What Are You Really Showing Your Candidates?

A couple of weeks ago, we had a house guest for a week – Mr. Ikemoto. Ikemoto is part of my oldest son’s Japanese exchange program at school. He’s not a student, but one of the chaperons who came to the U.S. with 10 Japanese students.  Ikemoto is an Assistant Principal and former basketball coach, has twin teenagers who are both very athletic, and liked to drink beer with at night watching college basketball – so he fit into the Sackett household right away.  Also, Ikemoto spoke very little English, but I spoke less Japanese, so there was a lot of basic communication going on.

Funny thing happens when you have a total stranger come stay with you (and one that has limited understanding of our language and culture), you do things you probably wouldn’t normally do.  For the most part, the things you do out of the normal are for the benefit of your guest, to make a positive impression.  Like many (most) American families with teenagers, we don’t do a big breakfast – it’s Poptarts, bagel, Diet Mt. Dew for Dad, etc. and out the door to school and work.  As little talking as possible while SportsCenter plays in the background. With Ikemoto, we did things a bit differently – for 6 straight days I got up 45 minutes before everyone and made a hot breakfast and set up a breakfast buffet on the island in the kitchen!  The first morning my kids came down and looked around like somehow they’d been transported into another family from the 1950’s.  My wife would take Ikemoto’s clothes each day after we left and wash them and leave them folded on his bed.  We cooked full dinners (with fresh vegetables and fresh fruit!) and sat down as a family. Let me tell you – it was exhausting being a “normal” family!

This entire experience got me to really think about the facades we put on each and every day in our professional lives in HR and Recruiting.  HR Pros are the best in driving an organizations brand and culture – or should I say the brand and culture that our executives wish we had!  Too many times in HR we bring in great candidates and attempt to show them the culture we are attempting to create – but probably not quite there yet.  We have them meet our most positive hiring managers and peers, we keep them away from our creepy people and zombies.  We talk about every single positive feature we have to offer, and never bring up our struggles.  We take them to the best restaurants for lunch and put them up in great hotels. Does it sound familiar?

Then we are shocked when we land the great candidate, and they don’t work out, or they struggle to fit in.  Your executives talk about how they aren’t one of “our kind” and we need to select “better”.   I’m not telling you to go out and show each candidate everyone of your hickeys, but great HR Pros understand the value to delivering a balanced and realistic picture.  “Hey, Mary, we love you and we want you to come run our department, but you should know we have one executive that isn’t happy with some recent organizational changes, and you might have to go to battle with her right off the bat.  Maybe worth you asking some questions to this person when you get some time with them, about how they feel about this.”  Great HR Pros know the only true “great” candidates aren’t the ones you land, they’re the ones you keep. 

Believe me, you can still make a great impression to candidates without throwing the dog and pony show for every candidate, and your organization will benefit from the transparency.

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