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!
Photo credit iStockphoto
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.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
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.
Recently I was in a meeting when a topic came up that I feel strongly about. Working in the trenches, I felt that implementing this specific procedure could present challenges for our team so when it was brought up, I spoke up. It felt natural and my argument came across as clear and well thought out.
I was successful in that moment because of a few key factors. Here are some guidelines to utilize the next time you need to speak your mind.
- Exercise your knowledge on the subject at hand. Know your topic before you make your case for or against it. If it’s a brand new issue that is being brought up, don’t immediately list the reasons it will or won’t work. Take some time to research and ensure you have thought through all sides. In my case, it was something that had been on the table before, so I had time to organize my thoughts and research how it fit in to our workplace goals.
- Make sure it’s the right place at the right time. I presented my case in a meeting with other members of management. I felt it was appropriate because the decision would have an effect on them and I wanted to give them the opportunity to add their feedback. There will be times when it would not be appropriate to bring up your side in front of a whole group. Know your audience and whether or not it would be something better discussed in a one on one meeting
- Back up your case. I acknowledged that the process did hold some value but argued it was not one that would be beneficial to roll out in a uniform manner across the organization. I highlighted the areas where it could produce an obstacle and offered alternate solutions to handle those situations.
As we progress in our careers we become more confident in our voice. Don’t be afraid to use yours.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
I always used to struggle with awful nerves particularly before and during interviews and it meant I was missing out on many opportunities. I had to train myself to control these nerves to stop them from taking over. This took a while to do but here are a few of the things that I learned along the way.
Preparation is one of the best things for reducing nerves before and during an interview. Ensuring that I was fully prepared for questions and scenarios that may arise helped in a massive way. There are a few key things that I think are the most important things to prepare for:
- Researching the company, the job and the market – there is no point in applying for a job that you know nothing or very little about and turning up to the interview with a small amount of information. Visiting the company website, reading any relevant publications and generally keeping a look and listen out for things that can help you is the best start. Turning up unprepared will just make your nerves worse.
- Finding what format the interview will be in can help you to prepare for that type of questioning. I once turned up to an interview and was required to do a presentation that I was not at all prepared for. Needless to say my nerves got the better of me and I didn’t do well at all.
- Find out what you will need to bring to the interview. Often a portfolio of previous work will be required. Turning up without this could make nerves worse and generally looks bad on you.
- Double checking the time and date to ensure you have them right is highly important, it’s difficult for anyone to keep calm when they’ve got the time wrong. Calling the day before to confirm the interview can ensure no-one’s time is wasted. Allow yourself plenty of time to arrive at the interview early and you can make a good first impression. Running late for an interview always caused me even more stress and made me more nervous than usual.
Panicking on the morning of your interview about what to wear does nothing to help nerves. Pick an appropriate outfit in advance of the interview. Try it on, ensure it is comfortable and fits well. Clothing should be smart, it is always better to be over dressed than under dressed in an interview situation. Ensure tops are not too low, skirts are not too short and clothing is not too tight, otherwise you run the risk of being dressed inappropriately.
Think about what the worst that can happen would be. The probability of that happening is likely to be low and even if something does happen no-one is perfect and the interviewer is human. Compose yourself and continue. If you don’t get the job you can learn from what happened and avoid it the next time.
If your nerves are really difficult and these techniques do not help then it may be worth visiting your health care provider who could suggest an appropriate course of action.
Most important of all relax and be yourself! Do you have any tips for keeping calm for interviews?
Photo credit: iStockphoto
I recently had the opportunity to attend a women’s networking event hosted by PricewaterhouseCoopers in St. Louis. Our speaker was Adrian Bracy, CEO of the Metro St. Louis YWCA.
Ms. Bracy told her story of growing up in Miami and not feeling like she fit in. She shared stories of how she found a small group of friends to support and accept her, ladies who still are a major support to her years later. Her stories of career transition as an accountant working in the NFL for various teams to her current role as the CEO of the YWCA in St. Louis were fascinating. It was something she shared about what inspired her that leads me to share with you today.
Ms. Bracy mentioned reading Women Don’t Ask a few years ago as she was on a plane for a high level job interview. From what she shared about the book, the lesson is that women are raised to receive an offer (job offer or other offers) and say “thank you.” Men are raised to receive an offer and start negotiating.
Do women know the art of negotiation?
There are exceptions to every stereotype out there, but in this case, I’ll venture to guess that many women do accept job offers or answers from our leaders without question. We don’t ask for higher salaries, for more help or resources nor more help from our family members. Is it because it is not comfortable? Is it because we are not competent in negotiation? Is it because we want to avoid confrontation? Many women avoid negotiation for varied reasons. However, whatever the reason, it is something we can learn and get better at with time.
Right now, today, you can:
- Arm yourself with information. Take time to think about what you truly need then do the research necessary to get yourself comfortable. This will position you for having a creative approach to the solution you desire.
- Don’t be afraid to be honest. A good example of honesty paying off comes when negotiating workload. Many employees today get their work from multiple sources; a supervisor, other colleagues, company leaders, clients, vendors…the list goes on and on. After sifting through what needs to be done, being able to approach people and squarely address and negotiate different deadlines and deliverables will be key to better managing the workload.
- Build a relationship. Whether you are negotiating with a family member or a potential boss, being able to show you are not afraid to ask for something and negotiate a situation will ideally build a stronger relationship and demonstrate you are worthy of respect. Show respect to them and understanding for their needs and they are likely to want to negotiate to help you reach your needs as well.
The key to being a good negotiator is not about how many negotiations you win at. The key is getting yourself comfortable with doing it more often- or just starting to do it. Take that step and you’ll be the one asking for, and getting, what you want!
Photo credit: iStockphoto
You studied what you love, right? And you want to find a job doing what you studied. You want to find a job that can utilize your talents and interests; one where you won’t be bored, underutilized or blown off.
But there is just one problem: there are no jobs in your field. Everybody is telling you to find a temporary position; something you can do until you find your elusive perfect job. No. You don’t want to do that. You don’t want to be stuck as a peon for the rest of your life. But you don’t want to starve either.
How can you find your perfect job? How can you resist the temptation to just find something, anything that pays? Here’s how:
- Don’t Settle. Don’t abandon your dreams. There is a perfect job out there for you; you just have to resist the urge to settle for the ‘okay’ job or the job that offers you tons of money. Better to be poor and content then rich and despondent, right? Don’t give in to cynics who predict your demise. Your perfect job will pay enough. You just have to find it.
- Keep Searching. Don’t give up. After four months, after seven months, heck, after a year, keep looking. You might have to work at the blood bank to make ends meet, but so be it. Better to find the perfect job then get stuck in one you despise but rely on for money. That doesn’t mean you can’t get a profitable job. Just remember to keep aggressively looking for your dream job even when you have stable work.
- Aim High, Search Low. Always keep your dream job in mind, but apply for ones below it. You’re going to have to work your way up. Don’t get disheartened, sometimes you will apply for the lesser job and get hired for the greater job. Take a gamble and don’t forget that almost everyone is flexible. They may offer a low wage but be willing to double it when they see your degree and enthusiasm. Nothing is set in stone.
- Discover. Don’t cage yourself. Stretch out and discover things that appear only marginally related to your field. You’ll be amazed at what the job actually entails. If invited, interview even if you are over-qualified or under-qualified – they might offer you another job you never even knew about. Discussing your interests and capabilities can lead to new opportunities.
Above all, know what you want. If you don’t know what you’re searching for, how are you going to find it? Don’t trap yourself by centering just on what you majored in. You can find a job in something you are good at, something you have a passion for, or something you just by chance know how to do. Don’t pass up opportunities even if they don’t seem to fit with your dream job. Any experience is good experience and can open the door to your perfect job down the road. You might find out your dream job is something you never imagined.
Don’t give up. Your dream job is out there. Keep looking, broaden your horizons, and find out what you are really looking for. You may run across adventures that you would have never had if you just settled for the first job that paid well.
Photo credit iStockphoto
About the author: This is a guest post from Laura Backes, she enjoys writing about all kinds of subjects as well as topics related to internet providers. You can reach her at email@example.com.
During a recent business trip, I passed five states and multiple cities between New York City and Washington, D.C. within a matter of 4 hours on Amtrak.
As my company breaks into new markets, I have expanded my recruitment portfolio along the Eastern Seaboard as well as into the Midwest.
Coming from the Midwest (Chicago, specifically), there are many things I’ve had to learn about recruitment and culture across state lines. For example, the rivalry between Cubs and White Sox fans will never amount to the hatred between Eagles and Giants fans. The appropriate toppings and bun for a hot dog vary from city to city, and residents of Virginia and Maryland in the Greater Washington, D.C. area will not visit each other for a BBQ let alone a job interview.
Food and sports aside, there are many peculiarities to each city, and understanding them is crucial to making a successful placement. When recruiting from a national pool of candidates, it is the HR professional’s responsibility to serve as the liaison between the candidate and company as well as be a representative of the state or city.
I would like to share some best practices for national recruitment that I have learned along the way.
- Know the public transportation system. Know what the public transportation system is in each city, how it works and and if it’s punctual: New York - Subway, Washington, D.C. – Metro, Chicago – L, Philadelphia – SEPTA, and Baltimore – MARC Train.
- Visit the organization or company to know where it is located as well as to assess the culture.
- Know your candidates. For local candidates, know where they live in relation to the organization and be able to give them directions and key landmarks. For national candidates, include a Skype interviews as a preliminary search step in order to confirm a candidate’s interest before putting them on a plane or train. Skype is an incredible tool and it’s FREE!
- Understand tenure. A government contractor’s resume from Washington, D.C. make look choppy compared to other cities where contract roles are less frequent and retention is greater. It is the responsibility of HR to debrief the Hiring Manager during their review of resumes.
- Confirm and reconfirm a company’s relocation policy. Know whether is is a partial or full relocation package and exactly what it does – and does not – include.
It’s very easy for an unemployed applicant in California to apply to a position in St. Louis, Missouri but when push comes to shove, will they relocate? As a recruiter, it is imperative not to be overeager because you found the best Marketing Director West of the Mississippi on LinkedIn. Try a Skype conversation first, and then proceed with caution. Roots are strong and they can impact a search’s success if the applicant is not committed – and fully prepared..
While I’ll never put ketchup on my hot dog, I have enjoyed some cheese wiz on a Philly cheesesteak from South Street. There is an incredible amount of talent available and very unique and interesting opportunities nationwide.
Photo credit iStockphoto
About the author: Jessica Gross serves as the Lead Recruiter for a nonprofit staffing firm in Washington, DC where she performs full-cycle recruiting for entry level to C-level management roles. Jessica provides career counseling and job readiness assistance to individuals and nonprofits in the DC-area. Connect with Jessica on Twitter as Jessicas144 and on LinkedIn.
This is the 6th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
Recently, I wrote a guest post for my employer’s blog. I shared what I look for and consider when I’m hiring for our company. What I wrote isn’t new or groundbreaking, and most likely sounds like a thousand other HR articles with hiring advice.
The most important thing I shared is probably the most overlooked with all the people I interview. When I open the door for the candidate to ask questions, few people take me up on the offer.
When you’re considering spending a significant amount of your day somewhere, why wouldn’t you try to discover what the place is like? One of the reasons I give you the opportunity to ask me questions is to find out how interested – and interesting – you really are. We’re a small employer, and you’re not going to be able to lose yourself in any kind of crowd. The position we hire you into will likely change significantly within a year or two. Do you want to know whether or not you’ll enjoy working with us? Or are you simply in it for a paycheck? The types of questions you ask me will give me insight about those things, and will benefit you in the long run.
It’s important you find a job you don’t hate, that won’t make you bitter and resentful. You may not be interviewing for your dream job, but the job shouldn’t drain you of all hope to the point that you’re simply living day-to-day, giving up on your dreams. Interview me. Ask about big picture items. Find out as much as you can about the company culture, the customers, strategies and the bigger goals. Is the company profitable? Is it growing?
I meet a lot of nice people. When I’m interviewing candidates for an entry- or mid-level position, a majority of the applicants would likely do a good job. The opportunity to interview me is a chance for you to demonstrate that you care about more than just the position. Any little bit of extra effort you exert may sway my decision your way.
Photo credit iStockphoto
This is the 5th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
Being unemployed really sucks!
Having a break in your career can be more frustrating than ever and can move you outside the active job market.
Depending on how long you have been unemployed, you may already have have gone through the mental trauma of being ignored – not receiving any interview calls or responses to your job applications.
Now the question is, what can you do to make this situation better or what steps can you take to position yourself in a winning spot?
As Andrea Ballard recently wrote, it is time for a career check up. And the diagnosis is . . . address what you can do to keep yourself relevant in your industry even if you are out of a job and fill in your career gap.I think there are quite a few readers out there who are in this predicament.
How do you avoid this career gap? What do you say if an interviewer asks you about this break?
Apart from being highly active on LinkedIn and participating in networking events of your local SHRM chapters, what else can you do to improve this situation rather squandering away time waiting for the interview calls to happen.
Well, I am not saying to make up a job to fill in the gap in your resume because that would be foul, but what you can do now is to operate as a FREE-lancer. yes, totally free. There is no law that says that you can’t have an unpaid job on your resume. Go find one now.
Engage yourself in volunteer work or jobs without pay, especially in nonprofit organizations. If you are an accountant, consider making yourself available to organizations that require accounting services (Click here for volunteer opportunities in your city). Open yourself up such opportunities. They make not pay you anything but the experience and goodwill you earn can be invaluable.
People will love to have you. You will be able to display your potential to do the job, prove that you can be a valuable asset who can contribute to a good cause and possibly create an opportunity for yourself. You never know, after few months of your stellar voluntary service, a position might open up where the organization would be happy to retain you for permanent salaried employment.
And when an interviewer wants to talk about this FREE-lance job, articulate what have you gained and you will look great! Tell them how by doing this job you kept yourself pertinent in the industry, gained experience and developed new skills.
Chances are are a potential employer will value your volunteering experience over another candidate’s gap. You will show that you are a go-getter and a results-oriented person who an employer would benefit from hiring.
What do you think? Would you be a FREE-lancer today?