Welcome To The Hiring Tips!

Hello and thank you for stopping by. I’m Stan Dubin, the Executive Director of The Employee Testing Center.

Our employee testing service has been helping companies make better hiring decisions for over ten years now. Whether you use our service or not, I decided a running collection of “Hiring Tips” would be helpful.

If you’d like one Hiring Tip sent to you each week, click here.

These tips address the full scope of hiring: employee motivation, skills, pay, testing, and evaluation. There are tips on what to ask, what not to ask and how to avoid dangerous hiring mistakes. There are 20 plus tips on hiring and the law that our readers have found very helpful. Click here and we’ll send you one helpful tip every week.

Most of the tips now also include a podcast version. If you’d prefer to listen on your smart phone, iPod, etc., subscribe via iTunes.

All in all, we want you hiring better staff.

Enjoy!

Boring Web Site Hiring Pages

Just about every company has a web site. And if you do not have one, please realize the main character in the movie Groundhog Day* has been taken!

Most company web sites include a page to offer employment.

I have seen many of these pages. Likely hundreds of them. I don’t wish to be too harsh here, but the vast majority of these pages are…

Boring.

What do we see on most of these pages?

• The company is indeed hiring.

• Perhaps a list of available positions.

• Possibly a bit of information on each position.

• Often a form to fill out an application for employment.

A few web sites include glowing information about the company, stated in ways you would never see in normal conversation. As an example:

“Our company culture integrates holistic approaches to job development and personal growth. We place a premium on honesty and integrity both in our interchanges with our customer base and with our cherished employees.”

I’m sorry, but who — repeat WHO — believes these kinds of things.

Your hiring page on your web site is a superb opportunity to stand out.

If all you want to do is alert web site visitors that you’re hiring, what the positions are, and provide an application form, then fine.

But when someone shows up on your hiring page, make the effort to ATTRACT THEM. Use simple and straightforward language. Use a bit of humor. Maybe mention that after Frank was seen violently shaking the vending machine, a new one was brought in that actually worked and gave the correct change!

Look over your web page for hiring. Look over a few competitors of yours. What do you see?

Take the viewpoint of someone arriving on your hiring page. What could you say that would convince YOU to fill out an application?

After the page has been reworked, ask a handful of your staff for feedback.

People are showing up on your hiring page. Let’s do the best job possible to create that first reach.

* If you haven’t seen the movie Groundhog Day, here’s a brief summary: A cynical TV weatherman finds himself reliving the same day over and over again when he goes to a small town to film a report about their annual Groundhog Day. For most of the movie, he does not move forward in time.

Is The Applicant a Job-Hopper?

job-hopping

We all have a good idea of what a “job-hopper” is, but let’s look at a couple of definitions anyway, both fairly similar:

job-hopper is someone who works briefly in one position after another rather than staying at any one job or organization long-term.

Job-hopping is a pattern of changing companies every year or two of one’s own volition rather than as a result of something like a layoff or company closure.

Of course, every one has the right to improve their circumstances in life. If that means working for a company for six months and moving on; working for another company for four months and moving on again, and then working for that third company for a year and moving on again, well, one certainly has the right to do that.

The reasons a person job-hops may not be entirely financial. One job may be closer to where they live; another may have better perks; another may give better prospects for advancement.

So, yes, we all should have the opportunity and the freedom to improve how life unfolds for us.

But there is the other side of that coin.

Company A is investing in Employee B. He is getting trained and apprenticed at a position. If Employee B leaves in a few months, Company A will need to repeat that entire process with a new employee.

Employee B is not only being grooved into his new position, he is also getting familiar and accustomed to working with other employees and with customers. From the company’s perspective, this familiarity has real value.

Not too long ago, it was a strong purpose for someone looking for a job to land one and be able to stay there for many years. Grow with the company. Be a part of the culture and the community that company serves.

But that perspective has definitely shifted. Partly because a number of companies have laid off large numbers of their employee ranks, despite a good number of them having invested many years into the company.

And this perspective has shifted because applicants today want more flexibility and freedom to move from Company A to Company B.

So, when you’re sitting across from someone who looks like an excellent fit for your company, how would you approach this?

Your first clue, of course, is the résumé. If the résumé shows considerable job-hopping, then I suggest discussing that with the applicant. Go over what the company will be investing and that you would like to hire someone who’s going to have “some” longevity with the company.

What does that mean, longevity? Well, you’ll need to decide that for yourself. Does that mean at least a year? Two years? Five years?

But even if the résumé does not indicate job-hopping, you still may want to have this point hammered out.

In terms of contracting the person for a specific period of time, I recommend checking with your attorney on what the laws are for your given area.

But you’re in better shape having the conversation with your applicant than avoiding it. Define for yourself and your company what kind of longevity you’d like to see and work it out with the applicant before you make the final decision.

Do You Use A Checklist With Each Applicant?

We all have a series of steps we take when hiring a new employee. Let’s look at some of them that you could put into a checklist:

• Determining the need for the position.

• Can we fill that need internally?

• Promoting to the existing staff that we’re looking to fill a position and getting referrals from existing staff.

• Placing ads externally. On job boards. In newspapers. Anywhere a job can be promoted.

• Applicant fills out a job application.

• A phone interview.

• A second phone interview.

• An in person interview.

• A background check.

• Checking over the résumé.

• Checking the references in the résumé.

• Employee testing. You did know that’s what we provide.

• A second in person interview.

• Salary discussion.

• Having a staff member interview the applicant.

These are some of the steps we take from: A position needs filling to making the decision to fill it.

The company The Balance Careers has a comprehensive checklist that you may like.

Put together a checklist that works for your company. Add to it as necessary, remove action steps that you no longer do. Keep it streamlined but by all means, use it. You’ll find the entire process runs smoother.

This Job Is Very Stressful And…

employee stress

If the job you need filling is very stressful, how do you determine if someone can handle the stress?


I heard of one way of doing this in the hiring interview.

Right up front, some of you may find this a bit off-putting, but I see it as a possible means of checking “stress levels.”

Here’s how it went:

The company was hiring for a very stressful position. At the end of each interview, specifically with applicants they thought might be a good fit, the interviewer said,

“We’re not sure you’re suitable for the job.”

Apparently one of the candidates stood up and said, “Well, I’m not sure I want to work here” and left the interview room, never to be seen again.

So, we’re pretty sure she didn’t handle the stress in that interview very well. She could’ve sat back, collected herself and then come back to the interviewer with reasons why she was indeed suitable.

She could’ve also just simply acknowledged the interviewer and waited patiently for what came next.

Instead, she blew up. A bit of stress was entered into the interview and her method of handling it wasn’t analytical at all. It was emotional and it cost her the job.

Okay, I get it. It does seem a bit off-putting. But you know what’s really off-putting? Hiring someone for a very stressful job who is not able to handle even a modicum of stress.

So, we attempt to find out.

In the interview.

Good luck with this one. You may get some sparks, but you may also get a few gems coming through.

Making Promises You Can’t Keep

You hire a bright individual and you’re so excited, you tell him you’re looking forward to a long future with him. That you feel confident he is going to be a great, long term asset with you.

You love another candidate’s résumé and all of the glowing reports you got from the person’s previous employers, that you tell her she should be able to get several pay raises within her first year.

And yet another candidate interviews SO WELL, that you promise her the Office Manager’s position when that person retires. You know the Office Manager is retiring because she told you she was. She wants to spend more time with her family.

With every one of these promises comes a risk. What if your first candidate who you told would be a “great, long term asset with you” does not live up to his résumé? What if his skills are NOT what you thought they would be. And you want to let him go. Hmm. He may see that as a broken promise.

The candidate you promised several raises with the first year? Your revenue is hurting and you just can’t deliver on them. Broken promise?

And what about the Office Manager who assured you she was retiring in the near future. She changes her mind and doesn’t retire. She decides she just loves working there and wants to hang in for another few years. The candidate promised this position may see this as a broken promise.

I’m not a lawyer and I do not play one on television — I do loving saying that — but making promises to new hires and then not fulfilling them — it is possible this could be a legal problem for you.

The simple solution?

Do not make any promises on the front end unless you are absolutely certain you can keep them.

An even better solution?

Don’t make promises on the front end.

Should You Test Your Applicants?

I realize this is going to be a biased hiring tip as our flagship service is employee testing.

But let’s take a look at a few things here. How many times have you hired someone who interviewed really well, but you found out a few weeks or months later the person was not the same person in the hiring interview? And you had to let them go, or they left after you invested time and training into them.

We’ve been helping companies hire better staff for over ten years and if there’s one major complaint that we get — before we take people on as clients — is that they felt they’d made a good hiring decision and it just didn’t pan out. And that it can happen too often.

How costly is a bad hire? It depends on who you talk to. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, a hiring mistake can cost up to five times the bad hire’s annual salary.

But financial loss is not the only liability here. In some cases, a bad hire can poison the work environment and cause a considerable drop in morale. And with that comes a drop in production.

I know this phenomenon as “lost income.” It’s income that you did not get because people were less focused on their jobs and they didn’t take care of a customer here or there; they didn’t push a sale through here or there; they didn’t see an opportunity or two because they just didn’t have their full focus on production.

Lost income. It’s income that you’ll never get because, well, it’s lost due to a drop in staff performance. A bad hire can cause that. Several bad hires can sink a small company.

So, I believe in testing people before you hire them. But I only believe in doing this IF the test or tests are going to give you valuable, accurate information about someone. I can’t speak for anyone else’s tests, but ten years into this, I can confidently state our tests do provide important, valuable, accurate information.

And I’ll put my money where my mouth is, to coin a phrase.

If you are not using our service, watch this three-minute video and take a free test. It’ll be your test, so we won’t be able to fool you. You’ll see how accurate it is and you’ll see how it can help you make better hiring decisions. In some cases, MUCH better hiring decisions.

Okay, that’s my pitch to use our service. If you’ve been reading these tips since they began — over 250 Hiring Tips ago — you’ll know I might promote our service maybe once every 100 or so tips.

We do feel it is important that you hire the right people for your company. It’s why we provide these tips and a Hiring Tips Podcast for you. But in the end, you’ll significantly improve your hiring success when you have valuable, accurate data to use to make that final hiring decision on every candidate in front of you.

Here’s the link again to watch the three-minute video.

Should You Indicate the Salary in Your Recruiting Ads?

There are good reasons to do so and there are some good reasons not to do so.

Let’s take a look at a few.

Reasons to Indicate the Salary

If you do list the salary, you’re likely to provide a range. If this information was not in the recruit ad, you may miss out on some qualified applicants. When it’s a “buyer’s” market in the hiring world, you’ll want to access as many of these qualified applicants as possible. Listing the salary helps in this regard.

You’ll see more appropriate candidates showing up. You won’t waste time interviewing people who end an interview when they find the salary doesn’t suit them.

Listing the salary gives potential applicants an idea of how senior or how important the position is.

Some of the search engines may not show your ad in search results if the salary is not listed.

Reasons NOT to Indicate the Salary

You’ll have more room to negotiate salary when the time comes.

You won’t pay more than an applicant might have asked for.

If you’re keen on your other employees not knowing what you’ll be paying, not listing the salary keeps that information private.

Other companies, perhaps competing with you for the same applicants, will not know what you’re paying.

Well, there you have it. A few reasons why you should list the salary in an ad and a few reasons why you shouldn’t.

What Do Applicants Ask You?

A good interview will allow the applicant to turn the tables and ask any questions they have.

Most of the time, these are fairly generic questions:

How long has the position been open?

What are the key skills required for this position?

Am I expected to work overtime or on the weekends?

But in some cases, you’ll get questions that demonstrate the applicant is really looking this position over, assessing his chances of being hired and may be a good hire for you. For instance:

Who will I be working most closely with?

What is the most challenging aspect of this position?

Is there anything about my background or résumé that makes you question whether I am a good fit for this role?

Is there additional training that you’d like me to do to become more proficient for this position?

Give your applicant ample time to ask any question he or she wants to ask. If you get the usual questions, no big deal. If you get some well thought out ones, that’s a good sign.

Note: Yes, it’s possible your applicant found his questions from a Google search or he purchased a book that gave him these questions. And if that’s the case, well, that’s initiative too, isn’t it?

What Would Your Employer Say If We Asked?

This is a great question to have handy during the hiring interview. You can substitute the words “supervisor” or “management team” for the word ‘employer.’

Here’s three examples:

You ask Frank what was a difficult problem that he solved at his last position. Frank says, “I was able to solve so and so…” and then you ask, “what would your supervisor say if we asked him about that?”

You ask Sally how would she rate her performance at her last position. Sally says, “well, I’d say I performed very well.” You acknowledge her and ask, “what would your management team say if we asked them about that?”

And one last one: you ask Alex how well did he get along with other employees at his last three jobs…he says, “fabulously well”… and you ask, well, you get the idea.

Asking the question “what would your previous manager say about that?” tends to add a bit of a guard rail into the hiring interview. Most applicants know that employers may check up on them at their previous positions, but coming right out and asking this kind of question makes this scenario much more real.

When asked further questions in the hiring interview, you may find you’re getting answers that are closer to what actually happened versus what the applicant would like to present to you.

We’re not trying to embarrass Frank, Sally or Alex — we just want them to provide an accurate representation of their capabilities so we can make the best hiring decision possible.

How Important Is Empathy?

First, let’s get a definition of empathy:

• The ability to understand other people’s feelings and problems 

Here’s another definition I like:

• The ability to understand how someone feels because you can imagine what it is like to be them

Let’s look at a simple incident that may happen at a dental practice.

Frank just had some dental work done. He makes his way to the front desk to pay for the service. Behind the desk is Sally who smiles when Frank arrives. She informs Frank, “Today’s bill will be $200.00” Frank looks a little confused, but gets out his credit card and gives it to Sally. She runs the card and gives Frank a receipt. He leaves the practice and goes home.

Frank gets home but he’s still a bit confused. Frank has a date later that night and he’s concerned he might still be in pain at that time. He realizes he should’ve asked Sally about pain killers, and if Sally didn’t know, she could check with the dentist before he left.

Now, that’s Frank’s end of it.

Sally’s end of it is this: She noticed Frank was a bit confused when she told him what his bill was. When Frank fished out his credit card and gave it to her, she decided, ‘oh, no big deal, he’s giving me his card.’

Now, if empathy is a strong suit with Sally, it could’ve gone this way:

When Sally noticed Frank was confused, she instantly asks, “Is there anything wrong, Frank? Anything I can help you with?” Frank expresses some concern about painkillers and Sally gets the dentist to come by and answer his questions.

Frank goes home with no confusions. If needed, he takes a painkiller and he takes the correct painkiller.

Without that additional information, Frank may end up taking a painkiller that wasn’t the right one for his situation. He goes on his date, he acts sluggish and an attempt to schedule a second date fails.

All in all, Frank is responsible for getting his questions answered, right? Of course, he is. But Sally, if she’s the empathetic type, is going to understand how Frank feels because she can imagine what it’s like to be Frank AND she’s going to take the time to find out what may be confusing him.

If Sally does take this extra step, Frank is a much better-serviced patient and, yes, he may even get a ‘yes’ when asking for that second date.

You get the point.

Empathy can make a huge difference when dealing with our customers, our clients, our patients. It can also make a huge difference in how employees get along with each other.

If someone shows up applying for a position and he has all of the right skills for that position, but perhaps lacks empathy, is that a deal-breaker? Well, if another person shows up, has essentially the same set of skills and IS able to understand other people’s feelings and problems, then that individual a better hire.

You may be thinking, “that’s all well and good, but how does one determine how much empathy a person has?”

You could ask an applicant this:

“What’s more important, having the right set of skills for a position or the ability to understand the feelings and problems of others?”

The correct answer is both. And that answer should come immediately. Any hesitation and your applicant may be a bit deficient in empathy. This of course is not a foolproof way of determining empathy, so I’m going to make a shameless plug here:

Our personality profile measures ten key traits, empathy being one of them. If you are not familiar with our test, watch our three-minute video. Below the video is a link where you can take a free test. You’ll get a chance to see how accurate the test is and you’ll be able to see what the test says your level of empathy is.

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