In this episode, Josh talks about past job analysis, and how we use that to dig into who people really are and help you understand what this means for your organization.

Episode 50 | Past Job Analysis

[00:03] Welcome to The Epic Company Culture Podcast, where your host, Josh Sweeney, will give you, the business leaders, HR professionals, and company culture aficionados, the knowledge you need to take your company culture to the next level.

Josh Sweeney: [00:15] Hello, my name is Josh Sweeney and welcome to The Epic Company Culture podcast. Before we get started, I would like to thank Prototype Prime for this amazing podcast space. The topic of today is a another hiring related topic, and it’s all about past job analysis, and how we use that to dig into who people really are, a little bit about their background. Part of this comes from a process that a lot of other people use, but I got from the book and the process ‘Topgrading.’

The Process

[00:47] What the concept is, is when you look at a resume, when you’re doing the in person interview or you could be doing a phone interview, phone screen, wherever you’d like to have this in your process, it’s the process of going all the way back to the oldest job listed, and inquiring about that role and digging into it and then progressing forward. What we do on this is, we will go to the last job on the resume, furthest back, and we’ll ask why they left that role. So, why did you leave that job when, what happened? Okay. They’ll tell us about it, and then from there we’ll ask about their manager. Do you remember your manager at that role? How did you feel about that manager at that role? We’ll ask lots of questions and we’ll progress into the next role further and further and further in.


[01:34] What we see through this as a couple of different trends around who that person is, and what their level of ownership is as well. The ones that we get that are good answers are, when they left the role in order for personal growth. I like those, maybe they were at each role for two or more years. Each new role presented a growth opportunity. They had great things to say about the manager. It’s even better when they say some people will throw in, “Oh yeah, I still have a relationship with that manager. If you’d like to call him for a referral, I’d be happy to put you in touch.” That’s kind of the perfect answer. And then we can reach out and talk to that manager and find out a little bit more about them.

[02:17] The further that goes back, and the more cohesive that theme is across all of the roles, generally the better feel and vibe we’re going to get from that person, and the better consistency we’re going to see in their work history.

[02:29] Then we get the complete opposite of what would be a bad answer. And that’s really people who are going to one, skirt the question. So, a lot of people will skirt the question. You’ll get a lot of, I don’t remembers, “I don’t remember who that was, I don’t remember what that was, oh, let me look at that.” They ponder on it for a bit, and don’t really come up with things. That also comes up in other places on their resume as well. They skirt the question in some way and don’t answer the question.

[02:59] Another one is a theme that we’ve seen across lots of people were they always left on at first when they highlight it, nothing was wrong. And then when you dig into it, you start asking about the manager. You find out what they hated about that manager. Because people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers. That’s a pretty consistent theme. It might not be all this person’s fault, but what we want to see is how are they positioning it. Is it an ownership issue where they never took ownership, and it was always this guy’s fault, or girl’s fault, and they have lots of bad things to say. Do they have legitimate reasons where you’re not really going to mark it a positive or a negative, but you’re digging down into it.

What to Do

[03:42] In this process, what we advocate and what we would challenge you to do is, go all the way back into the job history that’s listed. They listed it, so it’s something you get to dig into, because they put it on there, and find out about why they left their job. What they thought about the manager. Do they still have a relationship with that manager? Any details that you can really dig in all the way through that to find out, is this a person who consistently leaves for growth and new opportunity, and has had really good experiences? Or is this somebody that you know has had pretty poor experiences across their role and their job life cycle, and you will be the next one in order for their type of experience. So, think through how you can dig into those questions to uncover whether your next hire is going to be a good fit for your organization, or whether you need to pass them along to somebody else.

[04:36] Thank you for tuning into today’s episode of The Epic Company Culture podcast with Josh Sweeney. If you enjoy this content, please subscribe on iTunes, Soundcloud, or Stitcher. For additional content and transcripts, visit epicculture.co. If you have questions or topics you would like us to address or expand on, tweet us @epicculture1, or email at podcast@epicculture.co.