Tag Archives: human resources

Two Reasons Interviewing Fails So Often: The Five Questions to Ask in an Interview

By Brad RemillardBrad Remillard

Do you have other people in your organization interview candidates that will end up working directly for you? Just about everyone answers “Yes” to this question. The follow up question to that is, “Have you ever sat in the interviews with these co-workers and assessed whether or not they are competent interviewers?”  Not co-interview with them, but specifically be there to assess their interviewing abilities. Most answer “No” to this question.

You are relying on their opinion to hire someone that will play a role in your success, yet you don’t even know if they are competent interviewers. So you cross your fingers and hope everything works out. Crossed fingers and hope make a poor hiring process.

Two reasons interviewing fails:

First and foremost are incompetent people conducting the interviews. This is by no means a knock on those people. The fact is, a few people are naturally good interviewers, just like only a few people are natural at music, sports, or math. However, most people are not good interviewers, just like most are not good at music, sports, or math. Most would be considered amateurs when it comes to interviewing. Do you want to have your success based on amateurs conducting the interviews?

The vast majority of people learn to interview from the people that interviewed them. Since that is true, then where did the people that interviewed them learn to interview from? You guessed it, from the people that interviewed them. And so it goes all the way back to Moses. This is not a training program.

Interviewing is a skill that needs to be developed and honed. Since very few people ever actually receive any training on how to properly interview, most just aren’t good at it. Most people have either had no training or it was one short class years ago and they’ve long forgotten what they learned.   How can anyone expect their managers to be competent interviewers? Skills need to be practiced or at least kept up to date to be effective. Asking the same questions you were asked 15 years ago in an interview is not up to date.

Lack of training and practice creates one major flaw which poor interviewers make over and over again. They don’t probe deeply enough into what the candidate tells them. The interviewer tends to just accept or reject what they are told. Few really probe for facts, time, data, outcomes, challenges, team issues, names, etc. They may ask one or two follow-up questions, but even these are pretty superficial. Teaching interviewers how to probe deeply is the biggest challenge to overcome when training people to interview. Not that the person doesn’t want to probe, they just don’t know how or they are uncomfortable asking these deep level of questions.

Secondly, vague questions equal vague hires. This is often because those in the second or third round of interviews really don’t understand the position. They interview every candidate much the same way regardless of position. It is the one size fits all interviewing syndrome.

Since the other interviewers don’t really know the details of the job, they ask vague and generic questions, just like they were asked way back when. The problem with this is that once the person comes on board the job expectations by their new manager are rarely vague and generic. Nobody has asked the probing question as to how the person will do the job once they come on board.

Can you guess what percentage of hiring managers actually review the details of the job description with the co-workers that will be interviewing the candidates? If you guessed less than 10%, you were correct.

So that means the other people interviewing simply assume they know what is important in the job, what specific issues need to be probed, and what questions they should ask to determine if the person is qualified for the job they themselves don’t even understand. Is it any wonder interviewing fails?

Interviewing doesn’t have to be all that complicated. It doesn’t have to be so sophisticated that a person needs to go through extensive training every time they have an interview. In fact, interviewing should be simple, thorough, and easy for everyone to understand.

Well-trained interviewers can get about 80% of the information they need to decide whether or not the person can do the job with just five questions and 6 words. That is it. If they can’t pass these five core questions, then all the other questions are irrelevant, so why ask them? In fact, for most hires at the manager level and higher, if the candidate can’t get past the first three, you should move on. The five questions are:

1) Give me an example where you demonstrated high initiative. Just about every position requires initiative. The degree of initiative may change based on the position, but if they don’t have it at the level you need, do you really need to continue?

2) Give me an example where you successfully executed on a critical project. If you have critical issues you need done and they can’t execute and get them done, you may not have the right person.

3) Give me an example where you lead a cross functional team on a complex project. Leadership is something managers must possess. Cross functional is important, because motivating people that one does not have authority over is just one difference between managing and leading.

4) Give me an example where you have done X in your current company. Aligning past experiences and accomplishments with regards to scope, size, and organization is important.

5) When you come on board how would you accomplish X within X period of time? Getting them to describe how they will do the job in your company, with your resources and your culture demonstrates their ability to adapt to your company.

Once the interviewer asks each of these questions, then simple probe deeply with who, what, when, where, why and how. Simply ask follow-up questions that start with one of these six words. If the candidate really did what they claim to have done they will be able to describe in great detail what they did. Probing deeply is what will separate those that did it, from those that claim they did it.

Brad Remillard is a speaker, author and trainer with more than thirty years of experience in hiring and recruiting. Through his corporate workshops and industry association speaking engagements he demonstrates how organizations can effectively attract, interview, hire and retain top talent. Brad is also the co-founder of Impact Hiring Solutions and co-author of, “You’re NOT the Person I Hired: A CEO’s Guide to Hiring Top Talent.”

Hiring: Do It the Steve Jobs Way

By Patrick ValtinPatrick Valtin

Jim was the perfect candidate with many years of solid experience as a professional sales rep and had an obvious talent of persuasion and communication skills. But the hiring manager had some strong reservations during the interview. Jim’s strong focus on results ‘right now’ and a certain aggressiveness that could probably overwhelm or upset clients were some of the weaknesses he was concerned about.

In regards to Jim’s focus on the purposes of the company, its role in the community, the vital importance of innovation and unselfish dedication to excellence, he did the perfect job. He sold himself like never before and got hired.

Four months later, Jim was fired for lack of vision, lack of dedication and worst of all, for his lack of honesty in his intentions.

The manager knew he had to hire “the Steve Jobs way,” but had no real clue as to how to do it. He hired what he saw and what he heard “at the moment.” He was trapped into Jim’s salesmanship talent. And he was fooled by Jim’s hidden intentions: to get the job, “no matter what needs to be said…”

Steve Jobs’ Hiring Philosophy: Steve Jobs was an amazing and unconventional leader in many respects. His reputation as the best entrepreneur of our time can be summarized in a few words: he and his top execs never compromised with the talents and qualifications required of their employees. He personally interviewed over 5,000 applicants during his career. He and his executives considered very different qualities in people than most business owners do. When you thoroughly analyze Apple’s philosophy of hiring, you find out that there has always been fundamental, un-compromising attributes needed to get a job at Apple, Inc.

You too can apply these attributes when you look at attracting top players and ensure you avoid trouble makers.  To help you in the hiring process, here are the main “Apple selection attributes.”

Vision-minded. Everyone joining the company must have a clear picture of its management vision – and fully agree to fight for it, to defend it and to live with it every day. Applicants who do not seem to get it are systematically rejected. When you hire people who don’t seem to agree with, or care about your company vision, you are potentially employing future enemies.

Innovation-minded. Steve Jobs always emphasized the vital importance of hiring people who are innovative – willing to create something from nothing. Applicants are first chosen for their ability and willingness to constantly create, rather than for their technical competence.

Future-minded. Employees at Apple are driven by their leader’s vision of the future and they contribute everyday to creating the future, more than just beating the competition. Each of them owns the future of the market because they know they can contribute to creating it. The eagerness to create, not follow the future is a vital attribute observed in top players, no matter the industry.

Passion-minded. Steve Jobs’ first principle is: “Do what you love.” People are hired because they love the product, the company and its vision. Applicants who do not demonstrate a genuine passion and “love” for the company’s purposes and business philosophy will never make it.

Contribution-minded. A statement given by an Apple recruiter is clear enough: “We didn’t want someone who desired to retire with a gold watch. We wanted entrepreneurs, demonstrated winners, high-energy contributors who defined their previous role in terms of what they contributed and not what they titles were.”

Engagement-minded. Over two thirds of Americans are not engaged in their workplace. Apple management is strict on employees’ level of commitment. Committed individuals who are inspired by a grand purpose make the whole difference in the most competitive conditions.

Excellence-minded. Steve Jobs was known for his passion of perfection. The company always tries things out until they are perfectly done. The same attitude is expected of every collaborator. Applicants who do not share that passion for excellence do not have a chance.

Other Critical Attributes To Evaluate: You will notice that these 7 points enforced in the Apple’s personnel selection are all personality-related attributes, also called soft skills. They do not always guarantee performance. But the chance of selecting productive people is at least 200% higher when focusing on these vital soft skills. It is very well known that recruiters who focus on soft skills in their personnel selection process are, on average, 50% more effective in selecting top players.

So, in order to avoid falling in the momentary personality trap – as the hiring manager in the above example did, you should also focus on the following two basic soft skills:

Honesty. Did you know that one third of all business failures in the USA are due to employee theft? Also, 95% of all US companies are victims of theft and yet only 10% ever discover it. So this is definitely a crucial criterion to evaluate. Everybody recognizes the importance of honesty so it would make sense to evaluate it PRIOR to evaluating any other soft skill, wouldn’t it?

There are strong indicators which allow you to precisely evaluate honesty. Here are just a few:  gaps in the resume, contradictory data between the resume and your standard job application, negative reaction or embarrassment from the applicant to your challenging questions and lack of accuracy in applicant’s explanations of previous achievements.

Willingness. According to the US Department of Labor, more than 87% of employee failures are due to unwillingness to do the job. You can’t simply force someone to do something if they do not want to. Such persons will do what you want in order to keep their job or to avoid penalties. But they will not really put their heart into it.

Most applicants will tell you that they are willing, of course. The key to finding out if they are honest is to ask them to prove i.t Challenge them to demonstrate that they have been willing to work hard, learn something new, question their old habits, work under tough conditions, etc… The way you do this is simply by asking them to give you specific examples when they had to display such willingness.

So, hire the Steve Job’s way, by all means. But don’t forget these two basic attributes in the same process. inform applicants that your company values and management philosophy imply honesty and willingness/positive attitude as primary selection criteria, no matter the position – lack of either is enough to be considered unqualified!

Patrick Valtin is the author of the “No-Fail Hiring” book and an international public speaker. He has evaluated over 22,000 applicants for the account of 5,000 customers in more than 30 countries. His No-Fail Hiring System has been used by thousands of small businesses of all kinds of industries. Patrick has trained 85,000 business owners and executives in the field of people management, personnel selection, Sales, business strategies, leadership and organization. To find out more about his speaking and training, visit http://patrickvaltin.com or call 877-831 2299.

A Different Perspective on Health Insurance

By Peter Lyle DeHaan , PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

It happened again. It shouldn’t surprise me but it does. In fact, it has been said so often that most people believe it to be true and accept it as fact. What am I talking about? Once again, a politician has stood up and passionately, emphatically, and convincingly asserted that we, as citizens of the United States of America, have a right to healthcare.

Wait a minute, we have a right to healthcare? Is it in the Constitution? Is it listed in the Bill of Rights? No, healthcare is not a right, but asserting that it is serves as an effective rallying cry for those who feel under-insured. People who do not enjoy this “right” imagine themselves as victims and in need of a champion to rescue them from their implied substandard existence. Who will rescue them? The very same politician who pointed out this grave injustice in the first place! Political rhetoric aside, there are several other misunderstandings about health insurance, as well.

According to Webster’s, insurance is the “coverage by contract whereby one party undertakes to indemnify or guarantee against loss by a specified contingency or peril.” The key words here are “contingency or peril.” Let’s look at some examples.

I have insurance on my house that will replace it if it is destroyed or suffers major damage. Without insurance, losing a home would be a financially devastating hardship. My homeowner’s policy doesn’t cover repairs or maintenance; those are things I can afford to pay myself.

My cars are insured as well. When they are new, I have full coverage in the event of a major accident. The thought of needing to unexpectedly shell out tens of thousands of dollars to replace a car is sufficient justification to pay for premiums with full coverage.

If people had the same expectations of their car insurance as they do for their medical insurance, here is how it might work. First, there would be a five dollar co-pay for gasoline. It wouldn’t matter if the tank were half-full or empty; the cost of a fill up would be five dollars. This would provide little incentive to buy fuel-efficient vehicles – we would merely want cars with bigger gas tanks! Oil changes would probably not be covered, but that’s okay. Just skip the oil changes and when the engine seizes up, there’s nothing to worry about, because engine replacement is covered! If you hadn’t reached your deductible, you might need to pay twenty percent of the “reasonable and expected” charges for an engine rebuild, but that’s all. Then there are tires. Your policy would pay to have tires replaced every two years. It wouldn’t matter if you needed tires or not. So even though there is still usable tread on them, you have them replaced – insurance will pay for them. Of course, if one of these new tires has a blow out before the two years are up, then you’re out of luck – and you get mad at your insurance company. What about the cost to keep that old beloved car running? Not a problem, insurance covers it. Never mind that the parts are no longer being manufactured, hard to find, and expensive. Insurance will pick up the tab. The downsides to this incredulous scenario are that there will be lots of paperwork and you can only go to mechanics that are “part of the system.”

“Wait,” you say, “Cars are not people!” You’re right. They’re not. So, let’s talk life insurance. I want my family taken care of in the event I die unexpectedly. This sounds simple, but there is a decision to be made as to just how well I want them to be provided for. The first reaction is that my family should be totally and completely taken care of – forever. Let’s see, that will be a policy for a gazillion dollars and the monthly payment will be…slightly more than my take-home pay. Okay then, how about if they are partially taken care of but still need to work. Now the monthly insurance payment drops but is still too high. Okay, how much insurance can I get for fifty bucks a month? I’ll take it!

So insuring our lives is reduced to an economic decision, a cost-benefit calculation. If the tendency is to focus on the expense of life insurance, rather then the benefit, why not do the same for medical insurance?

Back when companies paid all their employees’ health insurance premiums, we, the insured, didn’t care about – or even consider – the cost of that benefit. But as premiums skyrocketed, companies began shifting some of that cost to employees. This should have driven home the financial cost of company-provided health insurance, but for far too many employees it didn’t. Over the years, I’ve had employees come to me with this common lament about their health insurance: “I didn’t even get back as much as I put in!”

Health insurance isn’t like the lottery. The expectation of receiving more than you paid is simply ludicrous. Yet, for some reason, many people view their health insurance with such a mindset. I submit they don’t think that way about their auto or home insurance, and certainly not their life insurance. Personally, each time that I write a check from the premium for my car, house, or life insurance, I am thankful that I didn’t need to use it!

What many workers don’t realize is that insurance companies are in the business to make money. Even non-profit insurance companies have to have this attitude. How do they make money? Quite simply, their income (that is, the insurance premiums you pay) needs to exceed their expenses (that is, the claims they pay and overhead). That means, on average, no one is going to “get back as much as they put in.” If they do, the insurance company has lost money on them. If the insurance company losses money on too many people, or for too long, they either go out of business or must dramatically raise rates.

Once we recognize the economic aspects of insurance (the cost-benefit perspective), are cognizant of the insurance business model (to make money), and jettison wrong expectations (getting more than we put in), we can move forward with an attitude that health insurance should cover the “big” things and we should take care of the rest. Therefore, I want a policy that will cover a major surgery, a catastrophic illness, and prolonged treatments. I want to, and should be able to, cover the rest. But how can I do that?

Incredibly, the government has a solution! It starts with a high-deductible health plan. High-deductible means much lower premiums. This addresses concerns of catastrophic illnesses and bills that would result in financial ruin. My own health plan deductible is $7,500. That means I am on my own to cover most, if not all, of my family’s medical expenses. This brings up the second aspect, a health savings account (HSA). An HSA lets me set aside money, tax-free, for medical expenses. This money can generate a return, which is also tax-free, and when I use the money for medical expenses, it is again tax-free.

With the high-deductible medical insurance combined with a health savings account, I have taken control of my medical costs and saved money. I make decisions for how and when money will be spent on medical procedures, just like every other expense I consider – on the cost-benefit of the transaction. Lest you become aghast at me turning health considerations into a dollar sign, let me remind you that every other purchase is treated that way. So why not medical costs, too? After all, what we eat has a great bearing on our health, but it is common to bypass healthy and advisable foods based solely on their cost. We buy life insurance not by how much we need, but by what we can afford. The place we live and the car we drive, both of which can have health ramifications, are again based on cost. Originally, high-deductible health insurance plans and HSAs were intended for the self-employed, but they have been expanded to include small businesses.

We have an opportunity to adapt a new attitude and take control of rising medical costs; let’s do so.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD is a commercial freelance writer who provides content marketing services and does ghostwriting.

Hire Fast, Fire Faster: Keep the Right Players on Your Team

By Nathan JamailNathan Jamail

There is an old but true saying, “the best candidate doesn’t always get the job.”  If you have ever made a bad hiring decision, don’t worry you are in good company.  All leaders and managers select bad hires even if they don’t know it.  The difference is, really great leaders recognize their mistake and fire faster.  All hiring managers are sure to make bad hiring decisions, because they made a decision based on situational questions, content on a resume and mostly by their emotions or more notably referred to as “their gut feeling.”   Selecting a bad hire is understandable; but accepting it and not doing anything about it will cost an organization greatly.

There are several beliefs and opinions on how to hire the right person or how to better identify the best candidates and they range from interviewing skills, to aptitude tests, as well as situational scenarios. However, at the end of the day nothing can truly ensure success. There are, however, three things a leader can do to help ensure they have the right people on their team.

Interview before you have an opening: Build your bench. This means managers should not wait to hire until they have an opening, rather, they should prepare for an opening.  Many bad hiring decisions are made because of the urgent need for a person to fill an open spot and they don’t have the time to properly interview candidates to ensure the best candidate is chosen.  Building the bench is also a great way to allow a leader to hold their current employees accountable to high achievement.  Much like in sports where professional athletes must perform every year to keep their jobs (in some cases everyday), due to draft day coming every year and the fact that there are many players looking to get that job.

In business we should hold ourselves to the same standard.  A leader owes it to the entire team to always be looking to add higher caliber employees to their teams and employees should expect it.  This is not a loyalty issue; loyalty should not be based on tenure, it should be based on contribution.  Everybody wants to be a part of a winning team and leaders of great teams recruit to hire better people, not to replace those that left.

Action item:  Regardless of your budget restraints, actual open head count or current success; conduct one interview per month for the rest of 2012-and let your team know you are.

Don’t hire a victim: No skill or experience can outweigh the bad effects of a victim.  No matter the track record, years of experience or how well the interview went, under no circumstances should leader who desires to build top teams and hold their people accountable hire a person with ‘victim disease.’   A person with ‘victim disease’ believes it is always someone else’s fault when they fail or run into obstacles.  They often believe they work harder than everybody else and that their former managers and/or co-workers did things wrong.  Keep in mind, this means that most likely their future manager and/or co-worker will do everything wrong as well.  This person never takes personal responsibility for failures or when they do, they have an excuse that points to something or someone else.  Most importantly, a person with ‘victim disease’ rarely knows they have it.

Leaders need to ask questions during an interview or conversation to find it. There are many such questions out there, but here are a couple of them:

“Have you ever been part of a project that failed but it wasn’t your fault?”

“Tell me about your least favorite and then favorite supervisor.”

“Why were they your favorite or least favorite?”

There is no one answer that will tell the hiring manager that the applicant is a victim, but the feeling and energy they give while answering the questions usually will tell the interviewer.  Side note: a person with ‘victim disease’ gets passed over when they don’t get a job or promotion they wanted, but a person without victim disease understands that at that time a different person was chosen because the hiring manager felt the other person was a better fit and they are working toward becoming the right fit as well and can tell you what specifically they are working on.

Action item:  Prior to interviewing, know the attributes and skills you are looking to hire and more importantly what attributes you are looking to avoid.

Fire faster: The only thing worse than a bad hire is keeping one: As stated, all leaders make bad hiring decisions. The key to not letting it destroy the success in your team is not always in the hiring, but in the firing.  This does not mean to throw new hires to the wolves and see if they can survive, rather to give new hires the tools necessary to succeed and hold them accountable to the right attitude and activities.  Many companies have probationary periods where the applicant can be terminated without all of red HR tape.  Regardless if there is a probationary period or not, it is the leader’s job to work within the rules and laws to make sure all bad hires don’t become long-term bad employees.

What is fast?  That is up to the leader and organization to decide, but some would say that 30 days is pretty fast.  Once a leader indentifies that a new employee is not doing the right activities or does not have the right attitude, they need to address it with the employee immediately.  Be sure to ask the employee their perspective and give clear expectations as to what it will take in the near future to remain in the organization.  Remember a bad hire does not mean they are bad people, sometimes it just means they are not a right fit for the position or organization. Doing the right thing is rarely easy but always right, for all parties.

Action item:  Spend time with new employees and pay attention to their activities, attitude and results and take the necessary action.

Final thoughts: Not every hire is the right hire and not every job is the right job, but accepting a bad decision is wrong-for everyone involved.  A leader does a disservice to the team, the organization and the “bad hire” by not taking immediate action.

Nathan Jamail, president of the Jamail Development Group and author of “The Sales Leaders Playbook,” is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and corporate coach. As a former Executive Director for Sprint, and business owner of several small businesses, Nathan travels the country helping individuals and organizations achieve maximum success. His clients include Radio Shack, Nationwide Insurance, Metro PCS, and Century 21. To book Nathan, call 972-377-0030.

Out With The Old And In With The New

By Gregg GregoryGregg Gregory

One of the great things I like about college sports is the true teamwork. What is interesting is that with more and more players turning professional early and not completing their four years of college, recruiting and keeping the team focused on the mission has become a real challenge for coaches and athletic directors.

It is a fact – team members change – sometimes they leave of their own accord and sometimes we offer what I like to call ‘career re-direction advice’. Regardless, team members change, and the trick becomes to integrate new members into an existing team successfully?

Let’s look at this from both the perspective of the new employee and how he or she can acclimate themselves into the team, and then how we can help acclimate the new employee into our team.

First, if you have been traded to a new team (excuse the sports metaphor here) what should you do to feel like you are part of the team quickly? We have all been there – started a new job or position and not known anyone on the team. Here are a few tips and tricks you can employ if indeed you find yourself in this position.

Take the initiative to meet everyone on the team. Getting to know your new teammates can be fun and when you learn something about them, and get them to talk about themselves; you have made deposits into their emotional bank account. Everyone likes to talk about themselves and when you talk casually you can ask questions. Now, the true secret is to bank this information. Don’t retain this so you can manipulate them at a later date – instead retain this information and use it to build trust and alliances.

Learn as much as you can about the organization as possible. If this is a new company for you, then you likely did some online research before the first interview. Take this several steps further. Know the big picture about the organization. Having knowledge about the organization is a critical tool in any employee’s tool belt and when you take the time to know this information early on you are demonstrating your ability to work with everyone.

Take the time to get to know the team as a whole. Find out about previous successes they have had and yes – find out some of the failures. Learn what the goals and objectives are for the future. The more you know, the greater asset you can be to them.

Know the expectations up front. Many organizations are weak at sharing very specific expectations up front. This is critical for you as you want to make sure you are on track or ahead of schedule. This will show your new team mates that you are pulling your own weight and this also builds trust among your peers.

Help new hires: Now, as my company grows and we bring on new team members, what can we do to get the new members up to speed quickly and get them to feel more comfortable and avoid ‘The Lone Ranger Syndrome’?

  • Make sure their work area, looks, feels, and is fresh. There is nothing like coming into a new place and feeling like it is a fresh start for you only to find a desk that has not been cleaned out, with condiment packages in the drawers and a phone that looks and smells horrible.

  • If possible, get the new teammate his/her computer password so he can at least get online the first day. Of course it can be changed later – this shows that you care about getting your new-hires up to speed.

  • Assign the new-hire a mentor to help acclimate them to the surroundings, people, and the way you do things. You may also want to provide them a mentor as it relates specifically to the job function they will be doing. Having two mentors accomplishes a couple of things – they meet more people more quickly, and it helps the existing staff assume some of the leader roles on the team and makes them feel better about working there.

  • If the position allows, you may want the new-hire to work with different people on the team to learn the different styles and methods of accomplishing work tasks.

Remember, it is about making sure that everyone knows, trusts, and respects each other. While you will not likely get everyone to ‘like’ everyone else – it is critical that they trust each other in order to accomplish the mission, vision, and values of the team, division, and organization.

Gregg Gregory, of Teams Rock, works with organizations to create a culture where people work together and perform at peak levels. Through his interactive workshops and consulting, Gregg’s clients achieve greater team focus, cooperation, productivity, and impact. His experience includes more than two decades of human resources, real estate, mortgage banking, as well as radio and television broadcasting. Please contact Gregg at 866-764-TEAM or greg@teamsrock.com see how his keynote speeches and breakout training sessions can help your company or organization.