Folks in FOT nation make career and employment decisions daily—we make calls on whom to interview or reject, who gets an offer, what key questions to ask when looking at a candidate or an opportunity, etc. We’re pretty good at this. Everyone, however, blows a call sometime, and having all that experience and those skills in your back pocket doesn’t make you feel any better.
As a hiring pro, you never want to miss. But do you know what hurts worse? When the employment call you screw up is your own. Here’s the background. A long time ago, I had an opportunity to make a career move. I thought it was a good gig for me personally, and the leadership of the new group was solid. What they told me about the team culture excited me. They had a strong business plan, market positioning and financials, and the vision they laid out looked like a good chance for me to make an impact. I was sold. So, what could go wrong, you ask?
Well, here’s the thing. I hated it—a lot. Within one week, I had buyer’s remorse, and within one month, I was dying. There was an almost poisonous vibe throughout the place and an obvious disconnect between management and team members. How bad? You know that point in the movie Misery where Kathy Bates hobbles James Caan with a sledgehammer? Remember that sickening moment of dread right before contact? That was what I felt like every Sunday night, staring down another brutal week. I was a guy who made employment decisions for a living, but I screwed up the one that mattered most.
Thankfully, it lasted a short time before another opportunity emerged that worked out great for them and for me, but the lessons stick with me. Looking back on that misstep from the viewpoints of both the job seeker and hiring team, we both made mistakes. For me, the job seeker, I looked hard at the leadership during the interview process but did not ask for access to the team or peers. I spent hours analyzing the group’s business plan, but overlooked the culture piece. I was so excited about my potential career path that I was not as rigorous in interviewing them as I should have been (Caveat emptor).
For the hiring team though, some candor about the challenges they had sure would have helped. I walked in blind, and some members of the group seem to have been excluded from the interview process. In hindsight, I saw that the hiring team was either hiding the issues from candidates, or they were unaware of them. Either way, that’s just bad HR work. Of course, there was no need for them to air all of their dirty laundry, but their miss in the interview process ended up costing everyone. The blame rests mostly on me as the job seeker, but I now know top talent pros need to be as open and real as they can be. Being transparent and getting everyone the information they need to make a good decision is solid HR.
Hiding team problems or being unaware of them is low class, not best in class HR.
I have spent the last 20 years of my professional life advising leaders to make great talent decisions to drive business results. In my current gig, I lead talent acquisition and management for a multi-billion-dollar, 100% employee-owned construction company. I geek out on analytics, succession planning, etc. and love it when we position folks to do their best work. That’s fun stuff. I tease bad HR people, because I think we can all do better, myself included. That’s fun, too.