Archives For Kevin Nye

what to listen for when phone screeningPhone screening candidates is an underrated piece of the recruiting and hiring process. In many cases, you hear about resume stacks and interviews but nothing in between. In reality, phone screening bridges the gap between deciding who catches your eye and who you want to actually interview in person. But what does a phone screen actually entail and how do you know if it’s a good one? How do you know what to listen for when phone screening?

As I said, phone screens serve as an intermediate step, helping you determine who is worth interviewing on-site. Those on-site interviews are long and often take time out of several schedules in order to run smoothly. Phone screens, on the other hand, are quick and painless. A typical screen should last 10 minutes and be a handful of thought-provoking, open-ended questions.

You can ask all kinds of questions (within the realm of legal questions, of course, and there are plenty of illegal questions you can ask) as long as you’re asking the same questions to everyone. You should have a template pre-made and use it for each of your phone interviews.

Once you have that template of questions, you know what you’re going to be asking. But how do you know what to listen for when phone screening?

What to Listen for when Phone Screening

The one thing that should always be on your radar when conducting a phone screen is confidence. The type of confidence will vary based on position – think charismatic confidence for a sales representative vs. knowledge-based confidence for an accountant – but it remains important that the person makes you believe that they know what they’re doing. A candidate who can’t make you believe that they’ll succeed is one that you probably don’t want to hire.

Of course, some people just get nervous over the phone or in interviews. It happens. That’s okay, too.

Bear in mind that your perception will be influenced by what position you’re trying to fill. A customer service rep will need to be friendly, outgoing, and some level of cheerful in their job so it stands to reason that they must come off that way during an interview. If you’re speaking with someone who doesn’t exude confidence and it’s for a position that requires hard skills more than it does personality traits, you can find out what you need to know by asking knowledge-based questions.

Does your applicant know how to use Quickbooks? Can they explain how they would handle a certain software malfunction? Can they tell you about a project they’ve led in the past?

Each of those answers will present you with an impression of their confidence (or lack thereof).

But be warned; confidence is best in moderation. A phone screen candidate who picks up the phone and says, “Cancel the rest of your calls – I’m getting this job!” might be a bit overbearing. Phone screen candidates who ignore your questions to tell you how great they are have a way of finding themselves in the “thanks but no thanks” pile real fast.

Be sure to consult your original job advertisement and look back at what your key accountabilities are for the job. Set up your phone screen to ask about those things and take notes as the candidate talks. You might not remember everything they say, but your notes will fill in the blanks and you’ll have a strong understanding of the kinds of people you’re seeing.

things you can't ask during an interview

Liability is a real threat and there are plenty of ways to get yourself in trouble and prompt discriminatory-practice lawsuits. Whether you’re still in the phone-screen stage or doing face-to-face interviews, there are certain pieces of sensitive information that you, the hiring party, can’t ask during an interview.

Here is a sampling of things you can’t ask during an interview:

  • Age
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Marital status (including maiden names)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Child-bearing status
  • Arrest record
  • Current health or disability status
  • Living situation
  • History of bankruptcy
  • History of disability insurance
  • Organizational memberships

Remember this when you’re looking to make a hire: Not everyone will come into an interview and look for ways that you’re discriminating or ways that they can hold you liable for improper hiring practices. However, some people will be aware of things that are sensitive for an employer to hear, and they may be prepared to use those against you if you don’t hire them.

That’s why you need to be aware of the things you can’t ask during an interview. Sometimes these questions can come up in natural conversation, but you need to know that you cannot ask about them without facing liability.

On a similar topic, lots of hiring companies are turning to social media to aid in their hiring processes. I cannot discourage this strongly enough. All of the bullet-points above are sensitive information that can be used in discrimination lawsuits, so hiring companies need to be careful when dealing with any of those topics.

Think for a moment about your Facebook page and how many of those info-areas can be discerned from your page. Probably a lot, right? That means you shouldn’t be using Facebook to find out about your candidates, as you’re learning sensitive information.

There are third parties who will look up information about your potential employees and can browse social media sites for you, and they’ll protect the sensitive information from reaching your eyes and ears. If you’re that concerned about what someone is doing with their personal lives, third parties are the way to go. However, if you can stand to avoid the dangers of learning sensitive information – and encountering the threat of hiring discrimination – then I suggest avoiding it.

Admittedly, most job-seekers are not applying for jobs for the purpose of creating lawsuits. These are all things that will protect you and would really just steer your interviews off-track and ultimately lead you into dangerous territory. You can’t help it if the information is offered to you, but do not ask.

Bad interviews happen in a number of ways. The candidate may be rude, crass, lazy, late, disinterested, over-aggressive, under-dressed, or maybe they didn’t show up at all. These things happen. Even if it may have been one of your top candidates before the interview, things change. You, as a hiring manager, need to be prepared.

So how do you handle a bad interview?

In short, you move on. The entire purpose of having a hiring process is that you have the ability to continue running and re-running that process. You’ve been screening and interviewing candidates through a few steps of your process by this point, so you ought to have more than just one candidate coming in for interview. Now that one has essentially removed themselves, you can focus on more candidates who deserve a shot. Continue filling the earlier part of your hiring funnel, either through advertising more and getting more candidates, or putting more candidates through to the phone screening and interviewing stages.

We at NewHire like to refer to a bad interview as a bullet dodged. Whether you’re finding out that a candidate is a poor fit professionally or personally, or perhaps that person is a complete lunatic, it’s better to find out before you’ve actually brought them on as an employee. The only thing you’ve lost with a bad interview is the time you took to get them there, and if you’re using an efficient screening model, that shouldn’t be much. Better to waste an hour’s interview than a month’s salary.

One of the hidden upsides of a bad interview is that it makes the rest of your candidates look great. It might sound silly, but your good job-seekers appreciate the bad job-seekers simply for sake of comparison. Placing a series of overweight mixed-breeds in the Westminster Dog Show would highlight the purebred dogs the same way a lazy, disinterested candidate will make an enthusiastic job-seeker look great.

Everyone is going to handle a bad interview differently, but the best thing you can do is shake it off. If you harp on something that went wrong, it’s easy to carry that frustration into the next interview or project it onto someone else. If you can shrug your shoulders, chalk it up as a learning experience, and move on, then you’re ahead of an awful lot of your competitors. And if nothing else, you might get a good story out of it.




Indeed is the current juggernaut in the online recruitment advertising, delivering 38% of all applicants to a sampling of 66 open positions. This is more than any other single job board. The runner up, CareerBuilder, does not even come close. But that’s not the whole story because the combination of Careerbuilder, LinkedIn, Craigslist and all other boards delivered 62% of the total number of job applicants.

When sourcing candidates you can’t know in advance which source is going to provide the person you will hire. So our data shows that it is important to advertise your open position to as many jobseekers as possible.

In a previous blog, “Top Job Boards in 2013”, we explored which job boards delivered the most job-seekers. Our next step was to find out which of those job-seekers turn into applicants. What we found surprised us, and we think it might surprise you too.

The application rate — the conversion from job-seeker to applicant — from Indeed is far and away the lowest of any site surveyed. A strikingly high percentage of the job-seekers coming from CareerBuilder and LinkedIn are completing the applications.

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Indeed accounts for almost 3 times the number of applicants than any other job board. We expected Indeed to be the leader because Indeed provides 10 times the number of job-seekers as the runner-up. But, the application rate from Indeed is the lowest of any site surveyed.

Here’s the first surprise: A high percentage of the job-seekers coming from CareerBuilder and LinkedIn are completing the applications. The application rate (conversion of job-seekers to candidates) is 38% for CareerBuilder, 34% for LinkedIn and 30% for Craigslist, while Indeed’s application rate is a lowly 7%.   

Here is what we think is happening. Applicants who use Indeed only see a small snippet of the ad. To see the entire ad, they have to click through and view NewHire’s application page, boosting Indeed’s job-seeker statistics. In comparison, applicants using CareerBuilder or LinkedIn can see the entire text of the ad and don’t need to click though. If they do click through, they are more likely to apply for the job.

 

The world of “other” job-boards continues to surprise.

The right bar in the graph labeled, “other,” is a combination of every other job site that referred job-seekers and applicants to NewHire. This group of “other” job sites sends us our second highest number of applicants and job-seekers. It’s crazy that the #2 performer is coming from sites that we don’t intentionally post to.

With thousands of smaller job-sites around the web continually picking up each other’s jobs, the Internet is working its interlinked magic to bring you more candidates.

So what does it all mean to you?

As job boards and aggregators feed into each other, the number of people who have access to your job ad increases. The job ads will even feed into sites that you never expected, driving more traffic. Continue posting job ads on a wide range of websites to maximize your exposure and build your pool of candidates!

How did we get all this data?

This graph shows the total number of applicants who applied to NewHire jobs between July and September 2013. Each of the 66 jobs shown here were advertised on the job boards shown, during concurrent time periods. All job-seeker and applicant data is gathered from Google analytics. A job-seeker viewed the NewHire application page while an applicant submitted the NewHire application with the minimum required fields.

Exam

When hiring a new employee, the interview process should include multiple candidates coming in for face-to-face interviews. Oftentimes you’ll find a candidate who surprises you in a how-did-they-get-this-far sort of way. It’s not ideal, but people can look good on a resume and have the experience that you’re looking for, but they may end up being something completely different in person. One of the ways to limit this possibility, is the implementation of assessment tests.

Skills and assessment tests come in many different shapes and sizes – you can get one that judges someone’s ability in almost anything. Here is a look at some of the different types of assessments.

Software Testing

            Let’s say you’re trying to hire someone for a marketing position. Chances are good that you’re going to want someone who can use Word, PowerPoint, and/or something like Photoshop. In that case, test them on it before you interview them. If you have a list of 10 people who are in the hunt, have each of them take a PowerPoint assessment test and see that two or three of them will have eliminated themselves by way of poor results. Sure, according to their resume they have the experience, but rather than finding out too late, you’ve now seen the truth in the form of a score report which takes up 15 seconds of your time.

Intelligence Testing

            While it’s hard to say that any test is bulletproof, certain tests have a reputation for being good measuring sticks. Our rule of the thumb is that before you use it on a candidate, you must use it on yourself! Feel free to try out a few of our options here. Among the most reputable is the Wonderlic Cognitive Ability test. Employed by the NFL since the 1970s, the Wonderlic tests a person’s general intelligence, aptitude, and problem-solving ability by running a participant through a series of 50 questions over 12 minutes (or an off-site, remotely administered version at 30 questions over 8 minutes). The results are sent back to you with the score ranges color coded and the score (or applicable score range, in the 30-question version) highlighted on the page.

Behaviors and Personality Tests

Sales assessment tests seem to be the most common example of these (Meyers Briggs has long been one of the most popular sales assessment tests) but there are many different options when working to assess behaviors. These tests will ask a series of questions that help determine what motivates an individual, how they act naturally, how they act in a workplace, and what kinds of results they value most. As an example, Target Testing International (TTI) has a test which features a DISC assessment – determining the candidate’s Drive, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance – and a PIAV side – determining the personal interests, attitudes, and values of your potential employee. When used together, they provide a strong indication of the person’s makeup, which can then be measured against what you know about the position you want to fill.

Beyond this, there are certainly other options still out there for you to assess your candidates. Obviously, each of the above choices does come with a relatively low financial cost; significantly lower than finding out that someone doesn’t have their advertised skills after you hired them.

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When you’re looking to bring on a new employee, there are factors that both parties need to be aware of. Perhaps biggest among these is that both the company and the candidate need to be aware of how the employee will be integrated into the company. Of course, that means you (the employer) needs to know how the employee will be ushered into the company. This is not as simple as it seems. Here are some tips:

1) The job title matters

If you’re bringing on a salesperson and know that their main focus will be chasing leads and bringing in new business, the learning curve may be shorter than if you’re hiring a design engineer for a metalworking company. The job title has a lot to do with how much time it will take to make someone aware of company policy. Related to this, the level of experience for the employee will obviously play a big role in their need for guidance: An entry-level customer service associate will need different pointers than someone who has done it for a rival company for years.

2) Communicate your expectations before the hire

False hopes about job responsibility are a leading cause of employees leaving a job quickly. While going through the interview process – especially when you’re down to the final two or three candidates – you’ll want to explain your vision for their role. This should include the amount time you want them to spend working underneath someone, time spent shadowing someone, and/or when you think they’ll be autonomous. While you may have some company information that you’d like them to learn, it’s important for the candidate to know how much they’re expected to learn beforehand and how much they’ll learn on the job.

3) Be prepared for things to change

The best laid plans often go awry, so don’t fret if/when they do. There are situations that you can’t fully prepare someone for until they experience it firsthand. If you thought your training would take a month, but situation X doesn’t come up until month three, don’t worry about it. You can’t expect the new employee to know something that they’ve never had to deal with before and they shouldn’t expect to handle everything the first time it happens. Things can and will change within an organization. Do your best to prepare the new employee and yourself for these potential changes. If that means the job responsibilities may be transitioning, be sure to communicate with your staff about the changes.

4) Help

Even when you train someone for a couple of months, there are things that will take a few real-life applications before they stick. Whether it’s a procedure, a policy, or a standard practice for the company, not every detail will lodge itself in a new employee’s brain on the first try. Allow yourself some patience and help the person to do things right whenever they have a problem. By being willing to help an employee, you will actually be instilling confidence in that person, which makes it less likely that you’ll need to help them out in the future.

Overall, the best way to help a new employee get acclimated to your company is to make them feel comfortable. Ultimately, it will depend on the job you’re filling and will vary a little bit depending on your company’s style, but having a warm culture will go a long way in getting a new hire on their feet in as little time as necessary.

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Making a hire has some startling similarities to dating.They’re both courtships, they both take time and money, and they both affect your day-to-day life whether you want them to or not. You might be thinking that this only applies to the candidate who is coming in for an interview as if it’s blind date, but this is very much a two way street. Here are five reasons dating is like hiring – for an employer.

1. You’re selling yourself and your company

Whether you’re intimidated by an interview or have done thousands of them, you still have to make your company sound like it’s a good place to work. When you’re on a date, you have to make yourself sound appealing and interesting. In both cases, the person across the table from you should want to be with you. Of course, that desire carries slightly different emotions in the two situations.

2. It’s extremely important to get it right

A bad date can kill your mood, ruin your night, and cost you a fancy dinner’s worth of money. A bad hire can kill your bottom line, ruin your quarter, and cost you thousands of dollars. Granted, some bad dates can ruin a quarter and ultimately cost you thousands, but hopefully those are few and far between.

3. Interviews are dates, dates are interviews

A first date and a first interview each exist for the purposes of finding out more about each other. Both parties want to know if there’s a chance that this will be a mutually beneficial relationship. The difference is that interviews actually have a resume that provides some of that information in advance of the meeting, whereas asking a date to send their dating resume is out of the question.

4. You have to see through someone’s façade

One of the difficulties of an interview is that the candidate is showing you their most presentable version of themselves. Your candidate may not be entirely truthful if they think it can help their chances of being hired. Similarly, on a date, the leading theory is to hide imperfections until later in the dating process. These are essentially the same idea. It’s somewhere between trickery/deceit and smart planning.

5. The goal is identical

In both dating and hiring, all parties involved want the same thing; a strong, long-standing, positive relationship. You want someone who will be there to fill a need for you, help you become better at what you do, and enhance your overall experience in life. And sometimes, in both cases, you’ll end up on the same health insurance plan.

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Hiring a new employee is one of the most difficult parts of running a business. Even if you have a great hiring process, it takes a bit of work, patience and persistence. Sometimes it’s a struggle to find even one good candidate and other times when you think you found the perfect candidate… they don’t pan out.

At NewHire, we’ve seen an awful lot of strange behaviors and actions from candidates – everything from people arriving for an interview wearing shorts to being hung up on during a phone screen. To help you prepare for your next hire, we’ve put together a little list of what you can expect when you’re expecting …a new employee.

Candidates are flaky.

We’ve seen final candidates drop out of the race without notifying anyone, not show up for interviews, and never return calls or emails. On a typical set of phone screens, we’ve found that around 15% of the people we contact will never respond to our calls or emails. Even if it seems like one candidate is a perfect fit, don’t stop looking! We’ve seen some of the most promising candidates slip through the cracks. If they’re a great candidate, they might be getting other offers. Don’t sit back and assume you’ve got someone in the bag – keep looking and make sure you have a hot standby.

Candidates don’t follow directions.

Every NewHire job application includes a space to attach a resume. It also includes instructions on what to do if you’re having problems attaching your resume. In spite of this, roughly 10-15% of applicants still don’t attach their resume.

It varies from job to job, but as a general rule you can expect at least 10% of respondents to neglect to send you their resume on an online application.

Candidates are often unqualified.

Especially in this job market, candidates are trying to get any job they can and often apply for jobs they are not qualified for. For example, if 100 people apply for your open position, you’ll find that 10-20% are “qualified,” meaning they meet the experience level, degree and skills required for the job. However, a significantly smaller number will actually be “right” for the job. When an employer pares down for what they’re really looking for, the typical rate of people worth interviewing can drop to less than five out of that 100 person candidate pool. Again, this varies quite a bit between jobs, but go into the hiring process with the understanding that a small number of candidates are interview-worthy.

Candidates are unpredictable.

It’s no surprise that candidates get nervous during interviews – it happens to the best of us – but sometimes they do strange things because of it. We’ve had candidates get sick, start talking about family secrets and history, reveal too much information about their personal life, and even toss around four-letter-words as if they were at a bar with their friends. Make sure you’re well prepared for candidate interviews. Always have a strong list of questions prepared in advance that you can lean on in case things get weird.

Expect the unexpected.

You never know what you’ll come across when you start the search for a new employee. But one thing is for sure… expect the unexpected!

Do you have any crazy candidate stories? We’d love to hear about them!

Employee perks

Imagine the following scenario: Job #1 offers $60,000/year + insurance, two weeks vacation, and sick days. Job #2 offers $55,000/year + insurance, two weeks vacation, sick pay, an onsite gym with free membership, and a masseuse who comes in every other week offering free 20 minute massages to the staff.

When dealing with top talent, companies need to separate themselves from the competition to entice prospective employees. Oftentimes the salary is similar between two jobs and it takes something extra to sweeten the deal; this is where perks and benefits come into play.

By accepting job #1, the employee will make enough money to pay for all of the perks offered in job #2 – probably with a few thousand dollars left over. However, just by reading the offers, job #2 sounds more interesting. Whether or not the employee ends up using these perks or not, the fact that they’re offered says something about the culture of the company, which can sway a potential employee.

Based on the set of perks and benefits, the employee can begin to make inferences about the hiring company. From this example, job #2 seems like a company that is looser, freer, and more concerned with your all-around well-being than the company in job #1. By offering what are essentially wellness benefits, the applicant gets a sense of the company culture and what kind of people they hope to bring in.

Job #1 comes off as standard. There are fewer bells and whistles, no fancy decorations, and no surprises. There is clearly nothing wrong with the job, and it even offers more money than job #2. But that standard offer is less exciting. People like bells and whistles – it’s the reason that the word “upgrade” exists.

While these assumptions may not be 100% reliable, they’re a start. For all we know, job #1 may even offer all of these benefits as well, but they’ll miss out on candidates by not advertising these things.

Candidates want to feel special. An employee wants to know that they’re appreciated and taken care of before they sign on to anything. The relationship is a two-way street: The candidate wants to know that they’ll be treated well and that their interests are being considered. In turn, this breeds a stronger bond with the company, inspiring the employee to stay invested in their work.

When looking to make a great hire, it’s all about finding the best candidates. By making a strong offer, you increase the number of people who will apply for a job, which increases the number of qualified candidates. Because of that strong offer – and perks certainly enhance the strength of the offer – you’re setting up your company to find better applicants.

 

 What are some interesting perks you’ve heard about and/or offered?

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Countless articles appear on employment blogs around the world that tell candidates what they should put on their resume to get noticed.  Unfortunately, common mistakes can drive any hiring manager crazy.

Here are five pet peeves that hiring managers hate to see, and resume tips for job applicants:

1. Misspellings

While a lot of interviewers don’t thoroughly look over a resume during an interview, typos stand out as if they were capitalized and in bold-faced print. The resume is one of the ways candidates represent themselves and spelling mistakes show carelessness. Combined with the fact that 99% of word processing software has spell-check, it leaves a bad first impression.

2. Formatting problems

Contrary to many articles, resumes don’t have to be a beautifully formed work of art. We frequently see candidates who have over formatted their resumes and the result is a jumbled mess of tabs, tables, and font changes. For every resume that gets attention because it’s beautifully formatted, there is at least one that gets discarded for being a disaster.  It is better to have presentable, simple formatting than run the risk of cluttering your resume. (The one exception would be for graphic designers and positions where page setup is a major part of the job. Even in these cases, there is more than just the resume that seals the deal.)

3. Too much information

The purpose of a resume is to say why you’re a good fit for this company. Its purpose is not to say everything you’ve ever done and why those things make you more interesting than the last person. Candidates that include every detail of every job they’ve ever had can overwhelm. A more focused approach is best. More information doesn’t necessarily mean better information.

4. Personal input

The hiring company does want to know about you on a personal level, but that’s what the interview is for. The resume is a brief synopsis of your work history, touching on important points that are related to what you’re hoping to do for this company. The interview is where you get to fill in the blanks about what type of person you are and how that pertains to this job opening.

5. Length of Resume

This one is a little trickier, because not every job is the same. For certain positions, you may see a detailed work history which could span a few pages. For most jobs, a well structured, well formatted single page will do, any more than two is frequently too excessive and long to read.

There is no “across-the-board” code for what is the perfect style of resume for all situations, but there are universal things to avoid: don’t waste words or space, make it look presentable, and know how much information is too much.

As a hiring manager or business owner, what resume mistakes drive you crazy?