Okay, I wasn't going to post about this, but since it seems to have created quite the flutter, let's talk for a minute about a recent survey that Accountemps did.
The survey asked 150 senior executive from the nation's 1,000 largest companies about the most common mistake people make during an interview (most common, mind you, not most important). By far, the most common response (47%) was that interviewees didn't know enough about the company.
Now some folks out there in the HR community have argued that this is a reminder that the job seekers have a responsibility to do some leg work before an interview. No argument here. But I do think we need to take a look in the mirror.
In general, organizations do a TERRIBLE job of providing sufficient information to candidates about the job they're applying for. It's particularly bad in the public sector, where you're lucky if you see a good job description before you interview.
Providing applicants with detailed information about (1) the most frequent and essential duties of the job, (2) the most important KSAs/competencies needed day one, (3) culture of the organization, and (4) day-in-the-life information (e.g., cubicle or office?) is probably the most effective (and certainly one of the cheapest) ways of ensuring a good person-job fit. To rhap Rumsfeldian for a moment, Will unqualified applicants still apply? Sure. Will this solve all your problems? No. Will qualified applicants appreciate it? You bet.
And let's think about going a step further. How about a very clean, easy to read description of the job with a variety of links taking people to details--"For more about where you would be working, CLICK HERE", "For more about who you would be working with, CLICK HERE." That way people can read what's important to them and we don't have to balance information overload with platitudes like "Works as part of an innovative, diverse work team."
Should people find out as much as possible about the job and the organization before applying? Yes. Should we do as much as we can to make this job easy for them? I think we owe it to them.