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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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  • Creative New Uses For LinkedIn

    October 29, 2013
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    LinkedIn is a resource that returns dividends only through calculated and intelligent effort by the user. True, an opportunity may fall into your lap every once in a while;  for the most part, what you get out is close to what you put in. If you don’t use the site to you and your business’s advantage, then you could just be wasting your time.

    For some innovative examples for using the site, we turn to Cheryl Connor, Forbes contributor and communications expert. The first example of LinkedIn creativity that she mentioned was that of a client assessing the marketing capabilities of his competitor. Using only LinkedIn, the client in question was able to construct a complete diagram of the personnel structure of the competitor’s marketing department, the people in those roles and even find a list of former employees that had turned freelance. The client was then able to go to his board of directors and show exactly how their marketing department stacked up against the competition.

    Another fantastic use for LinkedIn mentioned in the article was sales re-enforcement. If we take the classic 6 contact paradigm for closing a sale (that it takes roughly 6 communications to close), then LinkedIn is a salesman’s new best friend. By adding someone on LinkedIn after initial contact, your interactions have jumped from 1 to 3 (your request and their response to that request). Hopefully, these examples have shown you the potential that intelligent networking has for both you and your business. When this many people are connected, the only limitation is your imagination. 

  • Dealing With Hiring Mistakes

    October 28, 2013
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    The cost of a bad or under-performing hire is usually a lot more than their salary. When considering the toll that a bad hiring decision takes on your company, you must not only examine bad performance, but also the frustration that they cause their coworkers and the customers that they can alienate. If a new hire is still asking everyone within earshot for help with the day-to-day 6 months into the job, chances are that 6 more months’ floundering will have them just about where they are now.

    The best course of action when dealing with a bad hire is to sever ties as soon as possible. It might be frustrating to start the job process all over again, but getting rid of  these employees quickly will save you a lot of time in the long run. According to Dr. John Sullivan, HR thought leader based in Silicon Valley, there are a few ways to get problem employees out the door with very little fuss. The first option mentioned in the ERE article is known as a “no-fault divorce”. It involves offering a poor performer several months of pay and a good reference to resign after the first 6 months of employment. This way, the new hire can either bow out or face their annual review 6 months later, receiving a bad reference if they are still found to be lacking.

    Several of the other methods that Dr. Sullivan mentioned fall under the category of extended onboarding and mentorship for new employees. The idea here is to at once provide employees with a greater chance to excel in their work as well as identifying the poor performers from early on. Think of it as a simultaneous evaluation and education process for your new employees. Remember, no matter how much you may want your hiring decisions to work out, the reality is that people are easy to misjudge on interview day.

  • How Key are Keywords?

    October 28, 2013
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    For those employers that advertise on job boards, you know the importance of enticing job seekers to look through your ad and actually apply to the position. Unfortunately, with the sheer volume of jobs being posted to these sites, the most eloquent job title and description will get you nothing if it is buried behind 5 or 6 pages of similar jobs. Let’s be realistic, exponentially fewer people will browse each successive page of results. This makes using pertinent keywords of the utmost importance.

    According to Simply Hired’s Leonard Palomino, there is a large discrepancy in words that employers are using to describe their positions versus the words that job seekers are querying in job board searches. In the article, Palomino uses the example of  the key word results from the healthcare section of a job board. While job seekers focused their search criteria on role and specialty (nurse, technician, radiology,  practitioner, etc.), employers were using more general healthcare terms as well as those related to the responsibilities of the position (health, medical, experience, patient, etc.).

    With millions of job ads to compete with, including the relevant key words that job seekers are searching is becoming more of a basic requirement than an advantage. Yes, it is good to stand out from the pack, but you can’t really do that when the pack is crowding you down to page 10 of search results. You can still craft an appealing and unique job ad while still including the keywords to get you seen by as many job seekers as possible. Just treat it like Mad Libs:

    We are looking for a  _______ who can ________ with the utmost _____________ and has a highly developed ________.

    Well, not quite like Mad Libs, but you get the idea.

  • Why Passion is the Most Valuable Trait in Employees

    October 25, 2013
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    finding employees with passion is the most important traitWhat is the most important trait to look for when hiring new employees? Is is an enterprising, creative spirit? Is it a strong work ethic and a pragmatic approach to the workplace? Let me put it to you that it is in fact how driven the employee is that makes the most difference in their output and commitment to your company. Sure, they may have a real nose-to-the-grind-stone outlook for the first 6 months, but if they lack passion for the work then they are missing the key ingredient for sustained, long term performance.

    At this point you might be saying “But everyone tries to seem passionate during their job interview. How do I even start looking for passionate hires?”  For a little help, we’ll use Deloitte’s article on “The Passion of the Explorer” (basically their blueprint of perfect employee passion). According to them, passion is made up of the following 3 characteristics: a long term commitment to a specific domain (goal oriented and unruffled by short term turbulence), a questing disposition (always seeking knowledge from new challenges) and a connecting disposition (tendency to form strong, trust based relationships). Apparently, 79% of employees that surveyors found to be passionate said that they were working for their “dream organization” even if they were not in their “dream position”. Clearly, these traits correspond to comitted, happy employees.

    As hard as passion may be to quantify, it is one of the most valuable attributes that you can hope for in an employee. By encouraging your passionate employees and hiring people that share their drive for business, you’ll get more out of your team than you ever expected.

  • Why You Need to Re-Recruit Your Top Employees

    October 23, 2013
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    employee retention strategiesIf you are lucky enough to have some real star employees on your team, you must get used to the fact that external recruiters and other businesses are aware of their presence as well. With the connectivity of social media, the superstar software developer doesn’t go “off the market” when they sign up with you and yours. They don’t even go off the radar in many cases. According to an article from Dr. John Sullivan, HR thought leader and ERE.net contributor, your top employees may be receiving upwards of 5 communications or offers per-week from recruiters and your competitors.

    While it may feel a bit like poaching, there is no Star Employee Protection Agency in the wings to prevent a competitor from snatching away your rare, prized Idea Guy from the marketing department. The best way to work against these external forces is to periodically “re-recruit” your top performing employees. Dr. Sullivan compared it to a married couple re-affirming their wedding vows to strengthen the relationship.

    Employee Retention Strategies

    The most effective strategies for employee retention are to keep your star employees interested with new opportunities within the company and to make sure that they feel recognized for their achievements at your company. It could mean offering them an entirely new set of responsibilities in their department, a pay increase or even business travel opportunities. Basically, you just want to keep your top performers excited about working for you.

    Additionally, giving your employee more flexibility for when they come and go from work, can also help do wonders for retaining them. Think about it, by giving them this flexibility you’re showing them that you have a high level of trust for them, something that other companies will not be able to replicate.

    Another important point to make is about how your re-recruitment will compare as a counter offer to another company’s recruiting efforts. In short, an external offer will always be more exciting because your employee has probably been given an extremely rosy, idealized picture of the job. They already know what it’s like working for you and this makes re-recruiting as a counter offer a rather weakened strategy. Instead, try to do it every 18-24 months to try and solidify any loyalty your top employees have for your company so that they will be more resistant to other offers in the first place.

  • Why it Pays to Recruit Internally

    October 23, 2013
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    When a position is freed up or created in your company, your first thought as a hiring manager might be to immediately begin writing a job description or contacting a recruiter. While it’s great to get the ball rolling as soon as possible, we would encourage you to take a good look at your own staff before starting down the road to external recruitment. Internal recruitment is a great opportunity to both reward promising members of your staff and eliminate any redundancies that might exist by spreading out the work load. Looking at in another way, why hire a project manager (who would have to be brought up to speed and get to know everyone) when you could fill the position with one of the most promising members of the team?

    Just take this Cinderella story of internal recruitment at the Cheetos company back in 1976. Richard Montañez was a janitor with a passion for spicy foods. When he wasn’t mopping floors, he was developing a spiced blend to cover his beloved Cheetos, which was a big hit with his friends and family. Encouraged by their local popularity, Richard decided to try and run the idea for “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos” past the CEO of his company. Miraculously, he got a chance to pitch his idea and (as you probably guessed) it was a hit. Today, Richard Montañez is teaching leadership to MBA students and is executive vice president of multicultural sales and community activation for PepsiCo North America.

    The point here is that some of the staff that you already employ could have the potential within them for leadership and innovation. By recruiting internally before looking for external talent, you could be discovering your own Richard Montañez.

  • How do You Tell if Recent Grads Will Stick Around?

    October 21, 2013
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    Hiring recent college graduates is tricky. If you’ll think back to whenever it was that you were first on your own in the “real world”, you might remember the disorientation and the added stress of all the little responsibilities Mom and Dad used to take care of. You may also remember wanting to do something completely different than what you ended up with in your career. Today, this confused and transitory mind state is still alive and well in young professionals.

    One of the greatest concerns that employers have about this most recent generation is their reputation for job hopping. They might be in contact with a talented engineer since sophomore year at college only to loose them 9 months into employment when a project deadline happens to impede their ability to attend Burning Man that year. An article by Austin Merritt at The New Talent Times and Software Advice says that one of the best ways to assess the longevity of  a hire is to get an in depth  understanding of the candidate’s interests. By leaning what other jobs they’re applying to and their similitude with your own company, you can at least tell where they are professionally focused.

    Additionally, discovering their goals (both short and long-term) is a good way to assess whether they’ll be sticking around or not. If a candidate’s goals are defined, then you’ll know you’re hiring someone who will be able to conceptualize and appreciate the prospect of growing and advancing in your company as working towards those goals. Ultimately, people will do what they want. But, by getting an understanding of how forward thinking young candidates are, you’ll be more likely to get grads who factor your business into their future.

  • Managing Employee Turnover

    October 18, 2013
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    Employee turnover is unavoidable. In some industries such as retail and food service, high turnover rates (80-100%) are accepted as the proverbial “rules of the road”, immutable conditions of the business landscape. In other industries, turnover is much more costly and, ostensibly, easier to control. But what do you do if, despite your best efforts, employees continue to walk out the door a few months or a few years after they join your company?

    There are a few main reasons that employees choose to leave a company. The most common is that the employee has some sort of conflict with their manager. According to an article from ERE.net, “8 Questions You Need to Ask to Turn Around  Employee Turnover”, it is important to discover what sort of conflict the outbound employee had with the manager before they walk out the door. If it was merely a personal problem, opposing temperaments for example, it need not necessarily reflect badly on the manager. If, however, the employee or several employees complain of poor management skills, this should be a red flag. Making sure that your managers are adequately trained to lead a team is imperative in ensuring that the people you invest in stick around and put in the time. If you are having high turnover in a particular department or under a particular supervisor, take a good look to see if poor management is spinning the revolving door at your company.

  • How do You Choose Between 2 Great Job Offers?

    October 17, 2013
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    Having a lot of options is a good thing, right? Well, the short answer is yes and the long answer is something more like yes with a big “but…”  Yes, having a lot of options (especially professional options) is a very lucky situation to be in…but, it is a circumstance that can lead to a good deal of indecision and maybe even some anxiety. “How do I know I won’t regret this in 6 months?” you might ask yourself. When given the choice between several appealing positions, how do you go about figuring out which is the right choice for you? How should we
    handle situations with tradeoffs, but no down side?

    Hunter Walk (formerly of Google) says that the most useful thing that you can do when unsure about how to proceed in your career is to examine what attributes your “ideal job” would have. Would the company be on a unique mission to better the world in some way? Would the commute be less than half an hour? Would you be working with people that you admire in your field? What would the pay be like? Be honest with yourself. Even if it’s something like simply enjoying the company of your co-workers or having a boss that listens your ideas, it’s what would make you satisfied professionally and personally.

    Once you have some criteria, the next step is to narrow them down to the 2 or 3 qualities that you desire the most in your next job. Once you have your priorities prioritized, deciding which offer to take or where to take your career next should feel a lot more like what it actually is: a great opportunity.

  • Why the Government Shut Down is the Years Biggest Recruitment Opportunity

    October 15, 2013
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    As the government shut down the middle of its second week, one can’t help but sympathize with all of the government workers that have been furloughed, fired or are waiting on paychecks. No mater what your political views may be, you can probably agree with me that that, with most government agencies operating with 10% or less of their full staff, there has been a good deal of collateral damage from the political impasse.

    Now, if we were to view the Federal Government as just another struggling organization in the post recession age, this would be the perfect time for a recruiter to start reaching out to some of the top disgruntled talent in that organization. According to an article from Dr. John Sullivan, approaching the employees of an organization undergoing furloughs, hiring freezes and other such disruptive factors is known as “right time” recruiting. With millions of government workers feeling uncertain about their job security, top performers that would previously have been opposed to the private sector might now be quite receptive to the idea. According to Dr. Sullivan, it may be possible to recruit entire functioning teams in one fell swoop.  The government employs large numbers of IT professionals, engineers and scientists which are some of the toughest private sector jobs to fill. By reaching out to top government talent while the iron is hot (so to speak), you gain access to a massive passive applicant pool that is frustrated with their current employer.

    To find out how to start reaching out to top government talent, follow the link below.

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