You want a trustworthy hire, but you expect them to lie.
A friend of mine shared a post from LinkedIn from a woman who hired people we’re all taught not to hire. She’d hired someone with typos on their resume, and they were detail oriented. She’d hired a person who had a criminal record, and they were the best VP. She hired someone who didn’t have a degree, and they were the smartest in the room. I loved the idea of people being able to be honest about who they are, and still get a fair chance and opportunity to be great.
After reading the post, I started thinking about the job interview process. It’s frowned upon to speak badly (and by badly, I mean honestly) of your previous boss or company, and I’m trying to wrap my mind around that concept. Why is that a bad thing? What if it’s true? Aren’t hiring managers good enough judges of character to sift through the BS?
When I interview a candidate, I ask about the previous company. If the person isn’t honest about it, it’s a no go for me. Don’t sugarcoat. The person is leaving the company for a reason, and there are tons of studies that talk about how terrible cultures and awful bosses are the reasons why people leave.
Is it better to be PC or Honest?
How is it politically correct or acceptable for the truth to be written in an article, but not in 1 on 1 conversation? Some of the best hires I’ve made are those who hated their previous boss or company culture. I love someone with enough heart to go against the grain and tell their truth. I’m also upfront enough to say, “I’m just like that boss, you may hate me too.” This way, they have the right of refusal, if they’re otherwise a fit.
Since we’re being honest, I’ll tell you that I’ve had some TERRIBLE bosses. I’ve had some AWESOME bosses too. If you’re reading this and you’re wondering which category you’re in, if we’re in touch (even if it’s an annual Happy Holidays text), you’re awesome. If we’re not in touch, it doesn’t make you terrible, it just means, well it means we both should have swiped left, if you get what I’m saying.
There are lessons to be learned either way. For example, I learned from one boss to be empathetic and be aware of the weight of my words. I learned this because they were neither and I felt like I had to constantly clean up their word vomit.
I learned from another boss to listen to what’s being said about others when they’re not in the room, because the same conversations are happening about me. Why is the head of department X terrible when they’re not around and amazing when they are around? I also learned from a boss to only hold people accountable for what they have control over, because I got tired of being held accountable for other people’s mishaps. Now, I will own my mistakes, because I only make them on days that end with “y”, otherwise I’m perfect.
Some of my favorite lessons were to try and fail, a “no” doesn’t change anything and to be less rigid. I even got a lesson in taking feedback. That’s a strength of mine. Somehow, I can listen to feedback about me objectively. I decide if the feedback is valid, and if so, I implement change. If not, I may do nothing. Believe it or not, some of the awesome bosses pushed me, and at the time, I didn’t think they were awesome, because I was so far out of my comfort zone. But today, I thank them.
The Choice is Yours
If I told you (an interview), that I left a job because the boss was a narcissist and the company culture was toxic, does that make me a bad person? Or an honest person? Food for thought.
Maybe, the next time someone tells you the truth about their past, you will listen objectively. If you don’t trust their judgement, don’t hire them. If you want to fact check, visit a site like Glassdoor to see what other people are saying on the same subject. More than anything, I hope the next time you meet with a person who’s the right fit for the role, you don’t use the excuse “they bad mouthed their previous boss or company” as a reason not to hire them. Guess what? it’s probably true: the last boss was awful, and the culture sucked. Now, it’s up to you to be better.