“You Are Too Competent For Us To Hire”


Interviewing with an honest employer rarely happens. And what I mean is that a completely honest employer would be sharing what is really going on in the organization and why they really don’t want to hire you. Having read between the lines often enough, please enjoy the following “honest interview” and maybe it will ease your stress of finding a job by laughing a little today.


So I read a job advertisement recently that I could have written myself for my work experience. It was close to home, stated a salary range that I felt was workable and fair, and the benefits package was quite complete. I was excited about the range of responsibilities and what appeared to be management’s accurate support of the learning function. I noticed I could apply using LinkedIn, so I did. Less than an hour later the recruiter is calling me.

This first conversation was how “well my key words popped on my resume” and she knew immediately I was a great candidate. She read the advertised job description to me, (I wanted to thank her since she no doubt thought I had been struggling with the big words) and asked what questions I had. I responded that it was clear so far, but I would probably have more detailed questions when I met with the hiring manager. She asked me when I could come in to complete a quick personality assessment, (no not online, in person) and the following day I was onsite filling out a two sheet assessment with 10 multiple choice questions.

After the grueling assessment was complete, she graded it in front of me. She was so happy when I got 100% correct, she marked an A+ with a smiley face on my paper! Grinning from ear to ear she said the next step was a panel interview with several line managers since the position supported all divisions they had a stake in finding the right person. That interview was scheduled for the following week.

I arrived for my panel interview dressed in my Sunday best, only to be greeted by 10 people dressed down for what I could only assume was Spring Cleaning Day. I had asked about what dress code was appropriate for this interview and was told a suit and tie was the norm. The group had set up a U-shape of tables and I was put in the middle on a swivel chair so I could easily rotate and face the questioners. Each person had 10 minutes to ask questions, so an hour and forty minutes later we were done. I was told they had 5 minutes left for me to ask a question. I said, “Would each of you answer this one question for me, what is the purpose of the learning function in a corporate environment?” I heard at least 4 of them say, “Huh?” Safe to say this was a very painful exercise for these 10 managers, but insightful for me.

Yet three days later the recruiter called me and said all 10 managers wanted to see me progress to the final interview with the hiring manager. I was pleased and eager to finally talk with my potential manager.

I arrived 10 minutes early. After waiting 20 minutes after the appointment time with no one arriving, I called the recruiter to find out if an emergency had occurred and we should reschedule the interview. She said she would check, and 10 minutes later she arrived with the hiring manager.

We were escorted into a conference room, sat down and that is when I noticed he didn’t have any notes, paper or writing instrument. No phone, tablet, not even my resume. He smiled at me and said, “you were here early, I’m always late to meetings.” I bit my lip and stayed quiet.

He begins, “so you are interviewing for what job?” And that is when it dawned on me he really had no clue what was going on, who I was, and what he was looking for in a job skill set. After answering with the posted title, he launched into what he no doubt thought was a great opener, “tell me about yourself” and I said, “that is a rather long book, is there a particular chapter about me you would like me to start off talking about?” He didn’t, so I chose a rather quick history of accomplishments in the field for this job, and asked if he wanted more detail about any of those points. He said, “wow, you have a lot of experience, is this job a good fit for you?” I responded that the printed job posting had a wide range of requirements and goals which would allow me to stay engaged. I asked him what his top priority was for this role, and he said, “I don’t know yet.”

He then launched into a series of questions that made me realize where his personal development plan would begin. “Are you married? Do you have kids? What ages are your kids? Do you have parents you need to take care of? How old are you? Do you have a wife or a partner? Are you planning to retire soon or do you need to work into your 80’s?” And my all-time favorite, “Can you use the men’s restroom, or are you conflicted? We only have Men’s and Women’s restrooms”.

The following day the HR Director called me, and said the hiring manager thought I was too competent, and that I would cause problems. He wants people that know less than he does, but can still get the job done. I responded that I appreciated the honesty, and empathized with her challenge to fill this role. I then asked if I could share some of the questions he had asked. I finished with an assumption that she knew these were illegal to ask an applicant and she said, “Really?”

After talking with my attorney, she said I definitely won’t have to wait until I’m 80 to retire now! My settlement check should last several decades!


PS – Was this a fictional experience or not? You tell me.


Odd Qualifications for TOO Many Managers These Days


If you have children in their late teens to mid-twenties in the workforce, you may have heard a few dozen horror stories about their managers and thought they were exaggerated. Unfortunately your ears did not deceive you nor did your kid’s experiences get blown out of proportion. The minimum qualifications to become a Shift Lead, Assistant Manager or even the Manager are nonexistent; unless of course you consider the following requirements as standard guidelines these days.


“Managers Wanted For Hire”

We are seeking warm bodies with zero previous supervisory or management experience to lead our retail locations, restaurants, and revolving door enterprises. The following requirements are mandatory unless otherwise stated as preferred:

  • You must have zero knowledge of any Human Resources Policies, Federal or State Employment Laws, and be completely unable to identify Workplace Harassment (even if it happens to you).
  • If your staff members should have the audacity to report your management style to senior members of the company or Human Resources as “Hostile” or “Illegal” you have the assurance that these complaints will be fully ignored until such time as you are able to terminate these staff members.
  • In order to make your sales, service and expense goals, it may be necessary to work staff without paying them regular or overtime wages, skipping meals and breaks, and learning how to trick the time clock.
  • You should understand that your role makes you the superior life form in your location and all staff are considered your subjects and/or slaves and should be treated with very little regard.
  • Giving Directions and Feedback should come from your emotional stability at the time and never from your brain. Ripping an employee’s face off is a sign of a strong manager. If you are referred to as a Witch with a B, consider it a badge of honor and that you are doing things correctly.
  • Experience with Performance Improvement and Team Building is not necessary. If any employee doesn’t perform as expected within the first two days on the job, they should just be fired. You can always hire someone else to replace them.
  • You do need to be a proficient recruiter and interviewer with an emphasis on telling each person what they want to hear so they accept the job. You will not be held accountable for any promises you make as we put nothing in writing. We do not have a written list of prohibitive interview questions either and we discriminate in our hiring process based on each manager’s personal biases.
  • It is vital that you have never received any management or leadership training in previous positions and we make the promise to you never to require any such training nonsense as long as you work for us.


NOTE: While this blog was meant to be humorous in nature, unfortunately it is the sad truth that many employees are working for managers with these skill sets. Your friends and family are being subjected to poor management because these issues are allowed to exist up the food chain. If you ever wondered why a company only wants the younger employee and not older ones, it is because the older employee knows the rule of law and will not put up with this nonsense. They also are quick to report bad behavior and hire attorneys if needed to resolve issues. Parent need to be vigilant in their efforts to educate their children on proper workplace behaviors and rules.


Holding Employees Accountable

Imagine your company was preparing to hire a new employee and used this job description:

“Candidates must be eager to come to work, look busy and appear engaged at all times.  It is vital that they are willing to accept a paycheck every two weeks in exchange for accomplishing nothing we need done.  Superior candidates should be unable to send or reply to emails, or make or return phone calls as this is both a hallmark and our secret to everyone’s ability to create and live in chaos.  If you can over promise and under deliver on everything we need you to do, then you will have exceeded our expectations.  No one will every set goals or deadlines because it might force our hand to manage performance.  In fact we allow employees to rate their own performance and merit increases no matter what is accomplished.  If you think you can avoid work, but enjoy getting paid a salary, please apply whenever you can!  No rush, or we might have to process the application”

Holding employees accountable.  What a concept huh?  Actually it is only a concept in practice in the very best of companies, the most successful and profitable.  In too many organizations it is just lip service from the top down, with few employees actually earning their paychecks.  Now while companies would never set out to hire this level of performance, what does it say if employees are allowed to get paid and not get much done?

In reality, if someone is this bad they are not apt to stay employed long.  But what happens when your sales people promise follow-up and then don’t follow-up with the customer?  What happens when we promise a co-worker to get them a report, and then just flake out and forget?  What happens when a week goes by and the project you are working on is no further along than last week?

Most accountability experts will tell you that the first person we need to hold accountable is ourselves.  We must do as we say, return calls and emails quickly, live up to our obligations and not blame others.  And yet if we are managers, basic management development 101 screams out that we are required to manage our staff’s performance.  We must set goals, and follow-up and hold accountable people who miss deadlines.

I have a couple of clients right now that for an assortment of reasons have not been able to move projects along as quickly as they had hoped for.  And yet, they both do something that makes me hang in there with them.  They communicate often and let me know what is going on.  One person in particular has been honest too.  That might sound like a little thing, but what it tells me is that she trusts me and her willingness to tell me the truth instead of some half-baked excuse is that she is holding herself accountable.

Time for Vacation

I’m kind of an odd duck when it comes to the real spirit of a vacation.  To me these infrequent days and weeks each year are more about the break from the normal daily routine then they are about the destination and activities.  So when I take vacation, I really leave a lot of my routine behind.

Whether I go on a cruise, travel to a foreign destination or stay home, vacation must be a break in what happens everyday from what normally happens.  So to begin with I give up email, and the computer in general for the time off.  OMG, you say!  How can he live without social media?  Heavens, will he still be breathing by the end of the week?

The sad reality for a lot of people is that they feel indispensable at work and in their personal world.  They cannot disconnect ever!  They feel they must be available 24/7 to their employer, family and friends.  The big news flash is that if something happens to you the world will go on.  You will be missed, but the world will go on.

So if we can get a grip on how dispensable we really are, and that work will wait until we return, then we can relax and unwind.  Taking time to experience a real vacation allows your mind and body to rejuvenate and when you return you are in much better shape to tackle the challenges that are usually waiting for us.

I’m taking next week off, which means, no computer and sadly, no blog for the week.

For Sale By Owner

When you think of the phrase “For Sale By Owner” what first comes to mind? Maybe when selling your house, car or other large item. I guess it could fit anything we own and have the right to sell, and we are not getting help from anyone else to sell it.

Last week someone in my inner circle who likes to kid me, connected the efforts of a consultant like me marketing services to a For Sale By Owner advertisement. Upon a moment of reflection I laughed, and said I guess I am advertising my services that way. I am the product, and since I charge for my services I am “For Sale.”

I find it odd that when I worked internally, I never saw myself as the Chief Selling Officer for training. I was meeting a need the company had with a performance solution. I and my team did this over and over again and we kept our jobs, earned our paychecks and we made a difference to the success of the company.

So why is it so hard for this same process to work outside of an internal role? When I was a salaried person I got paid every two weeks. Granted I worked hard for my paycheck, but did I really need to? I would have been paid anyhow, at least until it dawned on someone that I was not doing anything. And yet as an external consultant, managers expect all sorts of free consulting, free advice, free products and they call it testing you out.

I find myself being asked to speak at conferences every so often for travel and expenses only, no speaker fee. I’m told they don’t have the money and want me to write it off as a marketing expense. That works sometimes when the audience actually buys my services after the engagement, but most of the time that is a long shot. Conferences are being promoted with sizeable fees to attend, and the organizers are the ones making money. Without the speakers there would not be a conference.

The whole concept of the occasional free speaking engagement, free consulting is that it will come back to the consultant in the form of business. After all, having expenses is only cool when they reduce the taxable earnings. But what happens when the expenses exceed the earnings?

If you were selling your house as a “For Sale By Owner” would you let people live in it for a week to see if they liked it? Or if you are selling your car, would it be okay if they took a 3-day test drive and drained the gas tank? My guess is your answer is absolutely not. So why should I keep working for nothing?

An HR Manager told me a few months back that she likes to pick my brain. I must have been having an off day because without thinking I said, “I’m glad you think I’m valuable, but the sample tray is getting empty.” Ding! She said, “my word, I have been abusing your kindness.” I let that comment go without a response. I wonder if it will make a difference.

In the mean time, let everyone you know that in addition to a truck I have for sale, I am also selling my services – “Jim Hopkins – For Sale By Owner!”  (And I need money for both the truck and me)

Mastering Email 101

In this very techno age of doing everything on a PC, Laptop, or Hand-held device you would thing that something as basic as mastering Email is somehow an acquired skill in our DNA.  So why then do people have such a difficult time with certain functions of Email?

Let’s see, most of us know how to turn on the device and locate our email, and see all the people who have sent us messages.  Check one!

Reading email seems to also be a mastered skill by most who have an email account, as I often send email to people with a read receipt feature that lets me know when they have opened the email I sent them  Check two!

Quite a few people are capable of sending an email to individuals and even several people at once.  Check three!

And while I believe most folks know how to delete a message in their inbox, it does me no harm if they want to keep a thousand emails that they are never going to read, except that it can interfere with the least used function of email.

Where things seem to really get bogged down is in the use of the “Reply” function.  Why is it so difficult for people to run that little cursor over to the reply button and click it?  My, would that facilitate communication and avoid guessing or what!

Earlier this week someone sent me an email letting me know they had received a package I sent them, and were interested in talking with me that very afternoon.  They sent this email at 7:58AM and I responded around 8:11AM that I was available and to let me know what time they wanted to talk.  My read receipt told me they read my email at 8:32AM.  By 3:00PM, I redirected my response and politely asked if tomorrow would be better since I had not heard from them.  (He probably doesn’t know how to “reply” to an email).  He read that email a few minutes after I sent it!

Two days later and I am still waiting on a response.  I can’t help but wonder how this person functions all day without the ability to respond to emails that are sent to him, especially when those emails are responding to his original requests.  It must be frustrating for him, and I know it is frustrating for those of us that are wondering what the heck is going on at that company.

Although today’s blog is an attempt at humor, it is also a serious performance issue that many of today’s employees exhibit.  They are wasting their time and the time of others because they are unable to use email properly.  It is not really a lack of skill but rather a lack of will.  It is inconsiderate and rude, and yet tolerated way too much!

I guess I could call this person, but I wonder what would happen if I don’t reach him and have to leave a voice message.  Could he “return” the call?

WANTED: Unproductive Employee!

“We have an immediate opening for an unproductive employee to work for an under achieving organization headed for bankruptcy.  The right individual must be willing to avoid work, and be a master-procrastinator to ensure that none of our business goals are achieved.

We are not about to consider anyone that practices any kind of accountability.  They must not take ownership or responsibility for errors, and being a master-blamer is a real plus!  Pointing fingers and laying blame on others are hallmarks of our company and we can ill afford to change our culture at this late stage.

Time management, project management and operations management are foreign concepts in all of our divisions, so these would be worthless skills if brought to the table.  In fact, if the right candidate can demonstrate a lack of returning phone calls and emails we would be ultra impressed!

Finally, we find the whole concept of being a learning organization the real challenge any new employee must resist with all of their fiber.  Rogue individuals can undermine our determination to avoid new skills and knowledge that could change our current incompetence levels.  Our managers work overtime (energy not hours) to monitor all employee activity and anything that involves training, professional development, or social learning are immediate grounds for termination.

All interested parties should forward their interest in working for our company to our Inhuman Resources Department.  They are our final line of defense in weeding out any potential hire that could change our company mission of being the worst employer of choice in America!”


Fact is that no company ever spends the money to advertise for an unproductive employee.  Yet, every company has these individuals on the payroll.  They accomplish little, blame others, can’t even return emails or phone calls and yet collect a paycheck.