Is this really the job you want?

Sometimes during interviews, candidates are so focused on getting a job that they hear what they expect, rather than what is actually being said about an opportunity. In my old role, I interviewed many candidates for a client service position within a human resources company. One of our goals during the interview was to make sure that candidates understood that while you gained exposure to some aspects of HR, it was really a client service position that involved high level of admin work and client support. 

I can’t tell you how many individuals we had this conversation with, who just didn’t hear what was being said. In fact, one of our directors made it a point to try to convince individuals to not take the job by highlighting the worst (and least HR) aspects of the role prior to making an offer. Even with our attempts to make the job listing as clear as possible and trying to be as upfront as possible, we would lose some individuals within six months, in part due to the new hire’s disappointment that it wasn’t really an HR role. 

Perhaps this was our failing, but I also think that candidates shared a portion of the blame. Because we would help our clients with HR related questions, many candidates either didn’t hear us or thought we were exaggerating about the role being a client service position (and a very challenging one at that). The candidates who left within six months wasted company resources, were demoralizing to our team and hurt our relationship with clients. The former new-hires would leave feeling that they were misled and would feel demoralized as well.

I think sometimes when people are searching for something, they fall into the trap of accepting the first thing that comes around, even if it’s a poor fit. If you are feeling stuck, any step can feel like a move forward. My request to you as a candidate is to debrief with yourself after an interview. What did you want to hear and what was actually said? Was a vague promise made, or was something actually stated (For example, “Yes it’s possible that you could be involved in that type of project” versus “every employee is involved in one of three projects, relating to x”)? Did the job description match what was said during the interview? Did the description of the day-to-day, match what you really want to be doing?

No one wants to hire a candidate who will be unhappy in the role, and no one wants to be an unhappy employee. Saying “no” can be difficult, but it could the best decision that you make.

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