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Candidates Need to Know the WHOLE Story

Nov 21, 2007
About 15 years ago I attended one of the best wedding receptions I've ever been to in my entire life. Don't ask me whose reception it was because I honestly couldn't tell you - all I remember is they had a DJ that could have headlined at any club on South Beach. Toddlers, grandmothers, and everyone else in-between crowded the dance floor non-stop as DJ Dan spun the hits until 2 a.m.

At the time, my fiance and I were engaged to be married within a few months and after the party we were full agreement that we wanted Dan to play at our upcoming reception. Having set up a time to meet with him to discuss the plans over dinner, Dan sat down at our table plopped open a 3" thick binder.

"I ask every client to complete an evaluation form after I perform at their event, so I'd like to share some of these with you," he said.

That's not really necessary, I thought to myself. I didn't need a sales pitch because I had already seen him in action. My mind was made up: as far as I was concerned he could go ahead and queue the "Electric Slide."

"But rather than start by showing you a bunch of great evaluations," he said as he began removing laminated pages from the binder, "I want you to see the ones where the client was less than pleased."

There's an interesting approach, I thought. Heck, I was ready to sign a contract before he ever said a word but seeing as how he brought it up, I decided to sit there and listen while he took us through a handful of feedback forms where several clients (primarily newlyweds) indicated they weren't exactly thrilled with his services. The comments, many of which could be viewed as nitpicky and trivial to the casual observer, ranged from the music not being "age appropriate" to his inability to accommodate every special request, but for the couple that wants (and wanted) everything to be perfect on their special day it's anything but. He then proceeded to walk us through a dozen or so glowing recommendations that accurately reflected the experience we had at our friend's reception.

Even though we were still committed to moving forward with him, the evaluations did bring up a couple of issues we hadn't thought of and needed clarification on before signing the contract. I didn't think less of Dan or reconsider hiring him just because a handful of people were critical of his work; as a matter of fact I commended him on his approach. In my mind, he wanted to increase the odds of us having a great experience at our reception by ensuring that he not repeat some of the mistakes he had made in the past.

Needless to say, our reception couldn't have gone any better - DJ Dan had us rocking the downtown Hyatt all night long.

So when it comes to hiring, are you being completely forthcoming about your company/department/environment with those candidates that you're serious about bringing on board? Are you doing like Dan did, and laying the good, the bad, AND the ugly out there on the table for them to see? Or are you just showing them the 8 x 10" glossies of shiny, happy people?

When doing the interview dance, it's imperative that you paint as accurate a portrait as possible of your organization and the position you're recruiting for (minus the rose-colored glasses) so that the candidates are able to make an informed decision as to whether or not the circumstances are right for them. I recommend sharing with them feedback from exit interviews (both positive and negative) or put them in contact with former employees that have left to go to work for other companies in similar roles.

Employees would much rather brace themselves and take the anticipated blow than be blindsided and resentful down the road.
About the Author
Thad Greer is an Executive Recruiter that specializes in identifying top operations, sales, and marketing talent nationwide. His website http://www.ExecutiveSearchSales.com, serves as a resource for employers and job seekers alike.
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