Five Secrets to be a Great Interviewer

By Magi Graziano

Magi Graziano

Five Secrets to be a Great Interviewer

With the generational and workforce demographic challenges adversely impacting everybody’s ability to attract, hire, engage, develop and retain people, you need a leg up on ensuring that you are putting your best foot forward in the employee selection process. Gallup reports that, on average, 30 percent of all hires feel mismatched to their role, and almost 70 percent of all working people feel somewhat disengaged either in their role or in their organization. The reality about these statistics is that is all begins with the hire.

There are five secrets to being a great interviewer.  Learning about and mastering these keys empower you to maximize your effectiveness in hiring the right people, for the right roles, for the right reasons.

The first secret: Consciously prepare yourself: By following Stephen Covey’s advice and beginning with the end in mind you provide the most value to your company and candidates. There are three types of preparation: role needs preparation, interviewing preparation, and self-preparation. Make sure you know and understand specifically what you want to come away with before you start the interview.  Ultimately, you are interviewing to make a hiring recommendation, and it is your responsibility to fully understand the role you are hiring for as well as thoroughly understand the person you are considering matching to it.

Role. Ground yourself thoroughly in the needs of the role. Find out why it exists, its impact to the overall business strategy, as well as its success indicators.  Understand the role’s core functions and what it will take in terms of people, leadership, and decision-making competencies.  Be clear about the required technical skills, and the mandatory must haves (in that order).

Interview. During the interview it is your job to determine the answer to these very important questions. Can the candidate really do the job? How long will the candidate be happy and productive? How will the candidate impact others?

Self. Bring your best self to the interview. The interview is not something you do to a candidate, is it something you go through together.  Prepare yourself for interviewing with a balanced perspective. Consider the perspective of the role, the candidate, and the company during the interview.  Take the time to review the candidate’s resume and the role requirements before you step in to the interview. Check in with yourself and make sure you are distraction free and that you are willing and able to be fully present during the interview. This means to turn off your phone and email, clear your desk and be ready.

The second secret:  Bring structure: Avoid the pitfall of interviewing on autopilot. Get yourself mentally prepped to be in an interview. With how busy a day around the office can be, it’s not unheard of to conduct interviews on the run or in a less than optimal setting. It’s important to use an agenda and an interviewing guide to get the most out of the interview.

Use a formal work history interviewing guide that gives you all the questions that you need answered. Be specific about the time and the duration of the interview.  It is important that you plan time blocks for each section of the interview.  A specific time block should be set for the beginning of the interview, where you gather insights and an overview of the candidate, their interests and why they think it is a fit.  Block another time limit for the actual deep dive of the work history, and another for discovering the candidate’s goals and aspirations.

The third & fourth secret: Active listening & being curious: Being present is something many working professionals struggle with.  The ability to multi-task often comes at the cost of truly listening. The problem is when that happens in an interview, and you’re not actively listening, you are downloading and only hearing what you want to hear or only listening to validate your assumptions.  The first level of listening in an interview causes you to miss major clues that very well could enlighten you on the candidate’s compatibility with the company and in the role.Great interviews start with great interviewers. Click To Tweet

Active listening allows you to come out of an interview with some new data points that you weren’t aware of before. During this interview you allow yourself to challenge some of your own assumptions, and when that happens that’s a good indicator that you have been exposed to some new realities out there that you weren’t aware of.

Paying attention, listening, and curiosity at higher levels—specifically during the career aspiration portion of the interview—is a major factor for successful long-term hires. Active listening at this level allows you to see reality through the candidate’s perspective—through their pair of eyes.

Active listening allows you to ask open ended questions in an interview and come out of a conversation with a new perspective, not just new data points. That’s key when evaluating how long a candidate will stay with the company and if the company can deliver on what the candidate wants and needs in a role.

Overall listening to what the candidate says and does not say illuminates their qualifications, interest, and potential red flags. Listening to how the candidate words their answers, and watching their facial expressions and body language also gives you access to how they feel and the attitude they have about the work they do.

The fifth secret: Mindful conclusions: Take the time to debrief and evaluate the match fit for the candidate in the role. Go through your role requirements, and the candidates’ abilities and skills, as well as who they are and what needs and desires they want for their career. Lastly, bring all of it together and evaluate it this match makes sense. If it does not make sense, be honest and transparent and tell the candidate. If it does make sense for the candidate, the role, and the company, tell the candidate and arrange for next steps.

Great interviews start with great interviewers, and the best in the business conduct the process with five distinct secrets. They prepare diligently, they ensure a structured setting with an interviewing guide, they listen actively and curiously, and form mindful conclusions about a candidate to foster future success.

The next time you find a new candidate on your interview calendar, utilize these secrets to achieve more effective hires.

Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of Conscious Hiring® and Development, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert and author of The Wealth of Talent. Through her expansive knowledge and captivating presentations, Magi provides her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. With more than twenty years’ experience as a top producer in the Recruitment and Search industry, she empowers and enables leaders to bring transformational thinking to the day-to-day operation. For more information on Magi please visit www.KeenAlignment.com.

Going International from the Inside Out

Making the Most of Multilingual and Multicultural Staff

By Martin Cross

Last year, a mid-sized manufacturer took their brand international with a multilingual campaign that opened the company to orders from rapidly growing markets in Asia. In the process, their accounting department saved them a great deal of money, but not in the way you would expect.

The owner had found a translation agency with a strong track record in mainland China to produce a Chinese-language version of their website and promotional materials. When the work was done, she asked several Chinese speakers on her staff to review the translation. One person in accounting noticed that the translation of the company’s name had an awful connotation in the region where she grew up. By catching the problem early, they were able to have the agency change the translation so that it sounded appropriate in all the regions where Chinese is spoken, before the materials were printed and the website went live. In the end, they not only avoided the high costs of making changes later or creating separate materials for that regional market, they also prevented permanent damage to the brand.

As business becomes increasingly global, there is a growing need to communicate in multiple languages and understand multiple cultures. The question is: are you making the most of your human resources? Your multilingual and multicultural staff are great assets when it comes to marketing in other countries, product development, B2B relationships and translation quality assurance. But when working from the inside out, it is important to avoid some common pitfalls.

You don’t know until you ask: Modern managers have better sense than to assume an employee can speak a language based on their last name or their ethnicity, but it’s easy to let ourselves make opposite assumptions. In an increasingly international world, where it is easier than ever to live and study abroad, Tim O’Brien from Milwaukee may be your best Japanese speaker, and Gloriana Rodriguez may have grown up in France.

When looking internally for employees with language abilities, make sure that everybody gets the memo. Consider asking your human resources people to include linguistic skills in your database for easy reference.

Keep it simple: Just as being tall does not make you a basketball player, being able to speak two languages does not make you a translator. Many bilingual people will be able to read something for you and tell you what it says, or help out with some basic business correspondence. But being able to produce a complete written translation that is stylistically note-perfect and faithful to the original requires a special skill set and years of training. Asking an untrained employee to take on the role of a professional translator is unlikely to be cost-effective. You not only risk receiving subpar quality, but the unfamiliar task will require considerable time. Cultural awareness is not just about avoiding accidentally offending people. Click To Tweet

When tapping into your bilingual assets, be sure you know their limits. Use them to get the gist of foreign documents, help you decide what needs to be professionally translated, and review the translations that you have sourced externally.

Direction matters: Few people are as fluent in their second language as they are in their mother tongue. That’s the reason why most professional translators only translate into their native language. You simply understand the nuances of the language you grew up speaking better than a language you learned in school or as an adult. A bilingual employee may do a great job helping you to understand things written in their second language, but that does not mean that they can write in that language at a level that is suitable for business. And keep in mind that you have no way of judging the quality of that writing.

As a rule of thumb, it is best not to ask a staff member to write a letter to a foreign associate or client if that employee did not at least complete high school in a country where the language was spoken.

Culture is key: Cultural awareness is not just about avoiding accidentally offending people. Understanding how your campaigns, products and services will fit another culture is key. Providing you with this insight is one of the greatest contributions your multilingual and multicultural staff members can make. Your employees understand your product and what you are trying to achieve, making them ideally positioned to give feedback around cultural expectations. A knowledgeable employee may even help you discover marketing advantages that your product may have in the target culture, which you might otherwise miss.

The trick is to involve them in the entire process, from the early planning stages to the final review before a campaign is launched. And because culture is all about nuance, try to meet with them in person. You’d be surprised how much more insightful and productive it is.

If you’re looking to grow your business, venturing into the global marketplace is a big step, and it’s not without risks. Understanding the importance of language and culture reduces the risk and helps you avoid unnecessary pitfalls. Take inventory of your existing human resources and involve your multilingual and multicultural staff in planning and executing your international ventures. By making the most of their assets, you’ll be in a stronger position right from the start.

Martin Cross is the president of Patent Translations Inc., serving law firms and patent departments in the US and abroad, and an active corporate member of the American Translators Association. The American Translators Association represents over 10,000 translators and interpreters across 91 countries. Along with advancing the translation and interpreting professions, ATA promotes the education and development of language services providers and consumers alike. For more information on ATA or translation and interpreting professionals, please visit www.atanet.org.

Be a Force Multiplier

Accomplishing More with Existing Resources

By Elizabeth McCormick

Elizabeth McCormickThe U.S. Department of Defense defines “force multiplier” as a capability added or employed by a combat group that significantly improves their combat potential, enhancing mission success probability. A force multiplier could be anything from new weapons technology to fresh food in the mess hall; anything that perks up and improves the effectiveness of our world-class armed forces.

The Challenge-Discernment in Using Resources: In the general workforce of corporate America, problems are many times solved by throwing resources at it—time, money, and effort. However, that’s not always the wisest course of action and much of those valuable resources could end up wasted. For those trained in the armed forces, their approach is different. Due to their training and experiences, their ability to enhance the effectiveness of the existing resources they have at their disposal is really the key behind the phrases about working smarter—not just harder. The Force Multiplier is always thinking in terms of strategy and implementation. Click To Tweet

The Solution-Force Multipliers: Incorporating the unknown elements and outcomes of a new strategy can sometimes be met with trepidation since it usually requires people to embrace the unfamiliar. However, with force multipliers, the foundational elements are usually already known and what changes is an updated strategy or reconfiguring other correlated elements that will inevitably improve its overall effectiveness and result.

Here are six multipliers you can explore and implement to help you work smarter:

1. Technology: To be most effective in both business and life, the ability to react is necessary, but being proactive and taking initiative first is where you will find the battle is won. Certainly, when you look to the likes of Apple or Facebook, their proactive stance on new technology leverages into a significant force multiplying advantage. This tech might be the defining force multiplier of your time. However, technology is moving into a plateau period where everyone has access to technology, balancing the playing field. There will always be innovative products. The game changers that propel things forward, but most of us aren’t engaged in enterprises that rely on innovation in that way. 

Instead, the force multiplier looks at technology and determines how its use extends effectiveness, for the multiplier themselves or for members of their team. A sales manager may, for example, implement an app that provides field sales staff with past ordering information for clients quicker. Field sales use this information to respond proactively during client calls. Effectively using the capabilities of smartphones has come a long way since the era of the revolutionary briefcase-sized cell phone.

2. Data: The smartphone example underscores the importance of data. On the battlefield, it’s called intelligence, reconnaissance or simply knowledge of one’s own numbers of personnel and hardware capabilities. Having complete and accurate information multiplies the chances of effective decision-making. Knowing where an enemy is, their numbers and the weaponry under their control permits an accurate and measured response, rather than sending blunt forces in the enemy’s general direction.

Consider the sales manager again. There’s no sense sending field sales into a suburb when they sell industrial cleaning products. It’s a simple example, but without knowledge of a region as suburban, effectiveness is diluted. 

3. Collaboration: Delegation is one way to use human resources, and that is essential. In traditional hierarchical organizations, that top-down direction of management is typical. It’s also quite rigid. Information and innovation typically follows that hierarchical pattern as well.

The contemporary world shifts to collaborative work groups largely due to the lateral spread of information that the computer age grants. Length of service with a company no longer describes experience with information or tech. Therefore, information is shared laterally as well as hierarchically. Multiple-pronged communication becomes more natural and, for the Force Multiplier, more critical to success.

4. Psychology: The most obvious psychological force multiplier is of course morale. Positive morale motivates a fighting unit in precisely the same way it boosts the efforts of a workplace team. Shared vision unifies effort and provides natural group cohesion.

Negative morale divides teams. In military terms, propaganda is a tool used to negatively affect opposing forces, which can counteract a number of factors that might otherwise aid the enemy’s advances.

While bringing down competition may not be a practical goal in the business world, bolstering the positive and avoiding the negative in work groups is critical function for the force multiplier.

5. Strategy: The Force Multiplier is always thinking in terms of strategy and implementation. Effective leaders take the knowledge of what resources can accomplish through tactical means. As the other aspects of force multiplication take effect, plans adapt to the increased capabilities. For instance, with the right tools and training, a sales team of three can increase sales in an area where six used to simply maintain current levels.

6. Leading by Example: Becoming an effective force multiplier means constant attention to improving your own skills and knowledge. When you start asking more from others in your organization, you better believe they’ll be watching you to lead the way. They know that you can’t be in the trenches with them all the time, but they need to know you can get your hands dirty and are willing to serve beside them. And of course, demonstrating that is a force multiplier technique.

As you become more aware of your force multiplier capabilities, you will realize that it’s almost a lifestyle choice with far reaching implications. Better still, force multiplication inherently implies continual improvement—of yourself as a leader, of your systems and of your team. Rather than something that’s overlaid, continuous improvement naturally emerges from the force multiplier process.

Elizabeth McCormick is a keynote speaker, author, and authority on leadership. A former US Army Black Hawk Pilot, she is the best-selling author of her personal development book, “The P.I.L.O.T. Method; the 5 Elemental Truths to Leading Yourself in Life.” Elizabeth teaches real life, easy to apply strategies to boost your employees’ confidence in the vision of your organization and their own leadership abilities. For more information, please visit: www.YourInspirationalSpeaker.com.

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The HR Department of the New Millennium

Four Skills to Compete in the New Hiring Landscape

By Magi Graziano 

Magi GrazianoThroughout the last decade it has become painfully apparent that while most CEOs recognize there is a drastic talent optimization problem, they have absolutely no idea how to fix it, nor time to take it on alone. Most CEOs address people and workforce issues like a hot potato—they want it off their plate immediately. This is where the twenty-first century HR (human resources) professional steps in.

Today’s budding HR professionals have a whole new set of concerns that set them apart from previous generations. The human resources departments that remain from the twentieth century are ill-equipped to manage the scaling concerns of the twenty-first century enterprise.

In the early days of business and industry, human resources emerged as the answer to increasingly challenging and demanding labor relations’ problems. But what fundamentally worked in the pre-information age is grossly ineffective for optimizing the workforce of today’s wisdom age.

Today’s human resources teams must grow beyond what HR requires. They must develop themselves and their teams into savvy business professionals who leverage talent, optimize people at work and deliver tangible returns on their ‘people program’ investments.

Whether you are a seasoned professional on the ageing side of a successful career, or a newcomer entering the field, it is imperative that you gain the knowledge to address today’s workforce challenges head-on and strategize winning solutions that reduce or remove these constraints from adversely impacting the business.

By learning these four imperative skills, you position your business to compete in today’s hiring landscape. Curiosity is a major strength of people who succeed in the new HR world. Click To Tweet

1) Develop an Executive Summary: The first skill you will need to develop is the ability to write an executive summary. You must evaluate the major workforce challenges to your specific business faces and outline your plan to rectify them. If you do not establish a stout plan to address these issues your business almost will face an uncertain future. How do workforce gaps and frequent turnover impact the customer experience, employee partnership, innovation, and the business’s’ bottom line? As a businessperson specializing in hiring, you need to know how to communicate both written and verbally, in a way that can be heard.

2) Learn the Importance of Utilizing Big Data: The second skill you need to develop is the ability to resonate with, speak into and listen from data. Big data rules today’s world, and understanding it and how to make it work for you is imperative to your success. Sorting critical data from superfluous data is another key to getting your point across and keeping your audience’s attention.

In order to catch the ear of people who can solve a problem from a strategic and financial point of view, you need to speak to them in a financial and strategic manner.  This means you need to be able to read a profit and loss statement. You need to understand the total cost of labor and staffing in your company. Most decision makers in business have a strong preference to evaluate propositions through three-to-four salient points grounded in accurate, relevant data. To speak with someone who understands and responds to data, you must elevate your ability to think from data and make recommendations that speak to improve the data.

3) Cultivate Confidence: The third skill you need to continue to develop and nurture is your confidence. Standing for stronger people-optimization in the workplace and human systems transformation is a pretty big stake in the ground. If not you, who? Someone needs to keep people present to the commitments around the workforce.  Most managers in most organizations fall astray from their talent optimization commitments as soon as the pressure of another commitment overshadows it. Without someone standing for—and in some cases fighting for—doing the right thing and making people and talent a companywide focus, your competitive advantage initiatives fall out of existence. It takes confidence and stamina to create sustainable change; it takes a continual, unwavering commitment, sometimes in the face of no agreement—and that takes confidence.

4) Find Comfort in the Questions: The fourth skill you need to improve is your ability to be comfortable in not having all of the answers. Curiosity is a major strength of people who succeed in the new HR world. Having all the answers and knowing how things are going to or not going to turn out is a trait that no longer serves the business professional of the twenty-first century. In today’s world, curiosity, agility and creativity are how you win.

Fostering a workplace of collaboration and innovation begins with you. You need to be the change you want to see. Facing problems with an eye on understanding the systemic impacts on the business and the people in it opens you up to hear from people you might not otherwise hear from. Inviting ideas and solutions from your team gives you a much wider perspective and develops your balanced decision making skills, which are a requirement for a twenty-first century business professional.

While on the surface if might not be obvious, but the keen HR professional is the key to the successful evolution of optimizing people at work. Every business, in every industry needs someone in HR focusing on the future of people and talent optimization. From reducing unwanted employee turnover and filling the leadership gap to hiring better and transferring today’s knowledge to tomorrow’s workers, the right HR pro doing the right things, affects every single strategic lever in a company. The effective attraction, engagement, and optimization of high-quality people in any organization, may be as—or more important—than your services or products themselves. Therefore, the right HR pro is just as important as the right coder or right sales rep—choose and develop your twenty-first century HR team wisely.

Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of Conscious Hiring® and Development, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert and author of The Wealth of Talent. Through her expansive knowledge and captivating presentations, Magi provides her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. With more than twenty years’ experience as a top producer in the Recruitment and Search industry, she empowers and enables leaders to bring transformational thinking to the daytoday operation. For more information on Magi please visit www.keenalignment.com.

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Protect Your Company From Bad Employees

By Mike Campion

How much of a negative impact can the bad apples in your organization have? Are having no bad employees a realistic goal? First things first: What is a bad employee?

  • Is it just someone who is bad at their job?
  • Takes too much time off?
  • Has a penchant for punching other employees?

While none of those are ideal, they all focus on actions and results instead of the root cause.

Instead of trying to create a comprehensive list of “do’s and don’ts” for your employees to ignore, start at the foundation: Your Core Values.

A bad employee is anyone who does not love and live your company’s core values.

Discovering your core values is an action in—and—of itself, but when you have a set of “rules” to run your company with, you will find that the people who line up with those rules, don’t tend to violate the “dos and don’ts” of your company.

Luckily, you have the keys to the happy employee kingdom. Get ready to discover the three steps to protect your organization from the wrong employees:  Hire for attitude, train for skill. Click To Tweet

Step 1—Stop Bad Employees From Showing Up: Pre-framing is extremely important when weeding out potential problem employees. How an employee is first exposed to your company is key. Consider the following two examples:

  1. A current employee tells his friend, a prospective employee, “You should apply at my job; the place is so disorganized, we could get away with anything.”
  2. A prospective employee comes across your website and thinks, “These are my people! I love what they are all about, I wonder if they are hiring…”

When you feature enough of your core values on your website, in your hiring ads, phone systems and your current employees become evangelists for your mission, you position your company as the right place for the right employee. Whenever, however a prospective employee becomes aware of your company they feel like they have finally found their tribe. This alone will dramatically increase the quality of your applicant pool. Which brings us to…

Step 2—Stop the Wrong Employees From Getting In: Once you have laid the foundation in step one, the job of keeping bad employees from infiltrating your organization is half done. All you have to do is make sure that your company is actually living and breathing the core values that brought prospective employees to you in the first place.

So many employers focus on job history and/or technical ability. Both offer good insight, but are only relevant with employees who have the same core beliefs as you do. Hire for attitude, train for skill.

If your company is passionate about outstanding customer service, it is eminently possible to teach an employee how to serve a customer. It is a fool’s errand to teach him to be enthusiastic about customer service. Your life and profitability will improve exponentially when you are in the business of stoking your employees’ passions and values. You are not in the business of convincing people to do something they don’t want to do or believe something they don’t want to believe.

Craft your interview process around the values that attracted your prospective employees. Once that is a match, job history and ability to do the job at-hand come into play. An unintended consequence of passionately living your organization’s core values is an extremely attractive community. This can make employees that aren’t a good fit work even harder to get in, even when your pre-framing and interview process is core valuesbased. Time for the big guns…

Step 3—Get ‘Em Out: Creating a core valuesdriven culture not only naturally repels the wrong employees; it strongly attracts the right employees. They feel “at home,” like they have finally found something special. They don’t want to leave. They stay longer, work harder and enjoy their jobs more.

The flip side is that people who are not a core value fit feel out of place. They don’t fit in. They don’t understand why everyone acts so differently. They discover that the amazing community that attracted them to your company isn’t for them. More often than not, they wander off into the night on their own free will.

When you do have someone that doesn’t get the memo, and needs a little help recognizing they aren’t a fit, you will weed them out by systematic recognition and application of your core values. Examples of core values being either applied properly or ignored or mishandled are common topics. Decision making conversations regularly start and end with your core values.

Those who don’t “get” your values will stick out like a sore thumb. When you see that is the case, have a conversation. Refer back to your hiring process. Verify they share your company’s values. If they do, their behavior will follow and all is well. If they don’t, it’s time to help them transition into a company that is a better fit.

It can sound like an overwhelming prospect, but integrating your core values into your company is like pushing a flywheel. It takes a lot of energy at the beginning, but when it gets spinning, it creates a tremendous amount of power on its own. Not only will keeping bad employees out of your company help your bottom lineit will make your life and your employees lives far better.

Mike Campion is a celebrated speaker, entrepreneur and author of I’m a Freaking Genius, Why is This Business So Hard?. A small business expert, Mike has built several multi-million dollar businesses, the most recent achieving $4.3 million in sales in the first 18 months. As the host of the “Conversations with a Genius” podcast, Mike imparts his business wisdom on his listeners. For more information about bringing in Mike Campion for your next event, please visit www.mikecampion.com.

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