Leading the witness

Often times we are eager to interview candidates to join our organization and some times we get so excited or have so much information to cover that we make this common interview mistake – we lead the witness.

leading the witness

With an estimated 5-6 million jobs open in the U.S. right now it makes sense that we would get eager to fill our jobs and excited to sell the candidate on our work, before letting the candidate do some talking. I’ve seen interviewers make this mistake so many times, and I always cringe when they do because it will directly impact the outcome of the interview/hiring decision.

I recently conducted a recruiting training with an HR team and I spent a lot of time on leading the witness, so much so that I had the team role play some cold calls and interviews to show them when they do this. Leading the witness can start as early as the first call (which I think is a result of so many people beating into the heads of recruiters that candidates don’t really want to talk to us – so in turn they blab everything about the job in 35 seconds because they are afraid they will never get that person on the phone again). Their HR director spoke up at one point in the training and said “If you ever get to sit in on an interview with Kristina, watch her…she does very little talking.” This is mostly because I want to hear what the candidate has to say (listen to learn), but it’s partially so I don’t do any leading. Of course to do this, you must be able to power through awkward silence. A lot of interviewers will jump to fill the silence when things get awkward and then babble down a path of telling the candidate exactly what the organization is looking for.

Now don’t get me wrong, the candidate should know what your organization is looking for and your culture shouldn’t be a secret. When you’ve done all the talking upfront and over shared what your company is looking for, you’re setting the candidate up to form their answers around what you want to hear. This makes it harder to screen for a culture fit since you’ve given away all of your culture buzzwords before you’ve heard what the candidate has in mind for their next position.

Here’s an example:

Interviewer: Here at XYZ company we are looking for candidates who believe in bringing their A game every day, we have no “off days” here. Employees give 110%. We believe in working late hours when we have a project deadline approaching, and expect project deadlines to be more important than anything else. We want some one who likes to play hard when it’s time to celebrate… etc. What are you looking for in your next job?

Interviewee: (thinking to themselves: an 8-5 where I can get my job done and go home and spend time with my kids every night, but gee, right now I really need a job) Well, I’m looking for a group of people who believe in hard work and put project deadlines above everything else.

Kind of a crummy example, but as I thought up example after example they all were descriptive of either my current or former employers and I don’t want to show all of their cards or call anyone out. The mistake here is telling them so much about your environment and THEN asking them what they want. In some cases the candidate is going to be perfectly honest with you and then you can have an honest discussion whether this is the right fit for them and the organization. In other cases people are going to say whatever you want to hear to get hired-at least until they can find the right job for themselves. In some cases people aren’t setting out to lie to you, they just haven’t put any thought into that question so they parrot back everything they just heard you say.

This mistake is most important to avoid in a company where you are screening for culture fit. If you believe culture is driving the success of your business, why widen the risk of bringing in someone who is just trying to fake it? Before you say it, remember we’ve talked about “there’s a place for everyone” i.e. “there’s a culture for everyone.”Also, this isn’t permission to disqualify people for the wrong reason. You CAN define culture so don’t rely on a vague “not a culture fit” reason for not extending an offer.

A quick search for some stats estimate that 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions and one of the reasons this happens is the candidate isn’t really a culture fit and it wasn’t discovered in the interview process (even though it can be). There’s all kinds of stats that pop up when looking to identify how much a bad hire costs our organizations – one source said 1/3 of the employee pay, one source says 50-60% of the pay, and another says 2.5 times their salary. There are a lot of variables to consider when calculating this number, but know this: you can actually identify how much it costs your organization. So, calculate it for your organization and use that number. Data outside of your organization should mostly be taken with a grain of salt in my opinion. Especially considering there is no one size fits all solution to any of our issues, right?

Super easy solutions to this “leading the witness” mistake in general. Ask your questions first. Then expand on the job and organization after your questions have been answered and give the interviewee a chance to ask you questions. Too much to remember? Try this, if Jack McCoy would get scolded for it in the courtroom, steer clear in the interview. Awkward silence is okay, let the interviewee think and you listen.

Three Interview Rule

I’ve always suffered a bit of a professional identity crisis. Am I recruiting or am I HR? Am I both? Are they one in the same? I’ve gone back and forth, but one thing I can say without a doubt that fits with both HR and Recruiting is solid relationships with your hiring managers. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to learn how to manage this relationship and the most challenging was when recruiting for a highly technical engineering company. One thing that drove me crazy was the constant need for “more candidates” for one position. If you’re experiencing the same challenge, let me share my three interview rule with you (it’s really simple).

Me to hiring manager: Here are three candidates that fit what you are looking for based on the extensive discussions we’ve had around your current hiring need.

Hiring manager to me: Great, let’s interview all three of them.

*Interviews all of them*

Hiring manager to me: I want to interview more candidates.

Me to hiring manager: What did you not like about these three?

Hiring manager to me: I don’t know.

Me to hiring manager: Then we are starting over.

3

Why would I tell them we are starting over? Because if you have found three candidates that fit the criteria you’ve discussed with the hiring manager and they still can’t make a decision, then they do not know what they are looking for. When I talk to a hiring manager we discuss every aspect of the position I can with them- minimum skills required, type of work, who the customer is, who they will report to, personalities of the team members they need to work with, day to day environment, education requirements, length of contract, hours of the schedule, peak seasons, when they might be required to work extra, what materials will they be working with…you get the picture. ANYTHING that is relevant that can help me find the perfect candidate for my customer, the hiring manager.

The three interview rule won’t work when you’ve given them candidates who do not match the job req so you should only pull this out when you’re candidates are a match for what you and the hiring manager discussed. This rule can be applied to any position, not just technical ones. Having the discussion about no more than three interviews the right way will help you build credibility with your hiring managers. Approach it as a way to revisit the job you are working on and what might need to be revisited as a requirement, not as a power move. Use it as a way to show you support the hiring manager and respect their time so you want to make sure you have the right information to get it right and help them make an informed decision. Continuing to give them candidates when they cannot tell you what they didn’t like about the qualified candidates already submitted will only drag out the hiring process.

Give it a shot and let me know how it works! As always, if you have questions, I’d be happy to answer them!

 

Best practices danger

I’ve noticed that in our profession we are constantly motivated to find the “best practices” surrounding a scenario or issue. I’m sure this isn’t restricted to the HR profession, but that’s obviously what we are going to talk about on this HR blog today! I myself often support this avenue for problem solving or collaboration, but I’ve witnessed the danger to this process and thought I’d share as a reminder to all of my HR peers.

I recognize that seeking best practices is how we make the most of our resources (especially on tight budgets) and how we find out what other organizations are doing when faced with challenges we are experiencing. Those are good reasons to seek best practices, but this is a real example from this year that I want to use to illustrate the danger in seeking best practices the wrong way.

When faced with a recruiting challenge, an HR manager sought the advice of a fellow HR manager from a company that often times competed for the same talent. She asks the other HR manager “how is your recruiting team set up?” On the surface, this was a good idea. This HR manager found a trusted professional that works for a similar type company and has a recruiting team that she manages to find out how she should structure her recruiting team going forward. She gets her answer, but then she makes a mistake. She takes the answer from the second HR manager and she applies it to her recruiting team.

best-practiceWhat did she do wrong you ask? She didn’t find out how many positions the recruiting team is responsible for filling, what type of positions they are responsible for filling, how much travel does that recruiting team have to do, what steps are the recruiters actually responsible for, etc. She may have gotten a bit more information than how the team was set up, but not enough to know whether that answer was correct for her organization or not. For example, a glaring difference in the two companies is that her company does a TON of college recruiting and the company she received advice from-basically does none. This is a huge factor in determining how many recruiters you need and who should be responsible for what. Your resources look a lot different when they are on the road for 6 weeks at a time, twice a year.

 

Simple illustration to serve as a reminder to you that when you seek out best practices, gather the right information. Do not just copy what someone else is doing, make it fit your organization. The decisions you make as an HR manager should align with your organization’s mission and vision and it should serve your community of employees. You cannot copy and paste another organizations processes and expect the same results!

Collaborate. Don’t copy.

You look like you can do this job.

I recently attended #SHRMVLS in DC with a slew of my favorite SHRM Volunteers from all over the country. This is my second time attending and the connections I make at this event are so valuable. These are other HR volunteers from across the country who are in the same shoes I’m in, or were just in them, or are about to be in them. We get to hear from awesome speakers and find out about valuable resources to help us in our home chapters as we work hard to provide our hometown HR community with everything we can.

We have two opportunities to attend break out sessions with other chapters the same size as ours. In the meeting I attended we broke off into groups to discuss challenges we were facing in our chapters and shared ideas and experience to take back and try for ourselves. I love this meeting because these are my people, if for no other reason than because they have the same size chapter that we do in North Alabama and can relate to our struggles and triumphs.

The most disturbing thing happened while in that breakout session. One of the groups shared that they wanted to have a better social media presence and their idea was to put a college student on the board because they would be good at it.

STOP.

IT.

please-stop

Do not do that anymore. Do you know what you just said? You said “you look like you could do this job.” You are in HR and you said “you look like you can do this job.” Nooooooo. This is wrong on so many levels, yet it happens all the time. Think of how angry we get as the HR professional of our organizations when a hiring manager does this-makes an assumption that someone “looks the part.”

Or you think it doesn’t happen in your organization because you have a diversity committee, inclusion policies, sensitivity training, extensive interview training, etc. Maybe it doesn’t happen in your organization, maybe no one on your team has ever looked at a candidate and thought “he looks like he’d be great at math,”or “she has the look for sales” or “I bet that student can do our social media.” Maybe it was something you thought was harmless like “women are good at assembly line work-because they have small hands.”

An ethnicity doesn’t determine your math ability. The way you look doesn’t tell me how well you can do sales. Being a student doesn’t tell me that you can leverage social media skills to build an effective marketing campaign for an organization through the correct channels. People with good dexterity are probably the best at performing assembly line tasks regardless the size of their hands.

This is a soft example of what is happening in organizations that we need to fix, but I want to really challenge you to dig deep and make sure you have left no stone unturned in giving your hiring managers every resource possible to make them good at identifying talent and not a look, not a skin color, not a religion, not an age. Allowing this behavior is contributing to a much bigger problem.

What have you done to fix this or when have you experienced someone else making a decision on what you could or could not do based on the way you look?

 

No Gender Pay Gap?

Recruiter A gets hired in 2006. Recruiter A has seven years of experience and a bachelors in history. Recruiter A is offered a salary of $53,000

Recruiter B is offered $50,000 in 2016 with ten years of experience and a bachelors in human resource management and two hr certifications.

Recruiter A is a male, Recruiter B is a female. There is a ten-year gap in the offers and the amount has decreased. There are more variables that impact the salaries offered to Recruiter A and Recruiter B, but the glaring difference is gender. Recruiter B brought more HR knowledge and expertise to the existing group than Recruiter A had, allowing Recruiter B to fill other voids when necessary. Both recruiters had their start in “temp staffing” before joining the same company. The same department manager was in place and made the offers to Recruiter A and Recruiter B. At the time of hire neither recruiter is asked to show past results. That department manager making the offers is a female if anyone is curious.

dollar

If you haven’t experienced gender pay gap than great, but just because you haven’t seen it does not mean it doesn’t exist. A quick google will give you a variety of resources to investigate the gender pay gap for yourself. There are a variety of reasons for why a gender pay gap exists. A glaring reason is lack of a compensation strategy (though some companies strategy is to hire women because they will work harder for less money, but that’s not the kind of strategy I want to encourage). I’ve seen plenty of hiring managers make an offer to a candidate based on what they made at their last position combined with what they are asking for. While I can argue that this makes sense there are impacts that must be considered when making this decision. Someone needs to ask questions like, but not limited to, the following:

“What is the goal of our compensation strategy and is this in line with it?”

“Will this salary negatively impact the employee at pay increase time?”

“Will this salary negatively impact the employee at pay increase time?”

“Will this change the compensation plot for the group I manage?”

“Will this restrict future opportunities for them?”

“Would I pay someone of the opposite sex the same amount of money?”

I have some reservations over complete pay transparency, but I want to ask you as a manager if Recruiter B finds out all of this information, can you explain the answer? Is there a chunk of experience that is missing? References that aren’t as glowing as Recruiter A? Financial challenges that the company didn’t have 10 years ago? Whatever it is, are you ready to have a conversation about it (and possibly help Recruiter B grow)?

 

 

HRs role in the skills gap

Day 2 of #SHRM16 is underway and I’m hearing a lot of good things and seeing some fun takeaways via social media for all levels of HR professionals.

Mike Rowe and Alan Mulally killed it yesterday at the opening session-I never thought a story about poo could be so entertaining and educational (in more than one way). I love Mike Rowe’s work to close the skills gap, it is absolutely intriguing to me as a recruiter. I’m never surprised at how often companies use the “skills gap” as a problem to blame the results of their subpar recruiting functions on. We throw around this term to protect our team and pretend like someone else created this problem for us, but guess who contributed to the skills gap? US! As recruiters and hr professionals we should be helping high schools and colleges understand what our employers need, before our employers need it!

Here’s the deal, its 2016. We have access to people like  never before and it’s time to use it. If we can’t find the talent we need, its our own fault. We must take an active role in preparing the next generation of our employers workforce. How do we do that? We get to know what our future needs are and we get in the schools and start talking about it. Its not always glamorous, but someone has to do the job. If you think people view skills relevant and required for your industry as something they don’t want to do then fix it.Don’t just complain about it being a challenge! Revive it. Don’t misrepresent it, share the good, bad, and the ugly and let students know what all of their options are. If high school students are only hearing from engineering companies while they are deciding on what to do after high school, then you’re going to have a lot of students go off to get an engineering degree and then we will eventually have way more engineers than we can hire and not enough candidates for a variety of other positions.

So where I hail from a lot of people become teachers, nurses, or take up a career at the steel mill in town. I wondered why a majority of people chose 1 of those 3 options more than anything else, but looking back those are the professions we were exposed to the most through career days and that’s what the majority of our parents did. The exposure to the professions had a direct impact on the path we chose. It wasn’t necessarily the glamorous exposure of the professions that intrigued us either, it was the correlation to impacting something bigger that drew us in. No one wakes up and says I want to teach teenagers today, they usually have a revelation that they want to impact the lives of teenagers or instill an excitement about a particular subject in them. Without identifying the motivation behind the work, they are just teaching teenagers.

As Mike shared his story of his experience in the sewer with a full time sewer professional I kept thinking “how would I sell this job to a candidate?” Boy, have I got a job for you? You work underground and get a close up view of the inner workings of our wonderful city. You’ll have companions that won’t talk your ear off to keep you company through your shift and probably focused through your tasks.As most jobs do, this one comes with its own set of hazards, but nothing a rubber suit can’t protect you from. The residents of our city will undoubtedly appreciate your work  and even view you as a hero because they understand the necessity of your work to keep s*#! flowing.

No. That’s not what I would do at all, but that’s what some of us are doing, which is causing us more problems beyond the skills gap. We are trying to sell made up glamour instead of acknowledging the realities of the positions we are trying to fill and hoping the right candidate will pick us. This approach is contributing to the skills gap and we aren’t even acknowledging it because we are just trying to make our field/company sound like a fun place to work that will pamper you so we are pretending like we are doing the right thing. Now we have people who have chosen a field based on the half truth we sold them in a specific field and now they are in a career they are unhappy with because another field they weren’t exposed to was probably a better fit for them. Instead, we should uncover the skills gap, shine a light on the cause of it, and get out there and educate people before they choose their professions.

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I’m ready for #SHRM16

IMREADY

Are you?

I am ready to get to DC and see some of my friends and get some running done in my favorite place in just a couple of days! So here’s all the things I’m doing in the 11th hour to get ready:

  • Download #SHRM16 app
  • Add sessions to app
  • Add back up sessions to app (in case my desired session is full)
  • Download presentations for the sessions I’ve chose
  • Checking to see which friends I know will be there (search the #SHRM16 hashtag on twitter)
  • Finding HR pros on Snapchat and Instagram to connect with before getting to DC (seriously, I love snapchat- add me: kminny32)
  • Checking my sessions one more time
  • Double checking my hotel reservations (just in case)
  • Checking to see if the keynotes have a book I want to buy (I have to mentally prepare myself for the line at the SHRM store)
  • Making sure I have shoes (besides my running shoes) in my suitcase so TK doesn’t have to save the day two years in a row!
  • Packing my portable phone charger battery pack thingamajig

What did I forget? I’m sure I forgot something…

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