So a guy chases a woman around the world because he wants to marry her. Invests in air fares, cab rides, hotels, maybe even private investigators to find her. Then, when he catches up to her, he asks for her medical records, inquires about her religious affiliation, and wants to know, does she snore?

Makes perfect sense, because why would you marry someone you don’t know much about? Hey, we’re not stupid, right?

Take a look at Gary Capone’s comment on What is the single best interview question ever? Gary correctly points out that a manager should not give the first degree to someone the company is recruiting. You want to wine and dine them — figuratively or literally — first. You are trying to convince them to work for you; they’re not trying to get you to hire them. They are passive job hunters. You have to work hard to entice them.

So Gary suggests that a manager should wait til later in the process to ask The Bestest Interview Question Ever: “Can you show me how you’d do the job?” And I agree. But it set me to thinking.

Why in tarnation would a manager pursue and recruit a specific individual if the manager didn’t already know the individual could do the job properly? That’s what pursuit implies, right? That you want what you’re chasing? That you know what you’re doing.

So, why do companies pursue people they want to hire just to give them the third degree, as if they’re job applicants? A company will use a headhunter to lasso the top talent and bring it in. Or a manager will talk to the talent on the phone, and cajole them into coming in for a meeting. This is recruiting.

So the sucker shows up, is ushered into the personnel office, where a greenhorn HR clerk hands them a 4-page application and puts them in an empty conference room. “Buzz me when you’re done.” Then the recruit is walked to another room, where a technical test is administered. “We need to know how you score so we can decide which position to interview you for.”

Yah, that’s how it works. “I want to marry you, so let me check your teeth.” How’s that for a come-on line?

Is that what recruiting means? Do we know we’re in love before we ask for marriage? Just what the hell does a manager know about the person he’s trying to entice to the company? Probably not enough. What kind of research has the company done to identify the right talent before going on the hunt? Do companies do research at all? Do they know who they want and why? Do they pick the target carefully and pursue only the right people?

Are you kidding? HR budgets fly right out the window, cash gets blown every day, wasted on resumes with the right key words. Scrub ’em up, get ’em ready, do the interview, into the chum bucket with the rejects. This ain’t love and courting. It’s trawling the bars at 2am.

It costs companies a huge bundle.

That’s how companies hire. So stop calling it recruiting. Let’s call it baiting. Because what happens to the top talent once it takes the hook ain’t very pretty.

Hiring is a manager’s #1 job. People are our most important asset. Show me a company where respecting the candidate is the policy.

  1. Fog Creek software would be my example where the candidate is respected though you may already know about them from the Joel on Software blog listed on your blogroll.

  2. No question that is not only OUR policy for candidates, but after they get the job too…course, it starts with respecting our prospects and customers.