Jack Welch - former CEO of General Electric - wrote a book entitled “Winning” that became required reading for some of the managers at a Fortune 500 company where I spent a decade of my recruiting and management career. “Winning” provides some excellent advice on topics such as hiring, firing, leadership, expansion, crisis management, and more.
The book is a quick read, and while you won’t agree with everything Jack offers, perhaps you’ll be able to use one modified suggestion I have found effective when hiring.
Something that Works
Welch suggests that during the interview you should “…describe [the job] on its worst day – hard, contentious, political, full of uncertainty….”. The former CEO advises his readers that if the candidate you are interviewing only blindly accepts the worst of what he hears, you should question whether you are his only hope for employment. However, as Jack continues; “….Be impressed if the candidate starts peppering you back with hard questions like, ‘[Are there] enough people to make this happen?’ and ‘How soon do you expect results to be achieved?’ According to Jack, “The difficulty of a job will bring good candidates to the edge of their seat with curiosity and firm self-confidence, not overenthusiastic acquiescence.”
Why It Works
With that nugget of wisdom in mind I have always tried to avoid painting an imbalanced picture during interviews. No matter how great the work environment, company culture, or opportunity for professional growth actually are, describing the job on its worst day works for two simple reasons.
First it works because you are being honest with the candidate. Candidates know when they’re being “sold” versus “selected” during the hiring process. They may not be able to put their finger on it, but something in their gut will tell them to tread carefully, if at all. Don’t go overboard with gloom and doom, just don’t avoid negatives out of fear.
The second reason this works is because it avoids blindly setting false expectations right from the start. When an employee’s reality differs too far from their expectations, they will become unhappy.
It may seem counterintuitive, but the truth is that the part of a job you worry might cost you a good candidate, may actually be -when properly disclosed- the very thing that retains a great employee for years to come by starting the relationship off on the right foot.
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