From December, 2012

Top 5 Hiring Regrets: What are Yours?

I read recently an interesting article called “The Top 5 Career Regrets” which ranked, regretaccording to responses gathered from several dozen people, the 5 most regrettable wrong turns these people made in the road called “Career”.  The article interested me a great deal because in a way I was comforted in knowing that I wasn’t the only one who had regrets about taking the left path instead of the right in life.

On that note I thought that flipping the article around and talking about the top 5 hiring/recruiting regrets that I have experienced would be as interesting.  So here I go in no particular order.

Using job postings: Uggh, perhaps you have had success with them but I would say nearly 80% of the candidates who applied to my job postings were not qualified for the position.  I have better luck scouring the resume databases and handpicking the qualified candidates I want to interview.  Lazily sitting back and hoping A-listers would find my posting before it got kicked to the second page of job board search listings and drowned in a sea of irrelevance was regretful.

Expecting the hiring manager will actually hire: I’ve worked with many great hiring managers and HR professionals but in the beginning of my recruiting career I assumed way too much.  See, I thought when the hiring manager brought us on that they would operate with a sense of urgency to fill their open positions.  Silly me right?  As weeks passed after presenting good candidates who eventually took other job offers I realized how important it is to manage not only the recruiting processes but also the hiring manager.

Not using Linkedin sooner:  Linkedin, while originally developed as a means for subscribers to make connections with other professionals, quietly became the world’s best job board.  Ninety-two percent of employers and recruiters now use Linkedin to source job candidates.  I’m still scraping as much as I can from it for free so I’m sure next year, if I write this post again, I will mention, “Not using Linkedin’s premium service sooner.”  For now though it is meeting my needs and I have successfully placed a candidate with it through very little effort on my part.

Not pushing for a more diverse workforce: The benefits of a diverse workforce are many but early in my recruiting career I saw many instances of covert and even overt discrimination.  Evidently the hiring managers with whom we placed candidates gave less consideration to non-white candidates and so in the interest of time, whites are on whom we focused most of our searches.  In hindsight pushing those candidates harder and encouraging hiring managers to open their eyes to the benefits of diversity would have been a more enlightened operating procedure.

Hiring friends:  Job referrals can be a great way to source talent because theoretically you have an already dependable employee vouching for the candidate.  Why would I hire a stranger when I can hire someone that Bob over in accounting says is a great, qualified guy?  Generally this works well but not always, and especially not when you have a small workforce and all of them are best buds.  It can foster an environment of covering each other’s back and not bringing problems to the forefront for fear of ratting out a chum.  Camaraderie is well and good.  I like to see employees getting along and not throwing each other under the bus.  Occasions arise though when someone is not pulling their weight, and having a pack of friends frustratingly sweep their friend’s lack of competence under the carpet is not good for morale.  In addition business trips often turn into overly expensive road trips of frivolity as traveling BFFs (Best Friends Forever) live it up on the company dime.

Those are my biggest hiring regrets.  Fortunately I’ve learned from my mistakes.  So how about you?  What hiring mistakes have you regretted?

“Achieving” has an Evil Twin Brother!

Who likes soap operas, science fiction and superheroes?  That’s right, this guy!  Perhaps one of the most ludicrous and unintentionally funny aspects of any of these genres is the evil twin story line.  Not just that the hero unexpectedly has an evil twin but what makes the evil twin really absurd is the presence of a bad mustache or goatee.  Does anyone remember Michael Knight’s evil twin Garthe from the Knight Rider series or evil Dr. Spock from Star Trek?  Take the hero, slap on a goatee and bam, now he’s a villain despite sharing most of the same traits as the hero.

Like many heroes, personality also has a dark side. Let’s examine Michael Knight for a second.  The guy can fight, is pretty good with the ladies, helps the helpless, and was selected to drive the coolest, most advanced car on Earth.  Would you say he was an achieving individual?  Sure you would and if I asked you to describe achieving you, like most people, would probably say “successful, hardworking, ambitious, intelligent and a go-getter.”

But what of his evil twin who nearly killed him and who drove an equally and awesomely destructive vehicle?  Could not the same adjectives apply to him?  Just as many heroes have an equally achieving villainous counterpart so too do personality traits have a dark, goateed counter side.  Also of an achieving person I could say they might be unscrupulous, manipulative and cunning.  Do people not obtain their goals this way also?

Hiring qualified, achieving candidates is a tricky game and while using a personality assessment helps, you can still make mistakes if you don’t know what you’re doing.  Often an individual trait that presents positively, such as achieving, can also be extremely negative if you don’t properly probe the candidate during the interview for the extremes of their behaviors.  Despite how professionally the candidate appears and how achieving they sound, you’d better mind what lies within.

Let’s do an exercise.  Think of the four most achieving people that come to your mind.  Three…Two…One…Ready?  Perhaps you thought of Lincoln, Edison, Bill Gates, or even Michael Phelps.  Why did you not think of Saddam Hussein, Mikhail Kalashnikov (inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle), Bernie Madoff (Ponzi scheme villain), or as much as I hate to say this, Lance Armstrong?

Lincoln was a great leader who ended the Civil War and Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator but both achieved the pinnacle of leadership of their respective countries! Edison achieved greatness by bringing us light and sound!  On the other hand Kalashnikov achieved renown  by developing the most lethal weapon, in terms of total lives taken, the world has so far seen.  Bill Gates and Bernie Madoff both achieved billionaire status.  But while Gates did so through his software creations, Madoff became rich through ripping people off.  Phelps is the most decorated Olympian ever and Armstrong won more Tour de France titles than any other rider.  Unfortunately though Armstrong’s greatness apparently came through unscrupulous methods.

Now do you get the point?  Two roads, the high road and the low road, to achievement exist and you can’t always tell which road your candidates will take until after they join your team.  Despite the candidate’s many achievements listed on their resume and the professional way they carry themselves how will you decide who to onboard?  Properly used, a personality assessment can be a useful weapon in your ongoing battle against your competitors, especially if you decide to choose someone who is ruthless, merciless and cunning.  Better perhaps they work for you than for them!  Just tell them to first shave the goatee!

On a side note, if you do decide to hire both Superman and Lex Luthor, culturally speaking they aren’t going to get along and one of them is going to leave.  Then you’re going to have to pay someone a lot of money to find a new superhero or arch villain for your organization.

Establishing Trust: The True Beauty of Video Interviewing!

If you are in sales I am sure you have heard the mantra that people buy from people they like.  Successful selling is not always a matter of superior features and benefits but is rather the result of building a rapport with the buyer.  Getting people to like you is gained by looking them in the eye, smiling, joking, and finding common ground to which you both can relate.  In short, successful selling is accomplished by establishing trust.  To establish trust we like to “look ‘em in the eye”.

Think about it.  Would you be more willing to buy a car or used electronic device from a guy over the phone or from someone you can see in person?  Seeing an individual tells you so much more about that person and also about what they are selling to you.

Interviewing really isn’t any different.  As a candidate you long to land the face-to-face job interview because you know you can win over your potential employer with your charm and charisma in a manner not easily accomplished through a phone interview.  As the interviewer you decide within the first five minutes of meeting the candidate whether you can trust the candidate to work alongside you and your colleagues.

Now in my educated opinion video interviewing with all its many benefits like efficiency, cost savings and the ability to make a more informed hiring decision still demonstrates most of its value as a tool that establishes trust.  Consider the following statistics:

  • More than 53% of individuals lie about their resume in some way. (SHRM)
  • According to a survey by Forensic Psychology, 31% of candidates lied on their resume.
  • Percentage of surveyed college students who would lie on a resume to get a job they want: 70% (SHRM)
  • There are websites which actually help job seekers learn how to lie on their resumes.

With all these misleading resumes floating around you hardly know who you are hiring.  You aren’t merely buying a used laptop from some unknown buyer on eBay, you are investing in a human being whose efforts could make or break your company.  Hanging your hat on an untrustworthy phone screen is a waste of time. Video interviewing allows you to pre-screen your candidates and learn so much more about them just by viewing their attire, enthusiasm, body language, and overall professionalism.  Basically you’re going to know within five minutes of viewing the video interview whether the candidate might be someone you can trust.

As for candidates, the ability to sell yourself has never been easier with video interviewing.  This is your chance to show off who you really are!  Trust me!