Job Interviews: A conversation between two liars

I was recently in Singapore attending Global Recruiter’s Innovation in Talent Acquisition conference and it was fascinating to hear that people from around the world were experiencing the same problem; the War for Talent.  Interestingly, it seems that simultaneous to this problem is another one; rising unemployment.

So essentially we have two issues with two different sides of the recruitment equation: on one hand, companies are saying the talent they need is in shortage, on the other hand, job seekers are finding it difficult to get their foot in the door and meet the expectations of employers.

It’s become a common phrase in the world of recruitment that a job interview is a conversation between two liars. Organisations are embellishing the job vacancy, culture and benefits of their business to secure the best talent and beat their competitors, and job seekers are racing to reach that bigger title or larger pay packet, telling employers anything they want to hear.  Of course if either or both parties are embellishing, things are not going to work out for the long term.

I liken this situation to online dating, when someone publishes a photo of themselves from ten years earlier.  It might fool someone into organising a date, but it doesn’t take long before the truth comes out!

My advice for employers:

Yes, you want your job and organisation to appeal to the best talent, but don’t offer what you cannot deliver.  You might bring in the best talent, but as soon as they see that the things promised to them don’t exist or that they were misinformed during the interview, they will not trust you and will leave.  This only creates more pain for you and your organisation; it will cost you time, money and damage your brand in the market.

Instead, be transparent about what you are offering.  Share the great things about your company but also talk about the things that could be improved and the things you are working on. You will attract more great employees through honesty and integrity than with inflated or false promises.  

My advice for job seekers:

Be honest about your skills, experience, strengths and weaknesses. You need to be able to do what you’ve promised to do. If you are concerned that there’s an area in your skills or experience that is not as strong as the rest of your career, then take action to rectify this.  When I’m interviewing someone, nothing pleases me more than when they are able to identify an area they lack experience in and tell me what they are currently doing to fill that gap.  Sometimes it’s further study, volunteer work or being mentored by an expert. This shows me how serious they are about their career and how self-aware they are about their own development.

For both employers and job seekers, it is crucial to understand that both sides are human and therefore have flaws.  Having an honest conversation is the only way to ensure the right fit for a long term, mutually beneficial outcome.