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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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  • Spotlight on First Time Unemployment Benefits

    March 29, 2013
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    While the speed of the economic recovery in the US has been frustrating in its sometimes slow, sometimes inert pattern of improvement, the overall trend of progress signals that the economy and the job market are growing and, more importantly, growing stably. One key data point for gauging the stability of the job market is looking at the number of people who are applying for first time unemployment benefits. Last week, the number of benefits seekers jumped to 357,000 from 341,000 the previous week. These first time unemployment benefits seekers can be seen as representative of large trends of hiring and mass layoffs. Though there was an increase this month in first time seekers, the total number of people receiving unemployment benefits is 5.5 million which is down from 7.2 million last year. According to the AP’s The Big Story, employers have consistantly been adding about 200,000 jobs per month since November. While it may not be a quick recovery, there has been no slipping backwards and for that I am thankful. To read an article on this trend, click the link below.

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  • Determining and Advertising Your Company’s Culture

    March 28, 2013
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    Finding a cultural fit in a company is becoming one of the main factors in how candidates decide which job offer they accept. For this reason, it is more important than ever to both promote a positive/productive work culture and at the same time be aware of how this culture will appear to newcomers. In order for you to advertise your company’s culture as a positive asset to a potential employee, you must first be sure that you know what you’re talking about. According to Randall Birkwood, the best way to find out what your company’s culture is really like is through a systematic surveyal of what your company’s top performers think that the culture is. The logic behind surveying your top employees is that they are the type of people that you are trying to attract. Thus, by finding out what keeps these employees engaged and cooperating, you’ll be able to advertise these cultural characteristics to interested parties. From here, the next step is to research the conceptions that candidates will have of your culture by reviewing the information that job seekers will be seeing. To read a step-by-step guide to a solidified employment brand, click the link below.

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  • Flood of Temporary Jobs Waterlogging Recovery

    March 27, 2013
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    One of the main effects of the recession on the job market was the elimination of a large number of moderate wage jobs such as office workers and manufacturers. This large reduction in decently paying jobs has been coupled with a rapid increase in the number of temporary or part-time positions. These jobs almost always pay less than permanent positions and the lack of cash flow associated with this trend is thought to be a contributing factor to the sluggish pace of the economic recovery. According to Fed Governor Sarah Raskin, a full 25% of the jobs created during the recession have been temporary in nature. This coupled with a reduction in total wage increases, from 3.5% before the recession to 2%, have workers in a more unsure place than ever. The Fed Governor expressed her concern at this trend had contributed to the raise in the overall poverty rate to 15% this year. To read the coverage from ERE.net, click the link below.

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  • The Power of Public Criticism

    March 26, 2013
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    When there is a problem within a team, it is up to the team leader to facilitate the correction of this problem. If the problem is with the performance of a team member, it is up to the team leader to get this person up to speed and smooth out any wrinkles that this under-performance has made between that person and the other members. While sorting out such sensitive issues in public is often uncomfortable and always requires delicacy, Roger Schwarz, a contributor at the Harvard Business Review, believes that the public airing of grievances is much more effective than a private discussion. According to him, isolating an under-performing worker diminishes their accountability to their fellow team members, the one-on-one format bringing the focus to the leader-worker relationship where the worker-worker relationships are the ones that need to be addressed. These one-on-one discussions can also serve to cloud the problem, with the under-performing team member laying the blame at another’s feet and leaving you to sort out the truth. When working with a team under the pressure of deadlines, it is important to keep the big picture of the project in mind and step out of your comfort zone to make the improvements that matter. To read the Roger Schwarz article and see how to handle these public criticisms, click the link below.

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  • Small Businesses Targeted For Cyber Theft

    March 25, 2013
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    With the ever-increasing frequency and severity of cyber attacks in the US, government officials have warned all small and medium sized businesses to be wary of these virtual onslaughts. Recently there have been several high profile cyber intrusions into the secure innards of several high profile companies (such as Apple, Microsoft and the Federal Reserve), a phenomenon that is apparently only going to grow in frequency. In a house sub-committee meeting on Thursday, it was revealed that over 20% of cyber attacks are perpetrated against companies with fewer than 250 employees. Hackers targeting this size of business do exponentially more damage than against larger companies. According to an article from Bloomberg, 60% of small businesses that are hit by a cyber attack go out of business with in a year. Small and medium-sized businesses can be a tempting target for hackers as they do not have the same level of IT resources available to larger firms. To read about the developing cyber crime controversy, click the link below.

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  • Bridging the Talent Gap

    March 22, 2013
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    In today’s job Market, there exists a growing discrepancy between the ideas that most employers have about what makes a “satisfactory candidate” and the actual people that are showing up to be interviewed. This has created a doldrum of sorts, with employers holding out for unrealistically qualified candidates. To make matters somewhat stickier, the demand for engineering and technology positions, some of the most notoriously tough jobs to fill, is growing at a rate higher than students graduating from college with degrees in these areas. According to Code.org, by 2020 there will be over a million more jobs available for professionals in science, math and engineering than there will be qualified people to fill them. While all of that might sound a little daunting, a lot of the disconnect between candidates and companies is actually caused by easily correctable issues. In an article from ERE.net, it’s suggested that the hiring gap is actually made up of a perfect storm of outdated qualification requirements and unfortunate demographic circumstances. To read about the small gaps that add up the overall “talent shortage” and the 6 ways to close these gaps, click the link below.

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  • How Bias Can Impair Hiring Decisions

    March 21, 2013
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    We all have favorites. Whether it’s a flavor of ice cream or the cut of a T-shirt, we all have that instant, visceral reaction when we find something or someone that suits us: the answer. While knowing what works for you and what you like are excellent qualities for a hiring manager or recruiter to possess, these feelings of instant affinity for certain candidates can sometimes lead to ignoring facts that might have gotten the people you liked less dropped from the running too soon. According to an article from ERE.net, such purposeful ignorance of credentials, like a poor review from a reference, is called “Confirmation Bias” and should be avoided at all costs. Latching on to a particular candidate because their interview wasn’t as painfully awkward as with the others can lead to poor hiring decisions. One tactic to avoid such potentially disadvantageous favoritism is to run reference checks on all of the top candidates before you call them in to interview. This will give you a more objective picture of their work history and will allow you to make a better hiring decision. To read the full ERE.net article, click the link below.

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  • Positivity Tips the Scales in Team Performance

    March 20, 2013
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    When you’re trying to get someone to do something, it’s important to know the best way to go about telling this person how to do it. People aren’t machines, yet are somewhat similar in the way they have definite limits, especially in the amount of direction that they’re willing to take. Unfortunately, unlike a machine, there’s no easy way to see if the amount of constructive or deserved criticism that you give to somebody is overloading their mechanism, so to speak. A new study out of the Harvard Business Review suggests that the best way to keep your team at its best is through being predominantly positive while saving constructive or negative feedback for hard line issues. This study examined 60 close knit teams and found that the teams that were most successful monetarily gave about 5 positive comments to each other for every 1 negative comment. This was in contrast to average and poorly performing teams, having a 1.9 and .36 ratio of Positive to negative comments respectively. While it’s true that some employees need a lot more direction than others, focusing on the positive can actually help to improve their performance. To read the Harvard Business Review article, click the link below.

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  • Administrative and Support Jobs Going Strong

    March 18, 2013
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    One of the healthiest sectors of the economy in this recovery has been the professional and business services industry. Last month, there were 73,000 jobs added under this umbrella, especially jobs that classified as administrative or support positions. The rate at which positions like Customer Service Rep and Sales Agent are being filled has been one of the largest contributing factors to the drop in the national unemployment rate. According to Wanted Analytics, there were 411,000 job ads posted in February in these industries, an 8% increase from 2012. The fact that these industries have a typically high turnover rate also bodes well, as stability in the Administrative Support industries continues. Wanted Analytics also broke down the most popular job listings for the month of February. The top 3 most in-demand positions were security guards, sales representatives and registered nurses. There’s no such thing as a “security science” prerequisite to wear the vest, so these guard positions have been relatively easy to fill. To find out what kind of talent gave recruiters the most trouble, click the link below.

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  • Unconditional Sick Leave for Workers in Portland

    March 15, 2013
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    The sick day has traditionally been somewhat of a gray area. In some lines of work, sick days can be traded for time off as readily as vacation days with no questions asked. In others, the request for a sick day can be followed by extensive grilling and even refusal on the grounds that they’re “not sick enough”. The option for employers to deny workers sick days, however, may soon be coming to an end. Yesterday, Portland, Oregon became the fourth city to make sick leave mandatory for private businesses with 6 or more employees. Instead of the traditional sick day plan in which a certain number of days are allotted each year, employees will earn 1 hour’s sick leave for every 30 that they put in. The measure will protect workers from being fired for calling in sick. While there can be nothing more obvious and gear-grinding than a convenient case of the flu, employers in Portland, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC will have to sit tight with their objections. To read an article on the subject from the LA Times, click the link below.

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