My New Favorite Interview Question!

I love the concept of questions that will truly show you who someone is. We’ve gone through a long history of asking basic interview questions that don’t really get to the heart of anything. “So, Timmy, tell me what you would like to be doing three years from now?” Okay, well, sitting on a beach drinking margaritas sounds better than this. How am I doing? Did I get the job?

For my interview questions, I really want to understand how someone thinks. What are their true motivations? What gets them up in the morning? It might not be the job I have, in fact, I hope it’s not the job I have because that would be depressing. I don’t get up in the morning for the job I have, I get up because I’m a grown-ass man with a responsibility to take care of my family. I really like my job, but my job is not my motivation.

So, what’s my new favorite interview question? It’s simply this:

So, with the latest data scandal at Facebook, did you delete your Facebook account? 

I ask, then I shut up and wait for an answer.

What am I looking for? I’m looking for people who aren’t so naive and fragile that a data breach on a free platform that they willingly signed up for wouldn’t cause them to freak out.

I’m looking for candidates who would go, “no, why would I?” They would describe the process of signing up for Facebook, knowing they were getting value out of something they never paid a dime to use, and knowing that came with a cost. That cost? It’s your data.

I’ll tell you, that isn’t the only right answer. The other answer I would accept is, “Yes, I did, and I also deleted LinkedIn, Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter, etc. I deleted these because I was tired of using free platforms that I know manipulated me and take my data, and I finally got to a point where I didn’t want that to happen any longer.”

Either answer, I would be good with. Both answers show me that the candidate has a pretty good head on their shoulders to understand how the real world works.  The same kind of head my grandparents had. No one gives you a free lunch. If you’re getting a free lunch, there is an expectation that you’ll be giving the person paying something, eventually.

If the candidate did delete their Facebook profile, then went right out to Twitter to announce it, then, well, that’s an answer to. It’s not the answer I’m looking for in a candidate I want working for me. I don’t need employees who are shocked by the basic realities of life. It was free, but it cost billions of dollars to make. How do you think they’re paying for it?

Oh, I just love the perfect interview question! Designed correctly, it can give you such great insight to an individual! So, what’s your favorite interview question?


Your Weekly Dose of HR Tech: @MontageTalent – The Better Candidate Experience

This week on the Weekly Dose I review the interview and hiring platform Montage. Montage was started as one of those technologies that filled in some of the huge gaps that most ATS systems just didn’t address. It’s easiest to think of them as an interview platform, but over the last few years, they’ve really grown beyond that.

Montage is an enterprise level TA technology that is looking to transform how you initially interact with candidates. They work with your ATS as an integration. Montage does both on-demand types of things: text-based screening, automated recorded-voice screening, on-demand video interviews, and integrated assessments. They also do live screening and interview related activities, from scheduling and event management, to live video interviewing and the ability to do things like live coding screens (134 different languages) and whiteboard exercises.

Montage is not a low-end video-only type of interview platform, this is the real deal, that does just about everything you would ever need when it comes to screening and interviewing candidates.

What I like about Montage: 

– They’ve integrated some A.I. functionality that gives recruiters an ‘assistant’ to help schedule multiple interviews/screens with candidates and hiring managers without the recruiter having to get involved beyond the initial request.

– Built for both high volume hiring with on-demand text screening, and highly specialized recruiting with interview screen sharing and whiteboard exercises available to recruiters and hiring managers.

– The platform is built to give your organization the ability to set up the process how you want it. Want one position to have an on-demand, timed video interview, great, you can do that. Another position to have a text screen, another position to have an untimed assessment, and video, and yet another to have an essay and a coding example. You can basically do anything and everything with the platform. Quite frankly, you have so many options it’s a bit overwhelming when you first look at it!

– Recruiter dashboard allows you to compare candidates and see manager feedback. You can also set up auto-reminders for both managers and candidates that will keep going until completion.

– Mobile optimized to the point that hiring managers are using the mobile functionality to consume video and other content from the platform about 85% of the time, and can respond via mobile as well with their feedback.

Montage really defines what a screening and interview platform should be like for an enterprise-level organization. You need all the bells and whistles, you need a complete ability to configure how you want, and you need the ultimate flexibility that you control. This is not a plug and play just take it off the shelf kind of product. Montage works with your team to really help you design and understand the power of the platform and all the positions you hire.

If you are hiring thousands of employees per year, across multiple disciplines, and multiple countries, Montage could a great tool for your organization to make you more efficient, deliver a better candidate experience, and increase your quality of hire. Well worth a demo. Be prepared to see a lot, because the system can do a lot. The platform definitely has the ability to transform the way you hire.

The Weekly Dose – is a weekly series here at The Project to educate and inform everyone who stops by on a daily/weekly basis on some great recruiting and sourcing technologies that are on the market.  None of the companies who I highlight are paying me for this promotion.  There are so many really cool things going on in the tech space and I wanted to educate myself and share what I find.  If you want to be on The Weekly Dose – just send me a note –

How to be an Adult! An Employer’s Edition

Don’t buy into the hype! “Oh, just do what you love!” That’s not being an adult, that’s being a moron! Just do what makes you happy! No, that’s what a child does.

“Tim, we just want to hire some ‘adults’!” I hear this statement from a lot of CEOs I talk with currently!

That means most of the people they are hiring, aren’t considered adults by these leaders. Oh, they fit the demographic of being an adult from an age perspective, but they still act like children!

I tell people when I interview them and they ask about our culture I say, “We hire adults”.

That means we hire people into positions where they are responsible for something. Because we hire adults, they take responsibility for what they are responsible for. If I have to tell them to do their jobs, they’re not adults, they’re children. We don’t employee children.

I think about 70% of the positions that are open in the world could have the same title –

“Wanted: Adults”.

Those who read that and got it, could instantly be hired and they would be above average employees for you! Those who read it and didn’t understand, are part of the wonder of natural selection.

How do you be an Adult?

You do the stuff you say you’re going to do. Not just the stuff you like, but all the stuff.

You follow the rules that are important to follow for society to run well. Do I drive the speed limit every single time? No. Do I come to work when my employer says I need to be there? Yes.

You assume positive intent on most things. For the most part, people will want to help you, just as you want to help others. Sometimes you run into an asshole.

You understand that the world is more than just you and your desires.

You speak up for what is right when you can. It’s easy to say you can always speak up for what is right, but then you wouldn’t be thinking like an adult.

You try and help those who can’t help themselves. Who can’t, not who won’t.

My parents and grandparents would call this common sense, but I don’t think ‘being an adult’ is common sense anymore. Common sense, to be common, has to be done by most. Being an adult doesn’t seem to be very common lately!

So, you want to hire some adults? I think this starts with us recognizing that being an adult is now a skill in 2018. A very valuable skill. Need to fill a position, maybe we start by first finding adults, then determining do we need these adults to have certain skills, or can we teach adults those skills!

The key to great hiring in today’s world is not about attracting the right skills, it’s about attracting adults who aren’t just willing to work, but understand the value of work and individuals who value being an adult.

I don’t see this as a negative. I see it as an opportunity for organizations who understand this concept. We hire adults first, skills second. Organizations that do this, will be the organizations that win.

The Motley Fool has a great section in their employee handbook that talks about being an adult:

“We are careful to hire amazing people. Our goal is to unleash you to perform at your peak and stay out of your way. We don’t have lots of rules and policies here by design. You are an amazing adult and we trust you to carve your own path, set your own priorities, and ask for help when you need it.”

You are an amazing ‘adult’ and we trust you

If only it was so simple!

The Reason You’re Being “Ghosted” After Your Interview!

Dear Timmy,

I recently applied for a position that I’m perfect for! A recruiter from the company contacted me and scheduled me for an interview with the manager. I went, the interview was a little over an hour and it went great! I immediately followed up with an email to the recruiter and the manager thanking them, but since then I’ve heard nothing and it’s been weeks. I’ve sent follow-up emails to both the recruiter and the manager and I’ve gotten no reply.

What should I do? Why do companies do this to candidates? I would rather they just tell me they aren’t interested than have them say nothing at all!

The Ghost Candidate


Dear Ghost,

There are a number of reasons that recruiters and hiring managers ghost candidates and none of them are good! Here’s a short-list of some of these reasons:

– They hated you and hope you go away when they ghost you because, conflict in uncomfortable.

– They like you, but not as much as another candidate they’re trying to talk into the job, but want to leave you on the back burner, but they’re idiots and don’t know how to do this properly.

– They decided to promote someone internally and they don’t care about candidate experience enough to tell you they went another direction.

– They have a completely broken recruitment process and might still be going through it believing you’re just as happy as a pig in shi…

– They think they communicated to you electronically to bug off through their ATS, but they haven’t audited the process to know this isn’t working.

– The recruiter got fired and no one picked up the process.

I would love to tell you that ghosting candidates are a rare thing, but it’s not! It happens all the time! There is never a reason to ghost a candidate, ever! Sometimes I believe candidates get ghosted by recruiters because hiring managers don’t give feedback, but that still isn’t an excuse I would accept, at least tell the candidate that!

Look, I’ve ghosted people. At conference cocktail parties, I’ve been known to ghost my way right back up to my room and go to sleep! When it comes to candidates, I don’t ghost! I would rather tell them the truth so they don’t keep coming back around unless I want them to come back around.

I think most recruiters ghost candidates because they’re over their head in the amount of work they have, and they mean to get back to people, but just don’t have the time. When you’re in the firefighting mode you tend to only communicate with the candidates you want, not the ones you don’t. Is this good practice? Heck, no! But when you’re fighting fires, you do what you have to do to stay alive.

What would I do, if I was you? 

Here are a few ideas to try if you really want to know the truth:

1. Send a handwritten letter to the CEO of the company briefly explaining your experience and what outcome you would like.

2. Go on Twitter and in 140 characters send a shot across the bow! “XYZ Co. I interviewed 2 weeks ago and still haven’t heard anything! Can you help me!?” (Will work on Facebook as well!)

3. Write a post about your experience on LinkedIn and tag the recruiter and the recruiter’s boss.

4. Take the hint and go find a company who truly values you and your talent! If the organization and this manager treats candidates like this, imagine how you’ll be treated as an employee?

Generational Profiling – The Newest Trend in Recruiting!

We all have heard and know what Racial Profiling is, right?

Well, we get to add something new to our toolbox in recruiting, Generational Profiling!

Targeting someone because of their race is awful and illegal. Targeting someone based on their age is no different. It’s called it Generational Profiling and we are in the middle of an epidemic.

Take a look at the average age of these super popular tech brands:

You don’t have to be a genius to understand what’s going on in hiring in these companies. Remember a couple of years ago when we all got hot and bothered because Facebook and the like weren’t hiring women? Please educate me on how this is any different.

If the world, especially our work world, is moving to more and more of a technology focus, what are organizations doing to ensure they hiring for diversity across generations? I’ll tell you! Nothing! It’s not on the radar of 99.99% of organizations. We don’t give a crap if we hire older workers or not.

But, TIM, you don’t understand, older workers don’t get tech and they don’t want to work in tech!


Here are some fairly significant tech companies, compare them to the ones above:

27 years old average age of employees to 38 years old average age employees is statistically significant in a giant way!

IBM, Oracle and HP value the diversity of generations in the workplace, and are probably more likely to not be generationally profiling when hiring.

You hear “Generational Profiling” when CEOs of Fortune companies speak at shareholder meetings. They will say things like: “We need to ‘modernize’ our workforce”. They aren’t talking about re-skilling, they’re talking about getting younger, believing that’s their real problem. These old farts can’t do what we need to be done.

So, what do you do about it?

We, talent acquisition, need to start calling this crap out! If your hiring managers weren’t hiring women or minorities because of poor ‘cultural’ fit, you would call them out.

In Generational Profiling, ‘poor cultural fit’ equals ‘overqualified’. “Yeah, I don’t want to hire Tim because he’ll be bored in this role.” Bullshit. You don’t want to hire Tim because you might be challenged by having someone on your team that knows something you don’t!

We have the data to show generational profiling. You can put a report together that shows each hiring manager by age and years of experience, then show the exact same thing for their team, then show the candidates presented in the same manner. A really interesting thing will happen! You’ll instantly see which managers are profiling hires by age!

-Tim is 27 and has 6 years of experience post-college.

-Tim’s team’s average age is 24 and has 3 years post-college.

-Tim’s interviews selected average age is “X” with “X” experience.

-Tim’s interviews declined average age is “X+” with “X+” experience.

Stuff just got real!

No one, and I mean no one, likes to be called a racist or a sexist. Our hiring managers should feel the same way if they were called and ageist, but they’re not. We need that to change.

By the way, you will see this in promotions as well…

9 Ways IBM (and the rest of us) Should Be Reinventing Talent @IBMWatsonTalent

Amber Grewal is the Head of Global TA for IBM. It’s a big job. She posted on LinkedIn recently and gave her 9 ways IBM is reinventing recruiting. It’s pretty good. I’m not sure she wrote it. My experience is with giant corporations that they rarely would ever allow one person to post something so big on a social platform, but I’m sure she got in her ideas with some ‘corporate’ wordsmithing, either way, I liked it.

I like when large organizations put HR and TA leaders out in front of the brand. That’s always a risk. I like that IBM is taking that risk. They’re a big player in the HCM/TA tech space, and if you want my attention, give me less PR and marketing pitches, and more practitioner know-how!

Here is the infographic that “Amber” put together:

I’ll go through and give you my comments on all 9:

1. Upskill the Recruiting Function – Oh hell yes! The main problem with corporate recruiting is very little actual recruiting actually takes place. A whole lot of administering the recruiting function takes place. When need to flip those two things!

2. Horizontally Source – This is the Talent Pipeline. The problem with maintaining Talent Pipelines is they’re very expensive. I would rather see an On-demand sourcing function, than a pipeline function, but I like that Amber to be trying to marry the two in a ‘ready-now’ fashion.

3. Work Agile – I think what Amber is saying, and I love it, is not all requisitions are created equal. Some jobs we fill are more important and have more impact on the organization. Yes, yes they do! So, do those things first and do them fast, to maximize the impact!

4. Create a Recruiting-First Culture – This would be my #1. Talent Acquisition doesn’t own recruiting. Hiring managers own recruiting. I can help you staff your department, function, location, etc., but ultimately, you as the leader must own it. If you can get here in your organization, you’ll be great at talent acquisition. The next step is then getting every single employee to understand their role and significance in constantly attracting talent to the organization.

5. Trust-based Hiring – Yeah, I’ve got nothing. Honestly, this is a large, enterprise-level organizational issue. Here’s what happens. Manager A has a great talent, but that talent is being underutilized in their group. Manager B desperately needs the talent Manager A has. Manager A should, for the betterment of the organization, give up their talent to Manager B, but they don’t because they believe they won’t get the talent they need in return. This happens constantly in giant organizations, and it sucks.

6. Proactively Source – Maybe a good first step here would be to first ‘actually’ source! 😉 I like that Amber is focusing her team on certain things the organization needs. Hey, we suck at hiring females in tech roles! Cool, let’s make that a priority and specifically use a rifle approach to go out and get more females in tech roles. That’s just good recruiting. Might want to work with HR to ensure those females will feel like they actually belong as well, when they get into those roles or you’ll never get off that treadmill.

7. Cognitively Assist Candidates – Thanks for joining Marketing! This is where an LI post becomes a commercial and I would bet my entire salary (as a writer) that Amber didn’t actually have this on her original list! This one is supposed to be about Candidate Experience and I’m sure that’s what Amber had, but this is where Watson got shoved in. Not saying that’s bad, but it doesn’t sound like a practitioner put #7 together.

8. Personalize Offers – More Watson, but I will say personalization across the recruiting process is the key to reinventing recruiting. We all want to be recruited like a five star running back to Alabama. We want that experience. It doesn’t matter what role you get hired for, you want to feel like the most important person in the world to that company.

9. Interview with Cognitive – Okay, more Watson, but this is where I’m a huge fan! Very, very, very rarely will you go wrong when hiring smarter people who can process information faster. This doesn’t mean hiring only people who have a GPA of 3.5 or higher. There isn’t a ton of correlation between GPA and actual cognitive processing speed. Go find great cognitive pre-employment assessments and hire smart, it won’t let you down. Apparently, IBM has something like this called Watson or something, check it out.

Amber, thanks for putting this together! It’s a really strong plan for other TA leaders to follow!


Reference Checking for Employment is Dead!

I remember when I started my first job in Talent Acquisition and HR, I totally believed checking references was going to lead me to better, higher quality hires. My HR university program practically drilled into me the belief that “past performance predicts future performance.”

For all, I knew those words were delivered on tablets from Moses himself!

After all, what better way is there to predict a candidate’s future success than to speak with individuals who knew this person the best?

And it’s not just anybody: It’s former managers or colleagues who have previously worked with this person – directly or indirectly – and have a deep understanding of how they have performed, and now telling me how they will perform in the future.

Grand design at its finest.

About 13 seconds into my HR career I started questioning this wisdom. Call me an HR atheist if you must, but something wasn’t adding up to me.

It was probably around the hundredth reference check when I started wondering either I was the best recruiter of all time and only find rock stars (which was mostly true) or this reference check thing is one giant scam!

Everyone knows the set up: The candidate wants the job, so they want to make sure they provide good references. The candidate provides three references that will tell HR the candidate walks on water. HR accepts them and actually goes through the process of calling these three perfect references.

When I find out that an organization still does reference checks, I love to ask this one question: When was the last time you didn’t hire someone based on their reference check?

Most organizations can’t come up with one example of this happening. We hire based on references 100% of the time.

Does that sound like a good system? Now, I’m asking you, when was the last time your organization didn’t hire a candidate based on their references?

If you can’t find an answer, or the answer is ‘never’, you need to stop checking references because it’s a big fat waste of time and resources! There’s no “HR law” that says you have to check references. Just stop it. It won’t change any of your hiring decisions.


So, how should you do reference checks? Here are three ideas:


Stop accepting references candidates give you. Instead, during the interview ask for names of their direct supervisors at every position they’ve had. Then call those companies and talk to those people. Even with HR telling everyone “we don’t give out references,” I’ve found you can engage in some meaningful conversations off the record.


New reference checking technology asks questions in a way that doesn’t lead the reference to believe they are giving the person a ‘bad’ reference but just honestly telling what the person’s work preferences are. The information gathered will then tell you if the candidate is a good fit for your organization or a bad fit — but the reference has no idea.


Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. have made it so candidates who lie can get caught. There is technology being developed that allows organizations to fact-check a person’s background and verify if they are actually who they tell you they are. Estimates show that 53% of people lie on their resume. Technology makes it easy to find out who is.

Great Talent Acquisition and HR pros need to start questioning a process that is designed to push through 99.9% of hires. Catching less than .1% of hires isn’t better quality. It’s just flat out lazy.

Start thinking about what you can do to source better quality hires and your organization might just think you can walk on water.

Your turn: What are your tips for checking references?

It’s Really Hard to Judge People?

I was out walking with my wife recently (that’s what middle-aged suburban people do, we walk, it makes us feel like we are less lazy and it gets us away from the kids so we can talk grown up) and she made this statement in a perfectly innocent way:

“It’s really hard to judge people.”

She said this to ‘me’!  I start laughing.  She realized what she said and started laughing.

It’s actually really, really easy to judge people!  I’m in HR and Recruiting, I’ve made a career out of judging people.

A candidate comes in with a tattoo on their face and immediately we think: prison, drugs, poor decision making, etc. We instantly judge.  It’s not that face-tattoo candidate can’t surprise us and be engaging and brilliant, etc. But before we even get to that point, we judge.  I know, I know, you don’t judge, it’s just me. Sorry for lumping you in with ‘me’!

What my wife was saying was correct.  It’s really hard to judge someone based on how little we actually know them.

People judge me all the time on my poor grammar skills.  I actually met a woman recently at a conference who said she knew me, use to read my stuff, but stopped because of my poor grammar in my writing.  We got to spend some time talking and she said she would begin reading again, that she had judged me too harshly and because I made errors in my writing assumed I wasn’t that intelligent.

I told her she was actually correct, I’m not intelligent, but that I have consciously not fixed my errors in writing (clearly at this point I could have hired an editor!). The errors are my face tattoo.

If you can’t see beyond my errors, we probably won’t be friends.  I’m not ‘writing errors, poor grammar guy”.  If you judge me as that, you’re missing out on some cool stuff and ideas I write about.

As a hiring manager and HR Pro, if you can’t see beyond someone’s errors, you’re woefully inept at your job.  We all have ‘opportunities’ but apparently, if you’re a candidate you don’t, you have to be perfect.  I run into hiring managers and HR Pros who will constantly tell me, “we’re selective”, “we’re picky”, etc.

No, you’re not.  What you are is unclear about what and who it is that is successful in your environment.  No one working for you now is perfect.  So, why do you look for perfection in a candidate?  Because it’s natural to judge against your internal norm.

The problem with selection isn’t that is too hard to judge, the problem is that it’s way too easy to judge.  The next time you sit down in front of a candidate try and determine what you’ve already judge them on.  It’s a fun exercise. Before they even say a word.  Have the hiring managers interviewing them send you their judgments before the interview.

We all do it.  Then, flip the script, and have your hiring managers show up for an interview ‘blind’. No resume beforehand, just them and a candidate face-to-face.  It’s fun to see how they react and what they ask them without a resume, and how they judge them after.  It’s so easy to judge, and those judgments shape our decision making, even before we know it!


2017 Michigan Recruiter’s Conference is October 25th in Detroit!

That’s right gang! We’re back and better than ever!

The 2017 Michigan Recruiter’s Conference will take place on Wednesday, October 25th from 9 am to 4 pm in downtown Detroit onsite at our wonderful corporate host Quicken Loans!

Registration is now open – the cost of this event is $69 per person. This is a corporate talent acquisition event, no agency or third party recruiting pros will be allowed to register. It’s not that we don’t love you all, it’s that this is a development event, not a come pimp us with your services event.

Space will be limited, so please register early if you want a seat. You can transfer registration to another person on your team if plans change.

Who’s on the Agenda I hear you asking yourself! Oh, boy did I hit a few home runs this year!!!


Carmen Hudson, Principle Consultant at Recruiting Toolbox, and Co-Founder of Talent42

Shaunda Zilich, Employment Brand Leader at GE

Will Maurer, Global Talent Acquisition, Sourcing Manager, General Motors

Holly Fawcett, Curriculum Development Manager at Social Talent

Margie Elsesser, VP of Talent Brand & Strategy at Quicken Loans 

Mike Bailen, VP of People at Lever and former Head of Talent for Zappos

Killed it, right?!?!

ERE, SHRM, and TEDx wished they had this line up coming to their events!

Thank you to our sponsors for making this happen – Lever and Quicken Loans.  We could not offer this at such a low price without their financial assistance and support! So, support them!

Can’t wait to see you all in Downtown Detroit! Bringing it to the D!





Midwest Recruiter’s Bootcamp! Minneapolis July 31st-Aug 1 (LAST CALL!)

My good friend and recruiting guru, Paul DeBettignies, is hosting the Midwest Recruiting Bootcamp in Minneapolis next week, and he asked me to come and speak at it. He also asked some of the top recruiting minds in the business as well! The camp is next week July 31st and August 1st in Minneapolis, and you can still register and be apart of this!

Check out this list:

  • Maren Hogan – Create Winning Employer Brand for Knockout Recruitment
  • Jim Durbin – 8 Mistakes You’re Making: The New Rules Of LinkedIn
  • Shannon Pritchett – In OR out? Creative Sourcing Techniques to Find Your Candidates OUTside the box
  • Caroline Karanja – 10 ways to build diversity, practice inclusion and increase engagement within your organization
  • Paul himself – Create and Grow Your Recruiter Brand
  • Nick Roseth – Selling Minnesota: Strategies And Tools to Improve Recruiting To The Region
  • And me – hugging mostly! Okay, not really, I’m going to be sharing the 10 Truths Of Recruiting And Why You Are Failing At Them! And, how you can not fail at them!

When Paul first talked to me about the concept of the Midwest Recruiting Bootcamp I knew instantly it would be a hit and something I wanted to be apart of! Why? This is real Recruiting development for recruiting teams! It’s what I wanted to bring to Michigan with the Michigan Recruiter’s Conference.

National level development and speakers, in our own backyard! 

Paul let me know today he still has some space open for any recruiter’s or recruiting managers who want to join us. We’ll be onsite at the University of Minnesota. It’s two days that are packed with great material. If you can’t make both days – come one day, then send someone else on your team the other day! Or just come one day – you’ll still get a ton out of it!


This might be the biggest bang for the buck in recruiter training budget history!

Here’s Paul telling us a little more: