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Group Interview Strategies

Tuesday, May 17, 2016  by julie

Companies want to hire and on-board more efficiently. The competition for talent has gained momentum over the last 18 months as unemployment decreases, companies expand, and the number of retirements increase. Neither the hiring companies nor the interviewing talent have a lot of available time to interview. 

Initial interviews are often done over the phone with either a human resource professional or hiring authority. The goals of the phone interview are primarily to introduce the company and opportunity, gain an impression of the applicant’s soft skills, review employment history, and validate a few key requirements of the opportunity.

If all goes well, then the applicant is invited to visit the company and more often will have a group or panel interview. The reason most employers conduct group interviews is to save time and be more efficient. Panel interviews allow the hiring team to gather impressions all at once, eliminate the annoyance of answering the same question over and over, and provide better insight on the opportunity and culture. 

From the candidate’s perspective, panel interviews can be intimidating and there are a few core tenants that will help this kind of format. Before you interview, ask the company to provide names and titles of people that you will meet and conduct research on each of the panel members to best understand the potential future relationship (e.g. superior, peer, subordinate). Think of experiences you can share and questions you might want to ask specific panel members. 

Upon starting the interview, introduce yourself to each panel member. This will help to break the ice and establish a connection. While fielding questions, avoid staring at a single person, smile, and open your gaze to the others in the room. Even though you will be asked questions, be premeditated with examples of experience, knowledge, and abilities that showcase the appropriateness of your candidacy for the opportunity.

Not all panel members are equal. Everyone is looking at the role to be filled from a different perspective.  The goal is to identify the core requirements of the role and the opportunities to make a contribution. The candidate that will be hired is someone the group feels will meet or exceed their expectations. Asking insightful questions shows interest in the opportunity and can lead to conversations and discussions that will allow you to illustrate past experiences and provide examples that relate to the role, panel members, and the opportunities to make a difference. 


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Employee Communications & Recognition

Wednesday, April 6, 2016  by julie

To be competitive and progressive, companies need a workforce that is aligned with leadership and business practices, vision, and mission. This often breaks down when older practices and policies created by baby boomers are not aligned with a 70+% millennial workforce.  According to Gallup, companies with an engaged workforce outperform competitors by over 200%.
Companies need to have a continuous engagement model that encourages and empowers employees to be innovative, goal driven, and successful. Here are some proactive suggestions:
Real-Time Recognition: 80+% of employees are motivated by recognition. This can come from leadership, peers, and direct reports. By providing real time feedback rather than exclusively annual reviews, employees can be encouraged to change, learn, adapt, and comply with company policies, programs, and processes. The velocity of communications enhances the effectiveness of messaging and recognition. Technology can provide mobile access to feedback and recognition.
Employee Sentiment Tracking: Disengagement is a key reason for turnover. Engaged employees are the cornerstone for success. Some companies do annual employee surveys; many companies do not survey at all. Neither is the solution because they do not detect problems or inconsistencies. Try mobile pulse surveys on a more frequent pace that allows anonymous feedback and utilizes technology to share results, secure suggestions, and encourage collaborative dialogue.
Real-Time Goal Setting: Highly engaged employees expect weekly feedback, performance measurement, and goal setting for the next week and short term deliverables. Tracking employee performance against expectations and business goals can be accomplished in person or via mobile applications. This is a discipline that leadership needs to adapt weekly or biweekly to ensure all parties are in alignment with goals and performance criteria.
Analyze Impact on Performance: Retaining and motivating engaged employees is a key to success. Analyzing workforce performance, providing continual feedback, identifying opportunities for improvement, welcoming suggestions for change, and recognizing achievements on a real time basis will create better alignment, improve retention, increase employee engagement, and drive performance. 

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Unspoken Interviewing

Tuesday, March 22, 2016  by julie

Image, body language and expressions are key messaging events during an interview on both the applicant and hiring authority side. The interview starts while you are waiting for the hiring authority. Receptionists are often asked about their observations. Be professional and exhibit a profile that portrays confidence and calmness. 

First impressions are made within 3 minutes of the initial greeting. Three assessments happen quickly. You are measured on attire, posture and hand shake. Making a great entrance and first impression sets the stage. Body language is judged from head to toe. Attire should be conservative; cologne, perfume, jewelry and make-up should be minimized or nonexistent; hair must be well groomed; and shoes polished and stylish. 

Whether sitting or standing, your posture projects a level of confidence and engagement in the conversation. If you slump, the interviewer will perceive a lack of confidence and interest. Sitting stiff as a rock implies nervousness and creates an uncomfortable situation for building rapport. Crossing your arms and legs may be interpreted as building a barrier. Sitting at the tip of the chair implies you don’t want to be there. Best sitting posture is straight and displaying your neck, chest and stomach area, a signal that you're open; leaning slightly forward at about a 10% angle sends the silent message that you are interested and involved; and adjusting at a slight angle and using arm movement is best way to emphasize talking points and show interest. 

A handshake is an opportunity to establish rapport and positive chemistry. Practicing handshakes is suggested. Handshakes last about three seconds. Palms should be dry. Having an overly aggressive shake can be as offputting as the limp handshake. Never cover the other person's hand with the hand you're not shaking with because it will be interpreted as a sign of domination. Anticipate the handshake and make sure that if you are bringing anything to the interview, that your right hand remains available for the initial greeting and final good-by.

During the interview proper posture is important; proper eye contact and expressions are a differentiator. If the interviewer is talking, you want to be actively listening and that requires direct eye contact. Avoid staring aggressively by blinking at regular intervals and acknowledge comprehension or agreement by small nods. When speaking, hold eye contact for periods of about 10 seconds before looking away briefly and then re-establishing eye contact. Over-using direct eye contact when you are speaking can come across as challenging the interviewer.

Smiling, occasional laughter, and showing enthusiasm portray positive qualities that can make a difference. Frowning, showing signs of boredom, or raising your eyebrows will help shorted the interviewing process and often lead to a quick exit. 

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Cost of a Bad Hire

Tuesday, March 15, 2016  by julie


Can your organization survive making bad hires?  The Harvard Business Review points out that as much as 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions.  According to a study by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), it could cost up to five times a bad hire’s annual salary.   Other experts will say the cost of replacing an employee, even if you let that person go within 6 months, will cost you two and one-half times the person’s salary. 

Surveys on the 'cost of a bad hire' state the top factor leading to a failed hire, aside from performance issues, is a poor skills match. The second most common reason was unclear performance objectives.

So how do you avoid falling in this trap???  Hire an executive firm, like B&B, that invests time to learn your business model, culture, and partners with you to develop the right job description (with short and long-term initiatives) and a candidate profile.  

Further, the Brandon Hall Group suggests the following steps an organization can take to minimize bad hires:  

  • Organizations that lack a standard interview process are five times as likely to make a bad hire
  • Organizations that invest in a strong candidate experience improve their quality of hires by 70%
  • Organizations that invest in employer branding are three times more likely to make a quality hire

How can we help you avoid a bad hire?  Contact us to learn more about our approach to recruiting.  

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Career Options

Tuesday, March 8, 2016  by julie


Every year you should evaluate contributions made, skills developed, knowledge gained, and career options. Many career driven professionals create scorecards that can support career planning, measure personal development, and identify opportunities for improvement. Being aware of career options, whether with current employer or externally, is more prevalent as the economy moves forward and the need for talent increases. Here are a few key factors to consider:

  • Business Model: Do you align well with the business? There are a lot of business models and as companies mature, models change and evolve. Many vertical manufacturers now outsource segments of manufacturing, therefore have moved from production to more of an assembly and supply chain model. Companies that were more R&D focused have become commercialized; others have become more decentralized, matrixed or global. Validate that your knowledge and skills align well with current business model and pending changes. Talent needs to adjust and contribute to move forward and achieve career aspirations.
  • Culture: Do you align with the existing culture? There are multiple obstacles in life and being employed in a culture that encourages and supports your development is critical for career progression. 
  • Leadership: Since 2007, many businesses have had significant change in leadership due to ups and downs in the economy, acquisitions, retirements, reorganizations, technology shifts, and markets served. Regardless of size and type of business, leadership needs to be measured and is second in importance for career development behind culture and engagement.
  • Value of Function: Not all functions are valued the same in every company. Is the value of your function and role aligned to your career goals? Functions (e.g. engineering, marketing, quality) fall into three categories: strategic, tactical, or required. Strategic is influencing the current business model and future events. Tactical is supporting current operations as well as evolution and change. Required is supportive, protective, and necessary but rarely value adding. Some companies view IT as a strategic component while others view IT as a required resource or a process for tactical delivery. 

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