Choose your language:
Does this sound familiar?
You’re hiring for an important position and come across a candidate with a great resume. But before hiring, you have to see if they’re a good fit for your team, so you interview to learn what the person is like, how he or she will operate in day-to-day situations and under pressure, and if their work rhythm syncs with your team’s.
But when it comes time to answering the candidate's questions about your own workplace, you give the interviewer’s version of “my biggest weakness is being a perfectionist,” acknowledging only universally desirable qualities.
If finding the best candidate match for your position is important to you—and it should be—you need to be honest with potential hires about what your workplace is really like. In fact, your honesty should start before someone even applies for a position, in your job description and “join our team” boilerplate language.
What honesty means
A candid discussion of workplace culture, challenges and perks doesn't mean dishing out workplace gossip to your candidate. What it does include:
Benefits of honesty
On the surface, it may appear that painting the rosiest possible picture of your organization makes sense. After all, you want your pick of candidates, so why risk scaring anyone away? It turns out there's very good reason to let some candidates remove themselves from the hiring process. According to CEB research, employers who focus on guiding candidates’ decisions about whether to apply—or not apply—end up with higher-quality applicants and hires. CEB concludes that targeting the best-fitting candidates instead of trying to appeal to all of them leads to the best outcomes.
A few additional benefits include:
When to proceed with caution
When your workplace culture is truly unique—but there are big downsides to the job or culture—you may want to exercise some discretion until the interview stage. While it’s very easy to convey the idea of “100-hour work weeks during crunch times,” it can be harder to communicate how inspiring, energizing or just plain fun your work environment is. In a case like that, you should absolutely give some hints of intense or unpredictable workloads in your job description, but save the really gory details until you've had time to meet and dazzle your candidates.
Also, be careful that your personalized boilerplate or job description doesn't unintentionally steer away candidates who can bring new diversity to your company. Even the driest job descriptions can be loaded with unintentionally discriminatory or unwelcoming terms, but you should use special caution when using language that might give diverse candidates the sense they’d feel uncomfortable. For instance, if young people dominate your office, you can describe your exuberant culture without using the word “youthful,” which may suggest to older candidates that they need not apply.
Read more about attracting and retaining the best IT candidates
Lisa Dare is a marketing writer for TEKsystems who enjoys learning about IT from some of the smartest folks in tech. She frequently blogs about IT career advice and the lighter side of technology, and on her off days loves to kayak and play with her toddler son.