Hello, and happy Labor Day weekend. Right now it just feels like a regular weekend that’s slightly longer but not long enough. But who knows, maybe I’ll brave the 115 degrees outside and stand in front of an open flame and grill something up. On second though, that sounds like an incredibly stupid idea. Oh well.

In my career, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing a couple hundred people. I enjoy it, and I’ve gotten much better over the years at asking questions that get to the heart of what we need for a particular role. I’ve also gotten better over time at looking at resumes and seeing things that are either deal-breakers or things I’d want to dive into much more in an interview. But out of the 500-1,000 resumes and cover letters I’ve reviewed, one stands out above all the rest, and for good reason.

I was hiring for an important role to lead a pretty big part of our business, and dozens of resumes had come in that weren’t even close. I needed someone who had already been doing similar job duties at a high level, so I wasn’t interested in all of the people promising to be “fast learners” despite not having relevant experience. Then I came across one that checked some of the right boxes at first glance. It also caught my eye because the gentleman’s last name was…well, a very common synonym for “dull.” I’m not writing it here because it would be bad if he somehow Googled himself and found this. So I’ll call him Steve Dull, and I’m imploring you to keep ignoring the feelings pouring out of you to figure out the real last name. And quit your whoring.

Near the end of our application, it has a prompt that I’ve seen some other companies use too: “In 150 characters or fewer, tell us what makes you unique. Try to be creative and say something that will catch our eye!” We care a lot about having a diverse and interesting pool of employees, so even though this is awkward at times, it’s led to some good conversations in interviews as we follow up on their answers to this section. Steve Dull’s answer wasn’t what I expected:

“Being born with the last name Dull set the bar pretty high to overcome. Luckily, I grew up to have mediocre looks and a small penis…”

I couldn’t believe it. I had so many thoughts. On one hand, I wanted to applaud this guy for saying, “Hey, this company looks cool and laid back, and that’s the type of place I want to work, so this is my sense of humor. Take it or leave it.” I respect that on one level. But all of the other levels say, “This is the first part of a job interview and you just brought up your penis.”

I obviously sent that part of the application to a few friends of mine, and the best response was from Dusty: “But really huge fucking balls!” I went to the candidate’s LinkedIn profile to try to get a better sense of him. The “About” section said: “Jesus follower. Husband. Dad. Surfer. Golfer. Photographer. Wine lover. Techie.” I was further intrigued. I asked some co-workers what they thought I should do. Because this was the first decent candidate with the right type of experience and I wanted to fill this position. On the other (and larger) hand, that application showed some…questionable decision-making skills and I needed this person to run something worth millions of dollars fairly autonomously. One co-worker said, “What if he had just said ‘small hands’ or alluded to it somehow?” “No,” I said, “there shouldn’t even be a veiled comment about his penis in the application. I like the ‘mediocre looks’ part because it’s a funny misdirect, but it really should’ve ended after that.”

In the end, I settled for a bit of a hybrid when I should’ve just said no from the start. I created a new “phone interview” round to get a feel for him and his expertise, and I told myself that if he knocked it out of the park, I’d have to decide if I could really bring him in to meet other people or not. I already knew the answer would be no though because I couldn’t see myself giving that application to my co-workers and explaining why they were meeting a guy who talked about his junk while applying for the job.

The phone interview thankfully confirmed what I thought – really nice guy, good sense of humor, but his background was not quite enough of what I needed for that role to have him continue in the process. I should’ve just said no from the beginning, but I couldn’t stop myself from wanting to learn more about this guy. We told him to say something unique that would catch our eye, and lordy, he did that. My hat’s off to you, Steve Dull, and I hope you landed somewhere awesome and quickly became a roaring success.