Recruiting With The “Doom Loop”

Yes, the Doom Loop has a place in the recruiting world. In fact, I have used it countless times with considerable effectiveness. In fact, the Doom Loop was created during a recruiting session – albeit at the MBA level as described in the Doom Loop Blog.

Whenever I was in the process of recruiting someone, whether it was looking at a resume or actually conducting an interview, I would “Doom Loop” the candidate. I would ask indirect questions and mentally place the individual in the appropriate quadrant on the 2 x 2 Doom Loop matrix. Then I would mentally compare where that individual was on the grid with where he/she would be in the position for which I was conducting a search.

Obviously the mental picture was quite rough – but in nearly all cases it seemed to be accurate; and it told me a lot about the individual as well as helped me develop a strategy to convince the individual to make a move if, in my judgment, such a move seemed to be in both his/her interest and in that of the client.

I would first try to determine in which quadrant he/she was in at the current job. If the quadrant was Q3, then convincing him/her to make a move would be easier and perhaps in his/her best interest. If the individual was in Q2, then perhaps the move might not be in his/her best interest even though he/she might be qualified for the search I was conducting.

I would then mentally picture where the individual would be in the new job. If the new job would put him/her in Q2 or a combination of Q1/Q2, then making a job change might be a good idea. If the new job were to put him/her in Q3, I would proceed no further.

Using the Doom Loop in such a manner is an excellent way to determine not only if a candidate is qualified for a position, but it gives you tips about what sort of things might motivate the individual to change jobs. It also can tell you if a job change is inappropriate as well.

If you combine the aspects of the Doom Loop that enable you to connect how a candidate feels in his/her current job and how they might react to the new responsibilities of the job for which you are recruiting along with knowledge of his/her skill mosaic, you have very solid facts with which you can make a constructive argument. You don’t need to tell the candidate that you are “Doom Looping” him/her . . . . you can just use the information that it reveals to you privately in your argument. It works!

On the negative side, the Doom Loop can also be used by a recruiter whose compensation is tied to the individual’s taking a job that might be inappropriate for his/her skill mosaic. The recruiter can rely on those aspects of the Doom Loop that indicate how a candidate feels in his/her current job. I feel that this sort of use of the Doom Loop is unethical.

Doom Looping a Candidate

“Doom Looping” is a verb – it is the process of mentally constructing a Doom Loop for an individual that you are interviewing.

When you do this, you do not describe the Doom Loop to the individual. All you have to do is ask questions about his/her experience to determine the level of competency in various aspects of his/her current job mixed with questions about how he/she feels about the current position.

When interviewing, you can mix questions that relate to the Doom Loop with other interview questions that can help you assess an individual’s critical skills. By critical skills, I mean the following:

• How well does the candidate express himself verbally?

• What evidence is there that shows how the candidate has actually taken some idea and made it real?

• How does the candidate handle the processing and sorting of information? How does he/she test it for validity?

• How does the individual think? Give him/her a simple problem and then have him/her express verbally how it can be solved. The answer of how to solve the problem is not so important as the process by which the problem is addressed.

• How does the individual use technology to solve a problem?

• How does the individual manage his/her time?

• Have the individual give examples of how he/she works with other people in a team project.

• What is the candidate doing to improve him/herself educationally to keep up with the changes in technology?

Always ask questions that are open ended and do not require a Yes or No answer.

It is unfortunate that perhaps up to fifty percent of all resumes contain information that is either misleading or just plain false. In order to flesh out some of these misleading statements or assertions, my former partner used to make a statement and then ask one simple question. He would say, “You know that we will conduct detailed reference checks on you by talking to previous employers and individuals who know you well. That being the case, is there anything that you would like to change on your resume? Are there any skeletons in your closet that you would like to discuss now rather than after they might be uncovered during a reference check?” That proved in many cases to be a very effective technique of rooting out misleading or false statements and preventing severe embarrassment later.

There are some sad facts about statements that individuals seeking jobs put on their resumes. The online tech magazine Daz©Info had an interesting article by Amit Misra in April 2013 which reported this sad information:


• 33% of candidates boast about their job description in order to earn higher respect;
• 46% of candidate resumes contain false information;
• 70% of college graduate applicants say they would lie in order to get a job;
• 21% of all resumes contain false information about college degrees;
• 29% of all resumes contain false dates of employment;
• 40% of all applicants report false salary information;
• 33% of all resumes have inflated information about their current jobs;
• 27% of all applicants give false references.
• And, sadly, the list goes on.

Don’t these people know that employers check what they have written on their resumes and applications?

Apparently some don’t.

With today’s social media, individuals should understand and expect that smart employers will check Facebook and other media for information about prospective candidates.

There are two cases that I distinctly remember where credentials written on a resume were impressive – one way or another.

In the first instance, I was conducting a search for a Vice President of Manufacturing for a muffler maker. The lead candidate had written a resume which indicated that he had no college degree with the exception of an MBA from the University of Michigan. That turned out to be true and was quite impressive. In fact, that he had no undergraduate degree but a graduate degree instead made him an even more attractive candidate. He had every reason to say on his resume that he had an undergraduate degree but he told the truth. He got the job.

The other case involved a presentation I was giving for the Harvard Business School Club of Chicago. I had asked two other executive search professionals to join me and each provided a background. One of the individuals from a large prestigious firm indicated that he had an MBA degree from Stanford. That turned out to be false. Sadly, he lost his job as a result.

An interesting tactic to employ when interviewing a candidate is to just make a statement about something controversial and then just be silent and see how he/she reacts. An example might be, “Some people say that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is growing wider, and this is having a detrimental effect on our economy.” Then SILENCE.

Ask follow up questions. Listen to what the candidate says about a question you have asked, and then ask her something about what she said. If you really want to be tough, listen to the answer that she gives, and then ask a question about something she said in her response. Do it again and you will have employed the “Ask the third question” tactic. If she successfully answers the third question to your satisfaction, you can be pretty sure that she knows what she is talking about.

An excellent interviewer is able to “candle” the individual who is being interviewed. By “candle” I mean it is much like holding a candle behind an egg and being able to see what is inside. Psychiatrists are especially adept at this sort of thing – and so can you – if you practice your interviewing skills.

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