Cut the Bullshit: The Seduction of Complexity - Hiring Mistakes - Clear and Open

Cut the Bullshit: The Seduction of Complexity

It seems managers hate hiring more than they hate hiring mistakes.

Hiring is a deadly combination of mission-critical and poorly executed. People avoid it like crazy. It’s uncomfortable, time-consuming, and they just want to get it over with.

Many businesses create all of their problems through regular hiring mistakes.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret of my industry: the solutions to your problems are very simple–so simple you wouldn’t believe it. Literally. People refuse to believe it.

How do I know?

Because a lot of what I do is say the same thing in different ways until people act. Think about the last business book you read. How many different core ideas were in it? One, two? A complex one maybe has six. Yet the books go on for 400 pages. More on why this is later.

Hiring is a complex process. But hiring mistakes are simple. Hiring mistakes are usually caused by the unwillingness to make the candidate uncomfortable. The candidate wants you to think they’re perfect. They present an image, not reality. And most hiring managers participate in the trance by lobbing softball questions and wasting interview time selling the job to the candidate.

It’s the hiring manager’s job to ruthlessly discover the reality of the candidate, but to do that, you must shatter the image.

How do you do that? Break the interview trance. Here are some example interview tactics that do that:

  1. Tell me about your ugliest weaknesses and how you’re working on them. And don’t tell me you work too hard or you’re a perfectionist, I won’t buy it.
  2. If I ended up firing you at some point, what would it be for?
  3. Tell me about a mistake you didn’t learn from until you made it again and again.
  4. What’s your greatest fear and how does it stop you from your own fulfillment?

Their first answers won’t be authentic. You’re going to have to dig, and that means you must challenge. You must call bullshit–literally.

Repeat after me, sound it out: bull…shit. Uncomfortable for you to say? Good, then you know it’s working! Now, let’s practice!

Now, let’s practice!

“Well, my biggest weakness is probably how ambitious I am.”

Bullshit. (Then smile, look them in the eyes, and wait for them to talk.)

“You’d probably fire me for trying to take your job.”


“The mistake I made, again and again was accepting ‘No’ for an answer until my wife finally agreed to marry me.”

Aw, that’s cute. Bullshit.

“My greatest fear is failure and it always keeps me striving for more.”


Your candidate is going to try to perform the interview and unless you can make that performance completely bomb, you’ve failed. How to do that is very simple: just call bullshit when you hear it. You’ll know you’re successful when you see them sweat, stammer, and squirm. They’ll either break and start being honest with you, or show you they’re incapable of doing so. You win either way.

But here’s why you won’t do it and you’ll keep making hiring mistakes, and it’s related to why most business books are one idea stretched across 400 pages. You want a more complex solution. You want a twelve-point system, or a six-week skill-training, or model that has a quadrant chart. The mind loves complexity because that’s how it justifies all its useless thoughts and all your pain and suffering. If the solution were simple, then what do you need a complex mind for, right? You’d rather twist yourself into a pretzel than just be uncomfortably real with a candidate and cut through all the bullshit. You’d rather try to read between the lines of your candidate’s performance and try to intuit who they are behind the facade.

Why on earth would you do that when you could just call bullshit?

Because you’re afraid of what they might think about the company, that they won’t want the job, that they won’t like you, etc.

Did you forget you were the boss?

Get. Over. It.

Hiring Mistakes End When You Call Bullshit

Your hiring mistakes come from hiring images rather than people. That’s what you do when you bring your own image to the interview to talk to their image. Have a real conversation (without breaking the law). And when you do, and you hire them, you set up a completely different basis for the entire relationship: realness. Incidentally, this solves most management problems before they start.

But if that’s too simple for you, pretend you just read 400 pages.

Enjoy cutting to the chase, calling bullshit, and making complex things simple? That’s what happens every week in the Clear and Open Community. Find out more about becoming a member.

Like making things more complicated and suffering over them needlessly? Then this isn’t for you!