Do You Tell the Truth?


When you’re interviewing a candidate for a difficult to fill job, do you tell the candidate the good, the bad – and the UGLY about the job? Or are you guilty of painting a pretty picture that is sure to entice a candidate’s interest?

Well, if you said “Guilty” you’re not alone. When employers were interviewed about methods used to induce candidates to take the job, managers responded that they often times left out the gritty parts of a job because they didn’t want to scare the candidate away.

Here’s another little reality…those companies whose hiring managers used less than honest methods to fill vacancies had the highest number of turn-overs in the first six months after hire.

Let me share a personal “hiring dishonesty” story that caused me to be one of those 6 month turn-over statistics.

Years ago, I was recruited by what I thought at the time was a favorable company to work for. When I met with the hiring manager, the offices were first class and the equipment on the desk was top-notch. Everyone was very professional and courteous, making the job appear to be the dream job of the century. Of course, I said YES!  

Two weeks later, my dream job became my living nightmare. 

The offices I interviewed in and the equipment in them in were only for show. My reality was an office without windows next to the “dead and discarded” equipment storage room. My state of the art equipment turned out to be an antiquated computer and twenty-five file cabinets that contained files from fifty years ago. Worst of all, those “nice professionals in upper management” treated their staff like dirt.

While this is an extreme case of dishonest hiring, it can happen without the interviewer even being aware of what they are doing.

One of the most important components to hiring and retaining the right fit is frankness, honesty, and the courage to talk about why a job might be hard or why your corporate culture isn’t for everyone.

Here are a few truths that every interviewer should have the courage to talk about:

Tell the truth about the “real number” of work hours the employee can expect to work.

In many organizations, exempt employees are expected to work as many hours in a week as it takes to get the job done. In some cultures this can be from very early in the morning until very late at night. In other organizations, in order to be perceived as a “go-getter” the status quo is to get there before the boss gets in and stay until the boss leaves. Don’t be afraid to ask the candidate if these types of work expectations are something they’ll be happy with 3 months, 6 months, or even 1 year down the road.

If travel is part of the job, be up front in terms of the number of days a month an employee will be away from home.

Many times, interviewers under estimate the percentage of travel an employee is required to do. While 75% percent may sound okay to a candidate eager to be employed, the reality of what this translates to in terms of number of days per month or year is usually lost on them. Take the time to talk about the harsh numbers this means and the expectations the company has of when and where the employee will be sent.

Be honest about the company culture and expectations.

As the person entrusted to recruit and hire employees, you owe it to the candidate to tell the truth, and give them the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding the type of culture they want to be a part of. If your organization is based on a strict hierarchy and chain of command culture the candidate has a better chance of succeeding by knowing this up front rather than waiting to find out after they’ve crossed the line.

Don’t rely on a candidate’s resilience and their need to be employed to stick with a company even when the conditions aren’t what they expected. It’s better (and less costly) to give your candidates the chance to walk away based on facts than to deal with the aggravation (and cost) of a disgruntled employee who will walk away anyway.

Be honest from the beginning and you’ll give yourself the opportunity to hire the right person the first time around!