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.

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.

Most of the tips now also include a podcast version. Look for the audio player and click the “play” button on the right. 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!



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.

Let’s Walk Through Your Résumé

Crusoe's résumé

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In an earlier Hiring Tip or two, I mentioned a learning experience I had while visiting my local Barnes and Nobles book store.

Every so often, I make it a point to check out the “Hiring” section at the book store. What I find almost always surprises me. Shelves…yes, shelves of books devoted to two subjects:

  • How to write a great résumé and
  • How to do exceptionally well in the hiring interview

If I do a rough count, I’ll see 60-80 books on these two topics. And, as time rolls along, new titles show up.

How to write a great résumé and how to do exceptionally well in the hiring interview.

On the one hand, we do like to see prospective employees come prepared. Preparation is good. But, from the viewpoint of those making hiring decisions, we also want to find out what’s really going on with our applicants.

How will they respond to different situations in the workplace?

Are they honest?

Are they trustworthy?

Are they dependable?

Many of the Hiring Tips were written to help you get the “straight scoop” from your applicants. To get past the polished candidate. To ask them questions they were not anticipating so you can make better and better hiring decisions.

So, let’s see if we can do that with this tip as well.

Both of you will have a copy of the résumé in front of you. Ask the applicant to “walk you through” each part of it. Obviously you can skip over the basic contact information, but after that, let’s get some feedback on:

Objectives

Experience

Education

Skills

Interests and Activities

References

Granted, résumés can be different, but most résumés will address the above subjects.

Do some people “pad” their résumés? Well, we all know the answer to that. I couldn’t tell you what percentage do this, but here’s a thought: It’s conceivable that people pad their résumé simply because they know that others do so. It’s an agreed upon lowering of personal ethics.

The key to the effectiveness of this tip is your observation of the applicant as he walks you through each part of the résumé—his résumé!

In other words, when you ask him to amplify a particular point of experience on the résumé, watch him carefully as he goes over this with you.

The honest candidate should be able to easily and comfortably clarify or expand on any part of the résumé. The candidate who padded or exaggerated a particular point (or points) will have some uneasiness describing it in further detail.

Unfortunately there are a few who can look you in the face and lie with incredible ease. They won’t flinch. But you shouldn’t see too many of this kind of person.

Essentially you will see those who honestly filled in every detail of their résumé and they will have no difficulty walking you through it. And you will see those who are somewhat or even very uncomfortable giving you the supporting information that you request.

If you decide to use this tip, you’ll find your powers of observation improving the more you pay close attention to how your applicant communicates to you.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.

Count the Number of Times She Said…

Woman counting

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Here is an interesting approach to the hiring interview.

Ask the applicant a series of questions about how he handled certain tasks at his previous jobs and how he might handle specific tasks with your company.

Questions along the lines of:

In what ways did you help out fellow employees?

How did you sort out conflicts with other employees?

What were the three key things you did to assist the company in achieving its goals?

How would you assist our company to prosper?

Which questions you ask is not that crucial.

The point here is to add up all of the times the applicant said “I” and all of the times he said “we.”

Did the applicant go on and on using the word “I” or did he get a few “we’s” in there? Did he use the “we” word a good number of times?

This approach could give you a quick clue as to how team-oriented your applicant is.

Does he only think in terms what he is capable of doing or does he believe that considerably more can be accomplished with an emphasis on team work.

It’s good to hear what he thinks of himself and his skills. That’s why he’s in front of you being interviewed. But it’s also nice to hear a few “we’s” from time to time.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.

Why Did You Leave Your Job?

Lady and bullhorn

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This is a fairly common question to ask an applicant. If the person is still employed, but is out and about looking for a new job, then the question of course changes to “why are you leaving your current job?”

The next time you go to a bookstore—my local one is Barnes and Nobles—take a few minutes and look over the books available in the hiring section.

In my bookstore, there are several SHELVES of books to help job hunters. All told, perhaps a hundred books on the subject. And that’s just the more current ones.

The majority of the books zero in on helping the job hunter write a great résumé and perform well in the hiring interview.

I would imagine the question “Why did you leave (or are leaving) your current job?” is discussed in many of these books.

So, what does that mean to you?

Well, it means there’s a good chance you’re going to get a rehearsed or prepared answer to this question.

To whatever extent possible, we want to cut through the rehearsed answer and get to why the person has left or is planning to leave.

Here’s one idea:

Before you ask the question directly of the applicant, ask a slightly different version of the question:

“Mary, if I were to contact your previous employer, what is he likely to say is the reason you left?”

If the person is currently employed, then of course this question wouldn’t be asked.

Mary has most likely not prepared herself for this version of the question, so you’re likely to get some information that you might not ordinarily get.

Yes, this puts Mary on the spot. But, from my perspective, I believe it’s fair for you to hear how she views both sides of the coin.

Here’s another approach, this time with the person who is still employed but is out interviewing with you.

First, you would simply ask why Mary wants to leave her current job.

When she responds, you could say,

“I understand. Have you discussed with your employer that you are out looking for other employment?”

When that is answered, you could ask,

“With regards to the issue you mentioned that you feel is compelling you to end your employment there, to what extent have you discussed this with your employer?”

Now these types of questions I’m offering here are pretty direct questions. They may cause a bit of irritation on the part of the applicant. The answers you get may also demonstrate your candidate has a good sense of ethics.

Whatever you discover, it is likely to give you considerably more insight than a simple asking of “Why did you leave?”



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.

“Hire Slow, Fire Fast”

Hire Thorough

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You’ve probably heard the classic hiring mantra: “Hire Slow, Fire Fast.”

Let’s look at the pros and cons of this.

Hiring slow makes total sense when you’re taking the time to vet someone fully for an important position. I would almost say the length of time to invest should be in direct proportion to the importance of the position.

If the position has considerable impact on your bottom line, then the more thorough you should be.

That sounds sensible and almost not even worth stating, right?

But some people get a “gut feeling” about someone and regardless of how important the position is, they pull the trigger fairly quickly.

If I had a buck for every business owner that told me how much he regretted hiring someone because he “went with his gut” I’d own a couple of islands in the South Pacific. Well, at least one island.

I don’t have a problem with people getting a very quick sense of how well someone is going to perform. That’s exciting, actually. People have a very high capacity to know things.

But, and especially for important positions, it doesn’t hurt to find out as much as you can about somebody before you hire them. You can complement your ability to know people with good, quality data.

And that requires considerable interviewing, verifying résumés, background checks, testing, and throw in some more interviewing.

What about the not-so important positions? Can you hire fast for those?

Within reason. Again, do you want to bring someone on board who is going to be rough on your other staff or worse, rough on customers?

So, instead of “hire slow,” let’s go with:

“Hire thorough.”

In terms of “fire fast,” well, one thing I’d recommend is to read over what we have on termination and the law.

I’m a big believer in not letting someone overtly or covertly disrupt your scene. The covert character may not be so obvious—well that is what “covert” is, right—but this person is often doing more damage than the one who’s loud and obvious.

Sometimes this person is quite key to your business. Maybe your top salesperson. But I’ve learned something very interesting on this. Often the overall scene improves when you remove this person. Others are willing to pick up the slack, relieved to have a decent workplace again.

Getting rid of someone disrupting your workplace isn’t something you want to keep putting off. Especially if they’re using their talents as leverage against you making a move.

All in all, you want people who want to be there and want to be part of your team.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.

What Do They Read?

Woman Reading

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You’re interviewing a new applicant and you want to find out about their reading preferences.

It could go like this:

“What books have you read in the last year?”

Notice that this question is very different from “what do you like to read?” Asking what books they’ve read in the last year is quite specific and may offer some quick insights into your candidate.

You could also ask:

“Which books do you plan to read in the next few months?

How about:

“What blogs and web sites do you read on a regular basis?”

Again, you’re narrowing in on specific areas of interest.

Additional questions could be:

“Are you taking any online courses? If so, what subjects are being covered?”

“Do you go online to research new areas pertaining to your skills? If so, tell me how you go about that?”

You could ask the very simple and direct question:

“Do you enjoy reading?”

It’s quite possible your applicant just doesn’t like to read. Is that a deal breaker? That would be up to you, but the candidate who enjoys reading and does so to enhance their skills and their enjoyment of life is, in my humble opinion, in better shape than the candidate who just doesn’t enjoy reading at all.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.