The candidate peered across the table at Todd, the vice president of marketing, and asked sincerely: “Can you tell me more about the culture here?” Todd just pointed to a bronze plaque on the wall that read: “Hustle is heaven if you’re a hustler. Hustle is hell if you’re not.” “Any questions?” he asked, and then smiled.
That plaque spoke volumes about the culture of Todd’s company. The candidate got the point, and so would you if you interviewed there.
I spoke with Todd about his approach to interviewing candidates. He said that he often points to that plaque and then explains to candidates: “We’re very driven around here. We like to move fast, and we count on everyone to pull his or her own weight. This is a no excuses environment.”
Todd has found that being very direct about the aggressive nature of his company’s culture helps him to recruit more of the right people and retain them over the long haul. (In this case, the “right people” means driven, type A marketing professionals who want to play on a highly competitive team that won’t slow them down.)
Some might point out that by taking this kind of transparent approach Todd will scare off some talented candidates. Yes, and that’s why he does it. He knows that by choosing to remove themselves from the interview process based on concerns over culture-fit, those candidates are probably doing him (and themselves) a big favor.
Is “a big favor” really an accurate way to frame this? I’d say yes. To illustrate, let’s briefly imagine a common recruitment scenario. It usually plays out like this:
1) A talented marketing candidate gets sold by the hiring manager on joining his or her team. The candidate believes that this is an opportunity to alleviate some career pains – and gain some interesting new job responsibilities.
2) However, there’s a catch. That is, no one who interviewed this candidate ever explained what is really required to get things done and be truly successful within their corporate environment. In other words, it’s anybody’s guess as to whether or not this candidate is a good fit for their company culture.
What if “this candidate” were you? What might your reaction be if the scenario that was sold to you during the recruitment process turns out to be quite different than the realities of daily life at your new employer? At the very least, you’d have a sense of buyer’s remorse. You might even feel personally betrayed.
This type of situation sets the stage for candidates to be recruited away from their new employer – sometimes very quickly. It’s a painful and expensive lesson to learn.
The bottom line: If you want to recruit marketers who will succeed and thrive (not just survive until they find a better opportunity) – don’t just sell them – tell them the truth about your company culture. Educate them. When you’re committed to achieving a great candidate-to-culture fit, everybody wins.