Predictable Hiring Success With Stephen D. Johnston

Written by: Laura Johns

Laura: Welcome to the Know Grow and Scale podcast, where I, Laura Johns founder and CEO of the business growers interview business leaders to uncover secrets of how to know, grow, and scale their organization effectively. Now, let’s get started with today’s episode with Stephen Johnston, CEO of GoodJob.

Welcome, Steven Johnston back to the Know Grow Scale podcast. We have already interviewed you once before talking about your success at Smart Sync, sold for a hundred million back in the day, now you’ve moved on to bigger and better things, so tell us about GoodJob. I’m very intrigued because now as a CEO I’m hiring all the time, so I wanna hear about GoodJob, your story, and really dig deep into how you’re solving hiring problems for businesses all over the country. So, welcome.

Stephen: Thanks, Laura. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me here today, and I’m excited to talk about GoodJob and the impact we’re having on companies throughout America, but with a vision to help companies throughout the world. You know, basically GoodJob was created to help us all hire better, and the truth is that we all hire right about 50% of the time. Almost the same odds of spinning a ball on a roulette wheel getting black or red. And you know, many of us have become accustomed to those results and there’s just a better way to do it and that’s why I created a GoodJob, so we could try to improve the probability of hiring the right person every time.

Laura: Yes. So when did GoodJob get started? How did it get started and can I talk about the foundation of the company and really where the idea came from, because I know enough to know that there is something. That’s particularly different about it, which I wanna talk about compared to other hiring assessments. But let’s talk about that, like where you got your start, how it came to be.

Stephen: Yeah, so I was actually serving as an operating partner of a venture capital firm at the time, looking for my next opportunity. And I was introduced to a group of people who had been working on a recruiting oriented solution leveraging some artificial intelligence technology to try to predict, what would make someone successful or not? That business was really driven around the people side of it, the recruiting side, and as I started learning more about that business, I started to seek an opportunity to help companies hire better, and ultimately joined that company and closed that company and then we started with this vision of how can we improve the hiring process for companies. And it was a lot of research during that time period after I joined that company to try to figure out what we had and where the real market opportunity was. And it wasn’t until I had a conversation with a couple of professors from Harvard and Stanford, that had been in the hiring space for 40 years helping Fortune 500 companies hire people better by using Trait Behavioral Assessment Technology.

And to make a long story short, I ended up acquiring all that intellectual property and hiring those profess, and turned their very comprehensive, deep consulting solution that was, hundreds of thousands of dollars and turned it into a software as a service platform that everybody could use.

Laura: So instead of an employer having to pay those hundreds of thousands of dollars, they can go to GoodJob and get it in a monthly subscription fees.

Stephen: Subscription.

Laura: That sounds pretty great.

Stephen: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s tier price so if you’re a smaller company it costs less, if you’re a bigger company, you pay a little more. But at the end of the day, it’s affordable and now we can roll out the behavioral side of hiring to literally every company in the world.

Laura: So you said something there that I feel like might be a secret sauce to it, you said the traits and behaviors or trait and behavioral science, the way that you said it was interesting so, I’ve taken Myers Briggs, I’ve taken the Clifton strengths finder. I’ve had, throughout my career taken a disk number of different assessments. So tell me what GoodJob does that these other assessments don’t do or why? If I’m hiring, I would be interested in GoodJob over another personality test.

Stephen: Well, first of all, what I wanna say is that all of those assessment tests are, relevant and I’m not against any of ’em. They’re all valuable in their own way, but pretty much every assessment test measures things differently.

But the problem with those assessment tests as it relates to hiring is number one, they don’t really tell you who to hire and who not to hire. Okay, that was my biggest problem. Those assessment tests, all of them have been around for, 20, 30, 40. But people are still hiring correctly 46% of the time.

Laura: Right.

Stephen: And so the problem is, with the way that those assessment tests are out there today they’re very valuable and you could learn a lot from ’em, but I just didn’t think they were set up to help somebody hire better. And what I mean by that is most of them are very long. And so if you got an applicant who may or may not be interested in your company, you, really can’t have anything over 10 minutes. This, the research will tell, or they’ll drop off and never take it. And so it was really important that we built an assessment test that was less than 10 minutes. But the most important thing is what we’re measuring with our assessment test. It’s not a personality test, it is a work trait and behavior test. And so what we do in a very short period of time is get really, really focused on the behaviors and traits that make people successful, in a company, in a very specific role. And it’s company and role specific, which is another thing that’s different than all of the other assessment tests out here.

And so we’re able to, determine with a high degree of accuracy, what traits and behaviors make people perform well at a company and then tell you in 10 minutes or less, whether or not an applicant has those behaviors or not, which, if they have those behaviors, then they’re more likely to be successful and to be happier in their job and to be a better performer.

And so I want you to think about the world this way. We have resumes that are out there today, and for hundreds of years, everybody’s hired on resumes. Okay? And I didn’t make this data up, this comes from Sharon. We get it right 46% of the time, on average. Okay. What’s missing? Well, if you knew what the fit was to the job at the same time before you ever interviewed a candidate as, and so you’re able to take a FIT score, we call it the GoodJob score.

Plus a resume. Well, now you have enough information to where you can make a more intelligent decision. And, hopefully get it correct. 80 to 90% of the time, nothing’s gonna be right a hundred percent of the time. But if we’re able to improve that probability, 30 to 40 percentage points, we feel like we’re really making a difference with companies, but also with people.

Laura: Well, and I can imagine. So you’re not saying resumes are obsolete, you’re saying your software paired with a resume. Kind of combined helps an employer. I can imagine if I’m hiring, a lot of people, this probably cuts that process in half. Like what have you seen in terms of time savings? I mean, I just know, and I’m a small business, but I know how much it’s costing me to hire, from time spent to digging through resumes to the subscriptions that I’m paying on Indeed and LinkedIn and all these things. And I’m a small, shop. So what kind of savings are you seeing? What kind of ROI are you seeing at, GoodJob in terms of what people can save, expect to say?

Stephen: Well, there’s a couple things about that, and that’s a, a layered question. So let me, break it apart.

Laura: Unpack it. Yeah.

Stephen: There’s a lot of reasons why, what we do can make economic sense for a company. Number one, you mentioned the time savings. Just the time savings of figuring out, who I should hire, who should I prioritize in my process versus who I shouldn’t? So let’s just use, Indeeds at recruiter LinkedIn it doesn’t matter, a source of candidates. So say you get a source of a hundred, 200 candidates for a particular job. How do you know who the best candidates are? And you can sit there like we always have done and flip through resumes and say, I like this one, I like this one. She’s good, he’s good, she’s not, he’s not, whatever it is. But that just takes an enormous amount of time. And in addition to that, it is you as a person who’s hiring, you’re not always in the same mood.

And so, that can actually can influence who you pick, just who you are as an individual, just like me. I mean, if I’m in a good mood,

Laura: I’m sitting here thinking, my husband’s last job that he got, well, two jobs ago, the job that he got, the pastor that he was working with said, man, When I saw your resume, I was just really impressed and I was like, I did that. He didn’t even do his resume. So there’s that factor too is like, they could have gone and paid I know now you can go pay for somebody to do your resume and they funnel it through and let’s just hope it’s all, of course, in his case it was all true. It was just, it looks sharp.

Stephen: Well, and that also, I mean, that leads to a whole nother issue relative to, resumes.

Laura: Right?

Stephen: Being the only predictor of success. There’s a lot of ways resumes can be manipulated. People who of means can go pay for somebody to build a resume, if you come from a poorer community or you don’t have the means or whatever it is, you can’t go hire somebody to produce your resume. And so it, inherently makes the selection process a little unfair

Laura: and biased. Yeah.

Stephen: But using behavioral modeling, it really flattens out the curve because there’s two things there. One is nobody knows what the answer is. Okay. Because the answer is generated by a company in a particular company and in a particular role. And so you can’t go cheat the system, you can’t say, I do this. It may or may not be a good fit for the job, but, I wanna come back to this ROI question, that you asked because it’s a, it is the right question to ask. And we’ve all made bad hires, okay. And the cost of a bad hire, is phenomenal. And some people tell you it’s, at least the cost of a person’s salary. There are other people or other analysis out there that’ll tell you it’s five times the cost of a person.

Laura: I was gonna say, I mean, I could see culture, what it does, your culture, you can’t even put a number on, but there’s culture stuff.

Stephen: 100%.

Laura: There’s training, the time that you took to train. We just had several staff members in last week, new staff members in last week, and that just alone find everybody in for training, there’s a lot, to factor in.

Stephen: Well, and think about this, let’s say you just hired, and I know you, made great hires, but let’s just assume that, one of the people you just brought in, you figure out about 30 days into the job. I’m not sure, she’s the best fit for this job. Okay, but you’re not gonna fire in 30 days. You’re gonna let that linger for, 90 days, 120 days, 180 days. Okay. So back to the ROI question. So my deal was, the commitment I wanted to make to our companies that use our product, is if we help you avoid one bad hire just one, out of however many, the system will pay for itself in one year. And that’s how we price the product.

Laura: So here we are March 2023, and we’ve got, predictions and some are already seeing that we’re having some economic challenges, especially as it pertains to, our economy and, the potential downturn, people paying bills, etcetera, etcetera. What is your take on how this affects someone that’s hiring or talent acquisition person or and how it’s affecting the industry in terms of what you guys do and how you can help with that.

Stephen: Yeah. Well first of all, the hiring market is very dynamic. It’s very different this month, March of 2023 than it was March of 2022. It’s changed a lot even in the last 12 months, and I think now that the economy is beginning to slow down, we are seeing a shift in the hiring process where one people aren’t hiring as many people, and the people who didn’t necessarily looking for jobs. Are now starting to get concerned that they may have to find a new job.

And so there’s a lot of changes going on right now in the system. It, this is what I would say relative to that, when you have to hire somebody in today’s world, it is critically important that you make a good decision. And now that I know what I know about the value of behavioral modeling, I would never hire anyone without that information.

Because, I know, because I believe that will, that is a better predictor of success than past performance. And so, in today’s world, I think companies are starting to become really smart about who they want to hire. They want to be able to quickly assess who the best people are. They know that the best people aren’t gonna be on the market long, and so they wanna be able to make a quick decision. And so, I do think it’s a different environment, but I think it, I actually think over the next 12 months it’ll even change again. And I’m not sure what it’ll hold, but I think it’ll be different than it is today.

Laura: So if I’m a marketing agency owner, let’s just say, and I’m kind of just interested in the process, so if I’m hiring hire, I get GoodJob to come in, what’s the first thing you do? What does the process for me look like? I know you said that we take the behaviors of my current team, so am I telling you who my rock stars are and just not mentioning the ones of course I all, I have as rock stars, so I wanna replicate them.

Stephen: I’m about to say, so in your case it’s a little bit different. You have a whole team of rock stars, so,

Laura: right. I’m unique, but if, let’s just say I didn’t, I’m sure they’ll come a day. I’m sure there’ll come a day.

Stephen: Yeah. Well, Laura, this is how it works. All of your current people in a particular role, take the assessment. The company weights those people based on performance and, the attributes that they have on a scale of one to seven. When you’re using a scale of one to seven, five is the natural point of indifference. Six and seven are typically high performers. People who get a four, that’s really equal to a one. , and I know that sounds harsh, but if you rate somebody below five,

Laura: but if you’re only looking for the top, then that’s the best way to cut it.

Stephen: We do, we actually like, we like for, we take everyone’s behaviors, even the ones, the twos, the threes, the fours, the fives, the sixes and sevens. It’s just we have an algorithm that calculates which of those behaviors are most dominant in that role, and traits. And then, and we build a behavioral model for that role based on those behaviors and the performance of people in your company.

Laura: Okay.

Stephen: And then every new applicant that applies for a job, we encourage a company on the very front end of the hiring process, the minute they hit the apply submit application. The first thing they get is our A path assessment and a nice invitation to take it from the company. And then when they take it, it tells the company how well that person matches to the behaviors of the job that they know to be true. They’re high performers. And then so now you can take that GoodJob score and you can take the resume and now you have a complete picture right of a person. And then you can interview ’em and you can have the conversation around non-negotiables or other things that you might wanna talk to ’em about. But when you interview ’em that they already have the behaviors and traits to be successful in that job.

Laura: Right. And I can see how, I mean, so essentially if I’m hiring and I know the names of my top three stellars and I’m like, these are the people we want more of and I’m hiring a lot of like client success managers.

So you would come in and evaluate my team, you would bubble up the top performers, and then everybody that is applying for the job, I’d be able to see it very easily in your software, who I need to choose from rather than taking the a hundred people that applied and having to look at their.

Stephen: That’s right. I mean, we basically rank your potential applicants on who is likely to be the most successful in that job. And you said something very important. You mentioned you have three client success managers, the technology works with small groups. But the larger data pool you can get, the better. And that’s why our focus initially has really been on larger companies, because they have these massive workforces where we can do, we can build a, highly accurate behavioral model.

Laura: So I guess for, one of the things I’m very passionate about, even though I have hired women to date, is I do want diversity in my office and I wanna make sure that we are not just continuing to create the same, type of person I wanna make sure that we honor, cultural diversity and gender diversity and things like that. So is, I mean, it seems like the software, if it’s just behavioral, then that probably takes care of that, right? Is there an allowance for that? That kind of, if you’re just looking at behaviors that seems like that would. Take care of that concern for a lot of hiring managers.

Stephen: Yeah. It’s a- an extremely non-biased assessment. It, we, capture no information on anybody. We never even see the person before they take it. They take the assessment. It is 100% possible for people. from different backgrounds, genders, whatever it is to have the same behaviors is a I use this example. I grew up in south Jackson, Mississippi, where we just didn’t have, I didn’t grow up in a really wealthy community or whatever it might be. But I’ll tell you one behavior I learned while I was there, was competitiveness. And that’s a behavior that lives inside of me. Well, you can take somebody who, comes from means and, has a totally different background and could be a, a female male, black, white, whatever it might be. And they can learn that, or they can be,

Laura: have the same

Stephen: just as much of a competitor in the environment as someone can be in another environment. And so, it was very important when we built this assessment, working with the professor. To make sure that, nothing we did could introduce the opportunity for bias in the hiring process. And so we know, we believe we’ve achieved that, and that’s why we ask every company to send it out to every applicant.

And because what happens in most cases today is companies self-select who they assess. Well, the minute you self-select somebody you have introduced bias in your own process.

Laura: Right? Yeah. Like you mentioned earlier about the resume is, if you’re looking at resumes, you might be able to quickly see, who had the resources to spend money on getting their resume professionally done versus who didn’t?

Stephen: What school? Yeah. What school did they go to? What group did they belong to? Or whatever it might be. But on the behavior side, it’s just really is this person wired?

We’re all wired differently and there’s nothing wrong with the way anybody’s wired. Everybody has dominant behaviors and traits. You may not be a good fit for a job. Well, even as a person, as an applicant, I’d like to know that before I take that job, because if I go take a job where I’m not a good fit, I’m gonna be unhappy, I’m gonna find myself not being successful and so it works both ways. For the candidate that’s great as well as for the company.

Laura: So, what is on the horizon for GoodJob? What next? It sounds like the software is working and is figured out and that’s great because, I know you’re not technically a startup, but a lot of times when you’re developing a software that part of it is the hardest hurdle to get through, so, congratulations.

Stephen: I feel like until you reach a billion dollars in value, people call you a startup. Look at the world, and any look the software, it works. It’s very clean, it’s good, it performs the functions that we want it to. We justly just announced a partnership with a company called Merge that gives us access to interface our data until were 50 ATS systems, which is usually the system that most companies recruiting organizations use.

Laura: Oh, okay. Yeah.

Stephen: To manage candidates. And so, we are on go mode, we’re in growth mode. It’s kind of scale up mode, we’re trying to get as many companies out there as we can to use the product. And that’s sort of the phase of life we’re in. It’s pitting every day. It’s telling the story. It’s implementing trials. Rolling it out and that’s just the bread and butter of what we do every day. It’s going very well. We have some great clients and from my standpoint, I just would like to, reach as many companies as fast as we can, just so we can continue to build the business.

Laura: All right, so if somebody’s looking for GoodJob, where do they go? Where’s GoodJob?

Stephen: Yeah. The best place to go is Which is our website. And it is full of information about the value of the product, the return on investment, how to get in touch with us and, I’d just like to send people to our, beautiful website that was designed by a great marketing company.

Laura: Yes, I know them.

Stephen: Called The Business Growers.

Laura: Well, great. Well, I’m fired up about what GoodJob is doing. Honestly, I feel like just having known you for decades, that you’ve landed in the exact place that you should. I’m excited that you’re continuing to, get to be behind a technology that you’re passionate about. I’ve been able to see you do that for a long time. So it’s fun to see, and I know that GoodJob’s gonna be successful with your leadership, so we’re excited to see you grow.

Stephen: Well, I appreciate it. And the real root of the, what drives me every day is I fundamentally believe, and I really a learned belief from the data scientists that I’ve purchased this technology from, that every person we help get matched to a job. That is where there’s a great match in their treats and behaviors that we are helping that person be more successful in life, we’re helping them putting them in an environment where they can be happy and productive. And so I really do feel like we’re making a difference, even though we sell to the companies. I feel like we’re making just as big of a mark on the people that get selected because of Trait behavioral modeling as we are on the companies that we’re serving today.

Laura: That’s awesome. Well, thank you Stephen for your time, I’m excited to see what happens with Goodjob, and congratulations on all your success.

Stephen: Well, thank you Laura. Appreciate it, thanks for having me.

Laura: Make sure to like and subscribe so you’ll be notified of new episodes. And to learn more about the Business Growers visit our website at

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