Separate What's True From What's Not In Your Candidate Search

As someone who glimpses rather sparingly into all the rhetoric being spun throughout the American Presidential elections, two issues stand out for me as attention getting. The first issue is the proliferation of miscommunication being literally thrown out in the campaign. Half-truths, misinformation, sound bites with no substance and a twisting of words and phrases that shape the messages. It seems to be a race to see who can “best” the other candidate with the most untruths.

Daniel Levin, author of “A field Guide to Lies: Critical thinking in the Information Age”, suggests that we now have a “wild-west” media landscape where anyone and everyone will tweet and retweet a message without taking time to check the facts. The result is a whole bunch of half-truths or no-truths. So why do readers believe these messages? The reason is that the message, be it a half-truth or no-truth message comes reasonably close to how people feel about the issue at hand. In other words, if you feel it is hard to get a job these days, then comments reflecting that are envisioned as the truth.

My experience in executive search also suggests that if people “feel” something is true, they have no problem expressing it, either on their resume and/or in an interview. For instance, a candidate who feels they played the most important role on a team project, will often present themselves as the key player while in reality, they were simply part of a team. Thus, they will claim accomplishments that are essentially half-truths or no-truths. It takes an astute interviewer to pick up the nuances of their comments and follow it through to the truth.

Then again, people who may feel somewhat “entitled” will exaggerate their job titles, their roles and responsibilities, and their education. For instance, instead of using the word “Manager”, they may use the word “Director”.  Some may even be brave enough to list a degree on their resume which they do not possess. I recall one incident where a candidate stated he had a Masters’ Degree in Organizational Behaviour. Fortunately, I just happened to know that the university referenced on the resume did not offer such a program. Then again, I have encountered candidates who have listed a professional designation that is no longer valid and/or doesn’t exist in the first place.

The second issue being bandied about in the American election is the issue of “values”, whether or not an immigrant would have the same values and how these can be assessed.  I suggest that from a country to country perspective, determining similar values could be difficult; however, values are indeed very important when bringing in a new person into an organization. Thankfully, there are systematic ways for assessing these values.

First of all, I work with the recruiting organization to define and rank their corporate values and to give examples of how these values would be exhibited in the everyday work life of a successful candidate. These values are then incorporated into the selection criteria and are assessed at every step of the recruitment process. Candidates are asked to give examples during the interview and are then assessed again through psychometric assessments.

Psychometric assessments evaluate candidates against standard norms and examine elements such as intelligence, critical reasoning, motivation, personality and values. The report results will then demonstrate how well the candidates align with the overall requirements of the organization. The candidates can then be compared and contrasted with each other and discussions held on the elements of “must-have” versus “nice to have”.

At the same time, with the constant news feeds buzzing around me, I must say that I’m rather disheartened to realize that society has become so careless not only with language but also with personal ethics. Why do people feel they can spin out such miscommunication and half-truths without a second thought?

While ethics might be a topic for a future article, I can thankfully say that I am confident a well-designed recruitment process will help the recruiter and the hiring organization to spot any fallacies and separate the half-truths, no-truths, and miscommunications from the truth they are seeking.

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