Ever get that call from a former colleague or someone you recently met at a conference asking for that “cup of coffee?” It is typically a code name for a job search, and I believe we should all be saying yes and be willing to support others in their quest.
But this post is not speaking to those of us taking the call – it is speaking to the caller.
Yes caller- I mean you- and how you may do a better job preparing for those coffee meetings so they are productive for both. It surprises me how often I meet with people who are uncomfortable with or unsure how to make the most of our meeting. Here are some suggestions for you to consider to make the meeting productive:
1. Have a target list of companies of interest in the industries you are pursuing.
When I meet with people that come to the table with a target list it helps me think of people I know to connect them to. These people may not be in the exact companies you list, however they will most likely be in the same industry. If you are a generalist that can cross industries that is great, however keep in mind that this list will help trigger new connections for you, which is why it is so important to prepare one.
2. Research the LinkedIn network for who you are meeting with to identify potential contacts of interest.
Connect on LinkedIn if you are not already connected and read through the contacts and make a list of who would like to connect to. We all know LinkedIn relationships vary across a spectrum, so the more names you identify the better your odds are of meeting more people.
3. Have jobs you are applying for handy with explanations for the feedback you are getting.
This could provide an opportunity for coaching and also prompt further discussions about potential opportunities.
4. Have an idea for how you may be able to help the person you are meeting with.
This one may go without saying, however many people do not do this . Even if the person you are meeting with says they cannot think of anything in the moment, I have been impressed with people that say that they have thought of a few things on their own (which may be handy in the future).
There are so many positive outcomes that can come out of a job search. What are some of the best (and worst) experiences you have had from requesting or agreeing to a cup of coffee?
Debbie Brown is a Senior Sales Executive in Analytics, Software and Services . The majority of her career has been spent managing people and teams in software and services provided to the HR industry. Debbie enjoys sharing leadership best practices and as an avid reader is always happy to share great book recommendations. You can connect with Debbie on Twitter as @DebbieJBrown.
One year into my HR career I hired my first direct report. I formed the job description, posted it on a jobs site and reviewed resumes as they came in. I felt like it was a stepping stone for me professionally, and I looked forward to having someone to develop and mentor.
After interviewing candidates I ended up hiring a referral from a co-worker that was an ideal Specialist to assist my HR Supervisor role. I could delegate a project with general guidelines and know it would be a success.
Fast forward several months, and due to a restructuring I inherited another direct report that didn’t turn out to be as easy to deal with. Daily life in the office became a challenge, and since I was still fairly new to having direct reports I went to my manager for advice. For the most part I felt that we were on the same page, but when another member of the team brought to my attention possible wrongdoing by my direct report, I was surprised to learn my manager and I didn’t agree on next steps. Having been provided supporting documentation to the suspected violation, I was ready to investigate the issue and further discuss with my direct report. My manager, however, did not think it needed to be investigated at the time and suggested waiting to see what came of the situation.
After thinking it through and discussing with another trusted colleague I decided to go against my manager’s advice and address the issue at hand. Feeling that my own credibility was on the line if didn’t look into the matter, I was proud that I stood my ground and did what was right to acknowledge the problem.
You may find yourself in a similar situation where you are at odds with professional advice you were given. Take it into consideration, but also ensure that you fully research the topic at hand to ensure you have all necessary information. Discuss with your network to hear several other viewpoints, and if appropriate, consult your company’s policies and procedures. Trust in your analysis of the case, and go forward with confidence in your decision on how best to handle.
About the Author: Heather Rose, PHR is an HR Professional with over 6 years experience supporting top organizations’ HR functions. In addition to her career in HR, Heather enjoys writing about her life adventures, reading and traveling. You can connect with Heather on LinkedIn.
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During a recent career coaching session with a client, I realized that much of the advice that he had been given was, in my humble opinion, not so very good. In fact, the advice was desperately bad.
For instance, my client said that a friend told him that he should not wear a suit to an interview because it would make him look desperate. The word desperate came up a few more times. The same friend told my client that you should never admit that you have been laid off from your job, even if is true, because that would make you seem desperate. And last, my client asked if reaching out to prospective employers, without seeing a job posting, would make him look desperate.
My advice about the suit. If you own a good suit, wear it to an interview. Dress up. Polish your shoes. Trim your facial hair. Be clean and neat. You want to make a good impression. Dressing well helps make desperately good first impressions.
My advice about admitting that you were laid off from your job. Tell the truth. There is no shame in having been laid off. The vast majority of Americans know at least one person (a friend, relative, neighbor) whose job has been eliminated. Explain that your job was eliminated, stay positive about your former employer, and move on to explaining why you are interested in their job opening. Doing so will make you seem desperately honest and focused.
And last, my advice about reaching out to prospective employers. Do it! It shows initiative and drive not desperation, in my book.
I am curious. Do you agree or disagree with my advice? And what crazy career advice have you heard and disagreed with?
About the author: Judy Lindenberger is the President of The Lindenberger Group, an award-winning human resources consulting firm, located near Princeton, NJ. They are experts in career coaching, customized training workshops, online training programs, mentoring, 360-degree assessment and feedback, HR audits, employee handbooks, and more. Learn more about them at www.lindenbergergroup.com.
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Professionals in the field of human resource management help to contribute to the success of any business by strategically managing its human capital. Moreover, as a potential career, it is gaining in popularity and increasing in stature. In fact, in 2006, Money Magazine listed the role of the Human Resource Manager as being at number 4 of its best jobs in America list, based on factors such as difficulty, flexibility, creativity, and future job growth in the next decade.
Getting into the field of HR will require the right level of education and training for the role. Since the profession is expected to grow in the coming years and according to Business Insider the salary is also likely to increase, the competition for these jobs will become more fierce, meaning more and more students entering higher education courses specific to this field.
Education and Training
HR People from Monster.com has found that HR employees come from a wide range of backgrounds from an educational standpoint. However, while the subject and content of your degree program won’t necessarily limit your ability to gain access to an HR job, it is recommended that you complete a full University degree to be considered for many jobs in this field. For the best possible training and preparation for a career in HR About.com advises a bachelors degree in HR will be best. This will give you a foot in the door, and will invariably be more highly looked upon by hiring managers than other unrelated subjects. Regardless, most degree programs will open the door to potential employment.
It must be noted, though, that many highly successful HR managers will not have gone through higher education or got a degree. A recent article by the NY Times addresses the increase in demand for job candidates with degrees, suggesting that in a majority of the cases where these successful employees did not obtain degrees first, they will instead have developed their successful career before the post-grad landscape became too highly populated and competitive. These days it is increasingly difficult to obtain an HRM job without having completed a degree first, so this should be your first port of call.
Those who are keen on pursuing a specialized career in HR or a managerial position will want to consider enrolling in a business degree that has more of a specific focus. If you do a more generalized degree to keep your options open, focus on taking extra courses to make you more employable. You can do this after completing your degree, or even during it if possible.
In addition to completing a degree at college, many HR professionals will look to become certified in various disciplines. HR Daily Advisor published an interview based on a survey that revealed HR Certifications are providing many advantages. If you do complete a professional certification, this could lead to higher earning potential – the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHM) and Professional in Human Resources (PHR) are two examples.
Finding work within this field isn’t really any different from looking for a job in any other industry. Using online career search websites is a good place to start. However, these online career sites are fairly general in nature, and so looking for specific HR related work is more appropriate and targeted. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is one option that is designed for this specific field.
Bear in mind that some companies will tend to recruit from within as suggested by an article about the benefits of internal hiring published by Forbes. If you are working within a larger company and are interested in moving into HRM then keep an eye on any internal job boards and network with HR managers to see if any potential jobs come up. Networking outside of your company at industry specific events is also a good idea.
As with most professional jobs, however, the easiest way in is to complete your degree and then seek a professional certification via a reputable company. This will give you the best head start in the industry.
Dee Fletcher is a freelance and ghost writer. See also enjoys guest blogging, and does it as often as she can to build her online presence. Dee writes mostly about current trends or events relating to business and technology, but will occasionally write about various industries as well. She works from her home in Southern California and loves to visit the beach as often as she can.
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What do you want to be known for? What is important to you?
If you think you are too young to read about retirement or you roll your eyes at the thought of it because it seems impossible, then YOU need to keep your butt in your seat and read this one. If you still want to jump elsewhere – replace the word retirement with sabbatical, or career change, and most of all of this discussion is very applicable there too.
I know my circumstances for retirement are somewhat unique, but the ah-ha moments and realizations I want to share are life lessons and they also happen to be really more powerful when finding yourself free of the high demands of one’s current high speed career.
The word retirement is not a bad word and stop making people that use it feel lazy or shameful. My husband and I have renamed our current status to sabbatical, because of the negative responses we get for using the word retirement this young. Oh well, I expect no sympathy – just a point to make.
When one retires and finds more time on their hands, a lot of self-reflection begins. I believe this is one reason so many people that thought they would love retirement or worked really hard to get there, find themselves miserable. They don’t like what is reflected back to them, when they look deep. The time to evaluate one’s self is when you are slaving away at your job so that you find some releases and rewards along the way.
- Are you an interesting person that can carry on conversations beyond your work and your kids?
- Do you have hobbies that you love to spend time on? Can you find a way to cultivate them now (you will like your life better if you do)
- Do you really know how to relax? Really unplug? It’s been three months and I still check my phone far more then I need to.
Do you have real friendships that would exist without the work or work-style connections? This is a tough one for a lot of people and a lot or relationships. Do your conversations go beyond the topics of work, your industry, or the escape from such work? These may be the friends that have been there through good and bad and always were available, or they could be the friends that you share your hobbies and other interest with. If you find this category of your life lacking, I encourage you to evaluate and cultivate your relationships. It might still be some of the same people in your life, but taking the friendships into a different direction can be rewarding and important.
Can you spend extensive time with your spouse and truly enjoy it? I am blessed that I have worked side-by-side my husband for the last 20 years, so this part is easy for me. I see other couples really struggle when they are more in each other’s calendars. It doesn’t mean things are broken, but you might want to find more common activities and also plan for separate time with no guilt from either party.
This is where most articles focus on retirement, starting your own business, or the risk of career changing. There is a reason for that – it is important. Entrepreneurs are conditioned to “know your number”. The biggest portion of that term is knowing the number it would take to sell your business, but the critical day-to-day practicality of that expression applies to everybody. What are the numbers it takes to live the life you expect?
I could reach those numbers quickly due to a couple of really key points in our lives.
- I categorize all of our expenditures into buckets in Quicken. Even if you need to look at it really often or you want to deny how much you spend on something, that just doesn’t do you any favors. If you are trying to hide an expenditure, then you definitely need to categorize it (electronics, jewelry, travel, entertainment, groceries, dining, etc)
- Have a real advisor that can help you evaluate your expenses, your income and your assets. I am not talking about the job title Financial Advisor; those guys are sales guys trying to sell you insurance, investment vehicles like annuities, and help you watch your stock market investments. I am talking about someone that is really designed to evaluate the way you live. Often tax accountants are better prepared for this then many financial advisors. I use an amazing company call SmithFrank; they are the real deal when it comes to all financial considerations.
Here’s the deal. If you know your financial requirements, you shape yourself and your relationships, and you dream about what you would do with your life and time if you were in the cubicle or on the plane again, you may find retirement, life-style entrepreneurship or a sabbatical is more easily within your reach then you thought. These things will certainly make your life at any stage better.
I have had a goal on my life list for well over a decade and I am now getting a chance to pursue it. I have wanted to create children’s books about doing what you love to do, for a career. So maybe sabbatical is a better for term for me, but really what I am doing is just living within a new framework. I am glad I planned for it.
Lois Melbourne, GPHR, is co-founder and former CEO of Aquire Solutions, mom to one terrific young son and wife of co-founder Ross Melbourne. After entering a bit of a sabbatical life phase, she is authoring a series of children’s books about career ambitions. She maintains a strong personal commitment to career education and small business development and is a speaker, author of industry articles, and an occasional blogger and networker. Connect with her on Twitter as @loismelbourne.
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When networking with job-seekers, I hear that behavioral interviewing is common practice; thus, I was shocked to read this article on Business Insider: “Google Admits Its Crazy Interview Questions Were ‘A Complete Waste of Time.” I could not believe that a Fortune 100 company was still asking questions such as, “Why are manholes round?” I am unable to determine how someone can objectively answer this type of question. Behavioral interviewing is evidently a practice that is not as common as I had thought. If behavioral interviewing is not something your company is practicing now, it is should be put into practice as soon as possible.
My typical one on one interviews last around forty-five minutes and I am strapped for time to extrapolate all the relevant information I need to determine whether or not this candidate is not only a fit for the role at hand but, also for our culture. It is critical that I utilize the time with planned questioning that assesses what the candidate has done in the past and what she is likely to do in the future, rather than assessing whether or not the candidate can solve brainteasers that she will not likely be faced with in the role. I believe that most individuals that secure interviews can tell you what someone should do in certain circumstances, but is it what she actually did when finding herself in that situation? You are often able to discern how much experience she has handling the situations you are asking about by how quickly she is able to produce examples and how she handles herself under pressure.
If you are struggling to know where to start, I began by reading a couple of valuable books: How to Choose the Right Person for the Right Job Every Time by Lori Davila and Louise Kursmark and High-Impact Interview Questions by Victoria Hoevemeyer. These books offer sample behavioral interview questions and rating scales to get you started.
The most challenging piece can be getting consistent practice of behavioral interviewing across all of your hiring managers’ interviews. As all of us in HR know, the hiring managers are typically swamped and the last thing on their mind is preparing in advance for an interview. I started off by utilizing behavioral interview questions for soft skills, as many hiring managers struggled with how to measure a candidate’s soft skills, but understood the importance of making this more objective. It was also effective to let them know that I was going to assist them with being more prepared for the interview and complete some of the up-front work for them by developing the questions.
This provided an additional benefit, in that I was able to introduce more of a focus on soft skill assessment. So often hiring managers place greater value on finding candidates who are a “plug n’ play” due to their technical skills that I have seen many hires who don’t work out, not due to their technical abilities, but the missing soft skills that were not assessed during the interview process. It is important to remind hiring managers that specific technical skills can be trained; however, soft skills often cannot or require a larger time investment not only from a training perspective but also in fixing interpersonal problems that occur that are not as easily solved.
Greater acceptance from hiring managers can be acquired by conducting post hire analysis of the new hire’s performance and correlating this with the interview questions asked. This allowed the hiring managers to make better hiring decisions in the future and determine which questions were valuable in making staffing decisions. This also resulted in saving the hiring managers a lot of time and expense through a reduction of bad hires.
After experiencing the benefit of asking the same soft skill questions to various candidates and being able to rate them on a scale that allowed objective comparisons across candidates post interview, I convinced the hiring managers to allow me to assist with the development of technical behavioral questions as well. Often, I taught them how to include technical elements in the soft skill questions, such as, “Tell me about a time you identified a data or reporting discrepancy and how were you able to validate the data and take corrective action in a short amount of time.” This would allow the hiring manager to not only assess someone’s attention to detail and ability to work under tight deadlines, but also their ability to understand the technical reporting aspects of the job. It is incredibly important to eventually be able to assess the technical aspects of a job and the soft skills required at the same time, due to time constraints of interviews. Additionally, this helps avoid receiving the canned responses to basic soft skill questions such as, “Give me an example of situation that demonstrates your ability to effectively manage your time.” I typically recommend surveying all of the candidates for 5 technical and 5 soft skills and ensuring that all skill sets that are necessary to be successful in the role are covered by one of the interviewers on the team. As a past Recruiting Director, I embrace the opportunity to ensure that questions aren’t being repeated over various hiring mangers that are interviewing candidates for the role and that we are providing a great first impression to our candidates of an organized agency.
Not only did our implementation of behavioral interview questions across the agency help secure talent that was a better fit to role but also perpetuated a stronger presence of our agency in the marketplace.
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Amanda Papini, Recruiting Director at Response Mine Interactive started her career in recruiting at Medical Staffing Network in 2005, and moved over to a corporate recruiting role at BKV and Response Mine Interactive in 2007, where she built an internal recruiting practice for both companies. Amanda has since staffed over 250 full-time employees within both companies; an average of 50 hires per year. After assisting with RMI and BKV’s growth over the last 5 years, Amanda decided to move over to focus solely on RMI’s talent acquisition and take on a role more dedicated to employee development.
It’s usually easy to spot: the nervous jitters as he talks about his most recent position, the disdain he is clearly trying to hide about his supervisor or colleagues, the glossing over of the actual job conclusion. By the time I ask, “ so what prompted you to leave” or “what brings you in today,” I can almost recite the words that always include “laid-off”, “let go”, “downsizing”, “bad manager”, etc. As a career coach, I encounter a myriad of clients who have a gap in their employment history. Typically these clients address this issue with me in one of two ways. They either shy away from the topic (think example above) to avoid mentioning it until half way through the appointment, after the resume review, or they bring it up immediately and we spend the better part of an hour talking about this event that has defined them for the past several months of the job search.
The whole “defining” aspect of a termination is the problem and the number one factor that gets in a job seeker’s way between knowing Ellen’s guest line-up on any given Tuesday and signing an offer letter. Whether you actually introduce it at the forefront of every conversation that has a slight hint of a networking component OR you skirt away from this part of your past like you have a cousin in the mafia and are in witness protection, the emotion is the same – shame. Shame seeps from every pore of your being if you let it. It portrays a desperate need for any job and scares the heck out of any recruiter, hiring manager, or potential colleague.
So what is an innocent, talented, recently laid off employee to do? Take a week off to sulk, lick your wounds, replay all of the unfair aspects surrounding the lay-off, and talk your nearest and dearest ears’ off about the numerous ways you saved the company X amount of dollars and are so much more talented than Ted in accounting, and then stop. Stop venting. Stop sulking. Stop watching fluff TV all day. Now follow these steps:
1.) Wake up on Monday of week 2 post lay-off and go to a coffee shop. Look around, watch the birds outside, read the business journals, and write down 10 jobs you want (in your field), and 10 companies you want to work for. The key here is want. This is your chance to choose where you want to and should be. Don’t take this task lightly.
2.) Then go on LinkedIn. How does your profile look? Is your most recent position up-to-date with the amazing achievements you accomplished? How is your picture? Meaning: Is it professional (not a shot of you with your significant other cropped out from a high school reunion) and has it been taken in the past 5 years?
3.) Now start reaching out. Ask first degree contacts out to coffee. Talk to them honestly and authentically about what happened, what you think you are good at, where you want to be, and ask for help. People want to help. Really they do. Sometimes they just need permission to actually offer it.
4.) Next do searches for contacts at companies you’re targeting. Use LinkedIn groups as a resource to a whole new community of contacts and search those groups by job function or company. Then invite these potential contacts to coffee and do the same. Be authentic, and give them the gist of the fact that your company had a downsizing and you are now focusing on these specific roles at companies like the one they work for.
5.) Lastly explore the job aggregators. What’s out there? What is trending? Who seems to be hiring? Apply appropriately and then circle back to step 4.
In a follow-up post I’ll advise on how to talk about a layoff to employers during an interview. The main thing to remember about starting a job search after a termination is that this is an event that happened but you don’t have to let it keep happening to you every time you talk to someone. Let the emotions that surrounded the event go and focus on all of the value you brought to your roles and the value you have to share with a future employer. Surround yourself with people who remind you of your amazing attributes, read books and articles, and broaden your industry and business knowledge. Oh yes, and by all means, turn off daytime television.
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Maggie Tomas works at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota as Associate Director and Career Coach in the Graduate Business Career Services office. Her background includes teaching and career counseling at the college level, namely at the University of St. Thomas, University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), and Brooks Institute, a well-known film, photography, and design school where she served as Director of Career and Student Services. She is a contributing writer to several blogs and publications including Opus Magnum, Women of HR, and Job Dig.
I have had a really, really, really good year so far as an HR consultant. I have not been able to say that since 2007 and 2003 before that. In my opinion, one of the main reasons I have been so busy is because managers are consistently getting the wrong people on the bus (a Jim Collins term for the organization). I suspect it is because they don’t know what they don’t know and they are not putting the time and effort in the beginning of the process to get it right from the get go.
In order to be successful at interviewing and selection, I think it would benefit all managers if they read the book Good to Great, by Jim Collins. He refers to getting the right “who” (people/employees) on the “bus” (the organization) and making sure the “who” is going the right direction. Going the right direction is the “what” (the specific job) which ultimately means making sure they are doing the right things the right way. He says the first and most important thing is getting the right “who” aboard. You have to do a good job in recruiting and selection, getting the “right” people on the bus first. Then you worry about the what.
One of the main reasons I have been so busy this year is because many companies are just not focusing on the number one thing – they are not doing a good job of recruiting and selecting the right “who.” I don’t think it’s purposeful at all; I think perhaps they just don’t have the right tools in the interviewing toolbox, and in some cases never had them or don’t realize they are missing. Perhaps it’s one of those skills that everyone thinks they can do without any formalized training. Just like everyone thinks they can do HR — everyone thinks they recruit, interview and select.
They are WRONG!
Not everybody understands how to screen, probe, and research the who to make sure they are the right “who” to fit in the job and organization for which they are interviewing. Talent management is really and truly an art to perfect once the basic skills are learned. These skills are not ones that you are born with; you absolutely have to learn the best tips and techniques.
The result of assumimg you “got it when you don’t” is BAD Hires with BAD attitudes!
Here are just a few examples of problems I have been dealing with as a direct result of bad hires (“who’s” that have):
• Become disgruntled employees
• Sabotage the employer
• Do whatever they can to get back at the employer
• Call the attorneys to initiate a lawsuit against the employer and/or coworkers
• Call the federal agencies like the department of labor or EEOC
• Call the state human rights department
The list can go on and all this creates drama and takes a lot of time, energy, and money away from the success of the organization, and quite frankly away from the employees when you consider the bigger picture. The afterthought: “Had the management done a good job in the beginning they might not be in the place they are now – calling consultants, like myself, or an attorney to help bail them out of these kinds of problems.”
Additional skill is required to develop the right behavioral based questions to help more accurately predict the KASO’s needed for the “what.” Are the right questions being asked even once you do have the right who? The “what” interview questions determine prior training for the job and doing the right things the right way. Often interviewers will tend to ask questions around the topic but not specific enough to really determine whether the interviewee knows the job and can perform the job effectively. In some cases the “what” can be taught, and other cases you don’t really have time to train the person. Managers should seek the right training and not assume they have it. The cost of replacement can be up to a year’s worth of salary.
Learning how to effectively find the right ”who” and “what” need a formalized training program. Over the years I have use DDI’s Target Selection Program, which I was trained on early in my career and have used ever since. My training included not only how to use the program as an interviewer, but also how to train others on it. While I have not formally trained anyone using the program, I still feel it is one of the most effective tools available.
There are a number of books by William Byham, Ph.D. that are very good resources for both the interviewer and the interviewee focusing on the targeted selection process. I often recommend The Selection Solution: Solving the Mystery of Matching People to Jobs and Landing the Job You Want: How to Have the Best Job Interview of Your Life. The basis of both is looking at prior experience as a predictor of future success.
I know there are many other techniques available; what I would like to emphasize is there are preventative measures managers can and should take to ensure that they are interviewing the right way. Thus they need to look in the mirror and take responsibility for the bad hires they make instead of blaming the employee.
Get the right “who” and then determine if the right who knows the “what” and/or can be trained. You have to know what the “who” and “what” is in the first place to know how to ask for it in the right way. Turnover will go down, retention will go up, replacement costs will go down, and everybody will be happy, happy, happy!
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At best, an interview is contrived. An interviewer asks, What's your greatest weakness? Only to hear the interviewee respond, “Perfectionism.” This line of habitual, rote questioning leads to bad hires. An interview process that actually leads to finding a great candidate stops the interrogation tactics and starts a process of discovery.
The goal of any interview is to step into the mind of the interviewee and determine if s/he will be a great fit for your company going forward. The better interviewing questions can ascertain the truth of someone’s past experiences, her future potential, and her ability to enhance your company culture. Utilizing better questions that foster critical thinking leads to better hiring decisions that help your company’s long term results. Done well, interviewing is both a science and an art. Specifically, the interview process should be built on a foundation of structure and consistency so that HR managers can quantifiably compare candidate to candidate. It should also reveal important psychological aspects of the candidate to determine her learning agility and fit within the prospective role and organization.
Do your Homework Before the Interview
HR managers should start the interview process by setting a foundation of qualifications the ideal candidate will possess. Even though HR may have a strong and clear understanding of the job description, managers may be surprised to discover some hidden qualifications during this brainstorm session that will reveal more about the ideal employee.
How might we best define an ideal candidate?
These qualifications can also be used as a sounding board when HR managers quantify the responses of each interviewee. Realistically, you're not seeking a perfect fit, but clearly defined qualifications help you to ascertain truly excellent candidates.
Assess Learning Agility
Skills consistently predict job success. Past performance is an indicator of future success. Where most interviewers go sideways, however, is spending too much time asking candidates about past achievements. It’s important to know that there has been prior success, but more importantly, an interviewer needs to hear about a candidate’s learning agility, i.e. what the candidate learned along the way and how she will apply her skills and knowledge to their company’s current and future challenges.
- What is some of the most constructive criticism you received early on in your career, a
nd how has that feedback helped you grow?
- Tell me about your most successful accomplishment leading a cross-functional team on a major project or initiative. What did you learn about team dynamics that would cause you to do things differently going forward?
If they pretend previous projects went perfectly, if they dismiss learning anything from their prior experiences, or if criticism from their early days sounds trite, it's a red flag for their being open to constructive feedback, future coaching and their own willingness to grow and/or assess their own growth.
Ask a Candidate to Think
People prepare for interviews. They hire résumé writers and interview coaches and they search online for pre-scripted answers that they can spit out without thinking. Stop the brainless interaction by asking questions that are creative and can have more than one right answer. These questions create an opportunity for you to hear the wheels turning in their heads.
- Your biography is published posthumously. What is on page 213 of this 300 page book?
- You receive 3 phone messages when you get back from a meeting. One is from your spouse, the second is from your boss and the third is from your biggest client. All say urgent. In what order do you respond and why?
Original questions require original answers. There is no one correct response to the questions above, but there is a well-articulated, meaningful response that explains perspective, values and who this candidate is as an individual, and if they fit your organization.
Interviewing techniques that seek to trip-up or fluster may be clever, but they won't lead to great hires. Interview questions that emphasize discovery and dialogue lead to faster and greater understanding and insight, which leads to brilliant new team members.
About the author: With presentations to 30,000+ executives in eight countries, AmyK Hutchens serves as an Intelligence Activist and business strategist to leaders around the globe. She is a former senior EVP of Operations for a leading sales and marketing firm, Director of Education for Europe and Australia for a billion dollar consumer products company, and chosen member of the National Geographic Educator Advisory Committee. To learn more about her firm’s proprietary Leadership Links program please visit www.amyk.com. Follow AmyK on Twitter @AmyKinc or visit at www.amyk.com.
The statistics spouting the importance of networking are sprinkled in every career article from the small college newsletter to major international publications. We all feel the pressure to expand our network, meet new people and make a stellar first impression.
As a career coach working with MBA students who are looking to get connected in the business world, the most common question I encounter is about networking. In this tough economy many of students I work with are also juggling multiple roles such as full time professional, involved parent or caretaker. I often get an exasperated look when I bring up the importance of networking because the thought of adding another item to an already full to – do list is overwhelming.
Here are some of the best, most applicable, tips on how to network with limited time.
- Be prepared. You don’t have time to waste so come to any networking event with a plan. Know who is going to be attending, look them up on LinkedIn, find any commonalities you have to discuss, and then make the connection. This creates meaningful networking and allows you to leave at a reasonable time because you had a plan of attack.
- Be focused. I say this because I have been there, in the moment at a networking event, and all I can think of is my kids waiting for me at home, the school project that needs to be done or the paper that isn’t yet written. That makes the networking meaningless because your mind is elsewhere and you won’t appear genuine. You might as well have not been at the event at all. If you have taken the time to attend, then make sure to make it worthwhile and be present.
- Utilize an established network. When you have children at home, going blindly to a networking event outside of your network will be more challenging and take more time, and you may not find others there who are in your same situation (i.e. balancing mult
iple roles). It makes most sense to attend a networking event affiliated with your school (undergrad or grad), company or passion (think volunteer groups).
- Join a professional association. Yes, the dues are high but you have access to a ton of networking events each month and you can pick and choose which events best fit your life and schedule. Many are breakfast events which are the best way to squeeze in a little professional networking during a jam packed day without impacting your “at home” or “at work” responsibilities.
- Network everywhere. A dear friend of mine from California recently networked her way into her dream job. How? She met the hiring manager at her daughter’s toddler dance class! She started chatting with the other parents, made a great contact, kept in touch, one thing led to another and voila! Networking as a parent is unique in that many of the people who are sitting next to you at your son or daughter’s after school events are also professionals and may be able to impact your career.
Ultimately networking is about building relationships. As a business professional there is nothing that will impact your career success more than having a strong network. Make time for growing your network in a way that works for you.
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About the author: Maggie Tomas works at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota as Associate Director and Career Coach in the Graduate Business Career Services office. Her background includes teaching and career counseling at the college level, namely at the University of St. Thomas, University of California Santa Barbara, and Brooks Institute, where she served as Director of Career and Student Services. She is a contributing writer to several blogs and publications including Opus Magnum, Women of HR and Job Dig.