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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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  • Evaluating Hiring Managers

    July 1, 2013
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    Evaluating a hiring manager must be based on more than just their claims of getting a “special feeling” from promising candidates. Sure, they can be personable, professional and even savvy enough to bring some nice talent to the table; but what are the concrete qualities that make an excellent hiring manager? For the answer to this question, here’s an article on how to “Develop a Hiring Manager Scorecard to Make them More Accountable”. This article goes into depth about the key metrics that you should use in evaluating the success of a particular manager. Unsurprisingly, the first metric that you should always look for in hiring managers is the one that effects your business the most: quality of hire and retention rate. Quality of hire can be evaluated in several ways. If you want evaluations by the numbers, simply compare the output of new hires onboarded by the manager in question and measure it against the output of other recent additions to your company. Other methods of evaluating the quality of new hires involve surveying the manager’s superior or the head of the department where these new hires are going. Though this method isn’t as exact as the previous one, it will still give you a good idea about how good the manager is at picking quality talent. Retention rate is the second most important metric, because high turnover is a costly phenomenon. Make sure that your managers are picking talent that’s committed to more than just 6 months on the job.

  • Social Networks as Second Highest Talent Source

    June 28, 2013
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    One of the most important sources for talent in 2013 is social networks. Not only do professional networks such as LinkedIn provide a simple and mostly visual interface for people searching through high volumes of potential hires, but they also have used their popularity to gather key data about their more successful users. In fact, for 2013, recruiters said that social networks were their second largest source of talent, just a few percentage points behind employee referral programs.

    Social networks have also proven to be quite useful in establishing and strengthening employer brands. The ability to push out content as well as interact on social networks builds a company’s web presence faster than ever before. According to a LinkedIn report on 2013 recruiting trends, most US based recruiters see employer branding as a threat to their business, fearing that their competitors will create stronger brands than they can. Even though US recruiters put building their employer brand at the bottom of their list of priorities, 85 percent believe that “employer brand has a significant impact on ability to hire great talent.” Like I’ve been saying for months, employer branding is key. It’s who your company is to potential hires. To read the recruiting trends from LinkedIn, click the link below.

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  • How to Keep Your Top Employees

    June 27, 2013
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    Today’s job market is in a constant flux. This can make retaining top talent a challenge for some companies. Factors such as an employee’s estrangement from the company culture, or working under a manager that they don’t get along with/don’t respect, can lead to that person looking for a new place to work. This isn’t to say that you should fear your office walking out after every performance review, but just remember that for many employees, the grass is always greener. So you need to maintain your lawn! Be aware of how your employees feel about working for you, and also of what they may want to be done differently. A survey from Forbes reveals that 70% of employees don’t feel appreciated or valued by their employer, and 30% believe they’ll be working somewhere else within the next 12 months.

    It’s true that you can’t stop everyone from leaving, but by making sure that you engage your employees on a personal level about what they want and need out of their job, you’re making progress toward greater retention. The same Forbes article lists the top reason for employees jumping ship: management’s failure to engage their talent’s passions, intellect and creativity. Basically, don’t box your people in. If a little creative control makes them more engaged, then, well…what are you waiting for? To read the “10 Reasons Your Top Talent Will Leave You” from Forbes, click the link below.

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  • Perks Make the World Go ‘Round

    June 26, 2013
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    Surely, by now, most people in the business world are aware of offices that boast rock climbing gyms, catered lunches, bean bag chairs and supposedly unlimited vacation days. These places may seem more appealing to work at (which is the sole point of these perks in many cases), but in actuality, there are usually trade-offs hidden under the thin veil of creature comforts. By having food available on the premises, an expectation is placed onto employees to eat at their desks, rather than forage through any local food courts or other eateries. The idea behind this is, of course, to increase productivity. But, as it turns out, being at your desk for longer doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get more work done. According to “The Myth of the Cool Office”, an article from The Atlantic Wire, workers waste 2 billion minutes of productive time per day in their pursuit of snacks, coffee, delicious sandwiches and other amenities. By encouraging employees to treat the office more like their second home, it’s possible for many of them to get a little too comfortable. To read “The Myth of the Cool Office”, click the link below.

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  • Investing in Strong Fits With Your Company Culture

    June 24, 2013
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    Remember being a young guy or gal on the playground and getting your introduction to in-groups and out-groups? Whether you were one of kids that wanted to play sports or one of the kids who wanted to pretend they were dinosaurs sinking in a tar pit, you were drawn to those who you could naturally play with. The same principal applies in the adult working world. When you’re considering onboarding a candidate, this sort of innate meshing with your company’s culture should be high on your list of priorities. Sure, it would be nice to always hire the most impressive candidate, but if they’re not cut out for day-to-day interactions with their team members, you look to a candidate who will actually enjoy coming in to work. According to an article from ERE.net, hiring an employee that is a good cultural fit means greater job performance, more commitment and a tendency to stick with your organization. By hiring for cultural similitude, you’re getting loyal employees and saving time and money by avoiding misfits who will probably jump ship. To read the article on cultural fits from ERE.net, click the link below.

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  • Words of Wisdom from Google Guru

    June 21, 2013
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    For a company that deals as heavily in data as Google, it makes sense that their hiring function should be similarly numbers-driven. Everything is recorded and analyzed, their internal processes adjusting to the very metrics generated by the adjustments of their internal processes. While this can sound a little closed-off, this careful in-house analysis has yielded some interesting results, some of which challenge conventional hiring wisdom. In a New York Times interview given earlier this week by Google’s Lazlo Block, he revealed that several common predictors of success (GPA, test scores and even the interview) are not as important as we thought. Indeed, Google doesn’t even look at the GPA of their applicants any longer. One of the most interesting revelations given by Block was that hiring managers who think that they have a special sense for talent, actually do not. You can never have too much focus on your hiring function and Google shows us what we can all learn about challenging the norm in hiring. To read the New York Times article, click the link below.

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  • Hiring For Skill, Not Appearance

    June 20, 2013
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    There are a lot of things you can do to improve your chances in an interview. You can pick out your best outfit, prepare all your materials and even practice questions in the mirror if you’re that kind of person. But how about losing a few pounds, or even more than a few? According to a new study out of Germany, HR professionals consistently underestimated the workplace abilities of overweight and obese people. The HR test subjects were given photos without any reference to the occupations of the people they were evaluating, and low-balled heavier folks across the board. We can’t help the hand we’re dealt, and passing a candidate up just for aesthetic reasons seems counter productive. In the United States, where 36% of people over 20 are technically obese, odds are that you will encounter plenty of candidates who are overweight. Being fat isn’t unprofessional, but passing someone up because they’re fat is. To read an ERE.net article on the German survey, click the link below.

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  • Value of Critical Thinking Skills on the Rise

    June 19, 2013
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    Employers aren’t happy. Across the board, those in charge of hiring at US companies are dissatisfied with the quality of the applicants that are turning up on their doorstep. If it’s not their lack of education, it’s their lack of experience. If it’s not their lack of charisma, it’s their lack of data analysis skills. A glimmer of hope for both job seekers and employers comes in the form of a new survey from Wakefield Research which suggests that employers are more interested in well-rounded candidates than those with narrowly-focused skill sets. Apparently, 93% of employers say that they value “soft skills” such as problem solving, communication and critical thinking skills. (Score +1 for those of you with Humanities degrees out there!) While this is just one survey that certainly won’t end the job search woes of people with BAs, the take home message here is that when presenting yourself to an employer, highlighting all of your skills is important. Communication skills and problem solving might not seem tough, but these are qualities that not everyone possesses. Stand out from the crowd by highlighting your “soft skills” at your next interview. To read an article discussing this survey further, click the link below.

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  • How to Recruit Gen Y College Grads

    June 17, 2013
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    Now that graduation season is coming to a close, it’s important to consider this new cohort of fresh, educated talent that has just emerged into the working world. While many recent grads are probably still fighting their first hang over in the “real world”, this group of recent grads is a veritable gold mine for passionate and educated candidates. When recruiting from Generation Y, it is important to keep a few things in mind. An article on ERE.net discusses the qualities that typify the generation, which is mostly a love of individuality and special treatment. Generation Y talent wants the perfect match in a company, both culturally and professionally. They are brimming with ideas and expect to be able to share them with those higher up the ladder. When courting a promising Gen Y candidate while they’re still in college, a few personal touches, such as setting up a meeting with a mid/high ranking employee, will grab their attention and hold it on your company.

  • Recent Lawsuit Casts Doubt on Unpaid Internships

    June 13, 2013
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    On Tuesday, Manhattan’s Federal District Court ruled against Fox Searchlight Pictures in favor of two interns employed during the filming of “Black Swan”. These interns had a pretty standard experience: they got coffee, they answered phones, they did heavy lifting and they didn’t get paid. The basic argument of the plaintiffs was that the tasks that they performed were not “educational”, the justification for unpaid internships being that they provide a learning experience, and that many paid employees performed the exact same tasks that they did. So far, it is uncertain as to what the ramifications of this ruling will mean for businesses that use interns. It’s also uncertain whether Fox want to appeal this case to the Supreme Court. According to NBC, one million undergraduates around the country work internships every year, and only half of those internships are paid. In the ruling, Judge Pauley called for the following of the Department of Labor’s guidelines on unpaid internships, which says that the internship should be similar to vocational training and not to the direct benefit of the employer. For companies that use interns, this ruling as well as similar cases in the past year may spell the end of the unpaid internships in America. To read the news brief from NBC, click the link below.

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