Should You Measure Candidate Desire by Response Time?

I have expectations as a leader in my organizations for other employees who are in a leadership position in my company. One of those expectations is, if I call or text you on off hours, weekends, vacations, etc., for something that is urgent to the business, I expect a reply in a rather short time frame.

Some people would not like that. I don’t care. You’re a leader, the business needs you, there’s no time clock for that.

That expectation is set for someone at a leadership level in my organization. They know this expectation before taking the job. Also, I’m not an idiot about it. I can probably count on one hand the number of times in the past five years I’ve reached out to someone on weekends or vacations expecting and needing a response.

But, what if you measured candidate quality in the same manner? Seems unreasonable, doesn’t it!?

Well, check this out:

Nardini is the CEO of the sports and men’s lifestyle site Barstool Sports. In a recent New York Times interview, she detailed her process for vetting job candidates. After saying she was a “horrible interviewer” because of her impatience, she explained a unique process for gauging potential hires’ interest in the job.

“Here’s something I do,” she said. “If you’re in the process of interviewing with us, I’ll text you about something at 9 p.m. or 11 a.m. on a Sunday just to see how fast you’ll respond.”

The maximum response time she’ll allow: three hours.

So, Erika believes if a candidate doesn’t reply back to her on a Sunday at 9 pm within three hours, they are not interested in a job.

This is why recruiting is hard.

You have moron leaders who come up with stupid ideas of what they think is ‘important’ and then they make you live by these dumb rules. This rule is ridiculous. Erika’s assessment of why this works is ridiculous. But, she’ll get a pass.


She’s a she. If some dumb white dude came up with the same rule the New York Times would write an expose on how this guy is a complete tyrant and out of touch with today’s world, and how crappy this candidate experience is, and how bad leadership this is, etc. But, no one will. She’s just leaning in and doing what the guys do!

Yes, she is. She’s being an idiot.

Now, I’ll say I actually agree with her on her assessment on response time, assuming the roles she is expecting a reply from in three hours are time critical roles. She runs a media site with breaking stories. Twitter has these things up in seconds, media sites need replies to what is happening within minutes and hours. So, there could be some legitimacy to something as arbitrary as measuring candidate desire by response time.

It’s fraught with issues, to be sure, but for certain roles, it might find you some good talent. Should it be a golden rule of hiring for your organization? No, that’s just dumb.

If you really want a silver bullet I ask every candidate if they’re a dog person or cat person. Works every time!

3 thoughts on “Should You Measure Candidate Desire by Response Time?

  1. Dennis, excellent observation.

    The best person to hire is often found in the pile of rejected resumes since the hiring manager does not know how to screen in the best future employees. Only about 20% of the best candidates make the best employees.

  2. I wonder what would happen if the best possible professional and cultural fit for the role went on a hike or rafting trip, the weekend after their interview, and left their phone in the car so it wouldn’t get lost.

    Her perception may not mirror reality and due to this she could lose the perfect fit for the organization.

    While it sounds well and good to say this test is the end-all/be-all, when practiced it can lead to self-inflicted failure in the hiring process.

  3. I agree, but even very large, successful employers do such stupid things.

    Years ago I met with a Human Resources person at a well known international technology company (25,000+ employees worldwide) and we discussed their hiring process. I was astounded to learn that for sales positions they hire former college football players because “they are used to running into brick walls.” This approach is no more ineffective than hiring for alma maters. The HR Rep told me she agreed it didn’t make sense but she would not argue with the Sales VP since he says, “We are successful in sales because we have $3 billion in cash.” Well, it is not up to me to fix their process so I said thank you and left. A month later my nephew who works at the company called and said his CEO is very upset that only 30% of the sales force meets their quota. Success means different things to different people.

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