Tag Archives: staffing

3 Things We’ll See in HR by 2022

On Friday of last week (10/20), I was a guest on Michael Cameron’s daily radio program “Win-Win@Work” and had the opportunity to speak about my favorite topic– building and leading a world-class recruiting team. It’s a wonderful thing when you find yourself leading a team that has hit its collective stride. It’s a magical place, a place where the beer flows like wine, and where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. Building and leading a team is the most satisfying part of the job for me, and when things are good, they are really good.

But we know in this crazy Talent Acquisition life, every day is a snapshot – who knows what tomorrow will bring, much less what might happen in 2022. So when Mr. Cameron (makes me feel younger to call anyone “Mister”) asked me at the end of our interview, “where do you see Talent Acquisition in five years?”, I’ll admit I chewed on my tongue a bit ~ five freaking years??

Since, “I don’t have a clue, Mike” is a decidedly bad answer to a live broadcast question, the little man started rummaging my subconscious mind for those thoughts I have when allowed to be future-focused. To my surprise, I think I may have made a little sense, you tell me.

Three things I expect to see in Talent Acquisition by 2022:

  1. Talent Networks/Communities Will Explode ~ If you aren’t building a community already, you better get with the program. Building virtual connections by sharing meaningful information is definitely a “long” play, but when those crops start to come in, you’ll have a pipeline of engaged candidates.
  2. Speed Wins ~ The application process is an absolute beating. Everybody seems to know this, but even with technology advances the process takes, on average, 30 minutes. That’s garbage. Find the key to that door and the kingdom is yours. The huge ATS is going to go buh-bye, and the sooner the better.
  3. Blurred Lines ~ With the increased importance of building a people pipeline via talent networks, Talent Acquisition will continue to morph into a Marketing arm of the organization. Candidate or customer, what’s the difference? We’re just scratching the surface of how to maximize the time we engage with a potential candidate, why not also capture them as potential customers? What we have here is another way to tie Talent Acquisition to financial metrics – yay metrics. Same concepts apply – who’s your audience, what kind of persona are you targeting, and how do you most effectively reach them?

There’s also one other fundamental belief I have that isn’t universally shared. Fundamentally, I still see our job being relationship-driven by talented people in recruiting roles. There’s a swell of Orwellian thinking that technology will replace recruiters as time progresses. Here’s the problem –  the HR-Tech boon of the last several years has, in many ways, resulted in white noise. Too many tools, too many gimmicks (too many blogs, consultants, and “experts” too for that matter.) I still believe the recruiting function needs to be internally based and owned by actual employees of the company. The technology that succeeds will be the kind that frees up recruiters to do what they do best – recruit. 

If you want to listen to the conversation, here’s the link. And yes, I really do sound like that.

Fool’s Gold – The “Passive” Candidate

“Passive recruiting” has been a buzzword in the Talent Acquisition world for as long as I’ve been in the industry. Not only is it described as the gold standard of a “strategic” Recruiting team, but “passive recruiting” started appearing as a job requirement for positions outside of the Human Resources organization. It’s hip, it’s now, it’s a term with caché, baby.

Which begs the question… why?

Who Are Those Guys, Anyway?

Let’s start here: What qualifies you as a “passive” candidate? Well, the single most obvious characteristic is that a passive candidate is not looking for a new job, and that’s where this gets tricky. Why? Because a prevalent perception has been developed over the years that has two basic tenets:

  1. People who are actively seeking a new job are suspicious.
  2. “Passive” candidates are the “real” talent ~ So unobtainable, so beautiful, so completely immune to our advances, rare and precious, like the mythical unicorn label we like to borrow (George Costanza actually had a great quote about this mindset.)

When we receive a resumé from a candidate, one of our first questions is “Why are you looking to leave your current employer?” [or God forbid they aren’t currently employed; then they immediately go to the bottom of the pile, conveniently located inside the shredder.] We ask this question why? Because it’s important, right?

Well yeah, but… until we’re trying to pry them away from their employer. Then it’s not so important why they leave—we just want them to leave.

Is it me, or is that just a touch hypocritical?

We look at these things with our own lens, so indulge me a minute: I was a “passive candidate” at one point, and I can’t help but think my experience was more typical than we’d like to admit. Successful and tenured at my (then) employer, I was happy. I didn’t know that what I really wanted was a new opportunity. Thankfully, a recruiter alerted me to that non-conscious desire. Not his fault—that’s what we do for a living, yes?

And who was I, exactly? I was a guy who knew how to get things done at my present employer. I knew every back-channel, informal handshake method to TCB. I had a track record. I had a history. I had favors owed, favors due, secrets kept… and that’s what made me a great employee—for my present employer.

And then for the receiving company, here’s the reality of recruiting this passive candidate.

  • I didn’t really want to go. It took 3 offers before I bit. You know why?
    • It was a tough job to fill. Not many people had that specific skill set, and those who did wanted no part of the role. You don’t go after passive candidates for easy-to-fill jobs; this one was tough and my resumé matched.
    • Leaving a good job is hard. It’s an emotional decision – you’re not running from the company, you just answered the phone one day & felt wanted. But leaving? Leaving is difficult.
  • It cost them a sh*t-ton of money. Why else would I go? Scope of responsibility? Cool. Title? Even cooler. But it eventually came down to a fat check. I’m not above saying they overpaid, because they did. That creates a few fun situations for your precious unicorn – they will be at the high end of your internal equity. Maybe the very high end. Maybe at the very stupid high end. That fact will be a secret for about 2 days.
  • You have to walk the talk. All those benefits of your company, wonderful culture, flexibility, limitless resources, and advancement opportunities – better be legitimate. Maybe you had to hide some ugly truths, withhold some information, or make promises that may not be feasible (in the recruiting world, these are known as “lies.”) That won’t make for a very happy unicorn, as they paw the dirt & carelessly waive their narwhalian horn around in anger.

Obviously, this doesn’t hold true for everyone who has been hired, but it should remind everyone in recruiting about the importance of level-setting on “active” vs. “passive” recruiting, and the merits of each respectively. Why we have convinced ourselves that a candidate wanting to join our company is less appealing than the unknown is really the question that needs to be addressed. It’s no different than the dopey-eyed cows straining to eat grass on the other side of the fence.

There will always be a place for passive recruiting, especially for those hard-to-find positions. But buyer beware when you take the route of “pulling” instead of receiving. People are successful for many reasons, including their ability to navigate the organization where they currently reside. How much of that ability translates to the new job is debatable, but you can bet that it won’t be an immediate transition.

And that’s the rub, yes? Instead of poring through candidates who have actively positioned themselves for an opportunity with your company, we go looking for that which we do not have.


Herding Cats….and Recruiters

Remember when you had a recruiting desk to manage? You had your requisitions, you had phone screens scheduled, interviews scheduled, you knew your hiring managers, and you developed a rhythm. Cashing checks and snapping necks.

And then they went and promoted you.

Now as the manager of other recruiters, you confirm what you probably suspected all along – recruiters are a wacky bunch to manage. It’s a high-energy, high-pressure position, and it can chew you up if you let it get on top of you. There are a few common characteristics that seem to run in the DNA of successful recruiters, but like salespeople there are 100 different combinations of skill sets and personality traits that can result in a high-powered staffing machine. It’s actually one of the things I’ve come to love over the years ~ when building a world-class recruiting team, you can’t limit yourself to a cookie cutter approach. And you have to be prepared to manage a few of the more challenging types that come along. For instance:

  • The Maverick – Always living on the edge between innovative and insubordinate, this recruiter is constantly on the lookout for a new way of accomplishing things. This creates some great new ideas, but can also result in a blindside when you realize after the fact that policies & procedures have been ignored, skipped, or disregarded. If you find yourself stretched and unable to spend much time in overseeing the Maverick, at some point you’ll be blindsided. Management Tip: Assign creative projects to this person; akin to giving a puppy something to chew on besides your shoes, you must keep the Maverick occupied with something tasty.


  • The Native – You know this recruiter because everybody knows this recruiter. Hiring managers love him/her, and the feeling is mutual to the point of sometimes confusing the reporting structure. When a recruiter goes “native” to the detriment of your ability to influence said recruiter, you have an issue. There are differing opinions on this matter, but I look at it like this – as certain as it is that a hiring manager doesn’t hire my employees, they also do not manage my employees. The job has to be bigger than “my hiring manager likes me.” Management Tip: I’ve seen too many stories like this; hiring managers love you as long as you are prioritizing them. Keep an eye on other hiring managers to make sure they aren’t playing second fiddle.


  • The Leader-in-Waiting – Smarter than you, more capable than you, and has a great plan for how the department should be run. At least that’s the opinion of the LIW, and they will, at times, share this opinion with you and others. As long as it’s not done in a way that’s meant to undermine you, taking the more mature approach of humoring them is okay. If, however, you feel a direct shot fired over your bow, it’s time for an immediate stop to it. Management Tip: Lose your ego. It’s okay to be challenged or questioned, this isn’t the Army. Consider the ideas, not the delivery – you might find some gold. Then explain how a valuable suggestion can be minimized if it’s offered in the wrong manner.


  • The Charmer – If allowed to linger, this one is harder and harder to let go because they are so darn likable. The problem is, that likability is killing their ability to close deals, push back on hiring managers, and negotiate offers. They master the relationship piece to the detriment of the craft of actually filling requisitions – similar to the “Native” but without the notches on their belt. If you have the budget for someone dedicated to sourcing or coordinating, this is your perfect fit. But the added responsibilities of putting asses into seats doesn’t fit well with the Charmer. Management Tip: Of all the types to manage, this is one of the most difficult. Good people in the wrong role are always a tough job for a manager. You have to saddle up early in the game and let them know what you know – “This isn’t for you.”

Now, as my team tries to pinpoint who currently occupies these roles (none of my current team does, I’m not stupid), I wonder what other challenging types you might add to the list?

And the Hourly Shall Inherit the Earth…

Volume recruiting. The bane of the recruiting experience. I don’t care how good you are as a recruiting professional, until you’ve put on the flame suit and sat in a volume recruiting chair, you’ll never be able to fully appreciate the job – OR the people who successfully DO the job.

     Time to Recognize

Like your mailbox, you can clear it out every day, but it’s going to be full again tomorrow. The only difference is that candidate submissions don’t take holidays. You want to see a stressed out recruiter, talk to them after a week of PTO – like a phantom limb, they can still feel the sensation of applications building up in their absence.

The reason for the volume is, of course, the nature of the positions for which they recruit. Non-exempt positions are more transactional, have lesser requirements in education and experience, and (surprise!) pay less than exempt level roles. They also make up the brunt of the workforce, handle a ton of the customer experience, and like it or not – they can make or break you. Bill Carroll, CEO of HOOPS HR, put it in pretty basic terms; “As we work with companies on their hiring processes,it always amazes me to see how incumbent a company’s success is based on their hourly workforce.”

I look at our own business model with Dental One ~ any patient walking into a practice is going to be greeted by either a Patient Relations Coordinator or Dental Assistant, both of which are non-exempt positions. The most brilliant dentist in the world will have an impossible job if that interaction goes poorly. We all realize this same dynamic in our daily lives – your impression of a restaurant can be sunk if the waiter is non-attentive or rude. Your interaction with a Customer Service agent defines your experience with your bank, your insurance provider, your car dealership – these are the people who become the face of your company.

The question is, do you have that thought in mind when you are recruiting non-exempt workers? Or, are you putting butts in seats? John Briggs, President of CatalystOne“You can’t make the mistake of lowering expectations when recruiting non-exempt candidates. A good fit is still a good fit, and it benefits both the employee and company.” So as much as you can’t hire stiffs, you can’t depend on stiffs to do the work. You need to keep the standards just as high with the people you hire to recruit non-exempt employees. That’s just the ticket for admission – without a highly skilled crew able to operate with their hair on fire, you’re wasting your time.

When it comes to your volume recruiting team, the best metaphor I can come up with is a pit crew…the skills are the same as those used in a garage setting, but on race day they need to do it in 12 seconds or less. If the timing is off or the work is not up to standards, you lose the race. Your ability to do it faster and better than your competitors is what piles up the trophies.

The second part of the equation, if you’re lucky enough (like me) to have an all-star team of individuals is to have tools that are equal to the task. Our collaboration with Hoops, for example, gives me the technology that matches the quality of my team. So basically, we’re ready to take over the world.

For others, you may want a little more help on the subject, and do I have the right nut for you – on April 27th, Tim Sackett is hosting a Webinar, “The Forgotten Majority: 7 Ways to Trump Up Your Hourly Hiring.” And if you register now you get 10% more Sackett-isms, including:

–7 things you can start doing to increase and simplify hourly hiring in your organization 

–3 ways top organizations are leveraging technology to do massive (over 1,000 hires per year) hourly hiring 

–Pitfalls most organizations fall into when hiring hourly workers, and what you can do to make sure you don’t go down this path 

As the great British General Douglas Haig once said:

Once the mass of the infantry become possessed of low morale, the battle is as good as lost.


My Talent Acquisition team recently participated in a teambuilding event courtesy of our friends at Strayboots. I can tell you we looked forward to this event for weeks, as the thought of a scavenger hunt through the middle of the Dallas Arts District was (if nothing else) an opportunity for a brief distraction from “business as usual” – the key being that “business as usual” for us at DentalOne = “hair on fire.” We literally have a motto in our Recruiting organization that translates to “we keep moving or we die.”

                    which may explain this…

With that as a backdrop, a spirited walk on the streets of downtown Dallas would be a great respite from the grind, and would give us a chance to strengthen the bonds of our team.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum….

We were divided into three teams of 7 for the “hunt.” Our Doctor recruiters (led by our Practice Support Recruiting Manager), our Practice Support recruiters (led by our Doctor Recruiting Manager,) and the “Others” – a collection of cross-functional colleagues, me, and my boss. When the bell rang to start the exercise it became immediately apparent that our team-building initiative had become de-centralized. It was every team for itself, so to speak. The “stroll” turned into a brisk walk, a jog, and then finally a full-out sprint. Each team had a different pace, but one team made a decided effort to bury the others. Without mentioning names, this team was also, hands-down, the most intelligent and attractive of the bunch, and I don’t feel that’s an exaggeration at all…did I mention that was my team?

But I digress.

Sometime around our 8th or 9th task, as I sprinted to the Meyers Symphony Center, I observed that our day had become much more of a “teamwork” exercise than it was a “teambuilding” exercise. What does that mean? Let me give you three key differentiators that stood out:

  1. “Teamwork” can be immediately implemented ad-hoc. The “Others” really had very little direct working history with one another (outside of me/my boss), so an altruistic view of building the working effectiveness of our team was decidedly task-based. “Teambuilding” implies a fluid, ongoing process over time. We didn’t have time – we came, we saw, and we kicked butt by immediately assuming roles and hitting the pavement.
  2. “Teamwork” is benefited and amplified by a common goal, a finite timeline, and (whenever possible) the spirit of competition imbed in the process. Our team knew the “record” for finishing the scavenger hunt, we knew the timeline (2 hours), and we knew we wanted bragging rights at Happy Hour. “Teambuilding” (again, this is an interpretation) pulls the entire team toward a goal, and allows for mistakes and/or delays for the long-time benefit of the team – that’s nice, but our splinter cell was looking to just win, baby.
  3. Teambuilding is a constant process moving towards an eventual state of “world-class.” In a time sensitive, project-based assignment, you are at the mercy of the resources you have for that endeavor – so you succeed by working together for a common objective, possibly at the expense of those outside of your sub-team. That may change drastically for each new project and/or mix of resources. And that’s the beauty of the event in which we participated.

We want to do it again! And then….again. Mix the teams up, add a few new people to the chase, change the locale of the “hunt”…as we construct variations of our project teams and “teamwork” becomes a part of our culture that leads to the North Star we established –  to be a World-Class staffing organization. And that, my friends, is teambuilding.

On May 23, 2016 John Whitaker joined the DentalOne Partners team as Vice President, Talent Acquisition, based out of the Dallas Corporate Headquarters.   John is responsible for leading the Talent Acquisition & Recruiting strategies and initiatives enterprise-wide, and for building a world-class recruiting team.

Thanks again to our friends at Strayboots, we had the time of our lives!


You Know You’re a Manager When….

I can count many blessings. Among those is the fact that not only do I have a great boss, I have two fantastic managers reporting to me. When you have strong people supporting your efforts, you can sometimes take for granted the fact that development continues for all of us – even those who are already at a pretty advanced level. So, I try to take mental notes from time to time that fall into the category of “You know you’re a Manager when…”

These things may not appear in the leadership “handbook”:

  • You can admit that “YES”, you do have favorites, but the reasons better be in direct correlation with performance. Jimmy Johnson, the sainted ex-coach of America’s Team freely admitted that the “rules are different for different players.” Fairness is different than “the same.” Don’t let a policy hound tell you otherwise. The funny thing about favorites is that they are usually disguised as excellent performers with good attitudes – it’s the damnedest thing, but performance and reliability should count for plenty.
  • Speaking of performance, many of your own moments of brilliance will happen in a vacuum. Part of our job as leaders is to remove obstacles or at least pave the way for our respective teams – chances are your people will never have visibility to many of the things you do for them. They will see the benefits of your work eventually, hang in there.
  • “Happy Hour” with the team has a time limit for you, Cinderella. It usually coincides about the time you pay for the 1st round.
  • If you think they are talking about you,  you can relax. OF COURSE they are talking about you – you’re the boss, at some point you will not be terribly popular. This is one of the reasons you leave Happy Hour after the 1st round. It’s a part of the tribe mentality – and despite what you might think, you ain’t in the tribe. Don’t take it personal.
  • “Be who you are” in your management style. Don’t try to be a hard-ass if it’s not in your DNA; you won’t be good at it, and you’ll seem phony to your direct reports. It happens to all of us when we first get into a leadership role. At the same time you’re learning your new responsibilities, you’re trying to put on your face for the team. Are you a friend? Mentor? Coach? Disciplinarian? Be yourself, act accordingly.
  • Time + attention = “Development”; if you can’t determine what a “formal” training and development plan should look like, spend time with your people and give them some dedicated attention. A lot of budgeted (read: expensive) training opportunities may not be available to you, but face time is always an option.
  • Here’s one that I recently learned myself…slow down. Yup, actually pasted a stickie on my computer screen that reminds me to “breathe, think about it, then act.” We’re all working managers (pretty funny that needs to be a point of distinction), so we’re juggling alley cats throughout the day. In the world of recruiting, we all live with our hair on fire, so it’s not uncommon for things to occasionally get missed, mixed up, forgotten, delayed, misplaced or miscommunicated. I had a whopper of my own just last week when I sent sensitive information over email to a distribution group that still included the subject of the sensitive information.

Which leads me to my final nugget…

  • Forgive yourself. You will make mistakes. As a matter of fact, you’ll make several – something about being “human.” Own it, learn from it, then forgive yourself and move on. I’m still having to remind myself of this tidbit, no one will be harder on you than you. Covering it, rationalizing it, dodging responsibility all lead to bigger problems. Humility is a lesson we all need occasionally, it’s good for the soul.

Saying that, I’d still double check that email first…


John Whitaker is Vice President, Talent Acquisition for DentalOne Partners. For more than 20 years he has built and developed high-powered recruiting teams focused on developing a competitive advantage via strategic Human Capital positioning, planning, and practices.

Six Seconds That Cost You Dearly….

It’s one of the great statistics in recruiting…”Recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing a resume.” According to The Ladders, 4.8 of those seconds are reviewing four areas; name, current position, current employer, and dates of employment. It seems like a ridiculous statement (how, exactly, does one measure this?), unless, of course, you’ve spent time as a recruiter dealing with a motherlode of resumes – then it seems like a pretty rationale estimation.

Bad recruiting? No, it’s more likely a matter of bad habits, bad systems, over-appropriation of requisitions, or some combination of the aforementioned. But here’s the kicker – this lack of attention is only committed to the resumes that are actually seen. There exists another great statistic in recruiting: 80% of submitted resumes are never even seen by a recruiter.

Think for a minute about the impact these two trends can have on the overall talent of your organization. If these statistics hold true, a recruiter averaging 1,000 resumes a week is scanning 200 of them for a total of 20 minutes spent reviewing the qualifications of l,000 candidates. That’s the price you pay for allowing “paper” (realizing most of these are viewed electronically on an ATS) to speak for people.

You know, part of the occupational residue of being a recruiter is to expect resumes to be perfectly constructed to get to the point quickly, be SEO optimized (redundancy alert, thank you), properly updated and ripe for Boolean search. That’s not necessarily the case for a great number of people; those who are heavily tenured, or those who might be first-time job “shoppers” may very well have a pretty dysfunctional resume. Chances are it matches a rather spare LinkedIn profile – a lot of us (guilty) exist in a social media bubble where we expect everyone to have a user-friendly format, . Careful, or you’ll end up hiring a great resume.

So that’s the situation, but what is the solution? Is there one solution? Doubtful. So what do you address first?

First, let’s talk about what you don’t want to do —- resist the urge to follow your initial reaction. Do NOT try to minimize your resumé flow. As a matter of fact, open the dikes.

Next week: “Riding the Avalanche

John Whitaker is Vice President, Talent Acquisition for DentalOne Partners. For more than 20 years he has built and developed high-powered recruiting teams focused on developing a competitive advantage via strategic Human Capital positioning, planning, and practices.   

Little Brothers Grow UP

Work in big corporations long enough and you start to recognize the caste system inherent in the professional community. R&D is indispensable, Manufacturing has to actually make the ideas come to life, and then somebody has to sell it, so Sales becomes critical as well. The “big 3” pillars in a company—discover it, make it, sell it. That leaves a lot of the “rest of us”—the dreaded SG&A. Support functions. Overhead. Don’t fool yourself, Human Resources professional, we’re all just an expense in the eyes of the big brass.

As a result, I always felt somewhat of a kindred spirit with my friends in IT, Finance, Legal, et al. And of course, within HR there’s a special kinship and brotherhood that… hehehe, no, not really. Human Resources has its own version of Lords & Commons, too.

I’ve got 22 years in Human Resources, almost evenly split between the HRBP and Talent Acquisition function. And one thing continually holds true— Staffing/Recruiting/TA is looked at as the tactical, administrative little brother of the HRBP.

How to define the mindset of the HR Business Partner? Pretend Senior Leadership is Don Corleone, running his empire while keeping the other families in check. His consiglieré, Tom Hagen, holds a powerful role as he remains tied to the hip of the Old Man, remaining out of sight unless summoned to take care of some of the dirty work involved with a termination and/or delivery of a horse’s head. Polished and educated, whispering advice as needed. It’s a peach of a role if you can find it.

Go on, admit it. We break into Human Resources via Talent Acquisition, then move up to a more “strategic” role [this is where I risk over “quotating” terms, but how else does one make a snarky reference?]. Hell, that’s what I did. Put in my time filling requisitions, got tapped on the shoulder, and then up the ivory tower I went. Spent the next 10 years in a Business Partner role. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an awesome job, especially at the Senior levels when you’re actually allowed in the Star Chamber with the other important folks. You feel so… necessary.

After 10 years in a corporate BP role, I finally took the leap into lone wolf-dom as a consultant. And a funny thing happened—no matter the high-level strategic initiatives being tossed around the Board Room, the topic invariably ended up in the same place—talent acquisition… how to attract, hire, engage, and retain talent. Whether it was a company of 100 or 100,000, the same issues continually arise. Get. The. Talent.

So, with 10 years of investigations, layoffs, performance improvement plans, and terminations in my rearview mirror, it was time to get back into the front-end of the employee experience. And my, how things had changed.

It’s a war (for talent.) And in times of war, you don’t need Tom Hagen. When you go to the mattresses, it’s time to put Michael in charge. You know, that little brother that used to fetch your coat for you.

The war for talent changed everything. Economic recovery and a generational transition in the workplace put Talent Acquisition at the front of the battle line as it became a candidate-driven market. The role of “Recruiter” is (or should be) the center of the HR Universe: We are the marketers, branders, and brokers for the most important corporate asset. Thanks to advances in HR Technology, we can do more, while doing it faster and better than before. We are the Steve Austin of Human Resources; we’re #WorkplaceScientists now, not just resumé screeners. And we’re just getting started.

Recruiting will continue to dominate the HR function for years to come as Boomers exit and the digital age completely dominates the acquisition of talent. Strategic, innovative, progressive, creative, and indispensable—THAT is Talent Acquisition of the 21st century.

Remember that the next time your HRBP seems a little reticent about sharing information; it’s tough when your little brother outgrows you.


“Say My Name”….The Science of Recruiting

Before the magic of Vince Gilligan forever bastardized the name “Heisenberg,” the actual man was one of the more recognized and respected names in the field of physics, and a flat-out pioneer in quantum mechanics. Check out the big brain on Werner is what I’m saying.

Google “Herr Heisenberg” and chances are you’re going to find the “Uncertainty Principle” listed at the top of the page. Dude’s got his own Principle… respect.

And it’s sooooo simple to understand, right?

“The accurate measurement of one of two related, observable quantities, as position and momentum or energy and time, produces uncertainties in the measurement of the other, such that the product of the uncertainties of both quantities is equal to or greater than h/ 2π, where ‘h’ equals Planck’s constant,


Ummmm, “h = Planck’s constant?” Brain cramp. Yeah, that’s probably more than we need to know.

Another way to look at it is this: An object observed will act differently than it might act if unobserved. Anyone who has ever managed an employee during a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan) can attest to how the sudden addition of increased observation will change the direction of performance (not necessarily in the positive direction), but the reliability of the “new” performance is shaky—how do you know you’re seeing a legitimate change vs. some temporary fabrication to appease the observer?

You don’t, Chi-chi.

As recruiters we face this every single day, ammirite? “Come on in, have a seat, and let’s see your interview performance.” Maybe the most challenging thing an interviewer will do is to differentiate between an awesome performer and an awesome performer. The blind spot for many of us (ironically, even more so for the experienced) is our incredible faith in our own ability to do just that. You’ve seen the statistics; we’re making decisions in an interview that may be based on the first 2 minutes, mainly because we are professionals who can make snap judgments about someone’s ability.

Breathe deep, and accept this… but it might be that you can’t. Even an interview professional as revered as the inimitable Tim Sackett is not immune from our succumbing to fat-head, i.e., “I’ve got a good feeling about this one…” (Bad example, look at the size of Tim’s head.)

It’s Heisenberg’s Principle in action, m’friend—we don’t really know what it is we’re seeing when we’re in the midst of an interview. Are you using additional data points? Assessments? New tools? New tech? I’ll give a plug to one I’ve used recently—HOOPS—which has helped me balance my personal experience with experiential information and real data. The key is to gain multiple views of the candidate without sacrificing our most precious resource—time.

My team has recently had a revelation along these lines – when the number of candidates submitted to a manager exceeds the number of phone screens, the number of accepted offers actually increases. By crystalizing our field of applicants, we are hitting the mark more often. The candidate now has a stake in the game before we invest time in the vetting process. It’s a simple, logical, and rarely utilized method.

If we (the collective “we,” not the royal “we”) spend too much time on one candidate, we’re doing so at the expense of another candidate somewhere in the pile; add to that Heisenberg’s principle states that more observation is not the answer.

Somehow we need objects to behave naturally while in the selection process. And to do that, it may take attempts that don’t involve actual “observing” at all. Time to be “workplace scientists” by using the tools available to us.

What would Werner say? I think I know…

"Werner, bump it!"
“Werner, bump it!”

HR used to be "Personnel." That ain't happening here.