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20
Mar 2014

The good, the bad and the ugly of transparency

Why you should share all with job candidates.

Why you should tell job candidates the truth

Have you ever accepted your dream job at a dream company only to realize a few weeks or months in that your dreams have been shattered? The job you were promised, the company culture that was touted, the day-to-day routine you envisioned in the interview phase: none of it is as you anticipated.

Maybe you were told there would be no travel and now you’re booking a hotel room across the country and searching for a babysitter. Perhaps someone said employees are encouraged to take complimentary on-site fitness classes during lunch, except that your department is grossly understaffed and stressed, so you can’t participate. Maybe you even have an entirely different manager than the one you interviewed with.

If none of this sounds familiar, consider yourself very lucky. This is an all-too-common problem and one that’s entirely preventable. Whoever does the recruiting, interviewing and hiring at your organization needs to be as transparent as possible with candidates.

Why you should tell job candidates the truth

Lies and half truths increase turnover

If employees are misled or told outright lies during the hiring process, they will be skeptical of their management team and quick to leave, says John Egan, editor in chief and PR manager at Sparefoot, a company that allows you to search and book storage units online. Egan doesn’t want high turnover because that means he has to do more work to recruit, hire and train another employee. “If I can prevent any turnover from my end — by providing the harsh details — then I am doing my job right.”

Rapid turnover is not only a hassle in terms of all the extra work you’ll have to do, but also expensive in terms of the money it costs your company. “The impact of employee turnover can cost an organization up to 200 percent of an employee’s salary,” says Jene Kapela, a leadership and organizational development consultant. “The effort and resources that go into searching for, interviewing, hiring, and training new employees are significant!”

To avoid this additional expense in time and money, Kapela recommends hiring for fit, not just searching for a warm body. “And you will be surprised — the right candidate won’t think the 'ugly' truth is quite as ugly as you do.”

Deception decreases morale

There’s an old HR saying that goes “some employees quit and leave; the worst ones quit and stay.” Maybe your pre-hire “spin” wasn’t quite enough to force someone to leave the company, but instead now you have an angry employee who’s not doing his best work. His resentment will affect his attitude towards his work, his co-workers, and what he says about your company away from the office.

“On the other hand, when a candidate knows the down-side of a job going into the situation, it is usually a different story. He or she chooses to accept the good with the bad — and frequently, the down-side is not as bad as expected,” says Timothy Wiedman, associate professor of management and HR at Doane College. If an employee was informed of the hardships of the job beforehand, the reality of it later is easier to accept because she chose to make those trade-offs and wasn’t duped.

How to tell job candidates the truth

So how do you honestly communicate the negatives of a position without losing all potential candidates?

Try a sales approach rather than a typical HR approach, advises Gail Palubiak, an executive recruiter and CEO of career coaching site Interview Academy. She reduced turnover at a major financial services firm by 40 percent in about 18 months using this technique during interviewing and hiring:  “The key was first ‘setting the hook’ by getting the candidates to really buy into the opportunity's strengths. Then, and only then, did we discuss the negative aspects followed quickly with further focus on the strengths to keep things in perspective.”

How do you communicate the downside to job candidates at your organization?

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