From French Secret Service hiring only illiterate African women in Paris for indoors cleaning to a Big IT company hiring only lazy designers and programmers to improve customers’ satisfaction, here are the craziest recruitment tactics you have probably never heard of.
1. Hiring the “dumbest” people who can’t read nor write
Your parents would say “Education will get you a good job”, but not if you are an African woman above 40 years old in Paris.
Few years ago, I heard about how the human resources department of the French Ministries of Interior and Defense have designed special job interview tests for candidates applying for janitor`s position to make absolutely sure that those who will be hired don’t know how to read or write, don’t know how to draw, and have limited visual memory. Candidates who know how to read and write are immediately eliminated.
The reason of this drastic approach is that janitor`s job doesn’t attract white French people, and those jobs are left to the most discriminated immigrants in France: African women over 40 years old. However, when it comes to trust, French would not trust any foreigner to access their strategic intelligence sites, military or classified facilities.
The offices still should be cleaned so came the idea of hiring illiterate immigrant women.
Once the best illiterate candidates were found, the recruiters would go into details to check if they still could copy anything by forcing the illiterate women to write simple words like “a dog” or the name of French president, while carefully observing the tension in their hand, face and body. The recruiters would also test their ability to draw. If their drawing skill is good, they will be disqualified. Additionally, their visual memory skills would be tested to make sure the candidates’ ability to describe what they could see and observe while working on the restricted sites is limited.
In the end only the “dumbest” candidates would be selected. The basic idea behind this crazy recruitment tactics is “we are safer if they are dumb enough” It is based on the long standing human resources principle “Don’t hire people with excessive competences your company doesn’t need”.
2. Hiring only the laziest designers and programers
A big Software company I knew few years ago had a tremendous growth period, but was facing an increasing customers` dissatisfaction. Things were going dramatically south, when the CEO decided to fire all the late-stay workers, and from then on hired only people he called “productive lazy people”, which means designers and programmers who are very talented but won’t spend all their life at work.
The CEO`s intuition was based on the old adage “There is no better worker than a lazy person who is working”.
Here are amazing underestimated facts about lazy people:
– They want everything to be easy and simple. (isn’t it what users want in a software?)
– They want everything now, and are impatient when they want something. They love speed in getting what they want. (Aren’t people very impatient nowadays?)
– When they start something they want to finish it as fast as possible. (They finish what they’ve started, Hired!)
– If they would find someone else to do their job at their place, yahoo! they will be happy. (I said they are lazy, is this a surprise for you?)
– If they could invent a tool to clean their house, wash their clothes, care about their life while they’d enjoy more fun stuff, holly paradise! (They would do anything possible to automate redundant processes and tasks, and concentrate only on value-added stuff. Did you say value?)
A lazy designer will always go for something simple. He doesn’t have time to create complex. A lazy programmer will write less code to achieve the same result than the smelly programmer who has no life outside of keyboard punching! A lazy manager will delegate and trust people who are more capable than he or she is. Finally, in life lazy people would have more friends because they are lazy to judge and they don’t want stress. Laid-back and funny they are.
Huh! I should write a book about “Lazy people at work: How lazy people changed the world, and why hard workers suck!”
The characteristics of productive lazy people are:
– They are the best at what they do (often gifted with superior raw intelligence),
– They hate authority and entitlement and anything that stands between then and having fun,
– They love spending time with people, close friends,
– And strangely they are very ambitious even if they don’t want to work so hard (no surprise here: minimum work – big result is their mantra).
Productive lazy people will do in 3 hours something 5 so-called-hard-workers will do in 1 day. The only requirement is that productive lazy people need challenging mission and strong managers, otherwise they verse into politics (Read Michelangelo story here).
3. Hiring only people without experience
This is a second hand story I have heard about how George Moose was selected as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs by the Clinton Administration in 1993.
Bill Clinton was one of the most compassionate American Presidents considering Africa. When he was elected in 1993, he wanted America to start a new area of relationship with Africa, and he was ambitious about that.
When the administration was vetting candidates for the position, the only instruction they received from Clinton was to disqualify any candidate who knew too much about Africa and had too much legacy connections to figures and leaders in Africa.
Candidates were extensively interviewed, and those with “too” much knowledge, experience and contacts in Africa were eliminated, and only the “naive”, less connected and less experienced were shortlisted. George Moose was finally selected as his experience was limited to two diplomatic positions in marginal countries like Senegal and Benin.
The main idea behind this recruitment tactics is:
– To avoid people who have too much legacy network and knowledge about a topic or position, when you want a big change to happen.
– People with lots of connections and affiliates in the field (specially in politics) are less free to experiment in fear of conflicting friends’ interests.
Unfortunately, in the case of George Moose it didn`t work out very well as it was under his tenure as the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs that Rwanda Genocide happened in 1994, and he was clueless about what to do.
4. Making new employees work on fake project until they could be trusted
If someone has worked at Apple for less than 3 years, it simply means that person was not found good enough for Apple. Talent alone is not enough to be hired nor work at Apple. Apple is a religion and therefore needs complete devotion, not pilgrimage.
Additionally to raw talent, Apple expect hunger and trust. And these are the 2 most important things Apple wants to find in new employees before confirming them.
To test new employees, Apple would assign them to completely fake projects but often label strategic to the company, and involve significant attention from senior executives. The fake projects are managed with the same rigor and supervision as the real ones, but a set of customized monitoring and evaluation tools are used to get to know better the new employee drive and fitness to company culture, and also their ability to deliver against challenging deadlines and management pressure.
If you can’t bear the heat, the exit sign will be showed to you. It’s a culture of total excellence, and new employes evaluation would last months if not years before they will be moved to strategic projects.
The basic idea behind this recruitment tactics is:
– You can’t trust any stranger with your company`s best ideas and resources.
– A resume boasting past experiences and education is not enough to predict how someone will fit into company culture or his future results. Trust, but check first, only the paranoid survive.
– Time pressure, challenging mission, conflicting deadlines, false management mistakes and exposure to dumb data are the 5 key tools used to reveal the real personality of the employee.
Apple is successful because it knows how to select and empower the best and hungriest minds in the world.
Final words: Relax, you’ll never know why you are not selected for a job, in many cases it has nothing to do with your abilities or skills.