I had a great conversation today with one of the higher-ups in HR at a nearby university. He told me a really interesting story that I thought I’d share with you. This will be particularly interesting if you’re in a hiring position or might ever be interested in relocating for a job.
The HR guy I spoke to today used to work at a large company in Minneapolis. Every summer the company would usher in about 200 new interns to learn about the company and let the company learn about them so they could offer a few of them a job after they graduated.
The interns experienced Minneapolis during the best season of the year. Summer in the Twin Cities is a joy. Not too hot, low humidity, few bugs–it’s a great city in the summer.
So at the end of the summer, the company would offer some of the interns jobs for the following May. These were people that the company wanted to keep around for years to come. They made it very clear that they wanted these applicants, and they even wined and dined them a bit.
A few months would pass, and all applicants who had accepted the offer were flown back up to Minneapolis for a short leadership summit. And not just the applicants–the HR guy I spoke with said that he invited any other decision makers connected to the applicants–girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, wives, parents, etc. They all gathered up in Minneapolis in the dead of winter, a time when no one wants to go outside. Minneapolis is dreadful that time of year, and the HR guy I talked to knew it.
Thus he would take them horseback riding.
You can imagine the line of college seniors and their significant others, cold to the bone, their frostbitten thighs bouncing against the horses’ backs as they trundled through the snow. The idyllic summers were long forgotten as the harsh reality of Minnesota winters set in.
After everyone returned home and had a few days to chat with their loved ones about the experience, the HR guy would call them and give them the opportunity to opt out of their contract. It had cost the company a little extra money to fly them all up to Minnesota, but they would save so much money in the long run if even just one or two candidates realized that they didn’t have the thick skin required to live in Minnesota year round. Instead of taking the time and expense to train them and have them learn the ins and outs of the company, only to get depressed and quit when the winter hit, they showed the candidates a worst-case scenario to minimize a lot of suffering on both sides.
This is somewhat similar to the Zappos method I discussed a long time ago, and I think it’s valuable advice to heed. Be honest with your job candidates (and honest with yourself if you are the job candidate) about the worst aspects of the job or environment. If you can’t handle the worst-case scenario, then you probably shouldn’t work there.
What do you think?