Hire Today, Gone Tomorrow
A “not so happily ever after” fable
by Jeff Wach
Once upon a time there was a man named Jack, who decided it was time for a wife. He wasn’t a people person and had never dated, but he did run a company, and hired employees in the past, so he decided to use the same methods he used for hiring to find a wife.
As with his employees, he didn’t give much thought to what he was looking for, and didn’t have any sort of description prepared. So he decided to just throw a quick ad in the paper and see what happened. Soon he received a few responses. He looked through the qualifications of the women who applied and decided on Susan.
Jack liked what he saw on paper but needed to see her in person to get his “gut check”, as he liked to call it. It wouldn’t take long. His employee interviews were quick and easy. He didn’t have time for long or multiple conversations. His company had very high turnover and he interviewed a lot.
He met Susan at a coffee shop. She seemed pleasant enough, so after about 20 minutes of Jack asking all the questions, he asked her to marry him. He tossed the engagement ring across the table and said “Whaddya think?” Since Susan didn’t have any other offers at the moment, she said yes. They set the date for 2 weeks from that Saturday.
Two weeks went by with absolutely no communication between Jack and Susan. But since no offers came in from her other efforts, she decided to go through with it. Besides, she already said yes. So she put on her wedding dress and knocked on Jack’s door. What she found was unexpected.
Actually, “unexpected” was precisely the feeling she got when Jack answered the door in shorts and a t-shirt. Not exactly suitable attire for a wedding. “That was today?” said Jack. “Yes.” Said Susan. “I can come ba..” “No, no, no, come in! Come in!” Jack interrupted. As she stepped into the house, she noticed that although it was clean and neat, it certainly was not prepared for a wedding. No flowers, no tent, no band, no cake.
Jack showed her in and walked her to the kitchen, where he asked his housekeeper to get Susan a cup of coffee. “I’ll be right back,” Jack said as he disappeared out of the room. As the housekeeper was getting Susan her coffee, other house employees came through the kitchen. They introduced themselves and were all very nice, but it was clear that not one of them had a clue there was to be a wedding today.
Jack returned with a pile of papers. “Ok, here you go,” he said, as he plopped down the paperwork in front of her. “Not sure if I told you, but this marriage is contingent on you signing a few things. You know, pre-nup, background check, and other miscellaneous agreements. All standard stuff.” And he quickly left again. No, he did NOT tell her, thought Susan, but since the house looked fine and Jack seemed nice enough, and again – she didn’t have any other offers, she signed the papers.
While Susan was busying herself with the paperwork, Jack ran about the house, scrambling to prepare for the wedding. A few hours later, they were wed. The moment they were pronounced “Man and Wife”, Jack turned to leave again. “Wait!” said Susan. “Where should I put my stuff?” Susan had already moved out of her apartment in preparation for moving in with her new husband and had a moving van waiting to be unloaded. Jack instructed his staff to clear a spot for her in one of the spare bedrooms and was gone again. Still in her wedding gown, Susan unloaded the van.
And so it began. Jack gone on business most of the time, briefly popping in here and there, and Susan, left at home trying to figure out what she was supposed to be doing. Occasionally Jack would give her some vague instructions, but mostly Susan was left to her own to figure things out. After all, she had the right qualifications. She should know what to do!
Sure enough, not unlike most of his employees, Susan was gone in 6 months. Jack had asked her to leave, saying things like “It’s just not working out.” And “You’re not a good fit.” But that was fine with Susan, for she had been secretly searching for someone else and had already made the decision to leave.
As Susan drove away, both she and Jack wondered “What went wrong?”
The moral of the story:
Put in the context of a marriage, Jack’s methods seem quite ridiculous. But his hiring and onboarding process is all too common in business. Yes, you may get lucky and find some good employees using these techniques, but only if no one else is hiring. The best way to reduce false-positives in hiring is to have a thorough and repeatable hiring and onboarding process.