Total exposure Featured

10:01am EDT July 22, 2002

D. Searcy, owner of Terra Cotta, tells job interviewees what a dirty, back-breaking job they’ll get themselves into if she hires them at her pottery and garden accessories store.

“They don’t see the underbelly of the workings of Terra Cotta,” she explains. “They just see, ‘Oh, isn’t this a lovely environment.’

“In the interview process I try to be realistic, but if anything, I want to err on the side of how difficult it is to work here.”

Her frankness is the first step in ensuring that she hires the right person. After interviews, she tells candidates to call her the next day if they’re still interested.

“That tells me two things. One, they have to take some sort of initiative on their own to call me. Two, it lets me know whether they follow up in a way I ask them,” she says.

Then she hires them for a week, during which time either party can back out of the deal. It isn’t until after that week that she even thinks about putting them on her permanent work schedule.

Searcy says giving the candidate an honest, complete description about work expectations—and about her management style—sets the stage to bring up any discrepancies in the employees’ work performance later. She also has a better chance that the person will fit in with her staff of nine.

“We are a small business, and this is practically my second home—some people say it’s my first home,” she says. “I tell people, ‘I want to be happy here, and I want you, if you’re working here, to be happy here, because life is too short for both of us to be miserable.’”