1. Communications Skills (listening, verbal, written).
Being a clear, concise and effective communicator is critical in the workplace. This skill is evaluated based upon your initial interaction with the hiring manager. Think of this as your “first impression” skill.
Having the ability to listen, write, speak effectively and facilitate communication is absolutely critical in whatever profession you are engaged in. The bottom line is that if you can communicate well – and have the ability to showcase this – you have a leg-up on the competition.
2. Analytical & Research Skills.
Every potential employer is seeking employees who exemplify improvement. No work environment is perfect, so this is an ongoing opportunity to showcase your skill. Your ability to assess a situation, identify potential solutions and then execute accordingly is critical in the workplace. This skill is heightened if you are able to view the situation from all perspectives.
3. Self Motivation.
Be proactive! Put forward your ideas and solutions. Every employer seeks a candidate who is reliable, takes initiative and works hard – so be ready to take action at any time.
Showcase your work ethic. Demonstrate that you can work without supervision and fulfill your commitments. Show up on time and be someone your employer can depend on. Exceed your job description.
Work confidently within a group and let your voice be heard. Maintain effective communication and a cohesive bond between your coworkers. Because so many opportunities involve working in a group setting, you must have the ability to work well with others while maintaining professionalism.
5. Technical Skills.
These are what you need to actually perform your work. In today’s world, most jobs require an understanding of computer hardware and software; including e-mail, word processing and spreadsheets. This skill set can translate across the job board, but varies depending on the job.
6. Strength of Character.
It is important to maintain your self-identity in the workplace. You need to stand up for yourself, defend your ideas and opinions and stand by what you believe in. Employers want leaders who can set an example to the rest of the employees so that they too can act with strength of character.
7. Interpersonal Skills.
These skills are a way for employers to see how you relate to other people within your team as well as people outside of the organization. This can be measured by how you handle yourself in stressful situations, how you treat people and what your level of emotional intelligence is. Given that we spend majority of our day in the workplace, it is crucial that you possess the ability to relate to your coworkers, inspire others and minimize conflict.
This deals with your ability to manage multiple assignments and tasks while setting priorities and adapting to changing conditions. Employers desire a strong but flexible team player who thrives in an environment where they are asked to effectively prioritize and juggling multiple tasks.
This deals with your ability to effectively plan, organize, and execute within an allotted timeframe. It also involves goal-setting. Employers seek a results-driven achiever with a strong sense of detail orientation and time management.
10. Problem Solving Skills.
The key to handling problems in a professional manner is not to let your emotions get in the way. Employers value an employee they can trust and do not have to micromanage constantly. Analyze the problem and examine the underlying causes before coming up with a solution and the means to achieving it.
Showcase your skills! Look for ways to display the skills that employers want during every step of your job search. This includes your resume, your cover letter, interviews, in your follow-up and even on social networking sites. Improving these skills is never-ending, so continue to build on them once you start your new opportunity.
-Meredith Findling, Resource Manager at Kavaliro
Being in the recruiting industry you gain a unique insight into the world of employment and various paths that lead to that goal. There is no doubt the recession has been tough for most of us, especially recruiters. When a downturn like this occurs, many companies will make drastic cuts in their organization.
Many companies cut too deeply and are now left short as demand increases. Current staff is left doing the jobs of two or even three employees and some employees even took demotions in position and pay cuts on top of that. Many companies recognize this, but won’t leap to hire full-time employees. They like to ease out of their cover and test the waters. So, the first signs of life out of a recession tend to start out as what is known as “contract,” “project” or “temporary” positions.
Employers will set aside budgets for specific projects that at the time are temporary in nature. The exciting part, aside from landing a source of income, is that these positions can lead to a full-time role within the organization. The goal is to make yourself stand-out and become irreplaceable.
First things first though, do your research and register with a reputable staffing firm. Look for ones that may specialize in your career field or industry in order to increase your chances of success. The reason for this is that many companies will not hire contract employees directly. Most will align with a staffing firm or have a list of staffing vendors that will supply qualified candidates. Typically, the larger the organization the more contract positions available and the more staffing vendors that will be assigned. Almost all staffing firms post their contract positions on their job boards. It is free to register and many will help you with your resume and interview skills. Be upfront with the staffing firm as well. Let them know you are flexible for contract positions but ultimately would like to secure a full-time role.
Once you land that all important contract role, think long-term. Even though a position can start out as a short project, it may be extended or become the opportunity that you were looking for.
For instance, I worked with a CFO that was contracted to a small company to help within its accounts receivable department. The company was growing fast and was getting behind in many areas. This CFO candidate proactively aligned himself with the president of the organization, offered some of his expertise along the way and long-story short ended up working himself into a CFO position. I know that seems like the exception rather than the norm, but the point is that you never know where an opportunity may lead.
Always lead with your best foot forward. Many times you are being evaluated for a full-time role without even knowing it. Things can change along the timeframe of a contract role and the easiest hire to make is one with the person already in the role. Treat the position like it is full-time. A client told me a story about candidate that was brought on contract into an accounts payable position. Two weeks into that contract position, the controller was authorized to hire a full-time employee in that department. When asked if they would like to bring on the current contractor already in A/P, the answer was no. In fact, the controller was looking to replace this candidate due to excessive personal phone calls, breaks and slow work performance. Had the candidate put his best foot forward, he would have landed a full-time role with benefits. Stories like this don’t surprise me, but do frustrate me considering the number of unemployed candidates that would have loved an opportunity like that and would have made the most of it.
Lastly, some other key points to remember are: go the extra mile. Always make a good impression, come in early, stay late, volunteer and stand out. Network as much as possible within the organization. You never know who knows who or where a friendly conversation may lead. Most of all, communicate to your manager your desire to stay. If you have all of the previous areas in this blog covered, your manager may even become your cheerleader in this conversation with upper management.
For the last two years, temporary positions have led not only to the rapid growth of our company, but the growth of many of the companies in our great city. Perhaps your next full-time role will start as a contract position. Remember to get in on the plethora of contract positions out there you first need to find a reputable staffing firm. Many are out there, so do your homework. Think long-term when you land that position. You never know where an opportunity will lead. Lastly, always put your best foot forward. Demonstrate your desire to stay on board with a company and always go the extra mile. Soon you may find yourself in an excellent position with a great company!
-Robert Reading, Director of Business Development at KavaliroRead More...
With today’s highly competitive job market, conducting a job search requires various strategies which can be quite difficult at times. Looking for the right candidate with a specific skill set and background can almost seem impossible. But, have no fear. Utilizing the services of a staffing agency can maximize your efforts and provide a simpler solution to bringing the right people and the right company together.
Staffing agencies play a vital role in an effective job search strategy connecting highly skilled candidates with niche industry positions. Their primary role of business is to find, evaluate and match job seekers with employers every day, and because of that, they are highly experienced in understanding the dynamics and proficiently identifying the right candidate for the position.
There are many benefits to employers when they consider partnering with a staffing agency. Hiring a new employee requires a great deal of time, and with the rigorous evaluation process that staffing agencies offer, companies can continue with its normal business duties. Businesses can be confident that the extra time spent on the selection process will ensure access to a large number of high-caliber candidates.
The stages in recruitment also eliminate the worry some companies encounter. By networking and advertising, and the use of professional interviewing techniques, staffing agencies have a better understanding of not just the candidate’s skills, but how those skills will best fit into an organization. Quality, of course, should never be sacrificed for quantity. And staffing agencies offer high levels of both. These processes give a better feel of what criteria is best suited for what opportunity.
So how about saving time, money and frustration and let a staffing agency do what they do best! With their vast knowledge in matching a qualified candidate with an appropriate job, you can rest easy knowing that you are finding the right person to get the job done!
-Natalie Castellana, Executive Assistant at KavaliroRead More...
Most businesses large enough to realize the cost benefits of technological advances to recruitment have implemented at least a few of these options. Applicant Tracking Systems are a prime example of a way employers are streamlining procedures – making paper resumes and hard copy assessments a thing of the past. Social media is another. Where once lied over-the-phone reference checking and newspaper research, now there are social networking sites like LinkedIn.
The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) published a short spotlight on how technology has altered the way companies recruit. One of the main differences, cited Staffing Advisors president Bob Corlett, is that new technology has “leveled the playing field”. Smaller companies and recruiting firms now have access to some, if not all, of the same information as the bigger players. Corlett also believes, however, that sites like LinkedIn may have made things too easy: “When social networking venues like LinkedIn began their meteoric rise in popularity: the economy crashed and millions of people lost their jobs. Now, with an abundance of candidates competing for a relatively small number of available positions, technology has also made it easier for companies to be downright rude with applicants. Maybe it’s a dismissive rejection letter delivered via e-mail or a total avoidance of follow-up contact with an applicant, but the reliance on technology has also reduced personal interaction…When the economy recovers, there will be backlash against those companies that used recruiting technology simply to shave costs. Hiring used to be a one-to-one experience. That’s not the case anymore.”
Recruiters need to keep in mind their target audience as well. Certain industries, especially those targeting a wider range of experience levels in their applicants or without educational restrictions for hiring, may not have the need to utilize social networking or other online resources as would an organization hiring recent graduates. Everyone knows Generation Y is online and that’s where you have to go to get them. It’s not true of all candidates, however. The internet is primarily gong to be the most dominant resource to use, but it may need to be supplemented or even replaced in certain situations. It’s all about who you are trying to hire.
Mark Stelzner, principal of Inflexion Advisors, an HR consulting firm explains that “greater transparency in the hiring process and companies’ use of new technology and social media would clear up much of the confusion that arises between candidates and their prospective employers…A lot of candidates have no idea what tools companies are using. Technology can be a great friend to you, or a terrible impediment. If you’re relying on it completely for communication, it only goes so far.”
All in all, as advancements in technology continue to evolve, so will recruitment processes. In order to attain the next best candidates, you may have to use the next best thing in recruitment innovation. We’ve changed our procedures in terms of efficiency, costs, and availability of information, and in doing so we have decreased the level of personal contact and levels of communication. Be sure to include “old school” principles in the improvements you make or you could end up on the wrong side of the economic upturn when it comes to future hiring.
Traci K. is an HR professional and freelance writer based in the Midwest, specializing in recruitment and immigration. When she’s not improving unemployment, she keeps busy with her husband and four children.
We sat down with Ryan Kahn, Career Coach for Dream Careers, Inc. and star of MTV’s Hired, to ask him for some advice on finding mentors and standing out in the hiring process.
How would you recommend students to go about finding mentors? And how do you ask someone to be your mentor?
Mentorships are a great way to learn and grow in an industry and I would strongly encourage everyone to have at least one. Sometimes the hardest part of getting a mentor is just building up the courage to ask but once that is out of the way the opportunities are endless.
What I’d recommend is set up your personal “Mentor List.” Have the first on that list someone who seems far out of the reach of your network but you admire their career, for example the CEO of Warner Bros. Then the next five on the list will be within you’re extended network for example alums of your school, local business owners and friends of family. Round out the list with four people within your personal network in example your favorite professor, boss, family member or friend. Now that you have the list its time to contact each of them… OK I know you’re thinking how in the world am I going to contact the CEO of Warner Bros, well I’ll tell you later on in this interview!
For each person you reach out to write out a captivating message which is clear and to the point of who you are, why you respect them and their career and then close with asking them to be your mentor. It all needs to start with a hook in the subject line, one that I’ve found to work great is “You were 21 once right?” a subject like that brings them back to when they were your age and helps to level the playing field.
Now that you know what to say, how do you contact them? I would recommend (in order) via phone, email, hand written letter, or through their social network page. Some people on your list you may have their phone number or need to go to their companies website for their contact info but others may be tough to find… that’s where you’ll need to be creative. You ever notice people at the same company seem to have the same email address? Well that’s how you’ll get to who you want to contact. For example if you want to email someone at Warner Bros their emails are set up First.Last@WarnerBros.com just plug in their name and send! Now I’m not recommending you email blast or spam CEO’s but I want you to take any chance to seek out great advice and find a mentor that can help you be successful.
Let me know if this works for you? @RyanKahnHired
Who was one of your mentors?
One great mentor for me was my teacher Randy Jackson who taught my Artist & Repertoire class. Despite his hectic schedule filming the show American Idol and a newly released book with press interviews around the world including Oprah; Randy still took the time out of his day to be at our class to teach his students. His work ethic was definitely an inspiration for me and taught me tons in my career.
What are 5 strategies to stand out in the hiring process?
A great strategy is pick out the handful of positions you are truly qualified for and put all of your efforts and resources into those specific openings. Often I see people blasting their resume out to every job opening online. You’ll find more success with focused efforts.
These days internships are crucial to landing a job out of college. The more experience and contacts you make, the better you are positioning yourself for your future.
It is all about knowing someone who works at the company that can get your foot in the door. Ask family, friends, anyone you can. If no luck there, don’t worry. You can take it into your own hands by being active on the company’s social media pages or seeking out people who work for the company on Facebook and LinkedIn to message them directly and tactfully. Still no luck? Try hanging out at the coffee shop or lunch spot across from the office — you never know, one of their employees may be in line behind you.
Think ‘Inside the Box.’ Try mailing in your resume to the hiring manager using an empty shipping box filled with just one copy of your resume. That’s one way to get noticed!
Don’t be afraid to follow up with hiring managers. Often job seekers fail to follow up because they are afraid of rejection. Be persistent and make personal connections, as it may land you your dream career.
Career expert Ryan Kahn is a Career Coach for Dream Careers, Inc. and star of MTV’s Hired; the 20-episode documentary series helping recent grads land the job of their dreams. Kahn has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Star Magazine and is author of Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad. His intimate working relationships with industry leaders makes him the go-to expert for dream jobs.Read More...
By: Bill Peppler
Last night while I was watching the Dallas Mavericks win their first ever NBA Championship against the highly regarded and preseason favorites Miami Heat, I started thinking about what business lessons could be gained from this huge accomplishment.
Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry were the only holdovers from the Dallas team who lost to the same Miami team 5 years ago. They continued to persevere and finally realized that “hard work does really pay off”. Management also showed a huge about of patience and persistence my sticking with their players while making minor adjustments to the roster, personnel. The business world has to remember this when they hit a road block or have a not so successful quarter. Keep moving forward and work as hard as you possibly can.
The Mavericks showed that a team who works together has a much bigger impact than 3 standout individuals. Henry Ford is quoted as saying “ Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” This could not have been truer than what transpired in game 6. Deshawn Stevenson who was a starter the entire season and playoffs was asked to come off the bench in favor of another teammate. Deshawn graciously accepted his role and had a huge game while coming off the bench without pouting or putting himself in front of the team’s goals. This is a great lesson for all employees especially in today’s economy. Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a giant leap in your career.
Mark Cuban has become famous as an NBA owner who was always loud, brash, and not overly concerned with what others thought of him, including NBA Commissioner, David Stern. This entire playoff series Mark was quiet, understated, and showed great humility. When given the opportunity to gloat he decided to have the trophy handed to Donald Carter, the original owner of the Mavericks. This was a reward for starting and owning the Mavericks for over 31 years. This is the new humble Mark Cuban — the one who also is an NBA champion and nobody can take that away from him.
Playing multiple positions and having flexibility to change or adapt to different scenarios is key in both athletics and the business world. The Mavericks were not satisfied with just winning the Western Conference; they had an ultimate goal and were not stopping until that was accomplished. Successful business should also have goals both short and long term. Companies should also have the ability to change course when needed similar to what the Mavericks did by changing their starting lineup half way through the series.
There is no doubt about it that the NBA had a very successful post season and I’m sure the television ratings will reflect this. Congrats to both teams in reaching the finals. I’m sure this will not be the last we will hear from Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, and Chris Bosh and the rest of the Heat players.
Published with permission from
By Tracy K and Brightmove Staffing Software and Recruiting Software
Doomsday HR statistics over the past 5 to 10 years have shown that the steady retirement of Baby Boomers and the lack of skilled workers coming up through ranks will eventually lead to a massive shortage. Though the economic downturn has slowed this slightly with Baby Boomers hanging on a little longer, the net effect is still going to be the same somewhere down the line. Young Generation Y professionals are going to be required to step up and come into roles that they might not be ready for. In order to make this inevitability a smoother transition on us all, there are few things to consider. Any recruiter worth their weight in gold should be developing their strategies if they haven’t done so already…
First of all, in order to develop and retain Gen Yers, you have to hire them first. In order to hire them, you have to appeal them. In order to appeal to them, you have to understand them (I’m sensing a pattern here…). Generation Y is a unique sort of breed. They have differing views from others in the workforce. The key to successfully recruiting and hiring them is to gain as much information as you can, using it to your advantage and aiming to see things from their point of view. Let’s cover a few basics:
Generation Y Quick Facts
- Definition: Roughly categorized as those born between 1980 and 2000, population estimated at 80 million
- Nicknames: Generation Y, Gen Y, Millennials, Net Generation, Digital Babies, Generation Next, Echo Boomers
- Major Events (to name only a few off the top of my head): Ending of USSR, Columbine, Persian Gulf War, The Simpsons, Seinfeld, Bill Clinton scandal, Chicago Bulls reign, cloning, OJ Simpson trial, Oklahoma City bombing, Y2K, 9/11, Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, SARS, H1N1, Indian Ocean Tsunami, earthquake in Haiti
In more detail, Rosetta Thurman pulls relevant facts (36 to be exact) for a July 2010 post on Generation Y – they are nicely categorized too:
- Generation Y is more ethnically and racially diverse than older generations, with people of color making up about 40% of our population.
- Half of all young people of color are Hispanic.
- About 40% of all young adults ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in either a two- or four-year college in October 2008.
- So far, 1 in 5 Millennials are college graduates. An additional 26% are currently in school and plan to graduate from college, while an additional 30% are not in school but expect to someday earn a college degree.
- Younger whites are about twice as likely as blacks or Hispanics to have finished college (22% vs. 10% for both blacks and Latinos). But blacks are significantly more likely than whites or Hispanics to say they want to earn a college diploma.
- About 37% of 18- to 29-year-olds have been underemployed or out of work during the recession, the highest share among the age group in more than 30 years.
- Nearly 2/3 of all Millennials have full- or part-time jobs.
- 13% of all Millennials are students who do not work for pay.
- Almost 6 in 10 employed Millennials say they already have switched careers at least once.
- About 60% of younger workers say it is not very likely or not likely at all that they will stay with their current employers for the remainder of their working life. (In contrast, 62% of Generation X workers say it’s likely they will never leave their current employer while 84% of Baby Boomers expect to remain with their current employer for the rest of their working life.)
- Only 1/3 of Millennials say their current job is their career.
Debt & Financial Outlook
- 36% of all Millennials depend on financial support from their families, including 14% of all young adults who are working full time.
- More than one in three young workers say they are currently living at home with their parents.
- 31% of young workers are uninsured.
- One-third of young workers cannot pay their bills.
- 7 in 10 young workers do not have enough saved to cover two months of living expenses.
- Roughly half of households headed by someone under 35 carry a credit card balance.
- 41% of younger households have auto loans.
- In 2008, 67% of students graduating from four-year colleges and universities had student loan debt.
- Average debt levels for graduating seniors with student loans rose to $23,200 in 2008.
- Only 58% of Millennials pay their monthly bills on time.
- 60% of workers 20 to 29 years old cashed out their 401(k) retirement plans — typically a big financial no-no because such a move squanders retirement assets and forces the recipient to pay a tax penalty — when they changed or lost jobs.
- On average, Generation Yers each have more than three credit cards, and 20% carry a balance of more than $10,000.
Sources:  Pew Research Center 2010 report, Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next  AFL-CIO 2009 report, “Young Workers: A Lost Decade”  Demos 2010 report, “Risking Our Future Middle Class”  Project on Student Debt, Quick Facts January 2010  USA Today April 2010 article, “Generation Y’s steep financial hurdles: Huge debt, no savings”
Technology & Online Habits
- 93% of teens ages 12-17 go online, as do 93% of young adults ages 18-29.
- 75% of Millennials have created a profile on a social networking site.
- 1 in every 5 Millennials have posted a video of themselves online.
- 41% of Millennials use only a cell phone and have no landline.
- Over half of YouTube’s users are under 20 years old.
- 53% of the total blogging population is 21-35 years old.
Lifestyle, Civic Engagement, Family
- Almost 40% of all Millennials have a tattoo (about half of those with tattoos have two to five tattoos and 18% have six or more). 70% say their tattoos are hidden beneath clothing.
- 1 in 4 Millennials are unaffiliated with any religion.
- In 2008, 66% of Millennials voted for Barack Obama for president, compared with 50% of those 30 and older, the largest disparity between younger and older voters in 40 years.
- Just 2% of Generation Y males are military veterans. (At a comparable stage of their life cycle, 6% of Gen Xer men, 13% of Baby Boomer men and 24% of Silent Generation men were veterans.)
- 61% of Millennials grew up in a two-parent household, a smaller percentage than the three previous generations.
- 21% of Millennials are married (half the percentage of their parents’ generation at the same ages).
- 34% of Millennials are parents.
That’s a lot of information/statistics, but it’s helpful to understand how Generation Y compares to you. In the next post, we’ll go one to Step One B – Understanding the Generalizations and Stereotypes. Working through the comprehension process for Generation Y only serves to better enable you when tailoring your job advertising and progressing through the hiring process.
Traci K. is an HR Professional and freelance writer based in the Midwest, specializing in recruitment and immigration. When she’s not improving unemployment, she keeps busy with her husband and four children.Read More...
While the U.S. economy continues to slowly inch along in its economic recovery, there are a number of indicators that suggest certain high-tech industries are well ahead of the curve. In fact, there are those who suggest that, even with national unemployment hovering just under 9%, tech hiring has begun to reach a frenzied pace that rivals that of the dot-com boom of a decade ago.
Supporting that assessment is a recent USA Today article by Jon Swartz, which goes into a lengthy discussion about the emerging boom in technology related hiring. The piece described, at length, the increasing demand for top talent in the fields of cloud computing, computer engineering, wireless communications, and clean tech.
This Bloomberg article by Oliver Staley, Douglas MacMillan and Cecile Vannucci also suggests that the timing is right for recent college graduates in the finance, engineering, and technology related disciplines. Tech companies are filling in the void created by substantial layoffs during the 2007-2010 economic setback, and then some.
Indeed, it seems to be an ‘arms race’ of sorts for top tech firms looking to grab a larger piece of the ‘emerging technologies pie’. We at Kavaliro are seeing significant signs of exactly the sort of job recovery that the aforementioned articles reference. Information technology, clean tech, and smart grid solutions (see our smart grid blog post from April 21) have been particularly hot in markets that we serve.
Diane Mahony, Kavaliro’s CEO, explains the trends that Kavaliro is seeing across the country, stating, “We are seeing tremendous growth in needs for software developers across the country. This includes Microsoft .Net, C#, and Java Developers. We are also seeing an increased demand for technical support personnel including help desk and desktop support technicians. Another area that continues to be a real need is consultants with Microsoft SharePoint experience. A good portion of these positions are project-based, but we are also seeing a demand for permanent level opportunities as well. This is a complete turnaround from even twelve months prior. Kavaliro’s exclusive database and industry partnerships allows us to be on the forefront of this phenomenon and have the consultants ready at a moments notice to meet your demanding project needs.”
Both of our primary office locations, Orlando and Charlotte (click the links to learn more about each city’s emerging tech scene), have made significant strides towards becoming major east coast technology hubs. Orlando’s growing high-tech corridor, anchored by the University of Central Florida (UCF) and spanning the entire southeast quadrant of the metropolitan area, has become a home base for simulation, training, testing, and bio-medical research. Charlotte has undergone similar growth in energy related fields, as a number of major power producers and researchers have made the mid-Atlantic state their home base.
With so much movement occurring within the tech sectors, employers and potential employees alike are wise to seek expert council with respect to their respective hiring and job search endeavors. That is where Kavaliro comes in. We have extensive experience within these disciplines, and know exactly what each party is looking for in the other. Let our expertise be your guide as you navigate these exciting times in our nation’s economic recovery by contacting a Kavaliro staffing specialist today.Read More...
Published with permission from
By Tracy K and Brightmove Staffing Software and Recruiting Software
A simple search on interview questions and methods will return more results and ideas than one person can handle. Companies and recruiters/hiring managers are always looking for improved or innovative ways to screen candidates. How can we better predict the success of an individual; how can we more effectively assess the problem-solving capabilities of a candidate; what is the magic question to use as the ultimate disqualifier?
The answer is that there’s no bullet-proof recruitment method or question that works for every position in every organization. The key components are that the recruiter be educated: know the company; know the position; know the personalities of those the new recruit will be working with; predict the overall risk of premature attrition. If, as a recruiter, you are good at what you do, everything else is about listening to your gut and selling the company to your candidate.
Each recruiter has a method they swear by – some traditional, others unorthodox. While I stand behind a straight-forward, conservative screening process (and a sixth sense for placing applicants), there are those that experiment with unconventional approaches. By experiment, I mean follow the lead of Microsoft. Though around since the 1970s the puzzle interview was made famous in the 1990s when Microsoft touted its use as a standard screening tactic in their hiring process (see other puzzle interview questions here). Since then, other organizations have followed suit.
Personally, I believe unorthodox interview methods (and by extension the puzzle interview) were born out of desperation or boredom (perhaps a mixture of both). Companies that seemed to be consistently failing at finding successful recruits, use it as a last-ditch effort to gain talented professionals. Microsoft, already successful, may have tried to mix things up. They obviously would not have had any trouble finding applicants willing to work there – why not make them truly earn their spot, weed out the weak?
For the rest of us, I think puzzle interviews are potentially a waste of time. Never having used this technique, I do not speak from experience. However, having been part of an interview of this type, as a candidate, I wasn’t impressed. I felt that perhaps those running the hiring process weren’t knowledgeable enough, able to ask me questions relevant to the position and my ability to do the job. Placing undue stress on an already stressful situation may have assessed my capability to remain calm and cool, however, I wasn’t applying for a bomb squad or to be a CIA agent, so the relevance of the technique was lost on me. Not only did it make me question the intelligence of those interviewing me and their ability to take the hiring process seriously, it had me thinking that if this company had this many ridiculous hoops just to get hired, what kind of carnival would I be signing up for exactly if I did get the job?
While there aren’t statistics on the number of employers using puzzle techniques, “companies use them because they hear Microsoft is using them,” says Jonathan Canger, vice president of R&D for Human Resource Management Center Inc., a Tampa, Florida, firm that helps companies develop HR processes.
Critics believe puzzle questions tell employers only that some applicants are better at solving puzzles, not whether they’ll be a better fit for the job. “[Employers are] using it like, ‘Well, they got 1600 on their SATs; they must be a fit,’ when they may not be [a fit] at all,” says Linda Finkle, founder of Potomac, Maryland, coaching and consulting firm Incedo Group LLC. Finkle has found that some companies using puzzle interview techniques have a hard time retaining talent. She says, “[Applicants can] feel the interview process isn’t flexible enough to adjust for the difference in personalities and styles.”
Critics also warn that companies risk selecting for a certain personality type with puzzle questions–not a good strategy for fostering truly innovative thinking. And the answers to many puzzle questions are posted on the Internet, increasing the chances interviews will be skewed because a few applicants studied beforehand.
On the legal front, employers need to be careful they don’t use puzzle interviews to inadvertently screen out a protected class under Title VII, which protects workers on the basis of race, gender and age, says Stephen Fox, a partner at the Dallas law firm Fish and Richardson. Be prepared to help disabled applicants fulfill this part of the interview process, and be consistent in how you administer puzzle questions. Document everything, and be prepared to justify your hiring decision should the need arise.
I say make them stop – a puzzle interview or unorthodox question might be suitable for highly creative or obscure positions, but at the risk of looking unprofessional or setting an interview off on an uncomfortable tone, traditional, relevant, experience-related questions will be more probable predictors of success.
Traci K. is an HR Professional and freelance writer based in the Midwest, specializing in recruitment and immigration. When she’s not improving unemployment, she keeps busy with her husband and four children.
In a recent Florida Today article, reporter Kaustuv Basu tells the story of Brevard County Clerk of the Court Mitch Needelman and his decision to outsource 143 of the approximately 335 jobs at his office to a private staffing company. The change, which took effect last week, is expected to generate nearly $900,000 in savings, including reduced benefits in the form of lost sick time accruals and a switch to a new health insurance plan under the staffing company umbrella. He claims it to be a six-month long “pilot project”.
The story resulted in significant debate, generating over 200 comments on the Florida Today website. Political affiliations obviously weigh heavily on which side the public falls. Supporters of Needelman’s actions argue that the measures are not unlike that which commonly happen in the private sector workforce. Further, they support Needelman’s assertions that “nobody lost a job” and that the move is simply a form of “staff-sourcing” rather than outsourcing.
Opponents of the move, however, suggest that the cuts, which affected primarily lower-level and less-tenured workers, is simply another example of a governmental agency overstepping its bounds. They cite the short window for acceptance of the offer as an insufficient amount of time for evaluation, deeming it as essentially a “forced” employment change. Several commenters even questioned the legality of the move, wondering aloud whether Florida Statutes grant Needelman the authority to make such a change.
Furthering the controversy is Needelman’s newly enacted policy that forbids employees from speaking with the media, an act that opponents claim to be a violation of the right to freedom of speech that is granted by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Regardless of which side of the argument you find yourself on, one thing rings as undeniably true; We are likely to see more and more examples of government agencies using employee outsourcing as a cost-cutting measure in these times of depressed budgets and political pressures.
We are interested in hearing what you have to say on this topic. After reading the full Florida Today article and formulating your own opinion, please feel free to leave us a comment below. As always, if you or your company/agency is seeking an expert opinion on the logistics or legalities of specific outsourcing scenarios, the employment specialists at Kavaliro are here to help.Read More...