From Candidate Screening

Can We Not Discriminate Against Bad Habits?

A recent Gallup poll of Americans showed that 56% of smokers believe they are at least occasionally discriminated against in public or employment life with 13% of them claiming that they are discriminated against daily.  Smokers report the most common forms of discrimination come in the forms of bans at places such as beaches and parks.  In addition, smokers face higher insurance rates and smokers claim they are discriminated against in the hiring process.

My posts generally revolve around hiring so I will neglect the challenges smokers face at the beach and in Yellowstone and focus on their hiring dilemmas.  Yes, smokers do face discrimination during the hiring process and may be turned down for employment solely because of their habit.  Reasons for this are smokers have higher health care costs and absenteeism from work.  Co-workers are also likely to grow annoyed with the frequent smoke breaks that smokers take.  For instance my son, a non-smoker, frequently complained about having to leave work late because the individual who was assigned to take over his register first wanted to have a cigarette before coming on duty. 

A few states protect smokers from job discrimination but is this reasonable?  If an employee or job applicant is engaged in a habit that is scientifically proven to be detrimental to themselves, to those around them and increases company expenses, why would that individual not expect some sort of negative reaction?  An employee sneaking off for five minutes every hour to look at pornography on their mobile device would expect a rightful reprimand even if their behavior in no way affected their co-workers or cost the company an increase in expenses.  Why then are smokers miffed?

I used to smoke back when smoking wasn’t so out of vogue.  I sympathize with the cravings smokers have but I also worked and never smoked until I departed work.  Not smoking is possible for long stretches of time.   A smoker cannot expect their fellow co-workers not to grow perturbed by their frequent cigarette breaks especially if the non-smokers must pick up the slack in their co-worker’s absence.

Wikipedia defines addiction as “a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences.”  If an individual is not truly addicted to smoking then their best course of action is to quit or at the very least, refrain from stepping outside every hour.  However, if they claim to be addicted, then by definition they must expect adverse consequences.  These adverse consequences may manifest as discrimination in the hiring process.  I take issue with using the word “discrimination” though.  Not hiring an employee engaged in a bad habit that causes them to work less and costs the company more in healthcare costs sounds more like plain common sense than prejudice.

Do you agree or disagree?

Video Interviewing…An Abomination or Enabler?

I read recently an article on Forbes.com entitled, “A New Recruiting Abomination: One-Way Video Interviews” by Liz Ryan, founder of Human Workplace.  Obviously as the title suggests, she is not impressed by this growing recruiting technology.  Here are a few quotes.

“It is disheartening to me as a long-time HR person to see how badly some HR and Staffing folks damage and degrade the recruiting function by building in talent-repelling processes like one-way video interviewing.”

“The emergence of one-way video job interviews in recruiting speaks to incompetence at a high level…”

“Great candidates will not stick around to be treated like dirt — nor should they!”

“Making your job applicants sit in front of their laptops smiling at the camera and answering questions asked by a machine is the loudest possible sign that your company does not value talent in the least.”

“There is no better way to signal to talented candidates ‘You mean nothing to us’ than by assigning them to sit through an oral exam led by a piece of code…”

I’m going out on a limb to suggest that Ms. Ryan sees little if any value in one-way video interviews.  Before I begin my defense I want to make known that I work for a video interviewing vendor and as a former search consultant have used with great success one-way video interviews in the past. Here are a few experiences I would like to share where video interviews have helped candidates.

An individual applied to a position and he was rejected by the employer because his resume indicated he was in a particular age bracket. The search consultant had the candidate complete a recorded one-way interview which he then sent to the hiring manager. The candidate was brought in for an interview after the hiring manager saw the candidate’s charisma and energy level.

An unemployed college student completed a mock interview and emailed it to employers. She received an offer without even going in for a face to face interview.

A candidate working on an oil rig in the North Sea was able to get an interview with a company operating in Romania after I (sitting in Virginia) forwarded a link of the candidate’s recorded interview to the VP of HR in Romania. This happened because the video interview allowed everyone to work on their own schedule when convenient for them.

I sat in a board room with a company President and VP of HR.  On their monitor we were reviewing the video interviews of five candidates.  The fifth candidate, who had conducted his interview at 1 a.m, the only time convenient for him, so dazzled the president that the president called him on the spot and offered him a job!

As a video interviewing provider we in no way advocate using automated interviews to replace the face-to-face interview.  Rather we suggest using video interviewing as a screening measure, superior to phone screening, which allows recruiters to better evaluate candidates with a structured interviewing process that better eliminates subconscious biases which creep into unstructured live interviews.  The candidate is better served, not only because they may complete the interview at their convenience, but also their recorded interview can be evaluated repeatedly and shared with decision makers so a more informed evaluation can be given.  Candidates, especially top talent, are severely inconvenienced by a phone screening process that relies upon note taking and which provides an inadequate device to make a true apples to apples comparison between subjects.

Not too surprisingly the Aberdeen Group’s research into video interviewing shows that among best-in-class companies which employ such technology, hiring manager satisfaction has improved while time to hire and cost to fill has decreased.

In short, video interviewing was not designed to be abominable to candidates but rather to free them from inconvenience and discrimination.

Video Interviewing: What To Expect As a User.

You have heard all about video interviewing and its potential benefits to your hiring process. You may have read blog posts and reviewed the websites of several vendors trying to get a better sense of what to expect but still are a bit confused.  Here is where I break it down for you.

Users/Administrators:

As a user of a video interviewing product you will be given access to a portal from where you can access a number of functionalities.  Within most vendor portals you should be able to do the following: web-cam-796227_640

  • Access candidate interviews.
  • Invite candidates to take live or automated interviews.
  • Create custom questions which your candidates will answer.
  • Share completed candidate interviews with colleagues or clients.

Eighty percent of your portal usage will either be in setting up candidates or in reviewing and sharing candidate interviews. Video interviewing vendors will each offer their own bells and whistles but the majority, if not all, will offer the basic functionality listed above. Other common features are scoring candidates and the ability to compare interviews of a set of candidates side-by-side.

Inviting candidates to complete a video interview generally takes less than a minute.  When you share a completed interview with a colleague or client, they will receive a link to that candidate’s interview.  In most cases, videos cannot be downloaded and stored locally.  They are hosted in a secure environment on your vendor’s servers.

Vendors are required by U.S. law to store your video interviews for a period of up to one year (and 2 years in California).  Even if you cancel your subscription, those interviews should still be available to you.

Job candidates:

Job candidates for the most part will receive an email invitation from you to complete a video interview. You may set the expiration date by which it must be completed.  Candidates may log in on a computer or on a compatible mobile device.  Most vendors provide apps with versions for Android and iOS devices (ipads/iphones).

After logging in, your job candidates will be provided with basic instructions and then will be taken through a brief process that tests your candidate’s camera, speakers and microphone to ensure they are working properly.

Once your candidate begins the interview, the questions generally will appear one at a time on the screen and your candidates will have one chance to answer them before moving to the next question.  The length of time your candidates have to respond will depend on the parameters you established when you first setup the interview.  Response time may vary from sixty seconds to an unlimited amount.  Some vendors provide options that allow candidates to re-answer the question.  Once a candidate completes the interview they can log out.

If a candidate is taking part in a live interview with you, they will log in and meet with you online through your vendor’s interface.  Once you have concluded asking questions, you and the candidate may exit the interview.  Some providers offer the option to record or not record the live interview.

If you have any further questions please ask us.  Hire-Intelligence has been a pioneer in the world of video interviewing.  We are happy to assist you with your needs.

The Dark Side Of Positive Candidate Attributes

What, if anything, could a hiring manager say negatively about a job candidate that was exceptionally achieving? How about a candidate exhibiting high levels of conscientiousness or sociability?  Surely no objections could be made about a star-wars-1724901_640cooperative or accommodating candidate!

In their quest to find culturally fitting job candidates, recruiters and hiring managers often yield to the results of behavioral assessments which paint either a positive or negative picture about the candidates’ potentials.  Of course specific traits are more favorable for certain roles than others.  For example, a quiet, unsociable candidate may not be suited for a sales or customer service role but may be perfectly suited for a role such a programming.  Some traits, however, are considered so universally positive that hiring managers may ignore the negative aspects of such traits that could manifest in their candidates after they are hired.

Achieving, for example, is a personality trait that suggests few drawbacks.  High achievers are often sought after for being dedicated, ambitious, and dynamic.  Yet, have you considered that an exceptionally achieving worker may also be unscrupulous, self-seeking and ruthless in their pursuit of their personal goals?  A candidate who already likes to bend the rules and also exhibits the dark aspects of achieving could potentially be an organizational problem.

Candidates who are sociable/outgoing with warm, friendly demeanors may not often be turned away in favor of quiet, less sociable candidates, but every trait has a dark side.  These candidates may be excessively talkative, boisterous, or even uninhibited to the point that they are disruptive and tactless.

Here are a few more outwardly positive personality characteristics and their dark alter egos. 

·         Confident – Arrogant, smug, patronizing

·         Bold – Reckless, unprepared, brash

·         Assertive – Overbearing, blunt, dominating, forceful.  Combine this with confidence and boldness and you are liable to hire a Wolf of Wall Street type.

·         Accommodating – Submissive, passive, pushover

·         Tenacious – Obstinate, inflexible,

·         Disciplined – Fussy, obsessive, dictatorial

·         Decisive – Opinionated, impetuous, trigger happy

As shown above with assertive, many of these negative characteristics, when coupled with corresponding traits, may be amplified. A person with a high level of confidence and moderate levels of assertiveness and or boldness may not be an issue, however high levels of each may produce a toxic performer. My earlier post on this subject showed that parting ways with toxic employees, even if ranked in the top 1% for productivity, saved a company more in expense than what the company earned from the superstar’s production.

So, when you are looking to hire your next Jedi, be careful whether you are hiring an individual who wants to destroy the Death Star or who wants to build a Death Star.  You may end up with a bold, confident Vader over a bold, confident Luke!

Employee Turnover: It’s Not Always As Bad As You Think

In business most professionals understand that employee turnover is bad while employee retention is good.  Perhaps because in the corporate world success is measured in dollars gained vs. dollars lost and most know that employee turnover is a big expense.  The cost of replacing entry level employees is 30-50 percent of their annual salary while mid-level employees may cost a company as much as 150 percent of their salary to replace.

Retaining employees for as long as you are able to avoid turnover costs is rational, however turnover can also be beneficial.  Years ago my colleague was speaking about turnover with a gentleman who ran a call center.  This manager found that exit3 turnover, after a period of time had elapsed, was beneficial because he could hire entry level call center agents at a pay rate lower than what the exiting agents had been earning.  Periodic turnover allowed the call center manager to reduce costs.

One issue often associated with employee turnover is a decrease in company morale as remaining employees have to shoulder the responsibilities the departing employee left behind until the role is filled.  Low employee morale of course can also be created by retaining a disruptive employee who poisons your culture and office atmosphere.  The departure of such an employee could produce positive results within days.  In a previous post I pointed to a study which revealed that avoiding a toxic worker, even one in the top 1% for productivity, saves a company far more than the cost savings they would receive from employing the superstar.

Turnover also provides the opportunity to inject more energy into your business. Long retained workers may lose passion for what they do.  While they leave to seek greater challenges elsewhere with a renewed vigor, your company may provide a similar challenging opportunity to an incoming employee.  Though you may have to train them, their energy level and spirit for the new challenges that lie ahead may spark morale and spirit in the workplace.

Turnover, especially in senior positions, may eliminate the tendency for mirror image hiring.  Mirror image hiring is a hiring manager’s propensity to hire those with similar backgrounds or behavioral characteristics.  According to I/O psychologist Allen Gorman, “The ‘similar-to-me’ bias could also lead to creativity stagnation and lack of innovation in organizations.  This happens because as organizations continue to hire employees that have the same backgrounds and experiences as those already in the organization, employees begin to think and behave in the same fashion due to their shared experiences.”

Turnover is uncomfortable not just in terms of revenue lost and the expenses associated with finding/training a new employee but also the concern of how a new employee will fit into one’s corporate culture.  Change however brings new life and enthusiasm and so turnover should be viewed as an opportunity to not only improve your company but potentially reduce expenses in the long run.

Interview4 Video Interviewing Reduces Customer Turnover Six Percentage Points

Calling Interview4 video interviewing “a life changer”, a large retailer finds the service not only reduces turnover, but also saves time and money by allowing the screening of more candidates in the same amount of shopping-centre-1003650_640time that used to be devoted to phone screening.  Eliminating the agony of the phone interview has resulted in happier teams and a better corporate culture.

The quality of job candidates brought in for live interviews increased markedly.  Each candidate who took a video interview could be evaluated easily in just ten to twelve minutes, putting more time into each recruiter’s day.

Before Interview4, picking candidates to be advanced in the hiring process was hotly contested because only one person actually spoke to each candidate via phone.  Everyone else just saw the written summaries of the calls.

Now, the recorded video interviews can easily be shared with team leaders, program managers, and other decision makers.  They can review, grade and comment on each candidate.Virtual video interviews are also convenient to schedule for both the employer and the candidates.

Finally, the Interview4 team got high marks for their customer focus and willingness to cater to customers’ needs.

Internapalooza: What Type of Millennial Do We Really Want?

Internapalooza, an event I had not heard of until recently, is as its name suggests, a gathering of interns.  More specifically the event hosts interns interested in working for Silicon Valley companies and from what I people-1230872_640can tell, this July 11th, Internapalooza’s fifth annual event will take over AT&T Park in San Francisco with over 8,000 interns registered to attend.  The event offers interns the chance to mingle with their peers, speak with executives from dozens of top tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Paypal, Dropbox, and Microsoft and even play games.  According to the schedule the free event begins at 6:00 and ends at 10:00 but that is when the Intern After Party begins and continues until 1:00 am. 

A viral story about the After Party is how I first heard of Internapalooza.  (I’m a forty-something who lives on the East Coast so cut me some slack.)  A Microsoft recruiter sent the following email to an intern which the intern’s roommate posted online. 

“HEY BAE INTERN! <3

Hi! I am Kim, a Microsoft University Recruiter.  My crew is coming down from our HQ in Seattle to hang with you and the crowd of the bay area interns at Internapalooza on 7/11.

BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, we’re throwing an exclusive after party the night of the event at our San Francisco office and you’re invited! There will be hella noms, lots of dranks, the best beats and just like last year, we’re breaking out the Yammer beer pong tables!

HELL YES TO GETTING LIT ON A MONDAY NIGHT.”

Okay so several things are wrong with this letter that Microsoft confirmed originated from them. One is the cringe worthy use of slang in an attempt to sound hip! “Hey Bae”? “Hella noms”?  “Lots of dranks”?  Not only is the jargon embarrassing but evidently it is also misused. “Dranks” which I’m assuming is meant to refer to drinks, is actually slang for codeine cough syrup that some young people ingest to get buzzed. I’m pretty sure Microsoft won’t be passing around Robitussin at their party. Perhaps the worst thing about this letter is the ending reference to getting “Lit” on a Monday night.  While looking cool may enable Microsoft to appear more attractive to millennials or the upcoming Generation Z, getting drunk is hardly the vibe they should be promoting.  The letter is embarrassingly funny but not catastrophic to Microsoft’s image.

Actually the email does not stray far from the laid back vibe presented for the whole event.  Following is some verbiage from Internapalooza’s website, “Here’s to the crazy ones.  The misfits.  The rebels.  The trouble makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status-quo.” As I reflect on Microsoft’s email and the statement on Internapalooza’s website, I wonder if the wrong message is being sent to millennials in an attempt to recruit them?

For years news articles and blogs have been written about how to manage (deal with) Millennials in the work place.  Millennials have been stereotyped as “entitled, lazy, narcissistic and addicted to social media.”  And yet events such as Internapalooza supposedly aren’t looking for the conformist millennial but rather the “crazy misfit” who breaks the rules.  Do we want millennials who will show up for work on time, focused and ready to do their jobs, or do we want to stay up late downing brews with them on a Monday night?

Do you think a responsible manager will ever exclaim over a raucous game of late night beer pong with his subordinates, “HELL YES TO SHOWING UP LATE FOR WORK ON A TUESDAY MORNING!”?  The answer is “no” and that’s your answer to the type of Millennial we really want.

Should You Hire A Superstar Who is Toxic?

Every organization wants superstar employees and some will even delay the hiring process weeks or even months until that perfect candidate blips on the smoke-1192648_640radar.  What happens though if once you find your purple squirrel, they have mange or rabies?  Do you cut them lose or keep them around for their quota busting, nut gathering ability?

Economist Dylan Minor and Cornerstone OnDemand’s chief analytics officer, Michael Housman, examined nearly 60,000 workers to determine the cost of retaining toxic workers.  In their study, they define “toxic” as conduct harmful to an organization’s people or property.  They found that retaining toxic workers, even those residing in the top 1% for productivity, cost far more than the rewards reaped from a toxic employee’s high production.

Their study revealed that a top one percent worker could produce over $5,000 in annual cost savings however a company could avoid $12,000 in costs by not hiring a toxic worker.  In short a toxic worker, even if they are super productive, is far more costly to an organization than an average, non-toxic worker.  Take a look at the chart below provided in their study!

Toxic - cost savings

 

 

 

Even though a worker in only the top 25% of productivity saves a company far less than one in the top 1%, the study shows that replacing a superstar toxic worker with a less than stellar non-toxic worker, to still be the more cost effective choice.

Why are toxic workers so much more expensive?  The most apparent answer is turnover.  Toxic workers drive other employees away and the cost of replacing those employees is high not to mention that morale and productivity often drop until a replacement is found.  Additionally toxic workers produce other toxic workers.  Negativity spreads like wildfire.

Interestingly enough, toxic workers are more productive in terms of their output and one 2013 study found that unethical workers remain longer at organizations.  This explains why toxic workers are so often selected and even retained for long timespans.

In summary, avoid hiring a toxic worker if you can but should you find yourself burdened with one or many, remove them despite their high production.  As former GE CEO Jack Welch put it, “People are removed for having the wrong values…we don’t even talk about the numbers.”

Can You Hire Top Talent in Only 10 Days?

Last year the national average for filling an open position reached 29 days which was a record.  Believing that recruiters are simply dragging their feet and waiting for a purple squirrel is a common assumption time-481444_640and true to some extent.  To be fair though to recruiters and hiring managers, the number of measures that must be taken the moment a position becomes vacant needs to be considered.

Recruiters must:

  • Advertise the position
  • Identify acceptable candidates
  • Conduct interviews
  • Complete background and reference checks
  • Extend an offer
  • Wait for the candidate to accept the offer

When you consider all of this, 29 days doesn’t seem so long but it is!  According to some statistics, top talent remains on the market for only 10 days!  Additionally, during that 29 days, as the position remains open, productivity, revenue and morale drops among your employees.  The solution seems simple.  Speed up the hiring process! Weed out candidates with an ATS.  Conduct more interviews in less time with video interviewing!  Even with those measures in place, is ten days to fill a realistic goal?

Recruiting in the business world isn’t like recruiting in the sports or entertainment industry.  My team has an open position at quarterback and Cam Newton is available?  You’d better believe we are going after him! He’s a proven star!  Carmello Anthony is a free agent and I need a forward?  My VP of People Operations is calling up Carmello’s agent.  My movie’s director just dropped out?  Let’s see, is Scorsese Spielberg or Christopher Nolan available? No?  What about Alejandro Inarritu?  He’s been nominated twice in the last two years.

Within these fields top talent can easily be identified.  Right from the start a short list of stars to fill the open position is formed.  In the corporate world unless you are poaching executives at the “C” level from high profile companies such as Amazon, Apple or Google, most top talent is relatively unknown.  You don’t know that you have a potential Steph Curry, Odell Beckham Jr., or Cate Blanchett applying for your open position.  At least not from the start.

Though your job candidate’s resume may scream success up front, you certainly want more than a few days to determine the validity of their credentials.  Assuming an organization is lucky enough to find their dream candidate within seven days of posting a job, recruiters are left with only three days to interview the candidate, verify references and negotiate an offer before the candidate accepts another.  Careerbuilder released a survey a few years ago and the results showed that 41% of employers believed a bad hiring decision cost them upwards of $25,000 and 43% of them blamed their bad hires on a rushed hiring decision.

Organizations face a problem. Move too quickly during the hiring process and they risk hiring the wrong candidate.  Move too slowly and they risk a great candidate getting away. Move slower still, 29 days slow, and they risk losing not only the good candidates but all of the rest.  Hiring managers can ill afford to hold out and wait for a Steph Curry or an Adrian Peterson.  As Dr. John Sullivan points out, “…it’s mostly luck if the most desirable candidates decide to enter the job market precisely when you coincidentally have a job opening.”

So can you hire a great candidate in ten days?  Yes, but only if luck is on your side.  Generally you shouldn’t try because your rushed hiring decision could produce a bad hire.  However if you drag your feet too long waiting for the perfect candidate, your luck will turn to misfortune.  That is if you believe losing revenue is unfortunate.

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Trumps All Other Traits

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a person’s ability to be aware of and monitor their own behaviors and emotions.  Individuals with high EQs better understand their strengths and weaknesses, have more self-control girl-990585_640and exhibit more initiative. 

In a previous post, “Skills vs. Attitude: What Lands the Job?” I noted that cosmetics giant, L’Oreal found that their sales people with a high emotional intelligence score outsold their peers by $90,000 per year.  Further corroborating the benefit of emotional intelligence, at least among sales people, a study of over 40 Fortune 500 companies indicated that sales people with high EQs performed better than those with medium to low EQs by 50%.  The same study showed that technical programmers with EQs in the top 10% produced software three times faster than those outside this range.

The benefits of high EQ are not limited to increased productivity. Studies have shown that workplaces with lower average EQs, in addition to experiencing lower productivity, also report higher rates of burnout and turnover.

The vast benefits of high EQs don’t end with high productivity and lower turnover.  Studies also show that those with lower EQ scores experience twice the rate of anxiety, depression and substance abuse all of which lead to increased absenteeism from work.  Individuals suffering from depression are better than twice as likely to take sick days.  Lost productivity and increased medical expenses as a result of depression costs businesses more than $83 billion dollars each year and these expenses occur year after year.

Depression aside, stress and anxiety suppress the immune system making one vulnerable to illness which of course leads to increased absenteeism.  Since high EQ individuals are less prone to bouts of stress and anxiety, their ability to better fight off infection and remain at work is superior.  Even more impressive is the research that suggests emotional intelligence can speed up the recovery of major illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.  Studies have shown that men and women recovering from cancer or heart attacks were able to reduce their levels of stress, keep a better diet and build a stronger immune system when developing emotional intelligence skills during recovery.

In short, employees with high emotional intelligence produce more, handle stressful situations better and work more often than their low EQ counterparts.  I suggest you hire them!  

If you are a high EQ employee, don’t worry, there are benefits for you too.  Since individuals with higher EQs are more productive they naturally make more money.  Studies show that every extra point of emotional intelligence adds $1,300 to an individual’s annual salary.  This is true in any part of the world, in any industry and at any level!

The bottom line is that cultivating emotional intelligence is good for your business, good for your health and even good for your wallet!