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Too many hiring managers avoid telling candidates the truth about a job. Their logic is that if applicants find out how hard they will work or how boring the core of the open jobs are, they will walk away. This is a mistake. To hire effectively, you have to be honest about what working at your firm is like and what it takes to be successful.
The interview process should be about finding a genuine fit. If a candidate doesn’t think they match up with your company or the role, they are probably right. Having them decline the role will save you from wasting substantial time and resources on onboarding, training, and starting to rely on a bad hire, who will probably leave prematurely anyway. The real costs of a hiring mistake are surprisingly significant.
The truth is you have no choice. In past decades, recruiting was easier. Investment banks, consulting firms, and other companies could come to college campuses to host events, in which they presented well-orchestrated pitches and painted their firms in the best possible light. Student questions could be met with the canned responses. And before any potential candidates were able to probe any further, the company representatives were gone. Finding out more would have required hours of outreach to company employees and alumni, so most students simply accepted employers’ self-portrayed images as close enough to the truth.
Today, organizations trying to apply such tactics will have a rude awakening. In the era of Glassdoor and LinkedIn, savvy candidates will research the good, bad, and ugly about your company before interviewing. If you distort the truth by trying to project a purely positive image, they will know it.
Smart organizations instead use the interview to show that they can be transparent and that they expect the same candor from employees. This is an opportunity to set the tone for the relationship, so you want to model the right behavior. Do be positive. You can, for example, talk about why your happiest employees love working for you. But also be frank about the realities of your workplace and the job. Explain what some candidates may find tough, what motivates people to thrive in the role despite perceived downsides, and the key elements of your corporate culture, which could be a positive for some but not right for everyone.
There are also steps you can take to help ensure candidates are honest with you. First, make sure to approach all interactions with a dose of humility; studies have found that people are very poor lie detectors. Understand that you cannot read minds and might have to work to get at the full truth. Second, let them know that you intend to pursue references. This will scare away the bald-faced liars. (One point of caution is that candidates may perceive this to be intrusive, become less likely to accept a potential offer from you and also leave a negative review on GlassDoor.com. The tone, wording, personal maturity, and natural charm of the person handling the interaction matters.)
Finally, ask probing follow-up questions, ideally preceded by a softening statement that encourages honesty — for example, “I want to make sure I understand you correctly, do you mean that?” or “I want to be certain that we are aligned. Are you sure that you would be OK with that aspect of the role?”
Neither organizations nor employees benefit when the wrong people are hired. Organizations should take the lead in promoting more truth in the hiring process.
Source: Harvard Business Review