Posts Tagged ‘Hiring Tips’


Mondays with Mike: The Quick Qualifier – The Secret To Better, Faster Hiring

For entrepreneurs with a sizeable staff, payroll can be one of the biggest expenses.  That expense can multiply quickly if we don’t hire the right people, so any techniques we can find to improve our hiring outcomes can make a huge difference in our bottom lines.  The fact is that there aren’t a whole lot of shortcuts when it comes to running your business better, but I’m going to share one that can help you simultaneously speed up your hiring process while sifting out your best choices – automatically.

????????????????????????????????Conventional wisdom may tell you that casting as wide a net as possible in your hiring search will yield the highest quality result, but given today’s job market, your problem is unlikely to be a shortage of applications.  Rather, you’re likely to be buried under a sea of resumes, and your greatest challenge will be separating the wheat from the chaff – reducing the flood to a manageable stack of resumes from qualified, competent folks.  That’s where my technique comes into play.

When I post an ad for a job, about 75% of the way through the ad, I insert the following:  “To prove that you’re a meticulous reader, you have to include the following sentence when you send your resume: ‘It is with my utmost respect that I hereto surrender my curriculum vitae for your consideration.’”

Now here’s where the automation comes in.  You create an email filter that searches for the specified sentence, and sorts all of the qualifying resumes into a folder for you to review.  Think it won’t make a big difference?  Think again!  I’ve had as many as 80% of the resumes for a specific position eliminated by this filtering tactic.  Now you may be worried that you might discard a great resume, but let me tell you why this technique works:

  1. The unemployment rate is still so high that folks are desperate, sending off resumes to any ad they read, regardless of whether or not they’re qualified.  In fact, the applicants who don’t include the sentence may not have even read the application, and might have zero relevant experience.  They’re not the employees you’re looking for.
  2. Regardless of the field, attention to detail is crucial, and including the sentence demonstrates that an applicant cares enough to get it right.
  3. You’re looking for candidates who can follow instructions, and applicants who comply with your directions demonstrate a willingness to do what you expect them to.  They’re eager to please, and that’s important for nearly every position in a business.

I’ve used this technique repeatedly, and it’s proven to help select the very best candidates for my careful consideration.  In fact, one of the best employees I’ve ever hired responded by writing: “Yes, I’m so detail-oriented I am including the sentence you requested. However, I also noticed you spelled the word ‘meticulous’ incorrectly, and here’s the correct way to spell it.”  She ended up being a partner in one of my companies.


The 10 Best Interview Questions of All Time

??????????????????????????????????????????While unemployment is the lowest in 5 years, it is still challenging to find the best employees for your company. Not only do they need the skills to perform their job well, but they also have to fit within the company’s culture.

To hire the perfect people, it’s important to ask the right questions. This is a challenge for many small business owners because they typically talk more than the job candidate or they just ask questions which review their resume. Here are the best 10 questions to ask:

  1. Tell me about yourself. This is always a good introductory question. Ask and then don’t say another thing until they are done. What they actually say is not critical, but how they answer this question is. Do they focus on personal or professional details? How do they see themselves? Does this view fit into the culture of the company.
  2. Tell me about a time when…Many job candidates can talk in generalities about their skills and accomplishments. However, asking for a specific example is a much more effective why to discover what they have really achieved. For example, when interviewing a sales candidate, ask “Tell me about a time when you won a customer from a competitor.”
  3. How will you contribute to the company? This will highlight their goals for the specific job and which of their skills would be most beneficial for the company. It also will tell you how they see themselves as part of a team. Remember, their goals should match the company’s. When they deviate, employees leave.
  4. What is a specific example of the biggest professional challenge you have faced? How a candidate faces adversity is key. Even if a project didn’t go as planned, it’s important to find out how the applicant would reacted and would remedy the problem in the future.
  5. Test them. In a professional setting, these are typically hypothetical situations or ones that have actually occurred at the company. They should demonstrate job-specific and problem solving skills. Don’t be afraid to ask them to solve problems they would face in the first month of their job at the actual interview.
  6. Why are you here? Andrew Alexander, President of Red Roof Inn, says it helps reveal what the person’s passion is. The applicant should want to work at the company, not just want a job. Employees that are passionate about the company’s mission excel at their position.
  7. What is your ideal job? Liz Bingham, Partner at Ernst & Young, says it helps match if the person is suitable for the open job. It reveals what their passions and strengths are.
  8. What areas of improvement were identified in your last job review? Andrew Shapin, CEO of Long Tall Sally, says it can show self-awareness and weaknesses when people answer this question honestly.
  9. Where’s your passion? Hilarie Bass, co-president of Greenberg Traurig, says they only hire people who are passionate about that profession. It helps attract committed employees that will make the business successful.
  10. How do you measure success? This answer will tell you what the candidate values and if it matches the job compensation structure.

What are your favorite interview questions?


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: 5 Tips for Keeping the Peace in Family-Owned Business

If you run a family-owned business, you know that hiring, managing and motivating non-family employees can sometimes be a challenge. Employees may think there’s no room for advancement or that the decks are stacked against them because they aren’t family members. How can you avoid these problems? Try these tips.

  • Stocksy_txp4bfbd52fKr2000_Small_131353 (1)Compensate them fairly. Family employees typically have ownership or stock in the family business or enjoy other perks in addition to their salaries. While you may not want to reward non-family employees the same way, it’s important that you find other ways to compensate them financially. Consider offering bonuses or setting up a profit-sharing plan so employees feel they are sharing in the success of the business they work hard to grow.
  • Offer them opportunities for advancement. Promoting from within is a smart strategy for any small business, but particularly in a family business. This practice shows non-family employees that working hard, getting results and being loyal to the business pay off…even if your last name is different than the owner’s.
  • Empower them. Non-family employees in supervisory or management roles often become disgruntled if they feel like they have no real power in the business. If you give a non-family employee a management position, be sure you also give him or her the authority to make the decisions that go with that role, including disciplining family members who aren’t living up to expectations.
  • Communicate with them. Family members who work in a business naturally end up discussing business during their off-hours, which can leave non-family members feeling left out if they don’t get the same information. When your business includes non-family employees, it’s crucial to communicate openly and clearly. Otherwise, non-family employees will feel as if they’re being kept in the dark, and rumors and misinformation will start to spread.
  • Treat family members professionally. It’s easy to slip into a trap of treating family employees one way and non-family employees another. Be sure to maintain professionalism when dealing with family employees—it makes everyone on the staff feel like they’re on a level playing field.

By following these tips, you’ll build lasting bonds and loyalty among your non-family employees.


Business Owners: 5 Questions You Should Never Ask in an Interview

crop380w_istock_000003401233xsmall-question-marksHiring can be one of the most difficult parts of being a business owner. You look for the best people for your company and you ultimately end up making your decision based on one event: the interview.

So, how can you conduct an interview that will reveal your next employee of the month? According to Kathleen Lapekas, founder of Lapekas HR Consulting in Evansville, Ind., it all comes down to how you phrase your questions.

“The best types of questions are directly job related and behavior-based,” she says. “Ask someone to explain a time when they had a co-worker that drove them nuts and how they handled it. Keep them talking about real scenarios to learn more about your candidate.”

Lapekas recommends staying away from the following questions:

Question #1: When did you graduate from high school?

While this question may seem benign, it can be perceived as trying to find out a candidate’s age, which is discriminatory.

“You can ask someone when they graduated from college because people graduate from college at different ages, but you can’t say anything about high school because it is assumed that most people graduated when they were around 18 years old,” says Lapekas. 

Question #2: What do you do for fun?

Be careful with this one. Unless your candidate offers, keep the conversation focused on the role at hand. Why?

“By asking someone what they do for fun, they may tell you that they are an active member in the National Rifle Association or that they just marched in the local Gay Pride parade,” she says. “You don’t want find out anything in the interview that later—especially if you don’t hire the person—can be perceived as ammo for discrimination.”

Questions #3: When are you due?

It is never acceptable to ask a female candidate if she is pregnant. If, though, she mentions that she is expecting, leave it at that. Do not ask her when she is due. As Lapekas explains, pregnancy is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits any employer discrimination.

Question #4: Are there any medical issues or medications that we need to know about?

“This is hard because obviously you want to know if you are buying a future heart attack,” she says. “But employers can no longer do pre-employment physicals (note: pre-employment drug screenings are allowed by law). In some states you can’t even ask if someone is a smoker.”

Question #5: Where do you go to church?

Race, sex, age, gender, ethnicity and religion are all protected under law and cannot be mentioned in an interview.

“Even if you live in a small town where everyone goes to the same church, keep it out of the interview,” advises Lapekas. 


Work Your Biz Wednesday: Time to Hire Help

The Small Biz Lady, Melinda Emerson, discusses when's the right time to hire help for your business for this week's Work Your Biz Wednesday.


Work Your Biz Wednesday: Making Your First Hire

Small Biz Lady, Melinda Emerson, discusses how to hire your first employee as your business begins to grow.


How to Read a Customer Service Resume

It is sometimes difficult to discover if an applicant is the right person for the job by looking at their resume. Obviously, this document shows the person in the best possible way and there may even be some small “puffing” or exaggerations listed on it. Here are items you need to look for:

  • resumeName: Make sure that the person uses their full name including a middle initial. This is helpful when doing web research including social media especially if the applicant has a very common name.
  • Objective: Is it specific enough and does it include the job they are applying for? Objectives like “to contribute to a growing company in anyway” is not the work of a focused person.
  • Most recent experience: Many unemployed people start their own company when they are out of a job for a long period of time. Ask if they are the owner of that company even if it does not list them as CEO.
  • Titles: Applicants have a tendency to inflate their titles to “coordinator” or “manager”. Did the Customer Service Manager really manage anyone? Was a Senior Customer Service Specialist more experienced than others on their team?
  • Accomplishments: Are they really qualified for this job? Watch for words like "led", "directed", and "created". Were they just “on the team” that did this or did they really lead the effort? For example, if the person lists that they created a social media customer service strategy, maybe they just played around on Twitter and Facebook. Watch when they quote percentages in this area. Exceeding a goal by 100% may mean something or it may just be window dressing.
  • Time gaps: Are there gaps in their resume for period of times where they did not work? Many times applicants leave out jobs on their resume where they were fired or it ended in an ugly way.
  • Education: Did they graduate with a degree or just take course work? If a school is listed with no degree, they did not graduate. Similarly, is the degree relevant to the job they are applying for?
  • Skills: Many skills listed include anything they can name or their training was so long ago, it is no longer relevant. During the interview process, test for specific customer service skills needed to be successful in this specific job.
  • References available upon request. Get these references at the first interview and ensure they are from past managers not peers.

What do you look for when reviewing customer service resumes?


Work Your Biz Wednesday: How to Hire an Accountant

Melinda Emerson, the Small Biz Lady, offers recommendations for hiring an accountant for your small business.


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: Should Your Next Hire Be a Temp?

Are you itching to hire new employees to handle the growing workload at your small business, but nervous about bringing on full-time, permanent workers you might have to lay off if business slows down again? Consider hiring temporary workers. Newly popular in the recovering economy, temporary employees can be a good solution if:

  • You need specialized workers who are hard to find in your area. These days, temporary workers aren’t just for filing and answering phones. You can get temporary employees who specialize in everything from accounting to manufacturing to IT and healthcare. You can even hire temporary CFOs, CMOs and CEOs.
  • You’re in a hurry. Sometimes new business develops unexpectedly and you don’t have time to go through the usual search for a job candidate. Temporary agencies can save the day, enabling you to fill that last-minute order or meet a rush deadline. Keep in mind, however, that the time to look for a temporary agency is before you need one. Start now to research agencies and find one that provides access to the types of workers you’re likely to need. That way, when you’re in a rush, you’ll be able to contact them and get the jobs filled fast.
  • You want to “test drive” possible employees. Many temporary workers are actually seeking full-time work. If you’re looking to hire a permanent employee, contact agencies that offer temporary-to-permanent placements. They can connect you with temps who are open to permanent jobs. You can hire the temps, see how they fit in with your company culture, and then offer to hire the one/s that are the right fit.
  • You don’t want to deal with paperwork and benefits. The temporary agency employs the temporary workers, which means it, not you, provides their benefits and handles their payroll and other paperwork. This saves you both time and money.

To get the most from the temporary employee relationship:

  • Look for a temporary agency that will be responsive to your needs. How fast can the agency find a replacement if a temp doesn’t work out (or doesn’t show up)?
  • Understand the contract. Review your agreement with the agency carefully. What costs are you responsible for, and what costs does the agency handle?
  • Get recommendations. Ask other business owners for referrals, and read online reviews to get a sense of how well the agency works with small businesses like yours. 

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