The Trouble with H.R.

19 Jan 2015

HR and recruiting are supposed to go hand in hand, management will tell them the role, they find some ideal candidates, an interview is set up, candidates and management meet, management like one of them and someone is hired. That’s the ideal scenario, however, what if HR aren’t looking for the same qualities as management, what if they want someone that is best match for the company or who matches its ethos. What if the best candidates are filtered out before management can even meet them because they don’t match HR’s perception of the role.

This is of course not to say higher management don’t want what is best for the company, simply their idea of an ideal candidate could be different to that of HR’s. Now this probably sounds quite farfetched, yet when you think about it, it’s not. HR might want someone who is good in a team, a team player who will put them before all else. Realistically, some employees work best individually, they flourish more on their own than when relying on others. Of course this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it doesn’t make them antisocial or any less productive, it’s just how they are. Management may like this, they might prefer someone they can count on to just go away and get the job done.

The clear problem lies with if you were honest in an initial discussion with HR. When asked if you were a good team player, if you answered:

“No, not really.”

Would you realistically get through to the next stage.

Likewise this could be attributed to motivations, should you lie about them for the job. HR may want someone who believes in the company, their philosophies and principles. A number of candidates may be motivated by these among other things, however some may be motivated entirely by financial means, they may simply want the job because it pays more than their last one. Is this necessarily a bad thing? It might again be something that management would like, someone willing to put in the long hours and late nights in return for financial reward. Again though, if asked your motivations for applying by HR would you really say:

“Financial, this job pays more.”

Such motivations would instantly give negative connotations, a candidate who said that would stand less of a change of get through to the latter stages despite their skills.

The basic premise of this is should you lie to HR to get through this initial stage. Should you pretend to be someone you’re not, to get you the interview with management. The best advice was always thought, ‘just be yourself,’ but what if you know that ‘yourself’ is not what HR want and probably won’t get you through the initial stage. What if you do work better individually and are motivated financially. Should you purposely lie and become who HR wants you to be.

There are of course boundaries to lying, hiding what your real motivations are or exaggerating your team working skills are not the worst things. Blatant lies about previous experience, jobs and eduction on your CV are however a different matter. Various top level executives have been caught out, a recent high profile example being Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson. Who after it was revealed he had faked a computer science degree on his CV had to step down. Obviously don’t do this, but surely small a embellishing of the truth, the ‘little white lies’ can’t hurt if you know it’s only what HR wants to hear.

Thinking about this, is the HR department entirely to blame? They are after all looking out for the best interests of the company, they want candidates who can integrate seamlessly into the business without damaging the synergy.

A problem could lie in the term Human Resources itself. This points to the fact that humans are a resource to the company, an asset if you will. When acquiring an asset you will acquire the one that best fits your current need.

An obtainable asset could be a cog for a machine. You would acquire the correct cog to fit into the designated space in the machine, much like HR attempting to acquire the correct candidate to fit a designated role in the company.

The problem is in reality humans aren’t a resource, you’re not a cog in a machine, when working we don’t have only one function. There are many different skills and characteristics within people, all of which could prove productive or counterproductive for a company. It’s not a case of choosing who would initially be the best fit in the role, but understanding who will be most productive over the longterm. It is simply unfortunate that a candidate who could potentially be the most productive can be overlooked in the initial stages, due to HR wanting someone to simply fit the role and can seamlessly integrate into the company.