Your Best Day, Your Worst Day?

Chris O’Neill, the CEO at Evernote, offered this as a great interview tool:

“‘Tell me about your best and worst days at work.’ The answers are very revealing. ‘Best day’ answers demonstrate what makes that person tick, what motivates them. ‘Worst day’ answers tell whether a person is a team player—if their response focuses on what went wrong without taking any ownership, there is a good chance they won’t thrive in a collaborative environment.”

I do like this approach.

Some may say their “best day” was when work was easy and time flew by. Others may say their “best day” was when the work was difficult and challenging, but they were determined to get through it and produce a positive outcome.

Oddly enough, you may get the above responses for “worst day” as well.

“Well, my worst day was when work was so easy, I didn’t have to apply myself beyond showing up and just doing my job.”


“My worst day was when the work was so difficult, I couldn’t find a solution to a pressing issue.”

Whatever the responses are, I agree with Chris over at Evernote. You’re more than likely to gain a good insight into your applicant.

You Are Doing Background Checks, Right?

In an article on theft in the workplace:

“Billions of dollars are lost and stolen annually from businesses, because of employee theft. Employee dishonesty and theft costs U.S. business over $50 billion dollars annually. National estimates show that 75% of all employees steal from their employers at least once throughout their careers. The same statistics show that at least half of these 75% steal multiple times from their employer.”

Regarding violence in the workplace:

“Many American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. Unfortunately, many more cases go unreported. Research has identified factors that may increase the risk of violence for some workers at certain worksites. Such factors include exchanging money with the public and working with volatile, unstable people. Working alone or in isolated areas may also contribute to the potential for violence. Providing services and care, and working where alcohol is served may also impact the likelihood of violence. Additionally, time of day and location of work, such as working late at night or in areas with high crime rates, are also risk factors that should be considered when addressing issues of workplace violence. Among those with higher-risk are workers who exchange money with the public, delivery drivers, healthcare professionals, public service workers, customer service agents, law enforcement personnel, and those who work alone or in small groups.”

Each year nearly 1 million individuals become victims of violent crime while working or on duty.

Much of this can be prevented in your workplace by doing a background check. I realize that’s something most of you already know, but the question is: are you doing them?

They are not that expensive and can tell you vitally important things about your candidates. They can help you prevent potential theft or violence in your place of business.

There are of course no guarantees that a “clean” background check means a prospective employee will not become involved in future acts of violence or theft. But the chance of someone causing damage to your company is certainly increased if you do not employ background checks.

So, this is a pretty straightforward tip. Use background checks. Find a place that has a solid reputation for providing up-to-date and comprehensive data.

Should I end off with that familiar phrase? Well, why not.

The more you know about someone BEFORE you hire them, the better your hiring decision will be.

Would a Different Job Suit You Better?

Your Office Manager is moving on in a few weeks and this is a key position to fill. You do a bit of advertising and a good number of people apply for the job.

You do some initial screening with a phone interview, maybe even a second phone interview. But now it’s time to interview candidates in person.

Does the candidate know exactly what YOUR Office Manager does? This is a good place to start, as candidate Mary may have a very different idea than candidate Alex.

It wouldn’t hurt to ask first.

If you get a response that comes really close to what you need, that’s pretty good. But your answers will likely be quite varied.

And then you tell them exactly what your Office Manager will be responsible for on a daily basis. You may want to have this written down ahead of time and you could hand that to each candidate to read. You could even read it verbatim to each candidate. No one is judging.

So you’re closing in on a point of understanding of what YOUR Office Manager does and what his/her responsibilities are.

You could then lean back in your chair — your chair does have this flexibility, right? — and ask:

“Alex, now that we’re in sync on what the Office Manager position is and what its duties are, is there a different job that would suit you better?”

Alex may not be prepared for this question. And that’s okay. We’re eager to find out one way or the other.

Alex may say, “Well, I’m more suited to be a salesperson so I guess I could use my sales skills to get the staff to happily carry out their duties. But I am keen on getting a good-paying job asap and I believe I can be your Office Manager.”

Mary may say, “No, I am 100% perfectly suited to be your Office Manager.”

You could thank Alex for being candid and if it’s not a long haul to train up your Office Manager, he could be your guy.

With Mary, you could simply ask, “Why do you feel that way?”

Tom may tell you he’s quite multi-talented, that he’s perfectly suited to be your Office Manager but he could also excel for you in Billings and Collection.

Linda may offer a plea to give her a shot, that she promises you won’t be disappointed.

How much previous experience each individual has as an Office Manager would definitely be a factor, but in this day and age, you may not get former Office Managers coming in to apply.

So, let’s find out if they feel they’re better suited to something else. If nothing else, you may like the candid answers you get. And you may gain a nice nugget of insight that will help you make your decision.

Interview With Suzanne Kelly — 4

This is the fourth and final appearance on the Hiring Tips podcast of Suzanne Kelly.

In the first three shows we discussed some basic mistakes that are during the hiring process. We also covered the importance of reference checks and how to get a reference check done. Really done. Not superficially, but where you can get some key information about a candidate. In many cases, where you hired someone who later turned out NOT to be the person you thought they were — a thorough reference check may very well have alerted you to that fact…before you hired them.

In this final show, we go into even more depth on this subject. We also cover a service that Suzanne offers: training. You can contact her to get in depth reference checks done or you could have her train you or one of your staff to do accomplish this vital hiring step. Contact Suzanne at:


Interview With Suzanne Kelly — 3

This is the third appearance on the Hiring Tips podcast of Suzanne Kelly.

In the first show, we answer some basic questions about hiring and hiring mistakes that can be avoided.

In the second show with Suzanne, we go more into depth on reference checks. A fully done reference check will often provide you with information on prospective employees that will influence your hiring decision.

In this show, we go into even more depth on this subject. I have to admit, I’m astonished what you can learn with reference checks. Suzanne really knows her stuff and feel free to contact her at:


Interview With Suzanne Kelly — 2

This is the second appearance on the Hiring Tips podcast of Suzanne Kelly.

In the first show, which you should listen to first, we answer some basic questions about hiring and hiring mistakes that can be avoided.

In this show, we go more into depth on reference checks. A fully done reference check will often provide you with information on prospective employees that will influence your hiring decision. Give the show a listen and feel free to contact Suzanne at:


Interview With Suzanne Kelly — 1

Today’s hiring tip is a bit different from our usual tips. We have a wonderful and very capable guest on the Hiring Tips podcast, Suzanne Kelly.

For over twenty years, Suzanne has been working with leaders, management teams and business owners to help them bring the best possible people on board.

Suzanne’s area of expertise is in reference checks. If you do not use reference checks or you’re only doing cursory reference checks, give these shows a listen. This is the first of three shows with Suzanne.

Suzanne can be reached at:


What Have You Done to Become More Effective?

When it comes to improving one’s craft as a salesperson, or as someone doing collections, as an administrator, office manager or even as a waitress, what are the possibilities?

Well, some folks do essentially nothing. They wait for their current employer to give them additional training.

And there are some when they go through this additional training, don’t really take advantage of it. Their intention to improve their skill isn’t really there. This individual isn’t aspiring to become more effective. They are fine on “getting by.”

And then we have the person who does utilize this additional training to get better at what they do. They look forward to this training and are very focused on getting the most out of it.

But there’s one last category here. This is the person who doesn’t wait for the company’s additional training. They are reading books, taking online courses, signing up for night classes at local colleges with one burning desire in mind. To become more effective. To get better at what they do.

This individual may also be looking to learn new skills. To take on new and more rewarding positions in the workplace.

They may take this pro-active approach to more training to have more leverage when asking for a raise.

They may want to be more effective because they care about making the company overall more effective.

They may just have it in their bones to always be learning how to do things better, to be more productive, to be more successful.

Your applicant falls somewhere in this spectrum of just getting by to continually working on ways to improve their skills.

Asking the question, “what have you done to be become more effective?” along with some digging, should let you know where.

And that’s a nice nugget of insight into the person in front of you.

How Much Money Are You Making?

I should mention right at the beginning that in some areas an employer cannot ask an applicant about their current or former salary. So, please check first in your area to ensure there are no restrictions on this. Otherwise, it’s a very good tip, so here we go.

If the amount of money you’re offering isn’t anywhere near what an applicant needs to come on board, then going through the entire hiring process will of course be a waste of time for both parties.

How does one determine this and how soon in the process should one bring it up?

Well, it doesn’t hurt to bring it up very early on. You could even bring it up in a telephone interview. A simple question is:

“How much money are you making?”

Some applicants fudge their earnings, so it might be helpful to add ahead of time, “we do want to offer a fair salary to everyone but we know some might pad their earnings a bit, so we should tell you upfront we do check references and salary history.”

And then:

“How much money are you making?”

If you decide to ask this question on the phone and their salary needs are in the ballpark of what you can offer, this is good to know early on. However, the phone interview is not a good place to negotiate salary.

Okay, the amount of money the person needs is not close to what you’re offering. The main point of this tip is not to consume valuable hiring time only to find out he’s not a viable candidate.

However, what if YOU are so confident in your ability to promote your company, promote the position and promote all of the exciting possibilities of working with you that the salary the applicant needs can be shifted down?

I can’t argue with confidence. If you feel you can sell your side of things to bring about a compromise in the salary, go for it. But if you’re not confident — and I’m not judging here — it’s probably a better use of your time to talk to applicants that are in your salary offering range.

What Motivates You To Come Into Work?

An interesting question.

What motivates us to come into work?

Some of us, perhaps many of us, come to work each day to get a paycheck. We’re happy to be employed; we’re grateful for the opportunity; but we need the funds to live and take care of ourselves and possibly others. And that’s our primary reason for coming to work each day.

And of course there’s nothing wrong with that. Survival is a fact of life. But is there something more?

Some of us love what we do and that we are providing a helpful service or product to others.

Some of us love to be challenged by our work.

Some of us place great importance on the friendships that evolve in a workplace and we look forward to seeing our friends each day.

Some of us are curious as to what each day will bring. What will I learn that’s new today? Will I meet a very interesting person? Will I be asked to do something I’ve never done before?

The question “what motivates you to come into work?” could produce some very interesting answers.

You could also go as far as asking the applicant, “What kind of work situation would excite you about coming into work each day?”

I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know when I say the more motivated your staff are to deliver great service and work hard to help the business succeed, the more successful the business will be.

So, asking about motivation is one way to find out just what kind of employee you’ll have.

The applicant may give you a “practiced” response, but you’ll know by just observing how they answer. Do they have a sparkle in their eyes? Are they displaying some genuine passion when they answer?

Let’s find out.

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