“So, did you see the debate?”


“…your guy spits when he talks.”

“Did you see __________ roll his eyes/shift his weight/shake his head/mop his brow/hem & haw/etc., etc., etc!”

How many times did a conversation very much like the one described above  happen earlier this week? How many times do you think the conversation ended poorly?

Nixon and Kennedy did this to us, you realize that, right? Fifty-two years ago, these two debated on live television, and politics changed forever.

Without getting into partisan politics, I think its fair to compare our internal hiring practices to our voting habits, and I don’t mean that in a complimentary way. Here are 5 reasons why:

  1. Look the part ~ Hiring managers will admit that in many cases they make a snap judgment based on appearance within the first 10 seconds of the interview. We like people who look like the people we want leading us, following us, or surrounding us. Kennedy, Clinton, Reagan ~ these guys looked like a President. Similarly, check out the recent hiring history of any Pharmaceutical Sales division.
  2. We like ourselves ~ It’s no secret that we tend to like people who are like us…despite our inner critic, we really do love us some us. Politicians know this, which is why they spend considerable time describing their respective opponent as “out of touch” with the American public. Job candidates know this, too, which is why they fawn all over your stuffed Bass display even if they wouldn’t know a Gitzit from a Curly Tail Grub.
  3. “Undecided” is a myth ~ Everybody has an opinion (there’s a joke I’m omitting here), right? During the hiring and/or election process, “undecided,” actually masks a person’s true affiliation. Why the ruse? Dumb, scared, or starved for attention. And these are the people polled after debates, just as they are the people we beg for support in the hiring process.
  4. Lying is accepted ~ During the debates, the feed below the screen is littered with fact-checking updates to alert you to a candidate’s “mis-remembering” of factual data, and the points of inaccuracy are pounded into our heads for days afterward. But no one cares. We expect politicians to lie. Statistics will also tell you that over half those interviewed admit to fudging some part of their resume. Over 70% of college students admit they would lie on their resume to get a job. References are rarely checked completely, we just want the basic information. We expect a few lies and that’s okay.
  5. We get attached ~ “Our guy” is our guy. We don’t like “your guy,” we can’t be convinced to like your guy, so quit talking about your guy! Really, you’re pissing us off, and if you can’t see the difference between “yours” and “ours,” we would just appreciate you shutting the hell up!

That’s probably #6, we get way too emotional about these things.

John “Whit” Whitaker is the Founder and Managing Partner of HR Hardball™, and he refuses to allow political talk to ruin his Fall. To send Uncle Sam an email, or to submit your own thoughts for publishing on this site: