How & why to get people to quit before you hire them.

Quitting process, not hiring process.

How companies hire people is largely broken. We turned our hiring process into a quitting process. It works a lot better that way. We believe great people stay for what they GIVE and Industrial Age “employees” stay for what they GET. So we make them give a LOT before we hire them to ensure we have givers, not getters.

Problem: The Industrial Age taught people to get jobs, not do work.

Effect: BlessingWhite’s Employee Engagement Report 2011 says only 31% of employees are engaged – want to be there regularly, while 17% are totally disengaged. Another report said it more clearly. Companies would make more money if they paid 1/5th of their work force to stay home every day!

I believe only about 20% of possible employees are saying “Bring it on. Where’s the work? I want to be and do something significant. I’m having a blast here.” We have to find THESE people. Or get them to find US. To do this you have to weed out the 80% who largely just want to go to work, by making them quit before you ever hire them.


1) Stop interviewing. OK, not really, but almost. Stop doing the traditional 1st round, 2nd round, 3rd round interviews where you sit around and talk with people about their resumes, which I call tombstones – edifices that tell what we used to do in the most glowing terms possible.

Why do we think TALKING to people about work, and looking at a tombstone full of their own opinions on their past, actually tells us anything about how they would work for us? NEVER LOOK AT RESUMES IN THE FIRST ROUND, ALMOST NEVER IN THE SECOND ROUND!

2) Design unique hiring processes for each job. Don’t sit across a desk from a boiler tech talking. Go to the boiler room, break something and have them fix it.

3) Hire for culture, never for skills. That’s why you don’t need a resume in the first few rounds. The first rounds should ONLY be to answer the questions 1) does this person fit in here 8-10 hrs a day? and 2) do they really like to work? Until you answer those two questions a resume is worthless, and will actually improperly color your interviews (I WANT this person to fit because I like their resume). HISTORICAL BIAS is very strong when you’ve already looked at their resume before the 2nd or 3rd round.

4) Make them work HARD before you hire them. Create whatever environment they will work in (stressful, customer-oriented, phone work, sales, etc.) and have them do projects instead of interviews. If they need to be highly independent, create a hiring process that gives them very little guidance and see what they do with it. If they need to be highly detailed, hide details in the process and see if they catch and follow them.

Now is the easiest time to fire them or have them quit – before you hire them. And people who just want to GO to work will drop out very quickly in this kind of process.

How we did it

For our last hire (Chief Results Officer – half marketing, half administrative, half event management, and half leadership), we did a four and a half page ad on Craigslist (where the hiring folks said we should never try to find someone). We told them all about our culture, the result we would want from them (not the “processes” they would do), and asked them not to send a resume, but answer seven questions about culture, life, ambitions, motivation, fun, etc.

We were told we would get 300+ resumes in an hour, but most people quit just reading the ad (we were clear in offering no benefits, no work hours and no vacation time – be adults and take off when you’re work is done). These quitters saw they would have to WORK to answer questions instead of clicking and sending a resume. We only got 135 responses in one month. And we were able to delete 45 of those immediately because they didn’t pay attention and sent their resume along, too.

We had them do two rounds of projects, which made another 50+ quit, and then we asked for resumes from the final 40. We asked 18 of them to do another project and come in for a 10-minute interview, and that made another 7 quit. I did 10-minute interviews with eleven people and the final three were sent to others in our company for 30-45 minute culture-fit interviews (to answer the question, “Can you guys see yourself working with any of these folks?”)

Results? We found the pearl among the pebbles – a life long keeper who finds work extremely fulfilling, is self-motivated and fits in like she’s been with us from the start.

Put them through the wringer – throw everything at them they will experience when working with you. Make them work hard before they are hired so you know it’s not about the money, but because they find it incredibly fulfilling. Look for perfect cultural fits who have a passion for what you do.

Make your entire “hiring” process into a “quitting” process and you’ll get the right people.