Setting Candidate Expectations in Job Interviews

Esteban Gomez | September 6, 2013

Ever find yourself sugarcoating the position you’re trying to fill? It’s easy to oversell your company or a specific role when you interview a candidate with all the right attributes. But as a hiring manager, it’s your job to set realistic expectations for the position. Otherwise, months, weeks or even mere days down the line, you’ll be left with one disappointed employee (or former employee) – and it all starts with you setting candidate expectations in job interviews.

As it turns out, many new employees feel that the reality of their position doesn’t quite line up with what they were initially promised. A survey from Glassdoor reveals that six in 10 employees believe that aspects of their new job are different than the expectations set during their interview. Below is a breakdown of the most common employee-identified inconsistencies along with a few strategies for setting realistic expectations in each of these areas.

1. Setting Job Responsibility Expectations

Setting candidate expectations in job interviews should always start with the responsibilities of the role. Why? Because thirty-nine percent of surveyed employees said that job responsibilities didn’t match the expectations set. This can be avoided by compiling thorough job descriptions before the hiring process even begins. The team that the candidate will ultimately work with should be consulted to ensure accuracy.

2. Setting Expectations for Work Hours

Thirty-seven percent of employees surveyed found that the hours they are expected to work do not align with what they were told during the interview. If you expect employees to work more than 40 hours per week, explain this straightaway. Discovering a candidate’s unwillingness to work long hours after they’ve been hired and trained doesn’t do you (or them) any good.

3. Setting Expectations for Leadership

Thirty-six percent of employees surveyed also said that their boss’ personality did not line up with the expectations set in the interview. You can combat this by introducing the candidate to her potential supervisor during the live two-way interview. While there is no guarantee that they will get along perfectly in the long run, that initial test for compatibility is essential for both parties.

4. Setting Expectations for Career Advancement

It’s not uncommon for a candidate to have aspirations for upward mobility within the company. But with 27 percent saying they see a discrepancy between expectations set and real opportunity, it’s important to be honest rather than luring talent in with false promises. Don’t paint a picture of an express lane to the top if in reality, that lane doesn’t exist.

About The Author

Esteban Gomez is a marketing consultant with interviewstream. He loves learning and has a passion for traveling, having visited many countries including China, Colombia, Italy, and Peru.


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