Guest Blogger: Marc Prine PhD
With the NFL Draft on its way, there are few things that can make or break a team’s season and the career of a General Manager (GM) more than a bad draft decision. Similarly, there are a few things that can stall your company’s growth like a bad hire. In both situations, a bad decision will waste time and money and cause aggravation.
Both the NFL GM and the hiring manager are trying to make predictive decisions on how an individual will perform based on all of the information available to them. The average company looks at a person’s education, previous working experience, references and performance in what is typically an unstructured interview. The GM looks at a player’s college career, performance on physical drills at the NFL Combine and a cognitive ability test known as the Wonderlic. How important could a cognitive ability test be in the NFL? Well let’s look at two different players:
On paper which player would you rather have? Player A was the third overall pick in the draft. Player B was draft pick 199 all the way in the sixth round. Player A is Vince Young, who played 6 years in the NFL with no major accolades since winning Rookie of the Year. Player B is Tom Brady, one many view as the best quarterback of all time who in 14 seasons thus far has won 4 Super Bowls (Most Valuable Player in 3 of them). When the average score for a quarterback is 24, somebody so low should raise a red flag and create cause for additional inquiry.
This is not to say that an assessment should dictate who you hire and choose to pass over. It does however show the value of using every data point available to you. This is where you would want to enlist an expert help you compile a competency model specific to your organization’s need and select an assessment to best measure candidates against your model.
Assessments are built to help you gain peace of mind on your hardest decisions. The best resume in the world paired with a witty performance in an interview does not indicate whether or not this person is the right fit for your organization. Make the right choice by giving yourself an objective data point and included an assessment when you draft your team.
Marc Prine PhD is a Director in the Talent Consulting and Assessment Practice at Taylor Strategy Partners. For inquiries or more information on how assessment can help drive your decision making contact Marc at Marc.Prine@Taylor-Strategy.com.
More than 20% of U.S. bachelor’s degrees awarded are in the field of business. Let’s put this in perspective – I went to a tiny university (with a great women’s basketball program obviously) and an enrollment of right around 2200. There are close to 60 different majors. Really, how do you pick what is right for you? Let’s magnify this, if I were to walk down the street to the Goliath of state schools, The Ohio State University, with an enrollment of over 50,000 – there are hundreds of majors. With 1/5 of all undergraduate degrees coming from the same field and hundreds of options out there, how is it that “Business” has taken the millennial generation by storm.
Well we as Americans take pride in capitalism. I think. And then enter technology? The possibilities are endless to become the next big business mogul. Right? If you find yourself in that 20%, about 400,000 per year (wow), my question is how do you differentiate? Numbers never lie, like the ESPN show will attest, and the market is clearly saturated with “you people,” myself included. Not to mention the other hundreds of thousands who will take jobs in business who didn’t even major in business! Shocking, I know.
How do you stand out as 1 in 400,000+? That’s a tough question but there might be a few things you can tweak and make your own. Be authentic, maybe a geek in your own way. Your educational institutions want you to be successful, but not just you, they want every person in your degree program to do well. It’s good for PR of course. In turn you’re all getting relatively the same advice as your peers regarding your resume, how to interview, how to dress, social media etiquette, dining etiquette, networking tactics, and last but not least – a firm handshake. And if you don’t have the firm handshake by now my fellow business majors, I might be a little weary. Below are some tips you might not typically hear.
Tips a non 20-something might not tell you:
1. Orange is the new black: In no way am I advocating imprisonment, but I think it can relate to what is considered acceptable “business attire.” I’m over the black or navy suit requirement. Let’s be honest, when you walk into a career fair for business majors it feels stiff. How many box-like dark pieces of clothing can we wear? Maybe even take a page out of RGIII’s book and find some creative socks.
2. Your resume: Have you followed what your educational institution has put forth as a template? Insert name here, company, appropriate bullet points, etc. This might not be a “novel” idea but has it occurred to you that everyone else in your class will be giving recruiters the same dull sheet of paper? Again, you don’t have to go over board, but it’s reasonable to put a little more creative thought into the piece of paper that defines your career.
3. Time for questions: At the end of an interview the interviewer will typically ask, “Do you have any questions?” The hand-me-down questions of “Why did you choose to work here?” are just fine. I’m sure you’ll get some decent, valuable information. But, it might be a good idea to sit down and truly think about the company and the person you’re interviewing with. Be creative. These questions will be custom to the opportunity you’re interviewing for and if you want some specific tips, you know where to find me.
These items seem simple but that’s the point. You don’t want to be drastically out of this world, but these kinds of details can make a difference. When you’re out in the job market give us business majors a little uniqueness, a little more credibility in the “think outside the box” department. You don’t need to be in web design, performing arts, social sciences, mass media, or any other field where it’s okay to bend the rules a little in order to be authentic and creative.
Business majors unite.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to hiring athletes. One being they’re just “dumb jocks” and won’t bring value to your organization. Second being they’re an attractive hire because they’ve shown commitment to a cause.
Being a college athlete I have a slight bias and tend to agree with the latter. It is a benefit to the workplace to hire college athletes but not just any college athlete. I recently read a blog essentially classifying the “good” athlete hire versus the “bad.” Pointing to combinations of level of play from Division I-III or NAIA, grade point average, scholarship amount, and playing time.
These combinations only scratch the surface of evaluating a student-athlete. When you have a recent grad or current student in the interview process, you should be asking yourself, “What can this individual add to our company?” In my opinion outside of GPA, the division a player competed in, scholarship amount and playing time, don’t tell you if the candidate “can do this job” – it only tells you about the level of basketball player they were and if they might be able to beat you in a game of H-O-R-S-E.
But not all college athletes are one in the same.
The Myths of Hiring College Athletes
- They all have time management skills: There’s a major difference between knowing how to allocate time to projects in the work environment and knowing that on MWF I have class from 9-11am and 1-2:30pm with practice from 4-6pm. Out of the 8 hours plus left in the day – I somehow have to find time for homework and to study! Trust me… College athletes DO have time (less than non-athletes, you’re right, but time nonetheless) – it’s just a matter of how they use it.
- They’re all coachable: I can think of several individuals I have played with or against who were college athletes and never once did I think they were coachable. Watch an NBA playoff game this week. Coachability isn’t exactly a quality all athletes possess.
- They know how to work with a team: One, let’s discuss all of the individual sports out there – golf, tennis, gymnastics. Yes, I know they can win team trophies too but they don’t need to communicate, “Hey! I’m going to rocket a pass to you under the basket and if you don’t look up I will peg you in the back of the head” in less than 2 seconds. Two, as with time management and being coachable, just because you’re on a team and listed on a roster does not mean you understand how to be a good teammate or how to work effectively in a group.
The above 3 items are typically knighted upon all college athletes who enter the workforce. But, as a hiring manager or recruiter – do not be fooled. They are not automatic traits. And if you’re an athlete – don’t fake these qualities, it will become apparent very quickly that you started all but 4 games in your career, received a full-ride scholarship, but can’t seem to figure out why you’re terrible at sales.
You may now be asking yourself, “So what am I looking for? You’ve told me about several fallacies and yet, I’m left with no action.” Below are the REAL reasons you should hire college athletes.
What to Look For and Questions to Ask:
- Mental Toughness: How were you tested physically as an athlete in college? When you were faced with adversity, how did you handle the situation? The day a teenager or early 20-something says to himself or herself, “Wow, I can’t believe I just did that. I didn’t think it was possible.” You’ve struck gold. Your coach should push you to levels you never thought you could reach and this quality will be one you will use over and over again in the workplace.
- Self-Discipline: What did your off-season workouts look like? When you arrived back on campus in the fall, were you in shape? Did your coach instill a sense of accountability when it came to working out on your own? It’s a lot more difficult to stay on task and push yourself when no one is watching.
- Sacrifice: This is how I define TEAM. You know when to put others before yourself. You do what’s right, because you don’t want to let your teammates down. When have you had to sacrifice for your team?
- Leadership: Describe leadership stories. The title “captain” doesn’t grant you leadership skills. Why were you elected captain? If anything about being a senior or upperclassman is mentioned, that’s a turn-off. You earn the title of captain because you know how to motivate, you cultivate relationships, and not only do your teammates trust you but so does your coach. You can also gain leadership skills without being a captain. The question around leadership boils down to; did your teammates value your opinion? And, when things weren’t going well, did your team look to you?
- Coachable: This is a very important trait but, as stated before, don’t assume just any athlete is coachable. Ask pointed questions – How did you react when your coach pointed out mistakes? When posed with opportunities to improve, did you take the initiative to get better?
For the majority of college athletes who will not be playing professionally, as the famous NCAA advertisement states, it’s important to differentiate yourself beyond that line on your resume reading “Varsity Basketball 2007-2011.” Millennial athletes, did you gain any of the characteristics above? Be prepared to convey more than “common traits” several athletes before you have over-used. Tell them your stories. The resume lines on winning one regular season league championship, two league tournament championships, and two NCAA appearances with a Sweet 16 don’t hurt either. More stories.
Hiring managers, expect more from the athletes you’re interviewing. Get to the important traits and don’t take college athletes at face value.
I think most will find that the clear indicator of the value of a college athlete can be measured by the coach they played for. A coach who runs a program with the goal of not only winning championships but developing contributing members in the real world and teach their players mental toughness, self-discipline, sacrifice, leadership, and being coachable.
I am thoroughly grateful for my helicopter parents. Due to their hovering they have successfully put me through college and are ¾ of the way there with my sister. They’ve given me the opportunity to excel in sports and the classroom along with my younger sister. With two college athletes for children I can confidently say I would not be where I am today without the opportunity my parents afforded me.
With that said, when I read the SHRM We Know Next blog Helicopter Parents Descend Upon the Workplace I had to take a step back and think about what was missing. The cited report by Michigan State University and their Collegiate Employment Research Institute startled me even more than the blog itself.
Why are parents directly involved in the employment of their children? Unless it’s a family business this shouldn’t even be a conversation. I’ve been going back and forth whether or not to make a category specifically devoted to what I learned playing for Suzy Venet in college. But, this was the tipping point. This is the debut blog for “Lessons From Coach.”
In the fall of my freshman year, on the first day of class – I had a team meeting with all of the women’s basketball “hopefuls” aka freshman and the rest of the team. We started out with almost 30 freshmen and on senior day there were 4 of us – so yes, I’d call them hopefuls. Our coach was going through rules and protocols and you guessed it – she specifically addressed parents
Fresh from high school, where most of us were the best on our team and an athletic system that is quite political, biased, and can be bought with some cash – our COLLEGE coach wanted to make sure our parents knew where they stood. Also, you realize she didn’t address the parents – she told us, to tell them. Already drawing a clear line of communication between player and coach – no triangle with mom and/or dad.
“If you have a problem with me, playing time, another teammate, get in trouble, have difficulty with grades – I want you to talk to me. I want you to come to my office and tell me. I don’t have time to answer parent’s e-mails and phone calls. I have one job and that is to coach you to a championship,” Coach said. Wide-eyed and nervous, we were getting a dose of what it was like to be an adult. First day of college – welcome.
No more buffer ladies. Solve your own issues. Our coach cared and still does care about our families – but she also understands that in order to grow as an individual we were all 18, legally adults, and needed to start having our own difficult conversations.
Gen Y: We’re the real problem
As much as I’d like to blame helicopter parents who are just too involved in their children’s lives, by the time you’re in college it is up to the student, and now adult, to ask their parent(s) to politely back off.
If you’re a helicopter parent reading this – know your kids love you but, they also need to play the game of life on their own. And if you don’t believe me, you’ll probably continue to hinder their opportunities.
Helicopter Kid: Do’s and Don’ts
- If you value your parents opinions that is most certainly acceptable, ask them for thoughts and advice on companies, career path, and job search
- Discuss their network – they might be able to make an introduction and get your foot in the door
- Let your parents attend the interview
- Let your parents advocate for promotion / salary increases
- Let your parents negotiate salary and benefits
- Let your parents call and complain if the company does not hire you
- Let your parents attend a career fair for you
- Let your parents discuss promotions with the hiring manager
- Ask your parents to submit resumes on your behalf
It’s important to note that all of the “don’t” points were questions in the survey concerning parent involvement by Michigan State. Except for submitting resumes, all other actions are ones that students can prevent. And as for submitting resumes, if you’re not willing to fill out your own job application how in the world do you think you’re going to do the actual job?
If you have a chronic helicopter parent, sit down with them. Explain that it’s time for you to take responsibility for your career. Their interference will hurt you in the long run. Helping you and doing it for you – are two different things. Some Millennials may be saying – if they want to be involved then why not? According to the “grown-up” manual and the study completed by Michigan State – companies do not look favorably upon Millennial candidates who allow their parents to take part in the recruiting process.
Direct communication should always be between you and your employer. Just like player and coach. It’s an A – B conversation, no C.
I remember being a college senior winding down my last first semester and ready for finals to be over and go on winter break, sound familiar? Senioritis kicked in early and I just wanted to sprint to the finish line. My brain could not tolerate any more information; even the lyrics to the new Katy Perry song were postponed until after finals. I’m not sure why I was excited for finals to be over though, because that meant I had 3 weeks ONLY focused on basketball. I can’t even call it basketball; it really was more of a track meet twice a day, everyday. I’m getting nauseous just writing about that time in my life it was so nerve-wracking.
Anyhow, it was about that time when I truly started thinking about what I wanted to do with my career. It was the first time when I thought my mom was brilliant for telling me, “Nicole, you should be a doctor.” Which was about 3.5 years too late to know she was brilliant.
I said to my mom when I was in high school, “That’s way too much school mom.”
She replied with, “You should be a nurse then Nicole, the medical field is a great area.”
I finally contended, “Mom, science just isn’t for me. I never liked it in grade school and I skated by on extra credit and charm when it came to biology, chemistry, and physics. The answer is no.”
Decision-making is inevitable
My initial reasoning for becoming a business major was to “keep my options open” aka a phrase that really meant I was too scared to close any doors and truly commit to a career path (which is entirely acceptable). But, after 3.5 years of business courses under my belt, I was still at a loss. I didn’t want to make a decision at 18 and little did I know it just meant I had to then make a decision at 22.
I do understand that even in the classic professions such as law and medicine it is still a requirement to pick a specialty or specific type of practice, however, the track is fairly straightforward. Winter break arrived and I now had this degree that, “I could do almost anything with” and it was a terrible feeling. I could do anything but what in the world was the actual something?
It’s that time of year when college seniors and those in grad school can’t wait to write that last essay or answer that last question. It’s stressful and exhausting. We’ve all been there. And the “fun” part is that once you finish those meaningless tests? There are bigger decisions waiting for you on the horizon, which also causes stress and exhaustion. Yikes.
Don’t confine your career to your degree
Starting my career as a recruiter the over-used phrase, “no one ever sets out to be a recruiter” resonates clearly. When I was 10 years old did I dream of recruiting? No, I dreamed of being recruited to play professional softball or something close to that.
But, as a recruiter I’ve learned that even with how specialized degrees are presently it’s not the end of your story. As a naïve, green recruiter I was surprised that an Art History major was a Senior Director of Marketing at a Top 25 Pharmaceutical company or that a Business Administration major would go on to get their doctorate in Physical Therapy right after undergrad.
Your degree doesn’t define you.
Constantly build your resume
In high school you built your resume to get accepted into college. In college you built your resume to get into grad school or snag that first job. Hate to break it to the young folks but resume building never ends. You’re always adding and subtracting.
There’s always a next, especially in this job market. I’m not saying that you’re always building your resume to leave your company. But, you are constantly building your resume because it puts you in control of your career path. With that control comes decision-making but, knowing you’re accountable for building your skills and knowledge base is a competitive edge needed in today’s job market.
Lifelong learners are not only the individuals who decide to add every acronym known to human kind at the end of their name with a degree or certification from A-Z. But, also those individuals who find it important to consistently build on their accomplishments. If you ever feel like you’ve arrived that’s where you’ll stay.
Last night I sat on my couch with tears streaming down my face like Coldplay made so famous. I wasn’t watching The Notebook or some other sappy love story written by Nicholas Sparks. I was watching… The X Factor. Yes, a reality TV show and yes, a “me too” version of American Idol, which the creator of X Factor, Simon Cowell, made popular with his beyond brash comments offending everyone watching. Even with the, “Are you serious? Another talent show?” mentality that typically surrounds these shows – I found myself captivated.
I have a love for music and a collection that spans Taylor Swift to Meek Mill to The Temptations to ‘N Sync to Celine Dion. There’s something about The X Factor that draws me in – maybe because it covers all genres, singers ages 13-35+ and even groups can compete. I get caught up in their stories of struggle and triumph, pouring their souls onto that stage every week.
But let’s be honest, everyone has a story. Some more interesting than others I will say, but nonetheless it’s a story. I’m not so much enthralled in The X Factor because of their stories (even though I look like a distraught 16 year old over a break-up with my boyfriend I’ve been with for 2 months when I watch the show) but rather their true talent. You’ve all heard this before, he just has “it” or she has the “x factor.” There are some things that just can’t be explained.
Carly Rose Soneclar, the 13 year-old sensation on X Factor, is a phenom in the making. She’s unbelievable and has something most of us don’t. But, there’s got to be more to it. This talent show is just like the workforce; there is naturally high potential talent that will rise above the rest.
Let’s discuss some buzzwords shall we? Identify high-potentials, retain high-potentials, and promote high-potentials. Sounds wonderful and if your company is superb at doing this, please pat yourself on the back. However, when it comes to having “it” and “the x factor” I think there needs to be a new accountability put on the individual who is so blessed to have that thing that makes them so great.
Individuals that have “it” can stroll down the street and look like they’re gliding. When they’re walking down the street to everyone else it looks as if they’re skipping. We’ve all heard this – they’ve just got that extra umph that puts them head and shoulders above the rest. If you know someone that has the x factor or think that I’m talking to you when reading this blog – ask yourself what is your x factor?
We’ve all been told it’s intangible. It’s something you just can’t explain. They work hard, have charm, are charismatic, ridiculously motivated, have the Midas touch, and you know what? People just like them and that’s that. Onto to the next topic.
But, let’s slow down. Are you sure you can’t explain it? You’re sure you were just Lady GaGa Born This Way? I think not. There’s a reason why you have “it.” There’s a reason why your “x factor” stands out above the rest. Somewhere along the way there have been experiences or people who have brought it out of you and developed you. If you don’t think so? Touché. You’re with the majority who think it’s just something some people have.
But, if you can tell your parents, employer, coach, friends, mentor, brother, complete stranger and whoever else wants to listen – what your x factor is, you not only will know what drives you but so will everyone else. Don’t settle for just having “it.”
Innocently thumbing through my Twitter feed after lunch, I came across a Tweet with a link to the HuffPost Live webcast on the topic of “The Millennial Vote.” As a Millennial (and self-endorsed politically educated young person) I was intrigued. Each person in attendance was given the opportunity to discuss the candidates and issues up for debate in the 2012 election and there was one resonating topic – JOBS.
As stated by Pete Dominick, Sirius XM Talk Show Host and CNN contributor, “Millennials do not use the word economy but, rather jobs.” While I do think Millennials should learn more about the economy and how it affects job opportunity – let’s focus on jobs specifically.
On Tuesday, November 6th 2012 Millennials who are registered to vote, which is down 11% from 2008 as noted in the webcast, will enter the voting booth and elect the individual they believe
to be in their best interest to find them a job. I thoroughly support voting and do believe it to be our civil duty to do so, however, simply voting for the candidate who can make the strongest promises about employment is an inherently flawed idea. Again, please vote but that is only a battle in the unemployment and underemployment war. Millennials need not only show up at the polls but also need to educate themselves on how to find the right job and take control of their job search. It’s the “how” I’m concerned about.
The wrong answer is to the “how” is settle for statistics like “11.8 percent of young Americans are now unemployed through no fault of their own and more still are falling out of the workforce due to a historic lack of opportunity” and statements like, “Young Americans know this is not fair, and they are asking why the White House continues to push policies that are moving them backward.” Now I know HR, Gen X, and Baby Boomers will rejoice at the next statement I make as they try to work with these “entitled young kids.”
This election year rather than depending on Washington to come through and being satisfied with answers such as “it’s not our fault” and “it’s not fair,” become an educated job seeker. Impact your own career.
If you’re a 20 something here are 5 ways to impact your own career:
Leverage your current network
You’re a marketing major. Are you sure your Mom’s best friend isn’t a Brand Manager at P&G? Are you sure your Dad doesn’t work for a bank with an open entry-level marketing role? Are you sure the professor you loathed, didn’t used to work at one of the largest steel manufactures? Are you sure your sister’s childhood friend’s dad isn’t the CEO of a small business? Ask the question of anyone you know. Why not?
Your first job may not be your dream job
No job description calls for 0 years of experience. Understanding you need experience to get experience – 2-5 years experience spent not working at Google or Nike? Is ok. Working for a local tech firm or retail sneaker store will give you a real resume to talk about with Larry Page or Tinker Hatfield.
Be a honey badger
Make job searching your job. Be active on Indeed and other job posting sites. Are you sure you’ve applied to EVERY single job there is? I doubt it. Oh, you’re caught in a black whole resume vacuum? Call the recruiter, over and over. Call the Vice President, over and over. Call the CEO, over and over.
Is your LinkedIn profile attractive to recruiters? Know the title of jobs you’re looking for. All of them. Don’t know? Send a LinkedIn message to someone who does what you want to do. You’ d be surprised how many people will reach out. Research the top companies who do what you want to do. If it’s HR? Surprise, every company in every industry needs HR. Take your pick.
Follow, Like, Mention, Retweet, Blog, Comment, E-Mail, Regram – find where your companies are talking and engage them. Companies are spending time and money figuring out this digital age and engaging candidates just like you. Locate them and they’ll most certainly oblige to respond. Millennials – I look forward to seeing you out at the polls and I also look forward to a re-energized group of young people who are educated, relentless job seekers.
An October 1 article by Lorraine Mirabella in the Chicago Tribune discusses frustration felt by job applicants interacting with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). I read or heard this other places as well. Unsurprisingly, many candidates dislike the impersonal nature of trying to demonstrate their qualifications for the role by answering some “Yes” or “No” questions. A “wrong” answer often triggers an email informing the candidate they are no longer being considered for the position. To be sure, there are many good reasons for using these kinds of systems, including how “internet applicants” are defined by the federal government, decreased barriers to applying, and downsized HR staffs.
The consternation felt by job seekers brings to mind two issues near and dear to my heart as an industrial/organizational psychologist; applicant reactions and validity. Let me quickly summarize why these are important to this discussion.
Applicant reactions can be described as the emotions and opinions applicants have as they go through a selection process. Do they feel it was fair and they had a chance to adequately describe their qualifications and skills? Did your organization come across as professional? What did the process tell me about the culture?
For many organizations, applicants and potential customers are one in the same. A bad experience (actual or perceived) may actually choose to not shop or eat there any more either– not to mention there is always a chance the scorned applicant will let fly with an epic Twitter rant that ends up getting a million hits on YouTube or file one of those pesky employment lawsuits. None of these are positive outcomes your organization or employment brand.
Validity refers to how realistic the inferences are that we draw from data available to us. When pre-screen questions are used to eliminate a candidate from the selection process, the inference is that specific answer means it is no longer worth continuing to talk to that person. In some instances, this may make sense.
Consider the position of an Advanced Bulldozer operator and these two questions:
- “Have you ever operated a bulldozer before?”
- “Do you have 10 years of experience operating a bulldozer”
If the answer to Question 1 is “No,” I can see how one could make a reasonable inference that the respondent is someone who does not meet minimum qualifications for the position – eliminate them from the process by all means. To me, eliminating someone for answering “No” to Question 2 is a far more suspect conclusion. How do you know that 10 years is the “magic” amount? Is someone with 10 years of experience significantly more qualified than someone with 9 years of experience? Too often, the line between “required” and “preferred” qualifications get blurred in the bells and whistles.
The moral of the story?
Just because the technology to do something is available, that doesn’t mean we should always use it. And just because technology can reduce workload and make some “decisions” for us, that doesn’t mean other tradeoffs do not exist. Too often, I find features and functions of online systems end up driving selection system design decisions, not what is in the best interest of the business.
The good news?
We tell the computers what to do! (at least until singularity comes!)
- Always, always treat applicants with respect. It’s the right thing to do – and it has the upshot of helping solidify the employment brand you have been worrying about.
- Use technology to make the experience more personal, not less. Make your “no thanks” email something other than “We are keeping your application on file. Thanks.”
- Be very selective in what becomes a “knockout” question. Ask whatever questions you want, but use most of them to help you figure out who to phone screen or call in for an interview first.
- Ask hard questions internally…how do we know someone has to have majored in marketing to be able to do this role? Does that twelfth year of commensurate experience really make a difference?
Guest Blog by: Brian Haney
What do you want to be when you grow up? Everyone has been asked this question at some point in their life. Do we really know the answer? For me it was to become a Major League baseball player with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now that they’re actually playing well these days, I figure that I would have been in the prime of my career making a push for that full count, 2 out, bases loaded, base hit to win the World Series. We can all dream right? Needless to say that dream didn’t come true.
Today, I’m now a recruiter for a $2 Billion company and their successful advertising agencies throughout the United States. How many young kids say “I want to grow up to be a recruiter”? I’m willing to bet a large amount of money that ZERO kids or even adults would have these professional dreams. On a daily basis, I’m talking to all different types of people, from a variety of backgrounds and locations throughout this country. My job is to help sell the “dream” of the company and the job itself in order to secure and retain talented individuals within the family of advertising agencies. Throughout the initial phone interviews with these candidates, it is my job to find out what their dream is when they grow up. What do they want to accomplish? What motivates them to be successful? It’s basically the same question that they were asked as a child, only now, their responses are much different than a six year old that says “I want to be an astronaut”, “I want to be a firefighter” or “I want to be the President of the United States of America.”
They talk about their ideal job they would like to have but rarely is there any passion behind it like the six year old that truly believes he or she will be an astronaut. Do they even like doing their current job? Are they upset that their original plans didn’t work out? It is my job to step in and describe how the new position is right for them at this point in their career. It is also my job to explain to them if the position is not the correct job for them. As much as I want to fill my job openings as quickly as possible, I have the duty of finding the correct fit for the employers. It is equally important to have both sides satisfied because if that isn’t the case then we’ve wasted quite a bit of time, money, energy and it’s back to square one to find another candidate.
Being a recruiter now, I enjoy the ability to help assist people in their professional careers knowing that I’m helping them reach some of their lifelong dreams, even if they change a few times. Hopefully the Pirates continue their winning ways this season and all of our dreams will come true…sort of.
Nervous. Hopeful. Insecure. Cocky. Anxious. These are all potential feelings when walking through those doors for your face-to-face interview. Someone is going to grill you on your own life and you’re unsure of how this is going to go. Your own life? Wait a second who knows your own life better than you? And yet, here we are… not really confident about how to interview or the opposite – too confident and prideful to think you might need a few pointers.
In a blog by Gayle Pazerski, Interview Like a Kid, Hire Like a Grown-Up on The Resumator blog, I found myself filing through my recruiting brain for applicable stories for this idea. Gayle mentions 4 ways to achieve this mind sent. I’ve divided them up into two categories – Tips for the Interviewer and Tips for the Interviewee.
It’s important to note that yes, the potential candidate has to do a good or maybe even immaculate job of impressing the potential employer but, if the interviewer is not equipped with the necessary tools? It’s almost useless to even have a conversation. For example, what you really want is someone who knows how to mentor, yet you’re asking questions about how many direct reports they have and stopping there. The number of direct reports has no influence on their ability to mentor, ask questions involving examples of how they aided in progressing junior talent, what tactics they use to do so. Get your mind ready, here’s my interpretation:
For the Interviewer:
Always ask Why? – This may seem simple but, if an answer doesn’t seem to stand by itself, ask why? It also clarifies answers if too vague. If you ask a candidate, “Why are you leaving your current employer?” They may say there’s no room for advancement. Seems like a good enough answer right? But, think about what you might learn if you just ask why there isn’t room? They might tell you there are 6 other people at their level and only one position to be promoted into. And even this role that 7 people are fighting houses a person who just started, so it’s unlikely there will even be a chance to interview for it. See the difference? If you’re interviewing someone, you need to get the root of the candidate’s answers. Asking why never hurt anyone.
Don’t sugar coat your business. – This is the ultimate white lie. But, how do you go about telling a potential great candidate for your organization, that everything isn’t so wonderful. Why does it even matter? If an individual is going to be successful in a role, they have to come in with the appropriate expectation. For example, if the candidate is going to be working with a difficult client on a daily basis – you need to make sure they can handle this while making sure you don’t scare them off. Instead of just saying, “Well we have difficult clients, are you ok with that?” Think about having the candidate describe an example for you. Maybe try, “Can you describe a time when you’ve had a disagreement with a client and discuss how you solved the issue?” This question now will provide you with evidence of the how the candidate dealt with the obstacle and also infers there was problem-solving involved. If they can’t answer the question, maybe they aren’t right for your position.
For the Interviewee:
Play Show and Tell – As referenced above, it is always good for the interviewer to ask you for examples. But, you may not always be so lucky. Your interviewer may not understand how to ask questions appropriately. They may not have had any training at all for that matter. A good way to prepare for the interview is to make sure that you have examples prepared. It’s very easy to say “Yes, I can do X,Y, and Z.” Just to check the box. But, if you can describe when and how you completed X, Y, and Z? That then gives the potential employer a story to think back on. Simply saying yes just means you can answer a question, not that you can do the job.
Lose Your Attention Span – While interviewers may be guilty of talking too much, the candidate needs to be more conscious of their answers. If you ramble, it means you’re trying to give them the run around and don’t really want to answer their question or that you’re not capable of presenting a clear thought. Either way, you must always know how much time you have with an interviewer. If it’s only 30 minutes? Know that you’re on a time constraint and it’s imperative that you make sure they get all of their questions answered. If you have an hour? Great, but still know that presenting a clear and concise thought is key to winning over an interviewer. If you feel like you haven’t answered the question, don’t just continue yapping away assuming the interviewer doesn’t get it. Ask them, “Have I answered your question?” This way the interviewer will then prompt you if further description is needed or not.
These tactics seem pretty simple but, there are guilty parties each day that don’t pay attention to these small details. It will not only make for a more efficient interviewing process but, you’ll also find that it will be more informative and allow you to find the “right fit.” Which is what everyone in the game wants right?