We’ve all been there before, you hire someone you thought would be a perfect match only to find out you and your new hire are not happy. What went wrong? The new hire interviewed with several people on your staff and with HR. There was a skills and personality assessment. Your new employee aced each and every step, and everyone seemed to have an immediate connection. You missed something that many hiring managers and HR people forget often, defining honest expectations for the job role.

In the old days, HR would post an open job detailing the requirements and responsibilities including all the boring details. Nowadays there is often a candidate shortage and to remedy that we write fun job descriptions highlighting all the “cool stuff” this job will offer and none of the grind work.

When we interview the ideal candidates, we tend to sell them on the job and our company. The goal is to get the best candidate hired as fast as we can. When we paint a beautiful picture of the job and company, we set the candidate’s expectations. Then the new hire starts and realizes the “cool stuff” is only 20% of the job. The candidate becomes unhappy and uninspired and eventually their work starts to deteriorate.  So how do you sell your job opportunity to candidates but at the same time let them know about the not so fun part of the job?

Before you write the job description, write down what daily life will be for this new hire. Will this person be crafting strategy every day? Probably not. Will there be administrative work? How much? Break out those administrative tasks, strategy, cross-departmental projects, heads down tasks, etc. and assign percentages to each. Then, if there is someone already doing this job or has done the job, have that person review it and confirm the breakdown is correct.

Next you should complete a 30, 60, 90 day assessment plan. This plan will be used for onboarding and ensuring the new hire is not only meeting expectations but is learning the unique aspects of the job. In the 30, 60, 90 day plan, you should include a schedule of tasks, projects, knowledge and skills to be completed at the respective milestones.

Now you can write the job description. Of course, continue to include the “cool stuff” of the job, but be sure to write the boring stuff in the responsibilities as well. You don’t have to list out everything but be sure to give an overview. 

During the application process include a question or two regarding the not so fun aspects of the job. For example, “This role will require you to balance crafting strategic XYZ projects and completing status reports. Describe a time when you managed similar responsibilities and how did you manage them?”

If using video interviewing application, look at the person’s facial expressions when talking about status reports.

No one enjoys status reports, but some really don’t like them. Can you see their total disdain for the status reporting? Then this isn’t the person for you, even if they say they don’t mind them. Situational questions are ideal because the candidate tells a story of their experience.

OK, so you have chosen your top 3-5 candidates. You have arranged interviews with all of them. The interview is the best time to review the actual job and talk about the true breakout of work on a daily, monthly, and quarterly basis.

  • Show the candidates the 30, 60, 90 day assessment and have an open discussion with the candidates regarding your expectations. The candidates will truly appreciate your transparency.
  • Be careful when selling the role, give them the full picture, good bad and the ugly.
  • Watch for those yellow flags.

It is very easy to brush aside concerns because you need to fill the job role fast. However, stop and think if those yellow flags could turn into red ones over time. Don’t forget to be sure to ask the candidate what they expect from the role and from their manager. Are you and your team able to meet the candidate’s expectation?

When you are finally ready to make an offer, it is a good idea to include your expectations in both the verbal and hard copy employment offer. Before your new hire starts, connect with them to review their first week’s schedule, and confirm they are prepared.

Having a transparent conversation at every step of the recruitment process is crucial. It may seem overkill but oftentimes people hear what they want because they are excited for the job. It’s important for both sides of the recruiting process to step back and look at the expectations and ask if they will be filled.

Here is a sample of 30, 60, 90 day development plan you can use to communicate and assess job expectations. Template is provided by courtesy of Irene Indarte.