Make Applying Hard Not Easy

Neil HartleyHiring ChallengesLeave a Comment

man climbing rock face

While The Right Five is dedicated to ensuring B2B tech founders get their first Sales hire right, this post just as easily applies to any hire you may be making.

I saw a short description of life as a founder recently that went something along the lines of:

  • Monday – we’re going to conquer the world
  • Wednesday – we’re screwed
  • Friday – we’re going to conquer the world

So, depending on the day of the week you may view hiring as being super easy (who wouldn’t want to work here?) or very hard (why would anyone want to work here?). Those sentiments might then influence the degree of difficulty you administer in the candidate application process.

You may also reflect on job benefits and compare those with larger, more established companies in your space. They offer more, right? So you should make it easier to join your business than their’s? But, you’re not looking for someone who’s looking for an easy life and rich benefits, are you? Of course not.

The bottomline is you should make it difficult for candidates to get into your business and here’s why.

Firstly, and as alluded to above, the kind of person you need to hire isn’t the kind of person who’s going to be combing through your benefits package and comparing them with Big Inc. down the road. It’s going to be a tough ride in your business and you need someone who’s ready to duke it out not worry about the quality of the duck feathers in their pillows.

At The Right Five our assessment to identify the Pathfinder salesperson you need to hire as your first Sales hire is tough. It comprises 150+ questions and takes over an hour to complete. It’s hard but so is being the first Sales hire in a startup. Also, one of the attributes to avoid when making this hire is entitlement. Any candidate looking at the assessment and thinking it’s beneath them (“don’t they know who I am?”) would have failed in your business anyway. Congratulations, you’ve just weeded them out without wasting any of your own time.

The right people for your business don’t mind hard, what they do mind is poor communication.

The second reason you should make the hiring process hard is consistency, one of the six principles of influence detailed in Robert Cialdini’s book, “Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion”. This is without doubt the best non-fiction book I ever read and which explains everything from the shortage of kids toys at Christmas to what makes us buy stuff.

We all [subconsciously] use shortcuts to help with our decision making. One of those shortcuts is “our nearly obsessive desire to be (and to appear) consistent with what we have already done”. If commitments we have made are written down by us and/or made public then that desire for consistency becomes even stronger.

Clever businesses, Zappos and Infusionsoft are two I know about, have leveraged this principle in their hiring processes. Not only do they make hiring difficult in the knowledge that making it hard to join makes the candidate view the company better and be more consistent with their decision to join (more committed), they double down at the end of the hiring cycle by offering you money NOT to join. They just made it even harder to take the position by increasing the barrier to entry and, thereby, making you more committed.

This happened to me at Infusionsoft when they offered me $5K not to join. I asked how many people took them up on the offer and I believe the answer was zero or, maybe, one. I don’t remember. But look at that another way. Do you want to hire someone who would take $5K rather than take the job? Not only are you increasing commitment but you’re taking out an insurance policy in case a “wrong” candidate gets through the hiring process.

You don’t need to make the offer of cash not to join although it may be a useful tool as you scale further, but you do need to make the process hard. You can’t afford not to. The good news is The Right Five makes it hard through our assessment while simultaneously making it easier for you. Place your ad, let candidates take the assessment and we’ll deliver The Right Five Pathfinder candidates for you to interview. You just need to choose the right one.

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