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Interview Questions that Reveal Everything

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You have thirty minutes to gather all the information you need to make the perfect hire. You’re aware of the negative impact that a bad hire has on a company and you want to leave confident knowing you made the right decision. Where do you start? Our own John Younger offers up his top three interview questions that reveal everything about the candidate.

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  • Improving Your Communication Skills

    February 20, 2014
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    The ability to communicate clearly and effectively is one of the most important “soft skills” for professionals to have. Unless you’re running a 1 man start up or have robots for co-workers, you’re going to have to work with other people, which will require a lot of back-and-forth, explanations and even some good old fashioned convincing. Even if you don’t work closely with a group of colleagues, working on your communication skills will only benefit you in the long run. Aside from making things run more smoothly between you and your co-workers, practicing good communication will also benefit you throughout your life, making everything from family matters to romance run a bit more smoothly. 

    The first step that you should take if you’re trying to improve your communication skills is to self-test for bad speaking habits, or speech patterns that get in the way of being understood or taken seriously. What I mean by “speaking habits” are those fallback phrases that so many of us use when we need a moment during a conversation. Words like “like” and “um” are conversational crutches, plain and simple. While you might be relaying a compelling, articulate argument otherwise, saying “like, 50,000 units” or “um, yes” can really knock you down a peg in terms of how professional and intelligent you seem. Even though these speech patterns are pervasive (especially in the younger generations), most professionals believe that it’s kind of…well, unprofessional. We use these words to stall; making them place holders for those split seconds of silence in which we decide what comes next in our trains of thought. Instead of using these verbal crutches, try omitting them. Using these silences in conversation makes you appear deliberate and thoughtful, pretty much the opposite of what people will think about someone who is “like, pretty sure about that.”

    The next step in improving your communication skills has to do with tone. Now, most people are pretty used to the way that they talk, making it hard to detect how they sound to others. You can try to pay more attention to the way that you come off (impatient, unsure, enthusiastic, etc.), but a much easier way is to record yourself the next few times that you’re on the phone with a customer, client or colleague. Being recorded will make you speak a little differently than usual, making this an effective exercise. Pay attention to the mental corrections that you make throughout the conversation. Are you reminding yourself to speak with more conviction or in a way that sounds engaged? Are you trying to hide your frustration with a difficult customer a little more than usual? While we make these sorts of corrections to our speech constantly (often without even realizing that we do it), they are a reaction to how we perceive our own side of the conversation. If you are trying to sound more enthusiastic, chances are that your delivery might be a bit flat when you’re not paying attention.

    Developing the ability to hear yourself objectively will help you to change any bad speaking habits that you’ve picked up over the years. Whether that habit is using abrupt, terse language in your conversations with co-workers or ending all of your sentences with an upward inflection (making everything you say sounds sort of like a question), developing the ability to sense how you’re communicating will help you to get rid of these habits and improve your communication overall.

  • Where Does All Your Money Go?

    February 19, 2014
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    We could all probably be a bit more frugal. We all have blind spots where money is concerned, and that goes double when we purchase the things that we enjoy or “need”. For instance, you don’t “need” a new phone or laptop every year,  but, if you happen to have a weakness for shiny new gadgets, you factor it into your budget the same way that you would food, utilities or the roof over your head (rent, mortgage, etc). A little splurge on nice shoes or a new piece of tech every once in a while probably won’t push you out onto the streets, but getting into bad spending habits is best to be avoided. The most important thing to do with your finances is to keep track of where and how much you’re spending. That way, if you need to do some belt tightening, it’s easier to see what needs to be cut to keep everything running smoothly. Read More…

  • How Personal is Too Personal In the Office?

    February 18, 2014
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    Forming relationships with the people that you work with is only natural. Companies hire based on the professional competencies of candidates, but also for how well they envision the new hire getting along with the existing staff. This means that, whether you think so or not, you probably have a bit more in common with your co-workers than you realize. If you’re on good terms with the people that you work with, you have undoubtedly seen the advantages that these relationships bring. They’re more willing to help you, even if they aren’t working on the same project, and are just more likely to improve your day through interacting with them. But, as you’ve probably guessed from the title, some things just aren’t appropriate for the professional context. While you’re getting to know your co-workers, you want to watch how much you share and how much they share with you. If you’ve heard gossip from them, how do you know that your sensitive story won’t be their next talking point? Getting too personal (or to nosy), too quickly can strain relationships between colleagues and make what was a productive, healthy relationship into a stifled, awkward mess.  Read More…

  • Dealing With Difficult Co-Workers

    February 17, 2014
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    We all know someone who makes going to work a whole lot harder. No matter what makes them hard to deal with, the outcome is always the same, more stress for the people around them.  Maybe it’s that sales guy who’s always foaming at the mouth about the customers that he can’t close with, pacing up and down his cube, making strangling gestures in the air while he talks calmly on his headset and cussing up a storm once the call is done. Maybe it’s that web design lady that has a hardcore victim complex, constantly going on and on about how unfair her workload is… instead of actually working. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ve got a Grade A Jerk on your hands, somebody who talks down to you in every conversation and is always on the lookout for ideas to steal to further their own careers.  Read More…

  • Fatal Attraction: Why Workplace Romance is (Usually) Bad News

    February 14, 2014
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    There are two Valentines Days. The first is for people who are dating, married or otherwise involved with another of their species. For them, today is all about scrambling at the last minute to come up with flowers or chocolate or dinner reservations or little candies that say “I wuv u.” The other Valentines Day is for single people, and the only scrambling that they have to do is is to get away from all the flowery hearts floating about in the air. In honor of this most auspicious of holidays, today’s blog is all about the sticky situations that can result from office romances gone awry.  Read More…

  • The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Marketing

    February 13, 2014
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    This week on the Accolo blog, we’ve been talking about the ways that you can use social networks to help with your hiring, both through creating connections with job seekers that view your online presence and getting your job ads a whole lot more exposure than only job boards can offer. Today, we’re going to be shifting out of the general “how to” kind of stuff into the do’s and don’ts of using social media to your best advantage, both in hiring and for the strength of your company’s brand. The reason that a robust social media presence is important for attracting talent is that it gives you a much stronger employer brand, a place where job seekers can interact and connect with your brand. Trust me when I say that while a well managed social media profile can spell dividends for your company, a poorly managed profile can be useless or even be the source of a full blown PR nightmare.  Read More…

  • How to Hire With Facebook

    February 12, 2014
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    In continuing with this week’s social media theme, today we’re going to be discussing the advantages and drawbacks of using Facebook as a hiring source. Social media has come a long way in the past decade in terms of it’s legitimacy in the business world. Just think, you might have gotten in trouble for browsing Facebook a just a few years ago. Now, you probably have at least one person dedicated to updating and managing your company’s profile! From a time sink for inattentive employees to a career…talk about a total transformation. But enough about Facebook’s history in the workplace. What you really want to know is how to start finding quality candidates through Facebook or improve your existing Facebook recruitment project. Read More…

  • How to Get the Most Out of LinkedIn and LinkedIn Recruiter

    February 11, 2014
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    photo courtesy of montpellierpr.wordpress.com

    There’s no such thing as a magic bullet when it comes to your hiring difficulties. Social Recruiting has been marketed as the last thing you’ll ever have to do in the hiring process, but this just isn’t the case. In order to get the best out of your LinkedIn Recruiter subscription, you need to do a whole lot more than just…well, subscribing. For one thing, when trying to attract passive candidates to jump ship and swim on over to the SS Better Job, the most important thing is and always will be the relationship that you build with them. The good news is that, by strategically approaching passives within your employee referral network, the connection that you’re trying to cultivate already exists through their relationship to your employee. Read More…

  • New Facebook App Could Be the Future of News

    February 10, 2014
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    picture source: engagor.com

    Last Monday, Facebook unveiled their new mobile app geared towards delivering more substantive news content to their users. The App, Paper, integrates the traditional news feed with stories from major publications (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic) as well as giving them access to a series of mini-magazines, each thematically distinct and tailored to readers by expert editors on the Facebook payroll. According to the New York Times, Mark Zuckerberg had high hopes for the fledgling app, calling it “the best personalized newspaper in the world.”  Read More…

  • Should You Be Cautious When it Comes to Work Friends?

    February 7, 2014
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    There’s a big difference between work friends and friends that you met through school or quiz night at your favorite bar . The first thing that sets these two sorts of friends apart is that you probably see your work friends a whole lot more than your off-the-clock chums. Even though you might spend upwards of 40 hours per-week in close proximity with your work buddies, chances are that you are much more comfortable sharing personal information with the friends you’ve made outside the office. Now isn’t that strange, how time spent with a person doesn’t add up to more trust? I mean, it can take months to get the learn the sort of basic, first-date kind of information about a co-worker that you usually find out within the first few encounters with people outside of work. When you’re socializing in the break room or the courtyard outside, the elephant in the room is…well, the room itself. The reason that we are so careful with what we share with our work friends is that misplaced trust can have damaging effects on our reputation and career. Read More…