Truth in Recruiting

9269948_sWhat exactly is truth in recruiting? It’s a phrase I have heard no less than 6 times in the last two weeks. And, I’ve heard it from both recruiters and candidates.

Recruiters want candidates to be honest with them about their skills and backgrounds. Frankly, I think this is obvious, and doesn’t need a blog post.

Candidates want recruiters to be honest with them about why they’re not getting jobs. Also fairly obvious…

I’m not here to argue whether or not it’s OK for a recruiter to tell a job seeker why they aren’t a fit. That’s up to the recruiter. It’s a personal (or professional) choice. I understand completely that candidates want to be the right fit, and when they’re not, they want to know why. If there is something they can fix, change, or learn, often I choose to tell them, and give them that opportunity. But that’s me.

The fact is that recruiters work for companies, not job seekers. Companies pay us. They pay us to keep their reputations intact as we search to find them that purple squirrel or flying unicorn. So, if you’re a purple unicorn… sorry… you’re not a fit unless you can fly. I just might not be “allowed” to tell you that.

But I think truth in recruiting is more than that. Candidates want recruiters to tell them the truth about the companies and the jobs in the first place. The real truth, not some sales pitch being used to pique their interest.

Candidates have a right to know details about the actual corporate culture, not just the aspirational one. They have a right to understand the real responsibilities of the role, not just the ones in the well-crafted job ad.

Perhaps the flying purple unicorn lives on both sides of the fence. Recruiters want companies to tell us the truth, too. Without it we add substantially less value. We want to find you your perfect candidate. And, we want to find you one who will be just as happy that they’re working for you as you are.

So, what exactly is truth in recruiting? Perhaps it’s as simple as transparency. Insight. Honesty. Access to hiring managers and their teams.

Real stories by real people doing real jobs for real companies.

Every job may not be the right fit for every person… but there is a person who is the right fit for every job.

So I ask you – all of you – on both sides of the fence – Help us help you find your fit. That’s why we’re here.

I am a Culture Addict. Even at the Grocery Store.

11-19-2014 9-43-28 AMHow often do you smile upon the thought of going to the grocery store? How often do you feel better leaving the store than you did going in? Until recently, I could have counted on one hand the number of times I had experienced this.

Enter Sprouts.

I happened to be dropping my son off for a program across town so decided to check out Sprouts, which was very nearby. I had never been in. I guess it was my lucky day.

I am not a secret shopper.

I am not getting paid to promote their stores.

I am a self-diagnosed Culture addict, and I’m inspired to share this with every CEO, Founder, Senior Executive, HR Leader and Manager I can. (Sharing is caring, after all.)

Happy Employees = Happy Customers

I’m a skeptic. Actually, I like to say that I’m sufficiently jaded. I’ve seen too many mission, vision and values statements that hang on walls in hallways and conference rooms that have no effect on actual policies and behaviors.

So, when I first saw the Core Values statement at Sprouts, I pretty much ignored it. I went about shopping, checking expiration dates on packages, scrutinizing the selection, and squeezing the produce. (Yes, I’m picky.)

There was someone already being helped at the deli counter. As I waited, not once, but twice, the deli associate made eye contact with me and smiled. Huh. I wasn’t being ignored. I liked that. It felt good.

I didn’t see what I was looking for in the produce area. A very friendly team-member not only helped me (within seconds of my looking confused) but also gave me a tip on how to re-invigorate a root vegetable if it seemed wilted after sitting in my fridge too long. Huh. Good to know. Thanks.

Upon check-out the cashier was so nice to me, asking if I had found everything I was looking for, and all that. Expected, I guess. But still, she seemed so genuine. When I told her that it was my first time in the store, she truly seemed delighted. I got a big welcome, and she went out of her way to offer tips for future trips. I felt like I was getting insider information about deals and coupons. Huh. Nice.

Maybe there is something to that core values statement.

I decided to test it out.

Although I had to drive past three other grocery stores to get there, I went back to Sprouts on my next trip.

They didn’t have what I was hoping to find at the meat counter. The butcher told me exactly when he was going to place his next order, and when it would be delivered to the store. He suggested I call him directly the morning of said delivery. He told me he would prepare and he’ll hold my order, so I wouldn’t have to wait in line when I came to pick it up. Huh. Well, that made me feel special. Important, even. Exceptional customer service in a grocery store? Cool.

Even on my latest trip in I had two different managers, the cashier and another team member absolutely go above and beyond. And, not just for me. I watched. They just DO that. Huh. (Hat Tip to Dennis and Israel in Frisco, TX if you happen to read this!)

True. Their product selection is great, but that’s not the reason I keep going back.

So I stopped to take a closer look at those core values hanging on the wall.

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And, I stayed to talk with Dennis about hiring and training. They actually LIVE those values. They actually talk about them regularly. They actually USE them.

I decided to dig around on the website. I found great statements on their career page. I found the code of conduct and ethics, right there for every candidate to see. Before they apply. Before they interview. It’s a good career page. They walk the talk. And, it shows.

So, if you think you can’t influence your rate of happy customers, think again. If you think you have to be Zappos or Google to have happy employees, think again.

Your culture exists whether you pay attention to it or not. So, why not be intentional about it? It will be worth the effort. Just ask Sprouts.

Hiring for Trust: 9 Interview Questions

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Establishing mutual trust with your existing employees is a great goal, and the key to creating whatever other culture you hope to achieve in your organization. Since coming back from HRevolution and my bold HR session, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about this. You can read about that HERE and HERE.

If you and your employees are all willing to do the work, a culture of trust can be a reality. But how do you make sure that new people you hire will buy in to that culture?

Definition of Trust

First, I think we need to define trust. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines trust as, “the belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.” (yes… etc. is in there. See for yourself.)

When I Google it, trust is defined as the “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something” with synonyms of confidence, belief, faith, certainty, assurance, conviction, and credence.

Determining Trustworthiness

With this in mind, I have thought long and hard about how to determine “trust” during an interview. A Topgrading interview might get you there – let’s face it, you really KNOW somebody after that process, but that’s not always feasible, especially for higher volume or entry-level recruiting.

Is there some secret sauce to the trust interview? I don’t think so. In my opinion, the best interviews are two-sided conversations, and it’s amazing what people will tell you if you let them…

So here are 9 interview questions that can help get the trust dialogue going.

  1. Tell me about a work incident when you were totally honest, despite a potential risk or downside for the honesty.
  2. Describe a work circumstance when the pressures to compromise your integrity were strong. How did you respond to that?
  3. If there were something you could change about the way your current /most recent employer does business, what would it be and how would you change it?
  4. Under what circumstances have you found it justifiable to break a professional confidence?
  5. When you have experienced unethical behavior at work, have you confronted it, or chosen not to say anything in order not to get involved? Why? Would you do something differently next time?
  6. What are a couple of the most unpopular stands you have ever taken in your career so far?
  7. What are examples of times you went above and beyond the call of duty to help either a customer or co-worker?
  8. What would you if you were given credit for something a co-worker actually did?
  9. Tell me about a time in which you were expected to work with someone you did not like. What would the people who didn’t like you say about you?

Trust Your Instincts

You might not necessarily ask all of these, as in the course of the conversation you may learn all you need.

Trust is something that needs to be earned; it doesn’t happen overnight. But by identifying at least some trustworthy behaviors and attitudes, you can rest assured that you’re on the right track.

7 Steps to Build Trust

The boss doesn’t have to have all the answers. Just the brains to recognize the right one when he hears it.

~Katherine Plummer, Newsies

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Establishing a trust culture, which, as I mentioned in my last post, I think may be the culture all businesses should strive for as a foundation for everything else, starts with mutual trust.

Mutual trust involves not only you trusting your employees, but also them trusting you. Really trusting you, not just blindly following you. Those Bold HR folks I referred to? Their employees would have done anything for them. Why? Because they trusted them, believed in what they were working towards, and felt like they were part of something bigger than themselves.

Establishing a trust culture may seem daunting, but it could be easier than it seems if you’re willing to do the work. While we can’t assume that people will trust us just because of our titles or roles, trust can be earned over time. Here are 7 tips to get you started.

  1. Listen. Many managers for whom I have worked liked to talk. Let’s face it… Ilike to talk. And, it’s not just because I like to hear myself talk. I actually think I have some really important things to say. But that needs to come AFTER I listen. Listening to what your employees think, and really hearing what they’re saying, can set you on the right path to establishing mutual trust. People are more likely to listen to you after they feel listened to. It’s human nature. And, I’ll bet they have some really helpful things to say.
  2. Set and communicate your expectations. Be clear, and be honest. If you have concerns, don’t make your employees guess. The more honest and open you are (dare I use the word transparent??) the more likely people will trust you. And, people trust clarity over ambiguity.
  3. Coach. Don’t lecture. It’s hard to share ideas or participate in joint problem solving when you feel like you’re being lectured. Encouraging group brainstorming, asking questions, and actually having multi-sided conversations are much more likely to help you establish mutual trust than acting as if you already have all the answers. Show faith in your employees and share some control.
  4. Lead by example. People trust those who practice what they preach and walk the talk. Leaders who lead from behind closed doors, who are perceived as being “out at lunch” or “on the golf course”, and who are not perceived as helping to really deliver results are often mistrusted.
  5. Stay relevant. Learn from your staff, and allow them to learn from you and one another. Offer joint professional development opportunities. If it’s good for you to see or learn, perhaps it’s good for others as well. People have trust in those who are willing to both learn and share.
  6. Connect. People trust people they know and like. Create closeness with your employees. Know people’s names, what they do, and how they contribute. Acknowledge them. Appreciate them. Say “Thank You” and “Happy Birthday”. Ask about their families or their pets. And tell a little about yourself, too. We spend far too much time at work to not feel like we’re part of the family.
  7. Follow through. If you say it, mean it. It you mean it, start it. If you start it, follow through. Enough said.

And, since mutual trust is required to establish a real trust culture, don’t forget to share this with your team.