… the HR Minion. Because even minions have opinions. And giggles.

How realistic of an impression are you giving candidates?

It hate it when it happens. There I am, conducting an exit interview, and the associate says the job wasn’t what they thought it would be. It never fails to irritate me. Does that mean we didn’t provide them with an accurate impression of the position or did they come in with unreasonable expectations? Even logical follow-ups to that statement (Were you clear on your duties and expectations, etc.) don’t provide much insight. What do you do with that statement? Note: “Nothing” is not a valid answer.

Let’s break this down:

1. It’s you. Let’s assume that your exiting associate is a reasonable and generally well-informed individual. I see you snickering over there, humor me for a second. If it’s not your associate then it’s you. How did you present the position to the candidate in the interview? Were you focusing too much on the positives in order to sell them and skimming over the negatives? Did you really make it clear that they were expected to be on the phone 7 hours out of every day? Did you accurately communicate the challenges they might face interacting with programmers several states away? Be honest with yourself now. It’s important to sell candidates but you have to be realistic at the same time.

2. It’s you. Let’s assume that it is the candidate who misunderstood. They came in thinking the job was something else entirely. Either they weren’t paying attention or they thought they would be able to handle a job that they really weren’t well suited for. It’s their fault, right? Wrong. It’s still you. You hired them after all. If you brought on candidates who flame out a couple of months in what does that say about your hiring process? Sure, some jobs have higher turnover than others simply due to the nature of the work. However, you still need to find the right people for the position. You need to hire people who you know will succeed, even if they don’t know it themselves.

3. It’s nobody’s fault. Change happens. People change, companies change, economies change. You can’t control everything. Just because you hired someone to perform a specific job it doesn’t mean that is what they will be doing even 6 months later. Life happens and sometimes you are dealt a bad hand. All you can do is look for someone who is more flexible.

I know this post seems like I am placing them blame squarely on the shoulders of managers and HR. I think that is where it belongs. Yes, you can get your share of idiot employees. But you are the gatekeepers into the company. The buck has to stop somewhere and it stops with you.

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7 Responses | Add your Own

  • 1 talentedapps :

    I would have to go one further. Of course in the exit interview they are not going to give you the “real” story, but since we all know that people join companies and leave managers there is a really high probability that soul searching is needed.

    – Meg

  • 2 HR Minion :

    Meg – Yeah, I know I don’t get the real story but lately I do think people have been more honest with me than normal. That, or they were hedging and I should be really concerned about what they didn’t say. Hmm, now I’m worried.

  • 3 Dan McCarthy :

    Minion –
    I think you’ve placed the job right where it belongs.
    A way to prevent some of this misunderstanding is to provide final candidates a realistic job preview, if at all possible. For example, for sales postions, allow the candidate to ride-a-long with a sales rep for a half day. They not only get to see the job, but they can ask questions from someone who’s actually doing it. A side benefit: the rep can also provide you an assessment of the candidate (“well, they asked a lot of questions about personal time policy, seemed concerned about unrealistic quotas, etc…”. )

  • 4 Dan McCarthy :

    meant to say “placed the blame”… sorry, a little quick on the publish button

  • 5 HR Minion :

    Dan – The realistic job preview sounds like a good idea. It’s a little hard for our company to do since there is a lot of private information they would be exposed to. Let me think about it for a bit though. Thanks!

  • 6 Mary :

    Great post. I agree with Dan that you’ve nailed the “blame” part. Although I wonder, what is a hiring manager to do when even the best candidate is still not the “right” candidate? Is it more costly to risk it with someone who’s not quite right or hold out for an indefinite amount of time until that ideal candidate comes along?

  • 7 HR Minion :

    Mary – I guess it depends on what “right” means. If it is someone who has the potential even if they are not quite there yet and I feel the supervisor could mentor it out of them then I think they are a good hire. Hiring well isn’t easy but that’s what makes it fun.