Recruitment: Brutally Honest, Or Refreshingly Transparent? 

What is Employee Onboarding

Some say that honesty is the best policy.  Others say that there is such a thing as being too honest.  When it comes to recruiting new staff, one has to walk the tightrope between selling the dream and communicating the reality.  But, this time last year, one Glasgow based employer threw caution to the wind, and posted a brutally honest job ad, which rapidly went viral on the internet. 

For those who missed it, here are a few snippets from Justin Valmassoi’s job advert:


‘The money is s***. It’s £7/hour and a cut of the tips. Don’t ask for more because I don’t have it. You’ll literally be making more than me because I am essentially working for free until the place is paid off.’

Employee participation

‘You can also have a decent degree of creative freedom, menu-wise. I will listen to your ideas and try your weird suggestions, but if I don’t love it we’re not doing it and that’s that.’

Management structure

‘You have to put up with my wife because I do, and she’s the real boss.’

The menu

‘You like weird condiments? Great. Me too. You have no idea what I’m talking about? Then please, PLEASE, don’t apply for this job.’

Sign me up, baby!!  (Well, actually, don’t … cooking is not my forte, and the general impression is that the boss doesn’t suffer incompetence). Yet, as surprising as it may seem, there were approximately 150 applicants who read the above advert and still submitted an application.  There’s even a happy ending, too, as Justin reportedly hired not one, but three people on the back of this process.  Three people who, one can only assume, went into the job with their eyes wide open and their expectations firmly managed.

Here’s the thing, though.  What Valmassoi did was gutsy and more than a little extreme.  He’s a small business owner, and (not expecting the advert to go viral anyway) he didn’t have an established reputation to risk. ‘Last time I was hiring for a place I got over 400 CVs. You know how long it takes to read 400 CVs? Too damned long,’ he said. One gets the impression he was royally fed up of a flawed hiring process, and this was his way of venting.  Most likely, he didn’t expect the outcome he got.

But for big brands, established businesses, and those of us working in the corporate world, this sort of approach isn’t an option.  At least, not without a P45 following hot on its tails.  All that aside, Justin is clearly onto something.  It’s a simple concept, really.  It’s called transparency, and every process could benefit from a bit more of it.

Thankfully there are less controversial ways to achieve it.  Alongside a measured amount of candour in the job advert, employers keen to paint a more realistic picture of life at the nerve centre of the organisation would do well to make use of situational judgement tests as part of their recruitment process.

Situational judgement tests (SJTs) present the candidate with realistic, hypothetical scenarios and ask them to identify the most appropriate response or to rank the responses in the order they feel is most effective.  They provide a predictive tool for determining behavioral tendencies, assessing how an individual will behave in a certain situation, and they also reinforce to the candidate what sorts of scenarios and challenges they might realistically face on the job. Academic research into the strengths of SJTs shows criterion related validity and incremental validity above ability and personality assessments. SJTs have also less adverse impact towards minorities. As well as providing robust measures for employers, applicant reactions towards SJTs are very positive.

At great{with}talent, we’ve developed a range of SJT’s focused on Graduates, Managers and people working in Retail roles. Other generic versions are also in development, and we also work with many clients to develop bespoke versions for their organisations. Our SJTs each contain 16 job related scenarios, each scenario requires the candidate to select how they would react, both most and least like them to the scenario.

FindingPotential is only partly about assessing skills and qualifications.  In many ways, that’s the easy part.  Finding the right ‘fit’ is the biggest hurdle of all, and not just for the employer.  We’ve all been on the other side of the metaphorical interview fence, and it can be just as hard for the candidate to see beyond the frills of a swanky office and great perks, and keep a firm focus on what’s important; that being the reality of the day to day job.  Every job comes with its cross to bear, whether it be long hours, sore feet, monotonous work or antisocial hours.  What’s important is whether these things will turn out to be deal breakers, or whether they are sufficiently outweighed by factors more motivating and engaging to the employee.  Using SJT’s to reinforce the lows and the highs, and to present the ‘warts and all’ aspects of the available job, can be a powerful way to ensure that candidates subject themselves to a degree of self-selection.

SJTs are not time consuming; in fact, completion time for our tests is 10 minutes.  As for the administration process, you can leave that to us.  Just supply us with the names and contact details of the candidates to be tested, and we do the rest for you.  That means we send out and chase the questionnaires, we analyse and review the responses, and we produce detailed feedback reports which will resonate clearly with both employer and candidate.

We’re not expensive and we believe passionately in the quality and value of our tests.  We’re very happy to be put to the test, too, and for that reason, we make all of our FindingPotential products available for a free 30 day trial. There’s no obligation, no annoying sales follow up and no requirement for ongoing commitment.  Put simply, we believe that great employee engagement starts with finding the people best suited to your organisation, complete with all its glorious quirks.

If you’re interested in hearing more, please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you. Alternatively, sign up for a no obligation free 30 day trial – we’re pretty sure you won’t look back!

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