People and Jobs…Not Always What They Seem

People and Jobs…Not Always What They Seem

This job is NOT what they told me it was going to be.”

This person isn’t working out; they can’t do what they said they could at the interview”.

Can you relate? With the best of intentions, doing their bet with what they know, things can go wrong leaving people feeling misled, leaving expectations unmet. How does this happen? I’ll try share what I’ve learned by asking you some questions.

True or not? Candidates go into interviews thinking the Employer has clearly and thoroughly thought out the need to do the hire, on what it takes to succeed , and on how the job contributes to the business. Armed with all this good stuff, the Employer has established critical selection factors and developed all the right questions to determine the candidate’s suitability for the job. Yup; that would be the thing to do. These aren’t unreasonable expectations – but it’s not always what happens. So….not true. (Candidates: make note )

True or not? Candidates come in for the interview and often sit with several people over the course of a day or with a panel all at once. The interviewers have been intentionally and carefully chosen and prepared to participate in the interview. They have a clear, common understanding of the job, know the critical selection criteria and their role in the interview. Yup; that would be good, too – but that doesn’t always happen either. So….not true. (Candidates: make note)

True or not? A template has been created around the crucial criteria with a system all will use to evaluate the candidate so when everyone debriefs they have objective criteria to discuss versus answers to random questions and scattered notes. Nope; doesn’t always happen. (so how do they ever make an objective decision?)

True or not? Employers think because a Candidate held this same job title somewhere else, they can do the job with the same title at their company. The assumption is that all things are equal – that the two companies operate the same, have the same level of staffing, technology, values, training and management. So the conclusion is reached – “they’re probably qualified.” The interview is expedited and the Employer blows right by the due diligence they should have done. This one is true and it’s unfortunate. What is it they say about ‘assume’?

True or not? Candidates focus on getting the job, so they don’t ask the hard questions they need to ask to assure themselves the job is right for them. (Some haven’t done the thinking and soul searching to determine what the ‘right job’ is for them.) They’re afraid to ask the questions that might wind up getting them rejected, surface requirements they can’t meet or that might confirm this isn’t the right job for them. Another ‘true’ here unfortunately.

Any wonder, then, why hires don’t work out or why people later complain the job isn’t what they thought it was going to be?

What’s mostly at fault here? NO DISCIPLINED PROCESS. Without it, the interviewing is a waste of time for everyone. And frustrating. And expensive. And could it turn into a legal battle at some point in event of a termination? Who is responsible for that? IMHO -mostly the Employer.

What’s a ‘disciplined process’ look like? What’s in it? Everything mentioned in the ‘true or false’ questions above, things the Employer is responsible for. So let me speak to our Employers on a couple key things here a minute.

Before you start interviewing, there are fundamental questions to ask that I often see skipped over, like:

  • Is the job really needed?
  • Is this a new job in a new business or are you refilling a vacant, existing job?
  • What is the job’s value – and to who?

If the job is being refilled – do you really still need it? Have changes occurred that suggest the job should be reconfigured, combined with something else or updated? Too many times it’s “I had this job and this is what I hired into it before so that’s what I’ll use to select again”. So companies under-hire or hire for obsolete work. It makes alot of sense to start with a clean slate when you are restaffing, especially if the person in it last had a good long run. Things change; what you needed then may not be what you should be looking for now. The time to discover this is not when you have begun interviewing or after you’ve hired someone.

If it’s new – are you creating a dead end job, describing and hiring for the immediate need without thinking about growth and speed of growth and how that might change the criteria needed for success and value of that job to your business? Many times the job morphs and the person hired can’t perform the new job it morphed into effectively.

What value does the job have – to the department or the business? What makes this job important – and to whom is it important? What would happen if you didn’t fill it? Who wouldn’t get what? Would it really matter? Who have you talked with? All this is important to configuring a value added job and makes interviewing a much better experience all around.

Identify the real expectations for performance and document the requisite skills, knowledge, experience, competencies that the job demands by talking with the job’s stakeholders. Seek their view of it’s value and contribution. This information will help you to develop the best interview team participants and likely they will take a more serious approach to this because they are clear about why they are involved – they have ‘skin in the game.” The new person will impact on others and interact with others, possibly even more than with their own immediate boss.

A good hire may be primarily the Employer’s responsibility but Candidates have some ownership in the process, too.

Employers: Do you want the right person? Get your process together, and don’t assume fitness for the job based on past performance elsewhere.

Candidates: You want the right job where you’ll succeed? Don’t assume it’s the job you hope it is; ask the hard questions and find out. Otherwise, you might get a job you don’t want or really can’t do. Don’t assume the Employer is as prepared as they should be. If the right questions aren’t asked of you, if you haven’t seen some job description to use as a basis for discussion – you have work to do to get to the bottom of what this job really is all about or whether it is what you assumed it was based on the title. Titles don’t mean much/ not mean much.

My last observation – things aren’t always what they seem. Take your time, do your due diligence and avoid being misled by appearances and assumptions.

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