The Importance of Honesty When Hiring

trust-as-ballIn my opinion one of the most important steps organizations can take in the hiring space is to elevate hiring from a transaction brought about by a vacancy to a behavior and attitude which is embedded in the organization’s culture and business rhythm. To this end, organizations need to shift the dial a bit and start to behave as if hiring is a two-way decision and one that needs to work for both parties. One of the best things they can do is to increase honesty in the process.

It is hard for candidates to maintain honesty throughout the hiring process, avoiding the temptation to embellish their CV/resume, openly stating what they are looking for in a job and their future organization, talking about their motivators and demotivators.  They are under pressure and they want to be seen in the best light.  However, a robust multi-faceted selection process with trained and skilled hiring managers can find a way to the truth.

It is equally hard for organizations to be honest throughout the hiring process and yet if they are they not only improve their chances of finding a candidate with the best fit to the role but also impress candidates with their visible demonstration of core values that are attractive, if not critical, to most candidates – honesty and transparency. The problem with anything short of brutal honesty is that the candidate will always discover the truth, sometimes during the hiring process (unless they are kept away from their potential future colleagues) but always after starting the role. The danger here is that there is a risk that they become disillusioned and disengaged from the outset which is the opposite of what you want from your employees. In order to be honest, hiring managers need to actually understand their organization, its aspirations and challenges from the point of view of the employee, and to have the skills and confidence to talk openly, yet positively about these.  Some of its values may be aspirational and that’s fine – just say so.

The relationship between client and recruiter also needs to be an honest one. I do not mean that this is permission for the executive to make illegal requests or statements (e.g. I don’t want anyone over 30) but to talk about what challenges a new hire might face so that the recruiter can properly prepare candidates, and indeed screen out ones who will not flourish in that environment. An example, to illustrate, might be that the organization is very process oriented and whilst it is seeking more innovation and creativity the new hire will need to both recognize the need to apply process skills to the sharing and implementation of new ideas and possess the confidence and competence to see them through despite some initial resistance. Equally recruiters need to have the courage to give honest feedback to the executive about their role, their hiring practices, and their interview approach/skills.



Lisette Howlett

Lisette Howlett

Lisette Howlett is author of The Right Hire:  Attract And Retain The Best People,a licensed Sandler Trainer located in London Central, and she has 15 years of global change leadership and business development experience. Howlett is called upon by business owners of small and medium-sized companies for strategy and business development. Her experience includes financial services, technology, pharma/biotech, manufacturing, IT, media, recruitment and professional services. 

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