Why HR should stop stretching the truth

by Nicola Middlemiss10 Feb 2015
It’s an annoyingly accepted fact that applicants stretch the truth in interviews – but they’re not the only ones. 

Ken Hemphill, Vice President of HR for Back in Motion says misleading applicants can all-too-easily end in disaster; “If you bring someone on board under false pretences then it won’t take too long before they realise the job wasn’t what they were promised,” he said. 

“They’ll feel a sense of resentment and if that’s happening throughout the organisation then it will impact morale, retention and productivity.”

Despite this, he says employers should never sugar-coat a role – no matter how desperate they are to fill it.

“You might be able to fill the position on a short-term basis but in the end, it’ll create more harm than good,” he said.

Alana Free, VP of People and Culture at GoodLife, agrees – “We’re really honest in our interviews,” she said. “We’re completely up front – the good, the bad and the ugly of what the role is, of what they’re applying for and what they should expect.”

The health club was voted one of the most engaged workplaces in North America this year and Free says part of the reason for this is because potential applicants know exactly what’s in store.

However, HRD Marva Bethune says employees shouldn’t shirk their responsibility to properly research the role.

“I would hope that most employers are honest in that there are always challenges in every position,” Bethune told HRM. “But I think it’s important that the prospective employee also does his or her own due diligence to determine what some of the challenges may be in their role.”



  • by GJ 10/02/2015 12:39:40 PM

    Honestly should start even before the job interview. If there's a specific challenge that requires a special kind of person, I think it should be discussed on the phone (or if it's minor, even in the job advert).

    And the next step: be respectful of the prospective employee if they choose not to pursue the role based on the information you've given them. Some recruiters have difficulty hiding their, erm...disappointment when someone respectfully declines to take on the "ugly"!

  • by caca 10/02/2015 1:22:59 PM

    I totally agree with GJ. I am upfront with challenges and encourage hiring managers to focus also on what qualities would really fit the role. If a very strong work ethic is required along with a thick skin then the person looking for part-time work will probably not want that type of role.

  • by Catherine Cahill 10/02/2015 2:12:25 PM

    I was head of HR for an organisation that had a 50% turnover rate in their intake of first year trainees.

    We worked in the Event industry and would be inundated with applications for any job - because people were under the misapprehension that the job was "glamorous".

    When I advised the Managers directly involved in recruitment to tell the brutal truth - they were convinced no one would want the job.

    They agreed to give it a go, and in that year alone we reduced turnover by 32%.

    The people who remained in the recruitment process after they were told the truth were the ones we wanted!

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