These are the crazy ones like "I have 19 cats" or "I am still in love with my ex". The man has to decide which person's baggage is a better match with his. Now we're down to the man and the lady that was selected. The man now has to show her HIS baggage and she makes the ultimate decision on whether or not his baggage is not a deal breaker for her. If not, there's a date. Otherwise, both lose and go home.

When we're hiring, we know that every candidate that walks into the door has baggage. We ALL have baggage. The question is whether we can get any of that to come out during our interviews so that we can determine if that baggage is a match with our organization, right? It might be fun to have this game show at work. Let's imagine you have three candidates that you've narrowed it down to for a certain position. Now they all have to show you their baggage. In the suitcases you see:

  1. I can never seem to make it to work on time.
  2. In the past some co-workers have said I wear too much perfume.
  3. I sometimes play music too loud in my cubicle.

Ok, let's think about this. Candidate number one is bad, but maybe we could coach her to get her to show up on time. Candidate number two wears too much perfume but you can help correct that. And candidate three, not that is something that won't affect us because we don't allow radios here on our desks. Now they sit down and three medium size suitcases open. You don't know which one belongs to each candidate. They are:

  1. I've fallen asleep at a meeting.
  2. I steal pens and post it notes from work.
  3. I once hooked up with a co-worker at the company picnic.

Ok, let's eliminate the candidate with bag number two. Stealing is just WRONG and if she'll steal the small stuff without batting an eye, she'll take bigger things. That's the deal breaker in this company!

Round Two

Now we have our two remaining candidates. They each go take their place by the baggage that is theirs. Now it's time to open the big suitcases. Here's what we see:

  1. I say I'm a great public speaker but I really freeze up every time and freak out.
  2. I served 90 days in a Canadian jail

Ok, now this one is easy. We'll eliminate jail bird girl because we would have found that in the background check eventually. So we're ready to make our offer to the girl who can't make it to work on time, who has fallen asleep at a meeting, and who is not a great public speaker. Wow, I'm scared. None of their baggage was great. She really wants the job and says yes. Now we're a match and go off happily into the sunset.

I know that all sounds crazy, but that is really what we're doing. We talk to people to try to figure out all we can then eliminate candidates if they have baggage that is a "deal breaker" for the organization. Don't we? The truth is that as good as a candidate may be, you are still hiring someone with several negatives that on paper could look really bad even though they're the one you want.

So, what are some deal breakers in your hiring process? What are some of the things you've learned in the interviews that just made you say, "Next" ? Share them in the comments.

Views: 1079

Comment by JR Fent on April 23, 2010 at 1:40pm
I'd be afraid to answer this question. I have pretty good 'nut job radar' and tend to delve in with a candidate until I find the 'cracks in the foundation' when I suspect something strange. I've found out things that would make your jaw drop to the floor in disbelief.

Comment by Jacob S. Madsen on April 26, 2010 at 12:36pm
Hi Trish
Good article and points and something that every single person working/dealing in HR, recruitment or staffing should make a seriously BIG note of. We are all inviduals, we ALL have baggage (good or bad) and we all need to have some respect, understanding and humility about this most important aspect. Being able to 'see' 'acknowledge' and 'use' baggage is what makes a good long time and valuable hire into an organisation, and those applying the 'sausage factory' methodology are missing the point and do not show that they have the 'human factor' or understanding for that life can throw us into so many different directions and situations that will give us baggage.
Seeing this and understanding this for better or worse is what makes the difference.
My offer on what puts me off are:
1. Candidate(s) not bringing a copy of their Resume/CV to an interview, - why? 'Guess what Mr/Ms candidate, the hiring manager/my colleague etc. decided to join the interview, - do you have a extra copy of your Resume/CV?'
'My printer has just broken down/jammed as I was about to print your details, do you have an extra copy'

2. Copy/Print out of the job description with notes and comments etc. Why? Because it will show me, on the other side of the table who is not a mind reader, that you have made an effort, that you may have seen particular details that you have made a note of and to which you may have a question

3. Copy/Prints of general, specific company/department information. Why? because again, - without being a mind reader, I have no idea how much you have prepared and how much actual interest in the role/department/company

4. pen and paper for notes. Why? Because as and when I start drawing on the whiteboard, the company org structure, the departmental set up, who is who what they do and how, candidate(s) without pen and paper will NOT be able to remember a single thing, and I will not know (if they are not taking notes) if what I say and show them are being absorbed (hence myself not being a mind reader) and if they take an interest in what is being said/shown/explained

In short what puts me off is candidate(s) that are not prepared, do not show an interest or do not give me the impression thatg they are willing and prepared to work in an organisation where all the above elements are must haves in order to be successful.
I work and have worked in companies where out of a total 100% , 40 % of a candidate was the background, expertise and ability to do a job, - the remaining 60% (and I have even seen 25%-75% splits) is the engagement, interest and enthusiasm for working in the role, department and company. Those that do so, get past me, those that don't, - next please!


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