Conversations: Probability Texts

Staffing Salesperson: Have you heard back from her? 
Recruiter: Not yet, but I'm hoping she'll call soon. 
S: She has everything she needs? 
R: I sent the offer letter, and we talked for a good 20 minutes about the job. 
S: You sold her on it? 
R: I told her about the benefits, reminded her of the salary increase, and told her how much they wanted her to join the team. 
Staffing Manager: So why are we waiting on the offer letter? 
R: She said it was at work, and she wanted to read it tonight before making a decision. 
S: Why does she need to read it? 
M: Get her back on the phone. Here's what you tell her. You let her know the client has a call tonight with your salesperson, and they're gonna ask if you accepted. Then tell her you're excited about this, but if she holds onto that letter, all that's going to happen is people at work are going to know something is up. 
R: We talked about a counter-offer - she says she's not taking one. 
M: She doesn't know what she's going to do until she walks into the office and her boss, the person who hired her, looks up with those big doe eyes and asks what they did wrong, and starts talking about it being a bad time to leave. Next thing you know - it's a six week wait, that leads to a three month month - and no deal. 
S: Get her on the phone, and if she hesitates, pass it over to me and I'll see if I can't close her. 
M: Thank you, but this is [Recruiter's mess], they can clean it up. 
S: And if we lose this deal because they let her get away? 
M: Let's just get her on the phone. 
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Recruiter: {dials phone}, Hi, [Candidate]? Listen, this is [Recruiter] and I wanted to make sure you received the letter I sent. If you could call me when you have a moment, that would be great - or text me and I'll call you as soon as you have a moment. Thank You!
S: Voicemail? 
R: Yeah - she must be in a meeting.
S: Come get me as soon as she calls. And call her back in 20 minutes if you haven't heard from her. 

{Staffing Manager and Salesperson walk away}
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2nd Recruiter: Wow. That was brutal. 
Recruiter: I never should have let her off the phone. How is she going to call back when she told me she wants to read it tonight? Ugh - and now I have to call her again?
2: No, you don't. 
R: Yeah, I do. [Salesperson] is going to be checking up on me in 5 minutes, not 20. 
2: So try this  - wait a few minutes, then text her.
R: What do I text?
2: You start off with a safe one. "good to catch up with you today." 
R: Why?
2: In case her phone shows the messages, it won't get her in trouble. 
R: I should warn more people of that. Then what? 
2: Ask, "What do you think the probability of us getting together in the next two weeks is? 70%? 80%?
R: That makes no sense. 
2: Sure it does. The message gives her plausible deniability if someone reads it, but she knows that you're talking about a two week notice. 
R: So why the probability question? 
2: It's called priming. People like to be consistent. You're asking her if she's taking the job, and asking her to assign a probability to it. If you leave it open ended, she can answer, "pretty good," or "let me read the offer," or just ignore you. If you put a number down, 70-80%, that is way off her expectations, she'll be compelled to answer you with a number. If she writes a lower number, she's not taking the job. 
R: That is some bizarre mumbo jumbo right there. 
2: Try it. She'll respond, and when those two return, you'll have a concrete number to give them. They'll leave you alone, she'll read the contract, and if she was being honest about being cautious, she'll say yes.
R: Do you think?
2: What do you think the probability of you eating at the Olive Garden is tonight? 70-80%?
R: I'm not eating at the Olive Garden.
2: If I said, ordering pizza at home, you'd pick it up on the way home and skip the gym.  

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Recruiter: good to catch up with you today
R: What is the probability of us meeting up in two weeks? 70%? 80%?
Candidate: 75-80%. I'll call tonight when I check my calendar. 

Conversations: The Tyranny Of Words

Recruiter: I tell you something I'd like to get rid of - it's the word, "hiring manager."
Executive: You don't like hiring managers?
R: I don't like the word.
E: The word, "hiring manager."
R: Exactly. It's not a title, it's a description we use that conveys a sense of authority where none is deserved. In giving a manager the description of "hiring manager," we give them the false impression that they are skilled at hiring. In reality - if they don't hire a person - you know what they are?  
E: ...
R: Just some guy.
E: They don't call themselves hiring managers.
R: They what?
E: Managers never hear that word. They don't call themselves hiring managers. 
R: But we do.
E: Your point was that hiring managers, or, to be more accurate, managers, have an inflated sense of authority because they think their title gives them an authority they haven't earned. For that, to be true, they have to know of, and more important, call themselves hiring managers. 
R: .... Okay, that's a good point. 
E: So what else can I solve for you? 
R: The logic was not sound, but there are more legs to this stool. First, they have heard the term hiring manager, even if they haven't incorporated it into their identity. One would assume that in calling themselves manager, they assume the power to hire and fire brings a credibility to an interview, because they are making a choice. Recruiters, in their descriptions, make the mistake of loading one side of the equation in favor of the manager, adding the adjective, "hiring" to manager, without adding an adjective to the side of the jobseeker. These words still have meaning - and when we, as recruiters, make an introduction to a manager, we are subconsciously and through our words granting power to the manager. 
E: That's a stretch. 
R: What do you call it when you make an introduction?
E: A referral. 
R: Internally, maybe - but what do we call it when we send a manager a resume?
E: A submittal
R: And the candidate becomes an applicant - a legal term for someone who is in our hiring process.
E: Perhaps those words are there because there is a power differential between an applicant and a manager making a decision to pay that applicant to perform work.
R: You already agree with me.
E: In what way?
R: You already recognize this power differential in other parts of your work. 
E: And how is that? 
R: You've been a vendor to companies. 
E: That's correct.
R: And what do you seek to do to elevate your vendor status? Are you satisfied with Preferred Vendor? Tier II Vendor? Small Business Set-Aside?
E: We prefer the term, partner. 
R: Because a partner is on equal footing, while a vendor is a classification. 
E: Clients don't really see themselves as partners most of the time.
R: They do it all the time. Usually when it's time to make price concessions, or to appear more reasonable in their demands.
E: So in this demonstration of language, you're making the comment that power differentials do not exist, and our language is responsible for creating inequality in work relationships. And you want that to stop. 
R: Well - I've already had to back down from the definitive comments about hiring managers - although I'm not convinced they don't see themselves this way, I think it's obvious that recruiters still do. In continuing to do so, we are locking ourselves into language that distorts the point of an interview.
E: The point of the interview isn't for the manager to make a decision about hiring?
R: Not at all. The point of an interview is for two or more people to gather information. Making a decision about that information is a post-interview step. If a manager can make a decision about a candidate, it's because they are judging the candidate instead of speaking with the candidate. This is a mental framework that prevents the manager from conducting an effective interview.
E: Because you can't learn when you're tasked with providing feedback.
R: Yes. The second you think that a decision is the purpose of the interview, your brain shuts down its ability to learn and begins to process answers based on a pre-set criteria. That criteria is, almost always, information obtained prior to the interview, which is why thin-slicing can predict outcomes as well as an hour long interview.  
E: I thought you said that was a bad experiment. 
R: It was. It simply reinforced the common sense view that bad questions lead to bad answers. 
E: And getting rid of the word hiring manager is how you think you can fix this? 
R: Not at all. That is one branch of a tree that is in need of serious pruning.