From January, 2013

Hiring Woes? 5 Reasons Why Video Interviewing is your 2013 Silver Bullet

With a casual pull of the trigger a simple silver bullet could vanquish the mythical werewolf when all other weapons failed.  With a few keystrokes and the click of your mouse, video interviewing in the same fashion can solve many of the maladies plaguing your hiring process.

Not convinced?  Here are five problems you are likely currently experiencing and how video interviewing can solve them.

Travel costs are killing you – Why continue to pay hundreds or thousands flying in candidates when you can simply interview the candidate over the web or have them interview themselves? Even if you simply use video interviewing to pre-screen candidates, the power of video insights can eliminate false positives and prevent you from flying in the dogs.  Video interviewing is an easy and hugely affordable solution to this problem.

Phone screen scheduling is giving you a headache – You are tired of phone screen scheduling hassles.  Your candidates are tired of phone screen scheduling hassles.  Set them up with a virtual one-way interview and let them interview themselves at their convenience.  No more hassles.

Additionally, you are tired of taking phone screen notes.  You are tired of reading incomplete and unrevealing phone screen notes.  Why not learn what the candidate has to say by directly listening to the candidate speaking?  Plus, you get to see the candidate at the same time.  Doesn’t this make more sense?

Bad candidates are wasting your time – How many more times are you going to spend 40 minutes interviewing candidates that you know within the first five minutes of meeting them aren’t a good fit for the job?  Stop wasting valuable time and pre-screen your candidates with video interviewing!  Watch a candidate’s video interview and know within 5 minutes whether the candidate is a good fit.

Rushed hiring decisions are resulting in bad hires – According to a recent Careerbuilder survey, “rushing the hiring decision” was the most frequently cited reason for bad hires.  What you need is a fast, effective way to make a good hire.  Video interviewing allows you to review and re-review a candidate’s recorded interview in minutes and compare it to other candidate interviews.  You are also able to share it via email with your colleagues to get their opinions.  Need to make a quick but well informed hiring decision?  Bam, use video interviewing!

The dreaded “D” word keeps you up at night – “Discrimination”.  In the world of hiring, discrimination is an issue we have all got to be concerned about and avoid like the plague. Automated video interviewing provides a structured interview that reduces the chances of discrimination.  As an added bonus, video interviewing is a record of your non-discriminatory practices.

Are you afraid to pull that proverbial trigger?  Will you continue to let your beleaguered hiring process devour your time and reputation?

So here is my challenge to you.  Without making a major investment of time or money, and without implementing any change to your hiring process, pick one hire in 2013 and use video interviewing.

6 Ways to Tell if a Robot is Coming for Your Job

Technology has had a major impact on human labor for centuries.  For example, Pony Express Rider doesn’t exactly have a bullet next to it on the list of “hot jobs”.

Robotics is one of the more recent technological “revolutions” that has impacted the American workforce.  Some suggest that the stagnation in middle class wages is at least in part due to technology reducing the demand for labor, particularly certain unskilled and semi-skilled labor.  We know for example that while manufacturing output in the United States is growing, the manufacturing workforce continues its long term decline.  Industrial robots have taken on more and more repetitive, exacting tasks.Today, robotics enhanced with artificial intelligence are promising the robot invasion will continue into other areas of previously human-only endeavor.

So, what are the warning signs that a robot may be your replacement?

One, is a significant amount of your job made up of repetitive tasks?  This is a no brainer.  If you’re putting tab A into slot B, or collecting products X, Y and Z to pack and ship, you may want to think about how you can add more value to your labor.  Or at least get some compromising photos of the boss.

Two, is most of what you work with in digital form?  Once information is digitized it can be organized and managed by artificial intelligence, or at the very least distributed to those who add value to it to manage.  Does anyone remember there was once a job called “word processing clerk”?

Three, can “you” be replaced by a “digital you”?  There are no jobs for Orcs or goblins anymore, because they can be digitized in highly realistic 3-D.

Four, are many other people doing exactly the same job as you?  The more of “you” there are the greater the incentive to find a way to automate what you do.  Just 15 jobs account for 25% of the U.S. workforce.  The top 3 are retail sales clerks, cashiers, and office clerks.

Five, do you drive a vehicle for pay?   Well, Google has an automated vehicle that can drive in traffic.  I’m not sure they have tested it in Manhattan’s traffic yet, but you can see where this is going.

Finally, is your job extremely dangerous or risky?  The most dangerous jobs are fisherman, logger, pilots, refuse collectors, roofers, steel workers, farmers and (see number five) drivers.  As automation continues to improve organizations are incentivized to robotize these hazardous jobs where possible.  Doing so will eliminate the high insurance costs of employing people in these industries.

The debate continues about robots and their role on the labor force and the economy, good and bad.  Some economists believe we will have to design a whole new economic system to deal with the changeover from human labor to robot labor.  Others believe robots will usher in a new era of greater employment and higher wages.  But what doesn’t seem to be much of a matter for debate is the inevitability of more automation and the growth of robots in the workforce.

The Free Market Mostly Doesn’t Work for Healthcare

I recently visited my doctor for an annual checkup.  His practice had recently computerized their records.  As he was going through my medical history he started laughing.  Perturbed, I asked him to explain.  He said “of all my patients no one has had nearly as many diseases and conditions as you, particularly the unusual stuff.”

OK, so starting with birth I’ve endured circumcision, migraine headaches, having my tonsils out at age 10 and proceeding through 3 broken bones, mononucleosis, dysentery, malaria, a 5-inch splinter embedded in my foot, scrombroid fish toxin, shingles, 2 cancers (both cured by surgery), and the resorption of a tooth – and that’s just a partial list – let’s just say I’ve had a bit of experience with the healthcare system.  I’m here to tell you that the Free Market (cap F, cap m to denote the version worshipped by many of our fellow countrymen) just does not work for emergency healthcare.

Sure, the market works fine for elective healthcare like Lasik eye repair or cosmetic surgery.  That’s because these elective procedures, unlike emergency healthcare, meet the requirements of the free market model, characterized by this textbook definition:  “many buyers and sellers in the market and none of them having the capacity to significantly influence prices of goods and services.”  Free Markets are less effective when the buyer and seller do not have equal information or equal freedom of action.

When you’re faced with a medical emergency you just don’t have anything close to equal information or equal freedom of action.  Just wait until a doctor pops the news that you have aggressive cancer and require surgery within 90 days.  Suddenly shopping for the lowest price healthcare deal just isn’t a priority.  I doubt most people would have the presence of mind to ask their cancer surgeon “how much will this cost?” or “how do you get paid?”, the kind of questions you would want to ask as an actor in a truly Free Market.

Unfortunately for our Free Market principles, if you do ask “how much will my surgery cost?” almost no provider of emergency health care will be able to give you an answer.  I’ve started asking this question and by far the most common answer is, “no one ever asks that, I don’t know.”

The one-sided nature of our emergency healthcare market has opened the door to too many situations where healthcare providers have taken advantage of their unequal market power to charge unconscionably high prices on what is known as “fee for service”, with the fee set by the doctor.  The greed engendered by the uneven playing field in emergency health care has even seen doctors corner the market as providers of over-priced medical tests like MRI’s, which they then turn around and prescribe even when not necessary.  Certainly there are providers who do not participate in the market on a “fee for services” (which translates into “charge as much as I possibly can”) basis, but all too many do.  A number of national commentators have called for reforming, or even doing away, with fee for service.

Now, when I “shop” for emergency health care services I look for doctors who are paid a salary by the hospital systems for which they work, rather than enrich the pirates of fee for service.   I urge you to be aware of the difference and do the same.

Hiring Managers: 6 Symptoms of Poor Interviewing Syndrome

Bad hires cost your company a truck load of money!  According to a recent Careerbuilder study, 41% of surveyed companies indicated that bad hires cost their organization more than $25K while an additional 24% claimed bad hires cost them more than $50K.  This is a serious issue especially if you are the hiring manager responsible for these poor hiring decisions.

Now there are many reasons why bad hires occur.  The hiring manager might have poor interviewing skills, the hiring decision might be rushed, background and reference checks could have been overlooked, or perhaps the hiring company just has a poor image and can’t source top talent as a result.  For the purposes of this post I would like to focus on one of the main culprits of bad hires and that is poor interviewing skills.

Poor Interviewing Syndrome as I like to call it, or P.I.S. for short, afflicts thousands of U.S. hiring managers annually and costs organizations millions in organizational costs.  Tony Hsieh, President of Zappos, believes that hiring mistakes have cost Zappos over $100 million since the company’s inception.  Recognizing the symptoms of Poor Interviewing Syndrome can help you combat this affliction and get you back to better hiring.

Below are six symptoms of Poor Interviewing Syndrome:

Symptom #1 – Believing you are the Mike Wallace of candidate interviewing:  Most all interviewers, even the ones who haphazardly wing the interview, feel they are great.  Repeating in each interview, “What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?” doesn’t make you Morley Safer.  If your employees are failing to adequately perform their duties or are not interacting well with others (the two most cited reasons for employee failure) you are failing as an interviewer.  You must first acknowledge your condition before you can begin to treat its symptoms.

Symptom #2 – Deciding too quickly: Within five minutes of meeting a candidate, sufferers of P.I.S. often decide whether the candidate is a good fit for their organization.  Too frequently this decision is based on the hiring manager’s subconscious or not so subconscious biases for or against the candidate.  Researchers from HarvardBusinessSchool found that the greatest sufferers are those who allowed their insecurities or unconscious biases to propel the process, which can have a worse effect on hiring decisions than if a candidate were chosen randomly.

Additionally, hiring managers who make final decisions early in the interview are often disengaged or act bored for the remaining portion.  This prevents them from gaining further valuable insight into the candidate’s true personality and reflects poorly on the company.

Symptom #3 – Inconsistency: “Winging” it as mentioned above often leads to inconsistent interviews.    P.I.S. sufferers need a game plan of what they want to achieve in the interview and a list of questions that all candidates must answer.  Structured interviews are cited as being an optimum method to reduce bias and discrimination in the interview process.

Symptom #4 – Not listening enough:   According to Manny Avradmidis, Head of Global Human Resources at the American Management Association, the candidate should get 80% of the air time.  Poor interviewers tend to speak more and listen less.

Symptom #5 – Asking silly questions: “Why are manhole covers round?”  Have you ever heard of this question being asked?  How about “how many golf balls can fit in a school bus?”  Severe sufferers of Poor Interviewing Syndrome often feel clever by offering up ridiculous questions to job candidates.  These questions are off putting to the talent they are trying to hire and have no significant bearing on the candidate’s ability to perform their duties.  By the way, these questions were once asked by Microsoft and Google respectively.  No one is safe from P.I.S. it would seem.

Symptom #6 – Not knowing the law: Similar to asking silly questions, P.I.S. sufferers also ask inappropriate questions that can expose the company to discrimination lawsuits.  For instance asking a woman if she plans to have children in the immediate future could imply you might not want to employ a pregnant woman for fear she will take maternity leave.  Though the question might seem more harmless than say asking what a candidate’s religious beliefs are, it is no less damaging.  Non-sufferers are actively aware of what is and is not appropriate.

To prevent P.I.S. from spreading through your company all those involved in the hiring process must be diligent in not only recognizing the symptoms within themselves but also in those around them.  Failure to do so could cost your organization thousands!

Talent Shortage? I Think Not!

According to recent surveys by Manpower group nearly 49% of U.S. organizations are struggling to find employees for their mission critical positions even though the Manpower graphunemployment rate continues to hover near 8%.  The three most cited reasons are lack of applicants, the applicants’ demand for more money than is being offered and the lack of experience among the available applicants.

As an individual with executive search experience who has faced the challenges of trying to place qualified applicants with “picky” employers, I take exception to these reasons.  Let’s examine each one more closely.

55% say there is a lack of applicants:  The hardest to fill jobs are skilled trades (plumbers, carpenters, etc.), engineers and sales people.  Admittedly I have never recruited for a plumber or carpenter but have conducted numerous searches for sales people and engineers.  Personally I have not found a lack of candidates for these positions.  Throw up a job posting and you are sure to get a few dozen applicants within the first few days.  However I have found that strict hiring requirements developed by the hiring manager as they look for their “silver bullet” candidate often make placing a candidate more difficult.  Requiring the candidate to be of a certain age, have every last qualification, live within a commutable distance, deny relocation assistance and not offer a wage commensurate with the position, certainly thins the herd of applicants.  This brings me to the second most often cited reason.

54% say the candidate is looking for more pay than is being offered:  Through all the searches on which I’ve worked, rarely do I find a candidate meeting all the job requirements and experience who is also willing to work for the offered salary and more often than not that candidate is eliminated for some other criteria.  Now of course many candidates think highly of themselves and believe their salaries should match their ego but I truly find that hiring managers want seasoned professionals at junior prices.  Why would a candidate making “x” go to work for someone and make “x-y”?  The position is open.  It is waiting to be filled.  Why not at least match the candidate’s current salary?  I will tell you why in a second but first reason number three.

44% say the candidates are not experienced enough:  Honestly this may be true.  If you do use job postings, you will find that at least 50% of the applicants don’t have the necessary qualifications.  Today a discrepancy also exists between the college education required to perform certain jobs and the education students are actually obtaining.  For instance philosophy and political science degrees are seldom required for mechanical engineering and software sales.  Training to overcome knowledge gaps is rarely provided to capable applicants.  Only 28% of the 40,000 worldwide employers in a recent survey said they are willing to provide such training.

So if filling open positions is so critical why are employers unwilling to offer more training or more flexibility with their offered salary?  The reason is somewhat startling.  Manpower’s 2012 survey revealed that 56% of companies believe their unfilled positions have little impact on customers and investors.  This is a 56% increase from a year before!

So the majority of companies don’t feel their open positions even affect their business.  If this is true then what incentive do they have to hire anyone for their open positions?  If they have no incentive to fill their open positions then how can most of them chime in on the lack of available talent for these positions?  Are their opinions on talent shortage not skewed by their lack of need?  After all, if you don’t really perceive a need for something or someone then you are in the position to be selectively choosy about your decision.  As a hiring manger you won’t feel the pressure of time to fill.  In other words you are less willing to settle and so if companies are waiting only for the Marissa Mayers, Kobe Bryants and Steven Speilbergs to cross their doorstep then yes, a talent shortage does exist.

This takes us back around to the assumption that the theory of a talent shortage is a bit overhyped and really, truly a lack of motivated employers is the culprit.