The Recruiting Tool I Want- Baggage

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April 22, 2010

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.

9 Comments

  • Trish – Love the description of what actually happens in an interview! Here are the two things that will make me close the suitcase and send it on to baggage claim: the candidate makes it all about his or her needs (rather than the employer’s), and the candidate describes their duties or job description, rather than their accomplishments. Tell me what you did, how you did it, and how successful it was! Thanks for the post.

  • I recently read an article talking about job losses, layoffs and how more candidates are leary of credit checks. The fact that people have lost jobs, are unable to get work within months or a year and the result is not being able to pay bills and losing homes (which will have a very bad affect on their credit).

    The fact that many employers still rely on a credit check as one of their decisions to hire a person I think is a bad call. AT least at this time.
    Just a thought
    @benjaminmccall

  • OMG. Where do you come up with this stuff? So HR yet so inventive. I need to bring you in as an interviewing consultant.

  • I would just like to see the face of the hiring manager if you were to tell them, so we didn’t refer the thief or the ex-con but are sending the chronically late, sleepyhead as a spokesperson even though she’s afraid of speaking in public. Sometimes I have to pinch myself as a recruiter to ensure that what I’m dealing with is real. As the saying goes, I couldn’t make this stuff up.

    Have a great weekend everyone!

    J

  • Just getting caught up on my blog reading, Trish, and I gotta say, you nailed it. This is how hiring is done 9 times out of 10.

    Which is a shame, because there is a better way.

    There is a better way to hire, and a better way to lead. There is a way to help people leave their baggage behind. And all it takes is the hardest thing in the world to show:

    courage.

  • Trish- outstanding post- this would be a great conversation- at HRevolution, as talent seeking and recruitment is such a crucial part of the world of work right now-

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.

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