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.


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

Get a copy of our new Hiring Tips book at Amazon.

What Isn’t Fair?

Listen to the Hiring Tip Here

So let’s set the table.

“George, in your opinion, what about today’s work environment isn’t fair?”

I think there are three ways George can respond to the question:

George may sense it’s a “trap question” and not really answer it at all. He’ll avoid giving you a direct answer.

George may go on for several minutes about what he finds unfair. He didn’t get the raise or the promotion he thought he deserved. He was given assignments that he didn’t feel could get done in the time period allowed. He was asked to put in overtime without being properly compensated.

Here is the third way George might respond to the question:

“Well, I’ll admit there were situations at work that I found difficult to deal with. I decided the best way to deal with those situations was to communicate to the right people what I thought was happening. But I also knew that the kind of communication in those situations was very important. I realized that complaining to others—whether it was to other employees or my supervisors or the boss—well, that wasn’t going to be a good approach at all. I didn’t want to be known as a complainer. I didn’t want to be that guy who said, ‘it isn’t fair.’”

So, I’m thinking if you’d like an insight into how responsible your applicant is, ask him what isn’t (or wasn’t) fair and give the question some context.

It could just do the job.

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

Get a copy of our new Hiring Tips book at Amazon.

What’s NOT On Your Résumé?

Richard Branson
Listen to the Hiring Tip Here

I mentioned Richard Branson in an earlier Hiring Tip and I’m bringing him back for an encore here.

Richard Branson is the founder and CEO of Virgin Airlines, Virgin Records, well, pretty much Virgin anything. I think Richard Branson is a tremendously bright business owner, executive and leader.

In his latest book, The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership, he says:

“As important as it is to look at what a candidate has achieved elsewhere, I have always believed that the single most important thing to consider is ‘personality fit.’ By that I mean, is this someone whose way of being, sense of humor, and general demeanor will dovetail easily with your company's culture?”

With that in mind, he recommends asking this question in the interview:

What didn't you get a chance to include on your résumé?

There have been a number of Hiring Tips specifically addressing the subject of “fit.”

Does someone fit in with what we’re doing here?

Is this person a good fit for us?

And I’ve written at least 40 tips that may not use the word “fit” but their sole purpose is to find out if, in fact, your candidate can and will fit in.

Branson believes you should use a good chunk of your interview finding out who you’ve really got across from you.

I do too.

So let’s get back to the question:

What didn't you get a chance to include on your résumé?

This is an opportunity for your applicant to go beyond the routine hiring interview and ideally pull a few gems out of his or her hat.

Make it very okay for the applicant to bring out other facets of their personality or way of doing things that, well, didn’t make it on the résumé.

The more forthcoming your candidate is, the easier it will be for you to see if you’ve got a “fit.”

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

Get a copy of our new Hiring Tips book at Amazon.

Underpaid and Overpaid

Under and Over Paid

Listen to the Hiring Tip Here

You’re essentially going to ask two questions here. One question may get you several answers. And the other may produce a blank stare.

“Fred, at which of your previous jobs did you feel you were underpaid?”

The concept of being underpaid is a fairly easy one for us to understand. We felt we were not adequately compensated for our work.

Perhaps we worked longer hours than what was initially bargained for.

Maybe we felt we worked much harder than our co-workers.

Or maybe we didn’t feel the quality of our work was financially appreciated.

So, when asking an applicant about having been underpaid, go over some of the above possible scenarios, dig in a bit and see what comes up.

After you feel you’ve covered this side of the coin, move forward with this question:

“Okay Fred, that was good to know. Now, at which of your previous jobs did you feel you were overpaid?”

This question might get you a long pause, maybe even a fidget or two.

Be patient and let the candidate come up with an answer.

If Fred doesn’t come up with anything you could ask:

“What would it mean to be overpaid?”

That is not directly connected to Fred and his past, so you should get a fairly good answer here.

Then, ask the earlier question again, with this slight modification:

“Fred, with that in mind, were there any jobs in which you felt you were overpaid?”

Yes, I realize this is a difficult question for many applicants to answer. If the person feels he was overpaid, then that begs the question:

“Well, why didn’t you perform to the level of what you were being paid?”

So, your applicant may feel it’s a “trap question.” But it really isn’t. You’re looking for a glimpse into the integrity level of your applicant.

Fred may say,

“Well, a few years ago, I was working for Company X and they paid me very well. It was a very cushy job and I just kind of glided along, happy to be making a good deal of money.

“When they downsized—and that included me—I wished I had rolled up my sleeves and had been much more productive. I may have been spared the pink slip.

“That was a big lesson for me. From that point on, I stopped gliding and got my act together.”

That’s a refreshing viewpoint, right?

Whatever you do find out with these two questions, I’m pretty certain you’ll get some keen insights into your applicant.

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

Get a copy of our new Hiring Tips book at Amazon.

“What’s The Next Job You Would Like to Have When You Leave Here?”


Listen to the Hiring Tip Here

Reid Hoffman, the Founder of LinkedIn, believes the employer/employee relationship starts off with “a dishonest conversation.”

From the employer’s side, Hoffman says, “The biggest lie is that the employment relationship is like family.”

From Hoffman’s perspective, “You don’t fire your kid because of bad grades.” So whether the employer knows it’s not really that close knit a relationship or whether the employer is deluding himself on this, that gets things off on the wrong foot.

Hoffman believes the employee also contributes to this less-than-honest bargain: “They know that employers want loyalty,” Hoffman says. “They know they want to hear, ‘Oh, I plan on working here for the rest of my career.’ But most employees recognize that career progression probably requires eventually moving to another company. But that never comes up.”

From the Amazon web site, here is a portion of the description of Reid Hoffman’s book “The Alliance, Managing Talent in the Networked Age”:

“The employer-employee relationship is broken, and managers face a seemingly impossible dilemma: the old model of guaranteed long-term employment no longer works in a business environment defined by continuous change, but neither does a system in which every employee acts like a free agent.

“The solution? Stop thinking of employees as either family or as free agents. Think of them instead as allies.

“As a manager you want your employees to help transform the company for the future. And your employees want the company to help transform their careers for the long term.”

Hoffman feels LindkenIn embodies this kind of new relationship, so after presenting the above basis for working together, the applicant is often asked:

“What’s the next job you would like to have post-LinkedIn?”

The question is not designed to trick the person. It is asked because LinkedIn feels they are going to have a very positive impact on the person and the person’s career and they are genuinely interested in where they’d like to go next.

Hmm. Interesting indeed.

Here are a few of my thoughts on this.

I’m not sure how many employers are pushing “we’re a family here” but I imagine a certain number are.

I’m thinking some actually do view and treat their staff as close to a family as you can get.

I also see how this could get a work relationship off on the wrong foot if the employer is pushing but doesn’t really believe in the “family” concept, and if the employee is making hollow promises to hang in there and be loyal to the end of time.

And I do like the concept of “ally” when it comes to the employer and employee relationship. Here’s an interesting definition of ally:

Someone who helps and supports you or something that helps you succeed in a difficult situation.

All in all, there’s everything right about people supporting each other especially when it comes to employers and employees and the impact they have on each other’s future.

Conclusion: If you’re able to have this kind of conversation with prospective employees, then asking what job they’d like next becomes a very intriguing question indeed.

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

Get a copy of our new Hiring Tips book at Amazon.

Give Them An Audition!

On air sign

Listen to the Hiring Tip Here

I discussed this idea in another tip, but I’d like to go into more depth here.

One of the biggest challenges we have in hiring new staff is just not being sure “what we see is what we’re going to get.”

The résumé can tell us a good deal about someone and the interview process can tell us more.

While sometimes the résumé is padded, we do get good data from a résumé.

And the interview does give us a better understanding of the applicant. If you make use of the many hiring tips I’ve provided, your interview will gain you excellent insights into your applicant.

By the way, I’ve taken 65 of my best tips, updated them and published a Hiring Tips Book over at Amazon. I think you’ll appreciate having all of these in one place.

Getting back to this tip, we find out all too often—a month or so down the line—that the person we interviewed is not the same person who is now working for us. Or he quit. Or we needed to let him go.

In other words, the résumé and the interview process did not get the job done for us.

Here’s a very, very strong recommendation:

Have your applicant audition for the job!

Find some task that would demonstrate competence (for the position you’re hiring) and have your applicant perform that task.

How much of a task should this be?

That’s up to you. Maybe something that takes a few hours. Or maybe something that would take a couple of days.

With regards to paying for this task, see our Hiring and the Law Tip: Do I Pay for a “Working Interview”?

The right task is capable of telling you very quickly just how competent the person is.

You could also employ this on a broader basis. If you have ten people applying for the job, you could ask all ten of them to perform a task and send you the results. In this case, the task could be on a smaller scale, but even this approach will give you data that you might never get in an interview.

It can be costly to hire the wrong person. Costly in terms of time and money. Getting an audition from your applicant could save you a ton of both!

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

Get a copy of our new Hiring Tips book at Amazon.