From June, 2011

Bad hire? Stop blaming HR!

I recently read a great article called, “10 Ways to fix a broken Corporate Recruiting System.”  Point number six suggests that the person with responsibility over the hiring process should be the Hiring Manager not Human Resources.  Each year companies look for ways to improve employee retention by promoting cultural fit through the use of behavioral assessments.  Does it not make sense then that the Hiring manager, the individual with whom the candidates need to fit, oversees the recruiting process?

 HR is necessary but they are tired of taking the blame for bad hires.  They pass candidates on to the hiring manager based primarily on skills. In addition, however, the candidates really should possess behavioral characteristics that not only gel best with the organization but also with the hiring manager.  One of the top reasons an employee leaves an organization is because they don’t get along with their manager. It only makes sense that hiring managers should take responsibility for determining who makes it through their recruitment process.

 Now of course many hiring managers, especially those in sales, would rather focus their time on making money than on managing the recruitment process.  Isn’t that why we have an HR department some might say?  Well HR has plenty to do without trying to figure out whether their candidates will sync with the hiring manager on an emotional and personality level.  When you consider that the cost of replacing an employee can be two to three times the employee’s salary, don’t you think it would be wise to invest a little more time into what types of candidates roll through your screening process?  Plenty of tools out there are designed to help you hire not only the best candidate, but to do it faster.  Put them to use, get involved, and stop blaming HR!

Job Fit Increases Job Satisfaction & Employee Loyalty!

Paul Studebaker, Editor-in-Chief of Sustainable Plant, an online information resource and community dedicated to advancing the sustainability of manufacturing and other industrial operations recently posted an article discussing the key performance metrics companies use to measure the success of their initiatives.  Paul went beyond profitability, noting “many companies are setting targets and tracking their accomplishments in corporate social responsibility and employee health, job satisfaction and turnover.”

Companies who make it a goal to maximize job fit have employees who “are measurably more loyal and productive.”  Studebaker cites the case of SKF, the huge bearings manufacturer, who saw their employee base shrink during the recent deep recession, but now have grown it back to even higher levels of employment.  “I’ve never yet seen a company be proud about how many people it can keep gainfully employed. Quite the opposite: companies are rewarded for reducing employment.”

How do companies achieve job fit in hiring to increase job satisfaction and decrease turnover?  According to a recent study as reported in Rocket-Hire,  “A majority of respondents use some form of testing or assessment and feel it is a valuable part of the hiring process.”  Job candidate assessments, and new technologies like video screening and interviewing, are improving the engagement between employer and job candidate, with the result that both will make better informed hiring decisions.

We all know how far in the hole we are vis a vis job creation.  The “Great Recession” saw 8.75 million jobs lost.  Building new jobs back at a rate of 100,000 a month translates into 7 years just to get back to where we were, not taking into account growth in the workforce.

In a time where all we hear about is the need to “create jobs” to fix the broken economy, those jobs are going to match up an employee to an employer.  How much better and more sustainable if the goal of that “match” was job fit, and if job fit was the focus from the very start of the hiring process?

The Definition of Insanity

The definition of insanity, according to some, id doing the same thing you have always done and expecting a different result. A post over at The HR Capitalist titled “But Kris, That’s the Way We’ve Always Done It!” deals with just such a situation in a real work environment. Teams, just like individuals, get stuck in a rut. It is easier to just keep doing things the way we have always done them, and sometimes it can even work well. That is why we create policies in the first place. If we never take time to look at our policies and procedures, decide what works and what doesn’t, and make necessary changes we are likely going “insane”.

Trying to get hired? Don’t forget these two important tips!

If you’ve been job hunting you’ve no doubt experienced a great level of frustration as you’ve received repeated rejections either after submitting your resume or after the interview process.  

Presumably you’re doing everything you should such as submitting a well formatted resume with no typos, researching the company to whom you are applying, and dressing professionally for the interview.  But your job as a job hunter isn’t over just because the interview has been completed.  You must send the all important thank you note.  According to a survey by Career Builder of 2,878 hiring managers, 22 percent said they would be less likely to hire a candidate if he or she failed to send a thank you note after the interview.  A short, well-crafted thank you email could improve your chances of coming off the unemployment line by twenty-two percent!  Send it the night of your interview so that the hiring manager receives your thank you the next morning.  This will ensure your name stays fresh in their mind. 

The second tip that could improve your chances is to follow up in three to five days if you have not heard back from the employer.  Don’t assume you’re interrupting the hiring manager’s day with your follow-up.  We once recruited for a software company that looked very favorably upon candidates who checked in with them following an interview.  Failure to do so by the candidate generally indicated to our client that the candidate did not have a high level of interest in the opportunity.  The company not only wanted to hire the best worker, but also the worker who was most interested in them.  After your initial thank you note, you may want to follow-up within a week.  Thereafter if you still have not heard anything, you may want to email every other week unless the hiring cycle is moving at a rapid pace.  Then you may want to consider a weekly call, but unless directed to do so by the hiring manager, avoid calling more frequently than that.  You don’t wish to appear too desperate or overbearing.

Telecommuting can cut costs, but not every employee is right for it!

Economic woes and increased stress on workers are a few reasons why many HR leaders are looking further into telecommuting.  The offer of telecommuting is one more way to attract top candidates wishing to spend less time commuting and more time at home.  According to a 2008 report by the Families and Work Institute, three out of four employed parents say they don’t spend enough time with their children and lengthy commutes are partly to blame.

One benefit to companies offering telecommuting on a full time basis is the cost savings.  Companies offering telecommuting save money by reducing office space and energy costs as leases come up for renewal.  Deloitte LLP saved $30 million in 2008 by restructuring facilities to accommodate mobile workers who don’t need permanent desks.

Currently 82 of Fortune’s best 100 companies to work for offer telecommuting.  Though the employees who work from home earn less pay, they make up for it in gas savings and time spent with family.

Take caution however in who you hire for such a role.  Not everyone is a good fit to work from home.  “It takes a certain sort of person to work from home.  They must be very self-disciplined,” says Allison Ausband, Delta’s vice president for reservation sales and customer care.  Of the 5,000 reservation agents working for Delta, currently 570 work full time from home.

If telecommuting is right for your organization, you’re not only going to have to implement it on a full time basis in order to decrease office space, but you’ll need to hire the right type of individuals who can successfully perform their duties at home.  According to Allison Ausband, great discipline is necessary or your employee might establish an unstructured work routine since no immediate supervision is present.

Perhaps the best way to determine a candidate’s level of discipline, conscientiousness, and other traits desirable for successful telecommuting would be to add a behavioral assessment into the screening process.  Benchmarking your top telecommuting performers and ranking your incoming candidates against this benchmark could be an effective way to not only streamline your hiring process but also to hire individuals who will fit best into this culture.

Finding the right personality for effective global leadership!

Today more and more companies are learning that not only do their employees need the proper skills to succeed in their job, they need the right personality to fit-in and succeed in their company’s culture.  How do you deal with this issue however when your company’s reach is global and expands across many different cultures?

Many companies regularly send their senior people abroad to increase their intercultural awareness and assume that everyone equally benefits from their overseas excursions.

This is not the case however.  Paula Caligiuri, a Professor of HR management at Rutgers University states, “People with certain personality characteristics will gain more.”  According to a study she conducted of 420 global leaders and 221 supervisors, she found that individuals with certain personalities were more open to accepting other cultures and because of this they were more effective global leaders.  For instance extroverts learn more about a culture by interacting with people and those with greater emotional stability will be more accepting of other cultures.

As she put it, “Those with greater cultural flexibility can substitute the things they know and appreciate from their country or culture with things from a different country or culture.  Their receptivity gives them a distinct competitive advantage.”

What are some of the global leadership challenges you face?  Would implementing a personality assessment to pin point individuals who would be effective global leaders enhance your corporate strategy?

Hire Outside Your Comfort Zone

A great post from Kris Dunn at discusses the merits of hiring an artist for a regular job at your company.  This got me thinking about the way many of our clients have selected candidates over the years.  Most of our clients, whether consciously or unconsciously, hire people just like themselves.

While it is important to hire people who are going to fit in with your corporate culture, you also need to take charge of your corporate culture and mold it into the culture you want it to be, not just let it develop on its own.  I think the problem is rooted in the fact that most people fail to see their own weaknesses, especially if they are successful. Take a look at the following example.

John is the entrepreneurial type, he is very bright and charismatic, but not great with details or paperwork.  John’s business is moderately successful and now he needs to hire someone to help with the day to day responsibilities.  John wants to hire someone with an entrepreneurial spirit, great ideas, charisma much like himself.  After all he is successful already, just think how much more successful the two of him will be.

This makes sense on the surface but it is totally wrong! In truth what he will get is two people coming up with great ideas and still nobody handling the day to day stuff, and that is the best case scenario.  At worst he will have an employee who hates their job as the “day-to-day guy” and probably isn’t great at it to boot.  The reason John started a business in the first place was he hated being stuck in that day-to-day grind where nothing he did really made any difference anyway.  Now he  has hired someone just like himself, and expected them to enjoy doing the stuff he doesn’t like to do.

John should have hired someone who has complementary strengths.  Someone who is not terribly interested in starting or running a company, but is great with details and paperwork.  Not only would an employee like this be good at taking care of the areas where John needs help, the employee would also challenge John to do a better job with his end of the business.

Next time you are hiring take into account the responsibilities  of the job you are hiring for, decide whether this is something you would want to do.  If so, great, hire someone who with your strengths.  Otherwise go outside your comfort zone and hire someone nothing like you.

A “Thank You” Gets More Done

Science has recently proven what most of us should already know, saying thank you motivates people. In an article on Compensation Cafe Derek Irvine explores a recent study on the value of a simple thank you.

The study had a fictional college student, Eric, ask 69 people for feedback and help on a cover letter.  Eric responded to half of the group with a thank you email, and the other half with a neutral email, think “I got your email”.  When asked for additional input 66% of people whom Eric had thanked provided additional assistance vs. 32% of people who got the neutral email.

Even more interesting, the study found that Eric’s gratitude had an effect on how participants felt about another fictional college student named Steven.  Even though Steven had no prior contact with the participants, those who had received gratitude from Eric were twice as likely to help Steven as those who had received a neutral response from Eric.

Now think about how this can effect your business. Are you showing gratitude to your employees and co-workers? Is gratitude part of your corporate culture? If your answer to either of these questions is not a resounding yes, maybe you should try something new today, maybe you should try saying “Thank You”.

We video interviewed before video interviewing was cool!

Video-Interviewing is one of the hottest trends (or should I say coolest) in corporate recruiting.  In short, video-interviewing allows hiring managers and HR professionals to screen or interview job candidates over the Internet using a webcam.  The process cuts down on the costs associated with hiring and saves the hiring team tremendous time.  It also provides better insight earlier in the hiring cycle, resulting in better decisions. 

Though this initiative may seem new and cutting edge to you, we have actually been engaged in video interviewing since 1987!  Do you remember the late eighties?  Dirty Dancing was popular in the theaters, Michael Jackson was still moon walking across MTV, and families were recording precious memories on camcorders the size of small boom boxes.  With these technological artifacts, which seemed advanced at the time, our recruiting firm sat down and interviewed job candidates for our clients and video recorded the interview.  Once all the interviews were completed, we met with the hiring manager and reviewed the candidate’s video interviews.  This process saved the hiring manager time by allowing them to quickly eliminate from the process the candidates that were not a good fit for their organization.  It meant that they could meet with only the candidates in whom they had a great deal of interest.  

In the eighties and for most of the nineties, we interviewed candidates in person by traveling to their location.  This cost of travel we passed onto the client which they were happy to pay because they saved a lot of time.  This process was great for the era, but with the invention of the Internet (thanks Mr. Gore!) we experimented with ways to take our process online to reduce the need to travel.  With webcams and high speed internet connections, we could interview candidates in other states and countries without incurring the costs of travel.  Our solution was now improved but not perfected.  While we could record our interviews, these videos could not be easily shared with our clients without meeting with them in person.  We needed a way to distribute the lengthy candidate interview to them over the web.  Furthermore, interviewing candidates in foreign countries and differing time zones created scheduling problems, which required us to either interview them late at night or early in the morning.  Eventually we threw our hands in the air and said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could give the candidates the questions and they could somehow interview themselves?” 

So that is exactly what we did.  We developed a tool whereby a candidate could log in to a secure portal, and with their webcam, interview themselves.  This “virtual” interview was recorded and upon completion could easily be reviewed by us and shared with the hiring manager via a link to our secure video server.  No more scheduling hassles and sharing problems.  Our clients could easily screen through the candidate’s interview and decide quickly which candidates they wanted to bring in for a face-to-face interview.  

We didn’t stop with our virtual tool.  Because we knew virtual interviewing was still alien to some, we created our live two-way interviewing tool to connect the candidate and hiring manager together.  Like the virtual tool, the two-way interview is recorded and indexed by question so that the reviewer can easily jump to the relevant parts of the interview. 

Through our more than 20 years of experience in the video interviewing business, we have nearly refined the video-interviewing process….for now at least.  Even cooler things are on the way.