Tag Archives: hiring talent

Who Controls the Interview

Kimberly almost chuckled. “What do you mean, I have power? I’m the one being interviewed for the job. How do I control that?”

“Actually, it’s pretty easy,” I said. “And understand this is not through some trickery or fancy technique, but by doing two simple things.” Kimberly was all ears.

“Since most people who conduct interviews don’t know much about hiring, you have an opportunity to help them make a better decision, and, as a candidate, it usually gives you a leg up.”

“So, what are the two things?” Kimberly prompted.

“First is to find out what the decision criteria will be based on, what knowledge, skills and abilities will be required for the job.”

“How will I find that out?”

“Ask questions, direct questions about the processes, how things work and what is expected.”

“Okay, I think I can do that,” Kimberly said confidently.

“The second thing is to draw the conversation back to specific examples of what you have done, in the past, related to those skills and abilities.”

“It sounds too simple,” she protested.

“Indeed, and it’s what the interviewer should be doing in the first place. Only by defining the specific skills and behaviors for success and then supporting those with real past experience, can the interviewer make an effective decision. And, as the candidate who helped that process along, you will have the upper hand.”

Pulled on to the Hiring Team

“The time you spent preparing for this interview has taught you more than most interviewers understand about the hiring process,” I said.

“Why is that?” Kimberly responded.

“Most managers are too busy with important adult stuff, so they don’t have time to think about hiring. Here is the way most managers get pulled into the interview process.

Hey, Joe, we have a hot candidate for that new supervisor’s position. A couple of people have talked to him and they are really impressed. Say, could spare fifteen minutes, go meet him down in the conference room, and see what you think?

“So, tell me, Kimberly, what chance does Joe have of conducting an effective interview that will give him the proper information to make a hiring decision?”

“Well, I suppose he could just see if he likes the guy.”

“Exactly, with no understanding of the job description, without sufficient thinking about the specific skills required, with no opportunity to think through effective questions, Joe will have no other choice but to make his decision on whether he likes the guy or not. One of the biggest hiring mistakes is making the decision based on gut feeling.”

“So, as a candidate, where does that leave me?” asked Kimberly.

“Armed with what you now know, you have more power than you think.”

What Does It Say About a Company?

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
Many companies are using recruiters or screeners or consultants for the pre-interview. How does that process differ mainly from how questions are asked and answered? I gave notice, am leaving my current company, and I found it easier to be less formal with the consultant. The consultant may get a better sense of the company they are representing and whether I would fit in the new culture or not.

Response:
What does it say about a company when an outsider can better identify, communicate and assess culture fit, than someone inside the company?

Every company has a culture and they have the culture they deserve.

This is a problem of introspection, documentation and rituals.

Most companies do not spend time thinking about behaviors connected to what they believe. This introspective process is mostly absent. Events occur, behaviors happen and we seldom look back. Every behavior and our response to that behavior sets a precedent.

Even if we think we understand behaviors we want (behaviors we tolerate), we seldom write them down. If we do not document behaviors we tolerate, we cannot continually make them visible to the company, to ourselves.

If we do not document behaviors we tolerate, we can never institutionalize them into customs and rituals. If we do not document safe behaviors (culture of safety), we cannot continually review those behaviors in a morning safety meeting (ritual).

So, yes, what does it say about a company when an outsider can better identify, communicate and assess culture fit, than someone inside the company?

I Can Talk the Game

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
In your post on Wednesday [Hypothetical Questions are a Trap], you caught my attention. As an interviewer, I use hypothetical questions all the time. It lets me know if the candidate can think on their feet. I try to use real hypothetical questions for circumstances they will run into. What’s wrong with that?

Response:
Hypothetical questions are a trap for both sides of the interview table. Intellectually, hypothetical questions seem to make sense. In reality, they force the candidate to play a guessing game and require the interviewer to suspend judgement of reality.

When the interviewer asks a hypothetical question, the candidate must now search for the answer they believe the interviewer wants to hear. This is a guessing game. The candidate, if they are like me, will have done some reading up on your industry, will understand the basics of industry jargon and be able to create some believable response.

Two problems. Just because I can talk the game, does not mean I have ANY REAL experience in the circumstance. Second, if my response is in the ball park of believe-ability, the interviewer unwittingly suspends judgement and checks the box for a good response. The reality is that I have never been a project manager for any construction project larger than a bathroom remodel. And, frankly, I wasn’t very good at that.

The interviewer cannot fact-check a hypothetical response. It’s hypothetical.

Oh, I will dazzle you with schedules of value, resource planning, milestone review, budget to complete, over and under billings. But, if you had asked about my bathroom remodel (actual experience), you would have a totally different judgement of my skills and ability.

In the Interview, Hypothetical is a Trap

My eyes scanned the page, fell on a question that was particularly troubling. I was with Kimberly, a recent transplant to the city, looking for a job. A head hunter asked her to prepare responses to a list of anticipated questions.

Why would I want to hire you?

“Kimberly, the problem with that question is that it invites candidates to make stuff up or outright lie to the interviewer. Most responses will be trite cliches loaded with meaningless crap.”

“So, how should I respond?” insisted Kimberly. “The head hunter said this question will likely be asked.”

“And he’s right, so you need to be prepared. Remember, the interviewer has an expectation of what an acceptable response would be. The interviewer is playing a game, trying to get you to guess a right answer. Guess wrong and you lose.

“My philosophy is, always try to pull hypothetical questions back to your own real experience. It might sound like this:

Frankly, I can’t tell you why you would want to hire me without understanding the criteria you are using to make this hiring decision. But I can tell you why my last employer hired me, and it is related to something very specific to your job posting.

Like your company, my last company had just installed some computer software, but no one was using it. Everyone finished the training, but still no one was using the software. My first task was to design daily administrative routines to get people started immediately. I then designed reconciliation routines to make sure the data was accurate going in. Finally, I developed a schedule of reports so other managers could make decisions about their departments. Within 30 days, we had moved completely off of our manual systems. Which part of that transition would you like to hear more about?

“Remember, Kimberly, a hypothetical question is a trap. Always move the question back to your own real experience.”

High Potential

They are called hi-po’s. High potential individuals. We often have a hiring need NOW, but we really want a candidate with the potential to grow, grow and grow some more. These individuals, sought by every company, have the potential to make or break the organization.

We want candidates with potential. How do we spot potential?

  • Oh, I know ’em when I see ’em.
  • Reminds me of me, when I was young.
  • Fast talker, fast tracker.
  • Sometimes, I can just see it in their eyes.

I will never make a hiring decision, or a promotion decision based on anything other than evidence. No assumptions, no hunches, no hopes.

Some might say then, I will pass over those with high potential, because potential is always on the come. Potential is only a future possibility.

I will never make a hiring decision based on anything other than evidence. If I am looking for someone with potential, I look for evidence of potential. Two things – error rate and deadlines.

Low error rate and always meets deadlines, potential.

High error rate, frequently late, next candidate, please.

Attract the Right Candidates

“Our problem is, we don’t have enough candidates respond to our job posting,” lamented Joanna. “Or the people who show up aren’t even close to the type of person we need to fill the position.”

“Let’s see,” I asked.

Looking for a construction Job Superintendent with 3-5 years experience. Must have positive attitude and ability to relate to building owners. Knowledge of permitting process in South Florida helpful. Health insurance and 401k. Must be a team player.

“And how would you describe the current pool of applicants? Do they have the required experience?”

Joanna nodded, “They have 3-5 years experience, but they aren’t very energetic. They wouldn’t last around here for more than a week.”

“Tell me Joanna, what kind of energy do you have in the posting? Does the writing portray the sense of urgency that goes on around here? Let’s put a little zip in the step.”

Commercial contractor in South Florida looking for a top-flight Job Superintendent. Our clients demand a quick-response person in this critical position. We work under tough building codes with stringent enforcement, so ability to get along with inspectors is important. Aggressive compensation and benefits package are part of the deal. Send us your resume or apply online through the employment section of our website. We need you now, let us hear from you today.

Hiring Talent – 2018 – Online Workshop

Hiring Talent 2018 is accepting applications for our online workshop on hiring. We kick off our first session April 16, 2018.

Application Process
Applicants must be in a hiring manager role, an HR role or a member of a hiring team. Applicants can find out more about this online program and complete the enrollment form here.

Purpose of this program – to train hiring managers and HR specialists to conduct more effective interviews in the context of a managed hiring process.

How long is the program? Designed to be completed in 4-6 weeks, the program is self-paced so participants can work through the program even faster.

How do people participate in the program? Participants complete online assignments and participate in online facilitated discussions, working with an expert online coach and other participants.

Who should participate? This program is designed for managers and HR professionals who play active roles in the recruiting process.

What is the cost? The program investment is $599. Vistage members receive a $100 discount per participant.

When is the program scheduled? This program is self-paced, on-demand, so participants can login and complete assignments on their own schedule.

How much time is required to participate in this program? Participants should reserve approximately 2 hours per week (on demand) for 4 weeks (total 8 hours).

Program Description
Module One – Role Descriptions – It’s All About the Work
Learning Objectives

  • Examine what hiring managers are up against.
  • Define the steps in a comprehensive hiring process.
  • Specifically define the Role Description as the cornerstone of the hiring process.
  • Define the Structure of the Role Description
  • Write a Role Description

Module Two – Interviewing for Future Behavior
Learning Objectives

  • To understand how most managers conduct interviews, so we can stop bad habits.
  • To identify, from the Role Description, the specific data we need from the candidate.
  • To design questions to capture the data we need to make an effective candidate selection.
  • To construct a bank of organized, written, prepared questions on which to base the interview.

Module Three – Conducting the Interview
Learning Objectives

  • To prepare mentally to conduct an effective interview.
  • To practice asking prepared questions and creating clarifying questions during the interview.
  • To practice taking notes during the interview and re-capping those notes following the interview.
  • To create a Decision Matrix to compile interview data and compare candidates.
  • To effectively work with an Interview Team.

To apply for this program please complete the enrollment form here.

Might Still Be Legal In NY

In the area of behavior modification, the most, perhaps only, effective means are psychotropic drugs and frontal lobotomies, which may still be legal in some places in New York.

There are so many round people in square roles. Get out of the behavior modification business and get into the talent selection business.

The most effective managers are not those who are expert in motivation, or coaching, or process improvement. The most effective managers are those that are expert at defining roles and selecting the right people to fill those roles.

Look at your team. How long have you been trying to modify behavior? Any wonder why this is driving you nuts. Stop it. Get better at selecting talent, then go build your team.

Treat People Like Machines

It took six months to make the decision to spend $65,000 on a new machine. It replaced another older machine that had finally retired. A committee conducted research on the new board technology. Another team of two shopped lease arrangements and term equipment loans. The transition team worked hard to determine how work-in-process would be diverted during the installation and burn-in period. The training department coordinated a technician training program with the manufacturer. This equipment purchase was going to be a real game breaker.

What I was most interested in was the last Project Manager hired into the company. The salary was about the same, $65,000. Three people were involved in the interview process, but when I looked at the documentation from those interviews, it was mostly subjective statements:

  • I think he has a good personality and will fit in well with our culture.
  • In the next five years, he wants to excel in project management. That’s what we need him for.
  • Demonstrated a great attitude the during the interview.

The job description was a photocopy of a similar position with some notes scratched on the bottom. The training program consisted of shadowing another project manager for two days. So there is no wonder that the new Project Manager was NOT going to be a real game breaker.

Perhaps we should create a process that takes recruiting as serious as buying a piece of equipment. We would do well to treat our people as well as we do our machines.