From July, 2012

Advancing Technology Fuels Wave of Video Interviewing Growth

Have you ever heard this quote from Wayne Gretzky, the greatest hockey player to ever smack the puck?  “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.”  This means Wayne anticipated where on the ice the puck would be hit so that he could be in position to take advantage of its arrival.

If you are still using phone screens in your hiring process may I suggest you not only are skating to where the puck has been but you are also a whole period too late.  Phone screens not only delay the hiring process with built in scheduling hassles, they are less revealing than video interviewing and are not as easily compared to one another.

In recent years critics of video interviewing pointed out that technology had not yet advanced enough to support a consistently reliable interviewing solution so why bother.  As recently as five years ago I would have agreed with them but that didn’t stop us from pushing forward.  I began using video conferencing in 2000 on a dial-up connection of all things.  From my perspective, twelve years later, I couldn’t be happier with the advancements we’ve made, but if you’re still not convinced video interviewing is ready for prime time I’ll share with you a few facts.

  • As of 2011 79% of laptops have a webcam – PC World
  • As of  2011 83% of college students own a laptop – Student Monitor
  • The average fixed broad band speed will increase from 9Mbs in 2011 to 34Mbs in 2016. – Cisco
  • By 2016 over half of the world’s internet traffic is expected to come from Wi-Fi connections – Cisco
  • Globally the number of internet video users will increase from 792 million in 2011 to 1.5 billion in 2016 – Cisco
  • By 2016 833 days worth of video will travel the internet every second – Cisco

What do these statistics tell us?

  • First, webcams are now everywhere.  If you don’t have one then someone you know does.
  • Second, the current broadband speed can easily handle video interviewing but with the nearly four fold increase in speed we can expect to see even higher quality video in the future.
  • Third, Wi-Fi connections are more readily available so unless you currently live in a cave you can easily find a location that provides it.
  • Lastly, video is the new medium.  Pictures are worth a thousand words and video is worth a million.  Everyone wants video even in the hiring process.  Give it to them!

So are you an early adopter or are you still searching for the puck after everyone else has gone home?  Hey, if you see a Zamboni machine out there then the game is already over!

Maybe it’s Time Someone got Fired for Making a Bad Hire!

I was at a large management meeting the other day and the topic of employee turnover came up.  Several of the meeting attendees noted that SHRM had just reported that turnover in our state –Virginia– was averaging 17%.

I asked if anyone in the meeting had experienced staff turnover.  Every hand (including mine) went up.

Knowing that bad hiring decisions were the most common cause of turnover, next I asked had anyone ever made a bad hire.  Almost every hand (including mine) went up.

Also knowing that the cost of turnover can be quite high, my final question was had anyone ever suffered any negative consequences at work as a result of making a bad hire.  No hands (including mine) went up.

Could it be that bad hires leading to turnover are simply an unintended but acceptable consequence of hiring?  Maybe since just about everyone apparently makes bad hires, we’ve all implicitly agreed to neither affix blame nor exact punishment.

In my experience bad hires have often occurred for five reasons:

1.  Time pressure – particularly when filling a critical opening, there is a lot of pressure to complete the hiring process.  If you’re concerned about Quality of Hire, time is not your friend.  It takes time to find qualified candidates, evaluate them for job fit, complete a round of interviews, negotiate the terms of employment, and onboard the new hire.

2.  Lack of training – I think in many organizations it’s just assumed that all managers know how to interview and hire.  Human Resources departments often defer to the hiring manager, and lack assertiveness to be sure the best interests of the organization are satisfied.

3.  Group think – How many people interviewed your last set of candidates?  Did you actually take a vote after each round of interviews?  Did one person unduly influence the group to accept their favorite candidate?  Don’t tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about.

4.  Budget constraints – Cost of Hire, like Time to Hire, is another enemy of Quality of Hire.  The drive to save time and money can cause corners to be cut.  Information about candidates that could have improved the hiring outcome was missed.

5.  Absence of an in-depth, methodical screening of candidates – I have seen organizations who were proud of their ersatz hiring process that made everyone feel good about how “thorough” they we being, but that really didn’t do much to consistently screen candidates for both job skills and job fit, not to mention cognitive ability and conscientiousness.

The Great Recession has seen lower turnover since employees have been less likely to quit in the face of such a bad economy.  An article in the July 2012 issue of HR Magazine reports that researchers are “predicting massive turnover in the near future.”   The article went on to quote a study that shows “84 percent of employees said they planned to search for a new job in 2012.”

But not to worry.  No matter how many bad hires you make while you’re replacing those departing workers, you’re not likely to be a turnover statistic yourself.

5 Things You can Learn about your Candidates with Video Interviewing

By now, especially if you’ve had the good fortune to read my past posts, you should know that video interviewing is a technology gaining rapid acceptance in the hiring world for its ability to help organizations make better hires.  If you have any questions on how this is done please read 10 Reasons to Use Video Interviewing in 2012.

As a repeated user of video interviewing myself I look forward to reviewing a candidate’s video because, more so than a phone screen, I get so much better insight into the person behind the resume.  Here are five things video interviewing reveals about candidates which you may not have considered.

  1. Your candidate is unprofessional –  Candidates conducting online interviews should do so as though they are sitting in an office with the hiring manager.  That means dressing professionally!  So imagine my surprise when on my screen appeared a young man wearing a white “wife beater” t-shirt.  In the background I could easily see his bed on which sat his sheets knotted into a ball.  I’m almost surprised he didn’t conduct the interview by black light with a pot leaf poster glowing on his wall!
  2. Your candidate is boring – Yes, I know that’s not nice but stellar experience and education on paper does not guarantee exuberance and enthusiasm.  I have cringed and banged my head on the desk at times after reviewing a candidate’s particularly long winded and monotone response.
  3. Your candidate is ugly – “I can’t believe you just went there, Ryder!”  Well yes I did and most of the time appearance shouldn’t matter unless you’re hiring for a position in which it does.  You retail managers know about what I’m talking, wink, wink.  You don’t want to admit it but you understand when it comes to selling certain items like lingerie or fitness equipment for example that the salesperson’s appearance is very important.  Brittany Goodbody might sound sexy on the phone but wait until you see her video!  Think “Sloth” from the Goonies.
  4. Sajeed Mirhambrakadarvenkatil speaks perfect English! – Most people believe video interviewing eliminates candidates but it helps screen them in also.  Candidates from foreign countries often speak inadequate English. Video interviewing, however, often reveals that not only can your foreign candidate speak perfect English but since the written questions are provided onscreen, you can also determine if they can adequately read English.  This helps you to screen in qualified candidates you might otherwise have screened out after glancing at their name or nationality.  Video helps to eliminate many of the preconceived biases we form in our mind when dealing with other ethnicities.
  5. Apparently clothing is optional –  This should fall under point number one but this is too funny not to mention on its own.  I’m reviewing earlier in the week a candidate’s video.  I click question #1 to review the candidate’s first response and staring into the camera is a guy wearing no shirt.  “Wow!” I thought.  Then when the guy realized that he should probably be dressed he turns and rummages through his closet for a shirt to wear.  Thank goodness the camera caught only so much because I’m pretty sure he was naked from the waist down as well.  I would say mooning the hiring manager is not a best practice.

There you go.  Five things you probably didn’t realize you could learn about a candidate prior to the face-to-face interview.  Frankly I think investing in a video interviewing solution would be worth it just to see if your candidates show up naked.

Discrimination in Hiring: Why Some are in no Rush to Fix It.

“Fear of a Black Planet” is the name of a critically acclaimed rap album by American duo, Public Enemy released in 1990.  Does anyone remember it?  I’ll admit I don’t think I’ve ever listened to Chuck D and Flavor Flav busting their rhymes on this album but the title struck a chord with me recently.

Lately I have been writing a great deal about cultural fit and discrimination in the U.S. hiring process and I want to throw out two facts to you.

Fact #1: According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission the number of discrimination complaints received in 2011 totaled 99,947, their highest in history!  Complaints stemming from racial issues led with over 34% of the filings.  Disability and age discrimination were the second and third leading issues of complaint respectively.  So we see that race is still a huge issue.  But let me give you another fact in case you’re not convinced.

Fact #2: Despite blacks making up nearly 13% of the total population they hold the top spot at only six Fortune 500 companies which means only 1% are run by African Americans.  Things don’t get much better below the top spot.  Blacks account for only 2% of all executives in the next two tiers.  So whites make up 72% of the general population but over 90% of CEOs while blacks make up 13% but only 1% of CEOs?  Curious.  Why is this so?

Do you need more facts or have I begun to paint a clear enough picture?  Perhaps seeing the picture isn’t the problem at all but whether you give a darn about it.  Here’s an example of the problem to which you can relate which I’ve seen appear numerous times in my inbox.  Many people complain about the health care and social security situations here in America but the people who can change these broken systems, Congress, aren’t forced to use these systems.  Congress gets free healthcare and a sweet retirement package upon leaving office therefore why should they bother fixing something that does not negatively affect them?  So the idea is make Congress use our broken system for a while and then let’s see how fast they move to fix it.

Don’t we as whites view the hiring process in the same fashion that Congress views our healthcare system?  I’m white and while I can’t say I stand head and shoulders above my peers in terms of financial success, I haven’t to my knowledge experienced any type of discrimination due to my age, a disability and certainly not for my race.  So as the average white person I might see no reason to fix a system that I don’t perceive to be broken.  So as long as we’re pulling the strings maybe we’ll continue to follow the old adage, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

Yes, I know many people are working very hard to correct these disparities, whites included, but you are in the minority.  How does it feel?