The First Moment of Truth

Say you are in the market for a new brand of toothpaste and you’ve been paying attention to some ads. Beautiful people with teeth as white as the first snow galavant around in what seems to be world of pure bliss, and you want in. You pick up a copy of your favorite monthly mag, and there they are again those bastards – they seem to be enjoying the most mundane tasks, commuting for instance. Its probably because their teeth are so damn white!

Anyway, needless to say the next time you are at CVS you head over to the toothpaste aisle, ready to stumble upon a glowing aura of toothpaste – this magical goo that promises beauty and eternal happiness. Suddenly, you see it. There it is!

Congratualtions, you have just experienced FMOT, the First Moment of Truth. A marketing term invented by P&G in 2005 that covers in-store product placement.

Procter and Gamble may be a bit on the stodgy side, but they basically invented modern consumer marketing, and have it down to a science. For them, FMOT is a category in the same league as TV, PR and Social. Its taken very seriously. If you are ever on a P&G marketing conference call, be prepared to hear FMOT thrown around a lot. Its also a good time to catch up on Buzzfeed :)

Here’s why I love the concept of FMOT: its the moment when the marketing bullshit melts off and you are just holding a tube of toothpaste at a CVS. Its when reality comes crashing into the picture. And the question is, does the actual product match up to all the hype, the marketing, the ads with beautiful people with shiny teeth who seem to be loving life a bit more than you?

Nope. Its usually just a tube of toothpaste.

toothpaste FMOT

So what does all this have to do with recruiting? A lot actually. An candidate will begin to form an idea of who you are as an employer over time, your employer brand, through articles, tweets, consumer ads…etc….maybe even a friend who already works there.

When she walks into your office for the first time, all this could come crashing down or on the contrary, it could live up to the hype.

The recruiting industry basically ignores FMOT. Its just not on their radar, and its a shame. They lose great candidates because the interview experience didn’t match the expectations. It was off brand. And that is even if their employer brand is considered “cool”.

No amount of fawning TC articles, kegs afterwork, and all you can eat organic snacks will overcome a poor First Moment of Truth. You can’t put lipstick on a pig. 


The details count

Take a minute and think about all the candidate touchpoints from inital reachout to 1st day of work? What are they? What happens in each? Is your brand being reflected in each one? Do you even have an employer brand?

Here are a few areas to focus no matter what

  • Being on time: if you make a candidate wait more than 20 minutes to meet or chat on the phone, she has every right to end the interview right there and then.
  • Engineers who are excited to interview, and who don’t treat it as a chore. HR people can only go so far in terms of excitement.
  • Showing them around the office: this is, after all, where they will spend the majority of their waking hours. Don’t walk them right to the conference room.
  • Giving them more information – do you have more info on the role, profiles of their future colleagues, and projects in the works.
  • Disappearing acts: don’t make the candidate have to follow up with you. If its a pass – let him know promptly and let him know why. Don’t pull a goddamn disappearing act.
  • Dumb technical screens: if you ask an engineer basic or stupid questions, he will assume the same of you. I’ve had many an engineer ask to stop the process because he felt the questions reflected too poorly on the company.


So what is your FMOT? I challenge you to focus on this crucial touchpoint and make it as awesome for the candidate as you can – and it will pay off in droves.



Lipstick on a Pig

If you make a candidate wait 25 minutes to interview, a ping pong table won’t help.

If you take 2 weeks to get back to him, neither will a keg of beer.

If you ask him the same questions again and again, neither will inspirational posters about “shipping”.

If you make him come back 5 times for no reason, neither will a company American Apparel T-shirt.

Its easy to create the trappings of a “cool” company. Its much harder to run an awesome recruiting process.