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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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  • 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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  • May’s Sleepy Employment Numbers

    June 10, 2013
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    If April showers bring May Flowers, and Mayflowers bring pilgrims, then the logical next step is May’s national employment statistics from the BLS, obviously. May’s numbers were virtually the same as April’s, that is to say, virtually the same as March’s. The number of total non-farm payroll jobs increased by 175,000, leaving the total number of unemployed to the United States at 11.8 million. While positive figures are always welcome, hiring has yet to pick up to its pre-recession pace. One good bit of news was that the number of long-term unemployed, those jobless for greater than 27 weeks, has been reduced by a million in the last year. Many of these job seekers who have been unsuccessful for years in finding a job find their task made even harder by the very time that has passed in their search. Employers haven’t been overly warm to this demographic in the past, so the steady decrease is a good sign for the strength of the job market. To read the report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, click the link below.

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  • Email Headaches and Micro-Management

    June 7, 2013
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    Managers have a lot more of an effect on the productivity of their employees than they sometimes realize. A manager’s policies on methods of communication—specifically email and instant messaging—can sometimes hinder the productivity of their employees. For instance, if a manager expects their employees to respond immediately to every new internal email or memo that gets sent out, their attention is divided in a major way. According to an article from Texas Enterprise, multitasking to such a degree actually leads to less work being done and more errors being made. The article also discusses the effect that micro-management has on employees. Studies have shown that the amount of control that an employee feels that they have is heavily tied into how satisfied they feel at their job, which is one of the largest productivity incentives out there. If a manager’s employees are constantly waiting to be corrected, they will stop being proactive and start being resentful. To read the article on managerial quirks, click the link below.

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  • Qualities for Employees in the Matrix

    June 5, 2013
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    The influence of globalization on business has subverted the classic ladder-style hierarchy that once reigned as the organizational standard. Employees may report to people on a daily basis who they will never meet in person or be switched constantly from one team to another within their company, having a new boss every week. In this new power structure, a “Matrix” as writer and CEO Kevin Hall calls it, employees that excelled under more traditional models are facing difficulties in the flux and flow of Matrix companies. Recruiters need to be aware of the structure of their clients’ operations and not feed them candidates who will be lost in a system that requires more perspective and drive than your typical position. According to Kevin Hall, some of the most important qualities for an employee in a Matrix style firm to possess are flexibility and the ability to see how their work fits into the grand scheme of things. To read more about what makes a good Matrix employee, click the link below.

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