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September  2000 RSS feed Archive for September, 2000

What Market Are You In?

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
Sep 29, 2000

One of the classic marketing stories taught in business school concerns the history of the railroads. When trains dominated the transportation market, successful railroad executives thought they were in the “iron road” business. As a result of this closed-minded vision, wheeled transportation services progressively grew in importance as railroads progressively shrank. Railroads, once the only game in town, were reduced to “bit-player” status in the transportation market–all because their managers could not see beyond steel and steam. Markets are cruel and unforgiving. But if management is sufficiently broad-minded to understand them, a company can prosper. Consider office software. A few years ago, MS Word was a clunky and awkward word processing application that took a backseat to WordPerfect’s streamlined user interface. A majority of people preferred using WordPerfect. Microsoft recognized, however, that clients tended to do more than word processing–they liked to merge data from spreadsheets, memos, graphs, and letters. Microsoft improved their user interface and integrated discrete office software products into integrated software suites. Microsoft learned fast. WordPerfect did not. You probably have some version of MS Office on your computer today. Anyone remember WordPerfect? Harvard Graphics? Dbase? Just having a flashy product is not enough to keep you on top of the heap. History consistently shows that a myopic management view of the marketplace will inexorably take you from leading the parade to sweeping up after the elephants. History is about to repeat itself among many web-based employment ASPs. Partial Understanding of Client Needs If you think about it, clients want one thing: to get skilled people in the job fast and efficiently and not get sued in the process. That’s not so difficult. They just don’t know how to do it very well. If you get out of the office and walk across the street to the university library, you will find 30 to 40 years of selection research showing the best employees are found by working from a job analysis competency list, using a variety of job-related selection tools, and carefully validating each tool. But in spite of this vast body of knowledge, both ASPs and clients alike tend to look at the employment problem as a single tree in the forest–a teensy-weensy part of a huge ecological system. You can see this by examining the vast array of disjointed tools that promise to offer the ultimate hiring solution: 1) recruiting tools, 2) resume screening tools, 3) mechanized tracking and communication tools, 4) measurement tools, 5) background checking tools, 6) key-word search engines, and 7) technical test sites. Basically, none of these tools really solves the clients’ ultimate problem–getting qualified people in jobs, quickly and efficiently without getting sued. These ASPs are in the iron road business. Partial Understanding of Good/Legal Hiring Practices The Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures have been around sine 1978, yet few employers know about these guidelines, and even fewer follow them. The interesting thing about the “Guidelines” is that they are not just a legal stumbling block–they actually describe how to hire the most qualified people. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> Say what you will, if you are not following the practices outlined in the guidelines, there is no conceivable way you can do a good job hiring people for your organization. I am still waiting for someone to present a compelling argument that explains how he or she can confidently hire the most qualified person for the job without basing requirements on a job analysis and using selection tools that are accurate and validated. Partial Understanding of the Hiring Process There is an old saying, “If the only tool you know how to use is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” It is a fact of life that we are all limited both by what we know and what we don’t know. This is a two-edged sword that gets us frequently into trouble. For example:

  • If you peek behind the curtain of an assessment site you will probably find an assessor at the helm.
  • keep reading…

The Visa Window of Opportunity

by
Audra Slinkey
Sep 28, 2000

In my last article, I wrote of the need for HR to think outside the box when it comes to recruiting by offering relocation assistance. In this article I would like to explore offering visa sponsorship as a way to expand your possibilities in recruiting candidates. My timing is perfect since we are almost at the beginning of a new fiscal year (October 1, 2000) when the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) will begin considering petitions for visas. Last year, the INS had already received its cap of 115,000 petitions by February 29! This year, the expectation is that the INS will start by taking those petitions it didn’t get to last year and cap it at 107,500. What are the benefits to hiring someone who needs sponsorship? One of the great benefits of sponsoring visas is that your pool of candidates will more than double, particularly in the IT arena. Your competition for these candidates will be greatly reduced since not too many HR departments want to go through the time, money, and hassle of visa sponsorship. The most important benefit is that your newly sponsored candidate will more likely stay in your organization longer because of the difficulty in transferring a visa. With turnover rates reaching an all-time high for IT workers, retention is very important factor to consider. Although the visa process sounds time consuming and a bit bleak, there are some things you can do to help widen your recruiting net. If you have some strong candidates in the wings that need sponsorship, petition now or outsource it to those companies who can do that for you. Hopefully you have already identified those candidates you need to petition for and have initiated the complex paper process. While your candidates are waiting, ask them to become a full time student, that way they can settle in and live in the U.S. legally. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> If your candidate is currently sponsored, it is easier to transfer an existing visa than it is to create a new one. Keep in mind that if you are transferring a visa, the employee should stay at their current employer until your petition gets approved. Technically, if a currently sponsored employee were to leave employment, their visa would become invalid the next day. If you are like many and have missed the H1-B Visa boat, don’t worry; there are some things you can do to creatively recruit outside the box for you’re hard to fill IT positions:

  • Ask An Expert: There are several different types of visas available that your candidates may be qualified for besides the H1-B. Talk to an expert and run through different criteria with your candidate to see if they fit for one of the many different kinds of visas.
  • keep reading…

Talent Labs Vs. Career Fairs: What’s the Difference?

by
Kevin Wheeler
Sep 27, 2000

For over twenty years, organizations have been attending job fairs. These are quite predictable events held in large hotels or conference centers where firms occupy rows and rows of booths. Each booth is an advertisement for the firm. And job seekers come and wander through looking for interesting jobs. Resumes pass between job hunters and providers; some potential candidates slip through because the recruiters are already occupied when the candidate gets there. Lots of good people never even talk to the recruiters because they are afraid or don’t like the looks of the recruiter. These career fairs are really hit-and-miss, low-tech 20th century events. But they are pretty popular. Yesterday, something 21st century started in San Francisco. Fast Company, the publishers of Fast Company magazine, has created an alternative to these job fairs called Talent Labs. These are forums for people to exchange information, to learn about jobs, job markets, and the firms that are in those job markets. If you are a recruiter, you can learn a great deal about what’s driving the talent wars and you can develop a broader perspective on the supply and demand dynamics of this labor market we live in. You will also have an opportunity to interact with job seekers face-to-face and through the “Cyber Caf?.” As a job seeker, you can get a little better understanding of what is driving corporate recruiters and about what they are seeking in candidates. You can learn some advanced interviewing techniques and find out whether or not going solo is something you want to do. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> Here are three major ways the Talent Labs are different from traditional career fairs:

  1. They are interactive events with lots of information. Leading thinkers in the recruiting space present short seminars and workshops. These events involve the participants and encourage questions and discussion. There are enough concurrent sessions so that none are too large to prevent interaction. Some of the speakers include people like Michael McNeal, Chief Industry Evangelist of PureCarbon, Inc. (formerly Intralect) and previous director of staffing for Cisco Systems. Others include Gary Alpert, Founder of WetFeet.com and Robert Kelley, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. These are high caliber people taking time out of very busy schedules to be part of something quite new.
  2. keep reading…

Place ‘N’ Pull: Ethics on the Brink

by
Ken Gaffey
Sep 27, 2000

A recruiter called me the other day and told me he had a great candidate for me to consider. This candidate was “so good” that the recruiter had already placed him three times in the last five years. I passed. He was amazed. Every business has its taboos and bad practices. I doubt many refineries encourage smoking on the job. Circus knife throwers probably take the night off if they have the “shakes” (or at least I am certain their assistants do!). Ministers rarely rob banks and few actuaries skydive (they know the odds). So it goes within our own little industry; we have our written and unwritten rules and customs. None is more “taboo” that the act of “place ‘n’ pull” (P&P), the practice of removing a candidate from the employer that paid you a fee for placing the candidate with them. But as in all things in life and business, it isn’t that simple. For although place ‘n’ pull may be odious to employers, it still happens–more frequently than we discover in exit interviews. But to understand something, you have to consider it from every possible angle. You must consider, even if don’t agree with, the different ways we all look at things if your ultimate goal is to control those things. The philosopher teaches us that there are six billion perceptions of the stars, because none of us can stand in the exact same spot when we look at the sky. To my recruiter friend, the true value and strength of the aforementioned candidate was three fees in five years. The issue was not skill, competence, loyalty, or long-term career goals. The recruiter makes a living by making fees. As an employer, the obvious weakness of this candidate was that he came with his own built in escape clause. At best, had I considered this candidate, I would be “leasing” him. The recruiter in question assumed that his value system applied to mine and therefore felt quite comfortable presenting his “killer closing statement.” But his view of the universe was limited to where he was standing, and he was incapable of understanding my view might be slightly different. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> What are some of the reasons an agency recruiter would consider the act of place ‘n’ pull an acceptable business practice, and not just a matter of pure greed:

  • Inevitable Outcome: If the candidate called and advised the recruiter that he was leaving his current employer, the end result is inevitable. So what is the harm in participating, since enforcing ethics does not prevent the outcome, it only denies profit to the ethics-bound recruiter?
  • keep reading…

The Jobs Are in the Mail: The Secrets of Using Email Newsletters To Recruit

by
Mark Williams
Sep 26, 2000

As online recruiters increasingly tire of waiting for the right candidate to sift through thousands of pages of job postings on mega job boards, many are turning to large-scale email newsletters. Top performers rarely, if at all, wander into a job database. But, by embedding available positions into email newsletters, savvy cyber-recruiters can reach candidates at work while they are busy researching and solving technical problems for their current employers. Open any Web marketing magazine and you can’t miss the buzz about email. According to Forrester Research, email list rentals are expected to rake in $5 billion by 2000. To date though, only five percent of online advertising is currently spent on email. A recent study by IMT Research, quoted in the February issue of The Industry Standard, estimates that 55 percent of online users with two or more years of experience have a positive opinion about the email they have requested. Approximately 132 billion emails were sent in 1999 alone; and over 60 percent of email users are US based. Additionally, some advertising-effectiveness studies indicate email newsletter advertising outperforms banner advertising three to one. Adherents continue to rave about “response in 24 hours” and the enviable ability to combine niche targeting with virtually guaranteed delivery. It’s no surprise that online recruiters at large employers have followed the lead of online recruitment specialists in turning a more aggressive eye to email. Websites sell advertisers access to their lists of online subscribers via three methods: direct mail, list rental, and email newsletters. Email recruiters will mail opportunities confidentially to qualified members on the employers’ behalf. Both organizations assure customers that they will receive responses from candidates who are both interested and qualified for the position. Secondly, websites may rent lists of email addresses by skill sets, geographic regions, or zip codes. Such lists are easily obtained and cover a wide range of specialties from general job seekers to professionals like nurses, ebusiness consultants or optical engineers. However, many sites will not rent their list for recruitment purposes due to raiding concerns. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> Of the three methods, email newsletters are the most prevalent. Distributed to subscribers on a regular basis, email newsletters tend to be cheaper and are packed with non-recruitment information the user has requested. Search hard enough on the Web and you can find an email newsletter covering nearly any topic. By offering a digest of articles linked to individual Web pages, online publishers have long used email newsletters to draw an audience back to their websites – now they are beginning to cater to the interests of advertisers by embedding paid advertising spots in newsletters. Like conventional direct mail, both forms of mass email present recruiters with the opportunity to deliver the message directly to readers. But unlike direct mail, email avoids the cost of postage and printing, and delivery is usually assured within 24 hours. If you’re thinking about using this cutting-edge technique here are a few tips for making the most of email newsletters:

  1. Take the time to do it right. There are marketers who get five percent of customers to respond the same day and others who get far less. Good email marketers learn by watching what works?and what doesn’t.
  2. keep reading…

Consider Other Firms As Your “Farm Teams”

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Sep 25, 2000

In baseball, major league teams get much of their talent from “farm teams.” A farm team is a team that they sponsor so that when they developed talent beyond the skill limits of the farm league, the farm team then passes along that talent to the next higher level team. In a similar light, it might help managers to look at other firms as their farm teams! Taking advantage of other firms (generally of a smaller size or smaller market) that fail to offer individuals sufficient growth opportunities is a great way to boost your hiring efforts. It’s good business AND it’s often in the best interests for the individual! OK, before the “weak-kneed” have a cow, hear me out. Why It’s Ok To “Poach” Talent From Smaller Firms Business is a competitive proposition. In sales we “steal” and try to steal each other’s customers everyday, without a second thought. In recruiting it is no different. It’s a battle to get the best talent from other firms. Those that offer the best value will get (and deserve) the best customers and employees! Why Farming Is Great For Employees Too Think of the employee as an individual. Shouldn’t they have a chance to seek their highest and best use? There are a number of benefits to the employee when successful firms seek them out from their current position.

  1. Size matters: Talented people, just like athletes, naturally want to play in the “highest” league. Unfortunately not all firms are big enough in size to offer the wealth of jobs or locations to satisfy workers seeking growth opportunities.
  2. keep reading…

Snagging Today’s Candidates: Move Fast or Lose!

by
Lou Adler
Sep 22, 2000

In this Brave New World of Internet Recruiting, speed definitely rules. The easier it is to find the candidate, the faster you have to respond to nail him. It’s true that there are many great candidates looking for jobs on the Internet?but everyone wants them. You have to move quickly to get your fair share. If you don’t call, phone screen, and interview candidates within 72 hours, you’ll lose many of the best. Courting the Active and Semi-Active Candidate Active Candidates are those people who place their resumes on all the major sites, waiting to be found. And they’re found by everyone; you need to move quickly to get the top 20% of these candidates. You’ll need to reorganize your internal hiring process to screen, interview, and put offers together within two weeks from the initial sighting. We’ve lost many great Active Candidates because our clients didn’t respond fast enough. Semi-Active Candidates are people who are also actively looking, but want to screen who gets their resumes. The key to attracting this group is a compelling job description, broadcast everywhere, and at the top of the list of the hundreds of other competing jobs. Location, location, location. This is why recruiting needs to be more marketing than selling. Candidates in this group will go to major sites and search for open jobs. They’ll then cherry-pick the most enticing positions, visit the company’s web site, and send in their resume if the position makes sense. You’ll get more unqualified resumes than you can imagine, but every now and then you’ll discover a star. Make sure someone is screening these resumes more than once daily. Quick response is important. The quality of the first contact will determine if you’re going to be able to add a star to your pool. Whether this is a phone call, letter, or email, make it professional. Good candidates will pull themselves out of contention if the quality of the contact isn’t as compelling as the quality of the job and the website. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> With more and more companies going after the best candidates, the following three steps are essential to a quality sourcing program for the semi-active candidate. There just aren’t enough top candidates to go around for everyone.

  1. Within 24 hours, you need to express your interest and get the process started. An auto-response email is useful here, but be sure to make it sound personal and heartfelt. For example, it could begin like this: “Thanks for sending in your resume; you’ve got an impressive background. We’ll be back in touch with you very shortly.” Avoid the whining approach used by too many organizations: “We regret that we can’t answer all replies personally.” Not a very upbeat way to start a relationship, is it? You can use this first email to set another qualifying or filtering task. For example, describe a great aspect of the job, and ask the candidate for a half-page summary of something they’ve accomplished that’s comparable.
  2. keep reading…

Getting Them at the Gateway: Finding IT Grads

by
Paula Santonocito
Sep 22, 2000

If trying to find an IT candidate seems like a search for the Holy Grail, perhaps you need to start at the beginning…of a candidate’s career, that is. Technology graduates–those recently educated individuals seeking opportunities–are made-to-order contacts for the recruiter with open positions to fill. There are a number of ways to go about finding these soon-to-be professionals. CollegeHire is one company that can help. Focused exclusively on high-tech college students, CollegeHire has over 35 top universities participating in a service that strives to match people and positions. As a college recruiting resource, CollegeHire offers more than just access to student resumes. They administer and provide scores from online tests, interview candidates, and provide summaries of the meetings. They also survey students about work preferences and share these results. CollegeHire offers online data management services and will track job offers to help you organize your overflow of information. To receive additional information about the company’s services, including pricing, fill out an online inquiry form on their website. CollegeJournal.com is The Wall Street Journal’s college career site. Offering articles and information for the job seeker, the site also features a job board. Selecting “Job Seek” from the homepage leads to a page where a candidate can search position listings by choosing from a “Company” scroll menu and/or a menu called “Industry/Function.” “Information Technology” is a search option in the “Industry/Function” category. The search page at CollegeJournal.com allows for a great deal of specificity. In addition to “Company” and “Industry/Function,” there is a “Function/Keyword Search” box. “City” and “State” locations can also be targeted. A search can be narrowed even further by selecting the “Search Entry-Level Jobs Only” box. There is a “Search Internships Only” box as well. CollegeJournal.com is a site with more than 27,000 postings and, although the site’s listings include a range of industries, a majority of the advertised positions are technology related. A recent general search for IT positions returned more than 17,000 jobs. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> CollegeRecruiter.com offers a searchable job database for the job seeker and a resume database which has 60,000 guaranteed-fresh resumes (they’re deleted after two months) for the recruiter. While not specific to the IT industry, a job seeker can look at jobs exclusively in the “Engineering” or “Information Technology” categories when browsing their bank. One potentially helpful feature for candidates and employers is a free newsletter delivered via email that provides job listings, which is offered in a pop-up window when you click on the “Find a Job” link from the homepage. On this e-newsletter, employers can post job openings or buy advertising space. Not only will your latest job opening be posted and sent directly to subscribers, you can capture the eye of a potential hire by being among the three advertisements included in every newsletter. BrassRing Campus, is another college career site where you can reach technology grads. On the BrassRing Campus homepage, “Information Technology,” as well as several other applicable categories, are found on the “job search” page in a scroll menu. Here, a candidate can also select “Computers Hardware,” “Computers Software,” “Engineering,” and “Internet/E-commerce/New Media.” The number of jobs listed at BrassRing Campus varies depending on the time of the year. According to Dan Wilmer, director of marketing and product management, approximately 18 percent of the posted positions fall under the tech umbrella. If you include engineers in the mix, Wilmer says, the total is around 29 percent. The other side of the equation is that there are approximately 34,000 IT candidates and approximately 39,000 engineer candidates at BrassRing. The site offers companies the opportunity to post jobs and search its resume database, but various packages are available. According to Wilmer, BrassRing Campus has positioned itself to assist corporate on-campus recruiting efforts. Recognizing that recruiters can only visit so many campuses, its intent is to supplement the process. “Hey, you need new tools. What we’re trying to say is take a look at some other schools. It’s all about efficiencies,” he says, explaining BrassRing’s database services. Wilmer also cites other factors that influence campus recruiting. “This is the most competitive entry-level job market ever,” he says, pointing out that the number of entry-level positions is expected to grow by 15 to 20 percent while the pool of available candidates is expected to remain stagnant or shrink even further. A large percentage of these new jobs are, and will continue to be, technology based. Using resources that connect you with IT grads will ensure that you’re plugged in to an outlet for candidates.

Open Code Necessary For True e-Cruiting Solutions

by
Mike Bernos
Sep 21, 2000

Last year, Web-based recruiting applications were the fanfare of the electronic recruiting industry. Since then companies like Webhire and Peopleclick have become the standard among HR departments and recruiters, fulfilling a host of HR functions such as the management of resumes, candidates, contacts, on-going placements, pricing and margins, multiple locations, contracts, the automation of reporting and billing, and the integration of front office and financial data. But as more solutions are being integrated with the Web, applications that are not dynamic will prove as moribund and obsolete as shrink-wrap software. In the fluid world of the Internet, applicant tracking software that is rigid will be as useful as selling a one-size wrench to a mechanic. Already both commercial and corporate job boards are discovering that they must have the scale and technology to become career networks or communities in order to meet the expanding demands of customers. These evolving spaces will offer training, editorial content, and the ability to produce vital one-on-one relationships between candidate and company. One of the ways job boards are accomplishing this is by turning to customized versions of application tracking tools to allow their clients to not only recruit, but also manage and process their applicants as well. Yet, with the exception of a few vendors, there is no one offering open architecture in their applications. Open architecture allows a company to customize its applicant software in order to capture the expanding functionality necessary for competitive edge. It is even more critical for small to mid-size companies, who in the past have attempted total enterprise management through an integrated network of software solutions, where updates to third-party packages can be problematic. Only those vendors that offer open code will be able to meet the individual needs of their clients and thus establish the long-term business relationships necessary to succeed. With these companies, it will matter less how they define their product–e.g. applicant tracking software, hiring process management, or whatever the latest buzz term may be–because they will offer true “solutions.” A client may want to integrate payroll and billing with its already-existing applications of another vendor. But if the applicant software is not open code, that client will be forced to “bolt on” the new application with legacy systems. Similarly, a company may have a unique need particular to their services, and again, unless the application is open code, they will be handcuffed in obtaining a solution. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> For customers faced with such challenges, their options are either to wait until the release of the next version of their current application, and hope that it contains the features they need, or to purchase an application that provides the source code to make changes as necessary. This option will provide for complete customization of the application, allowing it to be responsive to changing strategies and business needs. All too often, firms have had to modify their strategies and processes to suit the limitations of the software. For example, reports should not be generated based on assumptions of how a company does business, but rather adapted to the solutions created to meet their unique needs. Another advantage to doing business with a company that offers open code is that they often are truly technology-driven, and less marketing-driven. The result is a company that also provides great technical support, since that component is critical and essential to their product offering. Of course, it is important when buying open-source applications to be clear what customization costs will be. As with anything, you should negotiate fees. The Internet is a mercurial region, and any company playing in that space had better be equally fluid if it wants to succeed. Choosing open-source software is one step companies can take to provide themselves with the flexibility to adapt and evolve in this era of constant change.

The Entrepreneurial College Student

by
Maggie Ruvoldt
Sep 21, 2000

Recently I had an interesting conversation with David Morris of The Seedling Group about college students who espouse the entrepreneurial spirit. The Seedling Group identifies these candidates for their clients and provides the candidates with lifelong support in finding opportunities which match their abilities and goals. Mr. Morris and I both agreed on one thing: these candidates are hard to find, important to recruit, and can be a huge asset to companies of all sizes. Who Are These People? Let’s take a look at the type of student who fits our description. Mr. Morris describes them as self-starters who are resourceful, driven, and energetic. He goes on to talk about the most important characteristic they possess: passion. These are students who focus their energy like a laser and accomplish incredible goals. They are able to translate that passion into other endeavors, and are often involved in much more than academic activities and the traditional extracurriculars. Ask the entrepreneurial-type student to describe something he or she is passionate about, and you’ll find that student has not only an answer but a great deal more to tell you. You’ll see their excitement rise as they answer that question. From an employer’s point of view, these students translate into star employees. They take their passion and put it to work for you. As Mr. Morris points out, their passion often means steeper learning curves. Their energy and resourcefulness can be infectious in a team setting, bringing up the achievement of the entire group. Individually, they will be creative problem solvers, innovators, and high achievers. So Where Do You Find These Great Candidates? I agree with Mr. Morris when he says these candidates are a little more work to identify. You’ll find them, however, if you spend some time on campus. Talk to the professors, the student organizations, and career services. Find out who wins the awards or gets written up in the school paper. Pretty soon, you’ll notice the same set of names coming up over and over again. This is your short list of candidates. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> You’ll want to be aggressive in getting to know these candidates and finding out what their goals are relative to the goals of your company. These are the type of people who want to tie their own goals to the larger goals of the organization. They will identify with, and therefore work long-term for, organizations who share their goals and value. Spend some time getting to know these candidates. In addition to the traditional interview, invite them to social events with your key staff members. This will serve two goals. First of all, it sends a clear message to the candidates that you are serious enough about recruiting them to take time out of the schedule of your key players. Second, star employees are the best at identifying star candidates. Put them together and then listen to what your employees have to say about these students. Mr. Morris also suggests bringing them to the workplace. He encourages more than just an on-site interview or job shadow day. Bring these students into meetings and encourage them to participate. Of course, you’ll want to alert your staff that the student is coming and choose the meetings carefully. While confidentiality issues are paramount, make sure the meetings are interactive enough to give the candidate the opportunity to speak. This is an excellent way to see what they have to offer and their ability to overcome a stressful setting and share their ideas. But Don’t They Want To Work For Start-Ups? Now, when we talk about entrepreneurial types, most people think of students who want to either start their own companies or work for small start-ups. While this is partially true, it is because those types of opportunities describe the work environment which tap into what motivates these candidates and gives them increasingly responsibility quickly. An established firm can offer these candidates the same type of opportunity, if the job is designed well. As established firms are creating divisions to address Internet ventures, this type of candidates are ideal for positions in such departments. When you are creating jobs for these students, you will focus on both short-term tasks and long-term career potential. You want to retain these candidates; creating interesting work and increasing responsibility is the path to retention success. Providing them with interesting work doesn’t necessarily mean the top high-profile projects. These employees want to learn; they want to apply new skills; and they want to be challenged constantly to reach for new goals. They want to see the results of their labor. Invite them to meetings with high-level staff, even if they are only observers. It is exposure and learning they are interested in gaining. If you provide them with those opportunities and the ability to work as autonomously as is reasonable, these candidates will be easy to retain. Be clear and aggressive with their long-term career opportunities. From the recruiting process through employment, these candidates want to know where they can go and what will be required of them to reach the top. Many firms focus a great deal on “paying your dues” and not enough on what you’ll get if you do. Be up-front about what types of career paths lie ahead and the time frames to achieve them. As an organization, consider shortening those time frames for your truly stellar people. You need to be structured enough to prepare employees for the next level of responsibility but flexible enough not to be tied to a system that holds people back. They’ll Be Your Leaders Tomorrow Organizations of every size and industry express concerns over developing a pool of potential leaders. Recruiting, training, and retaining these entrepreneurial candidates is a key step in achieving that goal. If you look back on how we defined this type of candidate and what they bring to the organization, it fits many of the needs for an organizational leader. These candidates may be a little more difficult and expensive to recruit today. However, the long-term benefit of having these employees will most certainly filter down into bottom-line success.

The Selection Interview: It Doesn’t Work, but it Won’t Go Away

by
Kevin Wheeler
Sep 20, 2000

I have never been a fan of interviews. Having been both interviewee and interviewer too many times to count, I can honestly say that most of them fall into one of two categories: (1) chats and conversations or (2) interviewer sales jobs. The chats and conversation style of interview is the most common, and consists of having the candidate talk about themselves and their experiences in a rather unguided way. The interviewer may toss in a few questions or ask for a few clarifications, but generally the entire process is given over to free-flow discussion or monologue. The sales job is also common and is the type of interview hiring managers most frequently use. In these, the interviewer does most of the talking, selling the position and explaining how wonderful the company is. In most cases, the interviewer learns very little about the candidate. The interview as we know it is a product of the 20th century. It became very popular in the first decade of the 20th century as a “scientific” way to select people. It was commonly used to select and promote employees in the booming industries of the East and Midwest, yet a study done as early as 1915 showed that interviewers could not consistently select the best people. A paper written in the Journal of Management History (Vol. l6, No. 3, 2000, pp. 113-126) traces the evolution of the selection interview and underlines over and over how ineffective it is as a predictor of success. The article traces how the interview process was enhanced over the decades leading up to World War II. The U.S. Civil Service Commission, after in-depth analysis, concluded that interviews should contain “genuine problem situations” to predict how applicants would react in real work situations. This led to the setting up of training for interviewers and to the establishment of standards and evaluation methods. Practical tests were part of most interviews in the Thirties and Forties, and by the time World War II started the interview was well established, but still not very predictive of success. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> At the start of World War II, two different tests were conducted by the army air force to predict how well candidates for flight school would do. Each candidate was interviewed following rigorous standards and then a prediction was made on how well they would do. When the predictions were compared to actual performance years later, the prediction rates were no better than chance. None of the interviewing and screening techniques they used could effectively or reliably predict success. After the war, psychologists showed that group interviews and structured interviews did seem to produce slightly better results, but it would probably require that both types be used to fully assess a candidate. The process is time consuming, requires interviewer training and requires a clear focus on the job requirements. So, if the interview is so non-predictive, why is it so popular? Given the fact that probably somewhere around 75% of all interviews fall into one of the two categories I mention above, and given the fact that there is almost no follow-up done to see if job performance matched the predictions from the interviews, why are they still the most commonly used way to choose candidates for jobs? The first reason is that interviews are easy to do and can be done by anyone. Training is frequently given, but most of that training is focused on the legal aspects of questioning, not on raising predictive capability. The second reason is that we all seek some symbol of power or status and being asked to interview someone is one of these symbols. The idea that your opinion about someone counts is a powerful incentive to keep on doing them. I have never seen a manager who doesn’t want to interview a candidate, even if it is a very cursory process. The third reason is that they are inexpensive. Even the smallest firm can afford to interview. Purchasing tests or conducting on-the-job practice events, on the other hand, are expensive and time consuming. And a final reason is that the interview fulfills one of social needs to meet people face-to-face, to touch and talk to people and find common connections. There is nothing at all wrong with this. What I don’t like about the selection interview process is that it is not predictive of much of anything. Even the best and most rigorously performed structured interviews are not much more predictive than chance. There has actually been very little research done since World War II on the selection interview or on developing new techniques that may be more effective. Some of the recent work in profiling candidates and understanding the specific competencies required for a job are a beginning. Many organizations such as PDI (Personnel Development International) and DDI (Development Dimensions International) have begun to broaden our understanding of this increasingly important area. Skills testing has also greatly expanded and is widely available on the Internet from providers such as BrainBench. Profilers are growing in popularity as well, as characterized by FutureStep. While the selection interview is most likely always going to be here, we need to face the fact that it not a highly predictive tool of job performance or success. In order to predict success, we are going to have to find more powerful and simple tools that are easy to administer, cheap to use, and do not intrude on the time or privacy of the shrinking pool of potential talent. Let’s use the interview as our social introduction and as a way of assimilating the candidate into our organizations, but start looking for better ways to select the best person for the job.

Seven Criteria to Select the Right ASP

by
Yves Lermusi
Sep 19, 2000

In my article The Birth of an Infosphere, I wrote about three revolutions taking place on the Web: the phenomenon of Disintermediation, the rise of the ASP model for software delivery, and the introduction of business exchanges. Here we’ll look more closely at the ASP model. ASP Delivery Application Service Providers (ASPs) are companies that provide access to software applications over the Web. ASPs represent a new business model for the sale and distribution of software, since they overturn much of the conventional thinking concerning the licensing and installation of software. Typically, an ASP offers business-critical applications on a pay-per-use basis, sometimes referred to as software for hire, or “apps-on-tap.” The ASP model can drastically lower the costs of software and services. With an ASP, access through a simple Web browser simplifies implementation and maintenance by the corporation’s internal IT staff. The ASP owns the software application, operates the servers that run the application, maintains the application and handles upgrades. ASPs for Recruiting Perhaps the most important aspect of the ASP model of software delivery for recruiting is that both corporate users and candidates are on the same universal network: the Internet. The application has the flexibility to treat the two groups as peers, allowing members of either group access to as much information as deemed necessary. The front-end public side for the candidates and back-end hiring management system (HMS) for the recruiters can be fully unified to take advantage of data flow and technology efficiencies. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> In addition to technical benefits, ASPs allow for complete interconnectivity:

  • Total flexibility of access for the users. Recruiters and hiring managers just need a password and Web browser to access a full workflow and communication tool that is unique to the corporation, but with no technical burden.
  • keep reading…

Target The “Have To Be Asked” Candidate!

by
Dr. John Sullivan
Sep 18, 2000

The forgotten target in recruiting is the currently employed person that will only consider another job when they are directly approached and asked the big question: Would you consider a job with our firm? I call them the “have to be asked” type. Let’s face it, most people are settled in their jobs. They appear to be loyal to their current firm, but part of that appearance of loyalty might actually come from:

  • The fact that most people are inherently shy and don’t like to look like they are aggressively searching
  • keep reading…

Can’t Find A Tech Guy? Why Not Get A Grrl?

by
Paula Santonocito
Sep 15, 2000

It’s the law of demand without supply. According to the Information Technology Association of American, the need for IT professionals will create 1.6 million new IT jobs in the United States this year, and approximately half of these over 840,000 positions will go unfilled. This lack of employees means that, overall, one in twelve IT jobs will be vacant. Finding IT candidates is and will continue to be a major recruitment focus. While the field is still heavily dominated by men, according to a study from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), 20 percent of IT professionals are women. Webgrrls, which calls itself “the women’s tech knowledge connection,” is a resource for women IT workers. The international organization, its corresponding site, regional chapters, and regional sites all offer opportunities for reaching and recruiting female IT professionals. With over 100 chapters and 40,000 members worldwide, Webgrrls is an organization that began when Cybergrrls founder, Aliza Sherman, and five other women started meeting in a cyber cafe in New York City in 1995. The women came from various backgrounds: one was a performance artist with her own website, another was a computer publications editor, another a UNIX programmer. But all were somehow involved with technology. According to Eileen Shulock, Director of Webgrrls New York City, “this Web thing brought them together.” Within six months, the organization grew to 150 people. Shortly thereafter, chapters began springing up around the world. Shulock attributes the rapid growth of the organization to its ability to fill a need. “Five years ago, a lot of these women found themselves being one of the only women in their companies doing anything in technology,” she says. “The whole phenomenon was a grassroots kind of thing.” <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> Although the organization’s objective is still to offer women a network for career support, as Webgrrls has grown, so has the scope of its influence. “Now women are coming to meetings looking to transition their skills into Internet-based careers,” Shulock says. “We’re very focused and very interested in any ways we can provide training for our members.” Webgrrls is also involved in mentoring. “We help women who are not comfortable with computers embrace technology. And we mentor young women to show them that high tech careers are cool, not geeky,” says Shulock. Perception of computer-related careers by girls and young women appears to be a problem. According to AAUW, less than 28 percent of computer science graduates in the United States are currently women, a figure which is down from a 1984 high of 37 percent. When it comes to pursuing engineering degrees there is even less interest: only 9 percent of engineering graduates are women. To support its training, mentoring, transition, and international communication efforts, Webgrrls encourages contact by recruiters. “It’s a total recruitment paradise. It’s a totally targeted audience,” Shulock says, pointing out that job lists are a service the organization offers its members. Job information is shared via chapter mailing lists and listservs. “We post job leads for free,” Shulock says, indicating that recruiters can contact Webgrrls International or a local chapter. Upon request, leads can also be passed along from one chapter to another. There are other opportunities for recruiters as well. “We love to have recruiters speak at our meetings,” Shulock says. Industry trends and what companies are looking for in terms of skills are among the topics of interest to members. There are also sponsorship arrangements whereby a company provides meeting space or offers other services. Webgrrls makes these opportunities available to recruitment organizations and corporate recruiters. At the Webgrrls International site there are links to chapter sites. At the home page, simply select “find a chapter” to choose from a list of regions including seven in the United States alone, as well as in Canada, Europe, Asia, and “Down Under and Beyond.” Selecting a region, such as “Northeast, USA,” returns a list of chapters in that part of the world. In addition to website addresses and links, email addresses are also provided. Shulock, who was formerly director of Webgrrls International, indicates that all chapter directors are volunteers. Therefore, chapter offices aren’t always staffed. The best way to contact Webgrrls is via email. With so many IT jobs to fill, an organization like Webgrrls offers a way to reach a large group of potential candidates. “There’s a lot of movement in the industry and so there are a lot of jobs out there. We’re a recruiting mecca,” says Shulock.

How To Get a High-Paying Job (No Skills Required)

by
Dr. Wendell Williams
Sep 15, 2000

How many times have you read a posting on the ER Forum that starts, “Does anybody know of a good test site for…?” Well-meaning recruiters are always looking for sites that test applicants. I assume they want to find people who are skilled–that is, applicants whom managers will take the time to consider and who will do a good job when hired. But have you ever thought about what’s happening at the other end of the marketplace? Let’s look at recruiting through the eyes of an applicant… Applicant: “Hmmm. Let’s see. It’s a good thing I bought this new book, ‘How To Get a High Paid Job Even Though You May Not Have Any Skills.’ It has some really great ideas! Those last six jobs were losers. All they wanted me to do was work, work, and work! Insensitive morons! Don’t they realize I have a life, too? Well, my resume is getting a little scattered and I need to do a little work to make it look better. Good thing I interview well and make a good first impression. I never was much for reading. I’ll just skip the heavy stuff and turn to the ‘Eight-and-a-Half Steps to Getting on the Payroll.”

  • Item one: Never tell the recruiter you don’t have experience. Always take a ‘can do’ attitude. Talk about how much you like to work and make up a few stories about past ‘successes’. Recruiters never test hard job skills anyway. “What a great idea! I worked with a lot of people. I’ll just use some of the words I’ve heard them use. That way I’ll sound like I know what I’m talking about.”
  • keep reading…

A Tradition of Diversity

by
Bill Gaul
Sep 14, 2000

The military is a diverse group of people, trained in a variety of skills with dedication to a strong work ethic. With those qualifications, plus the fact that today’s military is one of the most racially diverse pool of potential applicants, it makes sense to hire from the Armed Forces. The military has for decades been a great source for finding racially diverse candidates. But now more than ever is a great time to take advantage of that diversity. Employers know that with the host of discrimination laws, being more than careful not to discriminate in their hiring practices is the right thing to do. At the forefront of EEO statements is the commitment to prevent an adverse impact on any protected group, and in many cases, the mandate to hire diversity (i.e. affirmative action). The Numbers While many employers struggle to find quality people these days, regardless of their “status,” it all begins with a source from which a company draws its applicants. Within the last two years, minorities accounted for nearly 4 out of every 10 new recruits into all military branches (38%). That compares to the entire U.S. minority population of 27%?a difference of 11%! A Tradition of Excellence The military is proud of the fact that for generations it has recruited racial diversity. A recent story from the Washington Post website points out that in the past, fair treatment for many minorities was better sought in the military versus the outside world. “The military during our generation is where many of the best and brightest African Americans would go because often those were the only doors open to us,” said George Dumas, 63, a retired major. “Now we want to keep that tradition going…” That tradition is just a glimpse at the quality practices and disciplines the military has used for centuries. The military has often seen beyond the common practices of the population at large, even when it wasn’t popular to do so. And the military continues to do the right thing in the practice of recruiting diversity. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> More Progress Even with the military’s longstanding commitment and reputation for promoting racial diversity, the recruitment of women has been slow. Women have only been allowed in the military for a short time, and since then the number of service women has generally been fairly low. Few women of the past ever desired to be a part of the service, but a shift in our country’s cultural views has sparked a change over the last few years. Recent recruitment studies reveal that almost 1 in 5 new military recruits are women. Considering the short timeframe, this is a credit to our military’s flexibility and capacity for constant change. This important change is one that now highlights the value of women to the service. Their contributions are certainly a significant part of our progressive military of today. Of course, the goal in hiring anyone for a position is matching up the job, the company, and its culture with the desires and talents of the individual. Color of skin, ethnic origin, or gender should never play a role in the recruitment process. The important factor to always consider is “job-relatedness,” and nothing else. However, the cautious company can begin on an even field by using a pool of candidates that makes for a fair and equitable hiring system. That pool of candidates can definitely be found in the military. And with 200,000 transitions out of the military and into the civilian work world per year, there is no doubt that any company can find in the military the most qualified and diverse candidates around. References: http://www.prb.org/pubs/usds99.htm

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31218-2000Aug27.html http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Oct1998/fs_b10281998_bt559-98.html

The Hiring Process: Getting It Together

by
Scott Hagen
Sep 14, 2000

Hiring Manager: Hi (insert your name here), I have this great candidate that I want to make an offer to today. Can you send him an offer letter?

Recruiter: Has this candidate been through all the proper interviews including HR?

Hiring Manager: No.

keep reading…

HR Generalists Vs. Recruiters: Some Thoughts on the Internal War

by
Kevin Wheeler
Sep 13, 2000

Human resource generalists usually leave most of recruiting to the professional recruiters. But in some organizations, the HR generalists like to play a larger role. One of my recent clients was upset because the HR generalist was “meddling” in the recruiting process and had created some confusion between him and the hiring manager. And I hear from HR generalists how recruiters are not well informed about the position and are presenting inappropriate candidates to the hiring manager. The war between the two roles is heating up. Whenever there are multiple parties who have some interest in a transaction, there can be disagreement and confusion. For many years the HR generalist paid little attention to recruiting, unless it was at the executive level. The recruiters were expected to quickly fill the run of the mill positions without involving the HR staff too much. HR was usually too busy doing process stuff and enforcing the rules to pay any attention to acquiring people. But as the talent wars have gotten fiercer and the stakes higher, many HR generalists now realize that their value to the organization may lie only in how well and how quickly they can attract good talent. This has led to territorial fights, internal bickering, and a lot of confusion over roles and responsibilities. I think that this whole issue says more about the future of HR than it does about recruiting. Many predictors, including myself, believe that HR will eventually be focused on two primary areas only: attracting and acquiring talent and on developing talent within the organization. All the administrative duties and process work will be automated and outsourced within the next 5 years. A transitory role may be that of internal consultant and advisor to management. This will be a necessary role because managers, HR generalists and recruiters are not yet ready for new responsibilities. It will take a generation to change the role of management to accept recruiting and consulting as a major part of their responsibilities. Here are a few thoughts on what the roles ought to be and why: Thought #1: As long as there are both HR generalists and recruiters who are independent, there has to be a set of working principles that they agree to abide by. These could include a code of ethics about recruiting, a written agreement on responsibilities and the establishment of a mechanism to solve any disagreements that might arise. I think both parties need to map out their stakeholders and put in place specific duties that they each will take on. This is becoming more essential as HR generalists find their jobs threatened by recruiters and recruiters risk being cut out of critical discussions and involvement in the hiring process. There is plenty of room for both in talent acquisition and development, but roles are changing and need to be openly discussed. Larger firms should set aside a day for the two groups to meet and clearly define responsibilities and clear up any gray areas that exist. I find in much of my consulting work that many of the problem clients have in executing efficiently and quickly is because of muddled roles and confused expectations. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> Thought #2: The manager should be given as much control over the hiring process as she wants. She should be given options that could include doing everything herself via the Internet and job boards or doing nothing except providing job descriptions and conducting interviews. The HR generalist can work out the parameters of involvement in the process and bring in the recruiter to explain the options. Abdicating responsibility to a manager who is not ready for the task is silly and job threatening. On the other hand, not letting a manager know what she could do is also opening the door to eventual problems and issues. While a recruiter could perhaps do all this, the HR generalist most often has an existing relationship with the hiring manager and has developed her trust. This can be used to effectively build a strong recruiting partnership. Thought #3: HR generalists should begin to build basic recruiting skills and act as internal consultants on the recruiting process. Their focus should be internal and their primary role should be to understand and communicate the job requirements to the recruiters and the market supply and issues to the hiring manager. They should be seen as facilitating the hiring process and acting as intermediary between managers and recruiters. They do not have to interview candidates nor do they have to source or approve of candidates. Their job should be focused on making the process work smoothly and quickly and on educating management. I see a lot of confusion here and many HR generalists feel they are being left out of the process if they do not interview candidates and give their seal of approval. In the interest of speed and efficiency, the recruiter and hiring manager should make the hiring decisions, not the HR generalist. Thought #4: The recruiters should remain outwardly focused and accept input from the HR generalists on the job requirements. Recruiters should spend more than half their time outside the organization building networks, developing new sources of candidates, working the job boards, and attending meetings and conferences where the kinds of people they are seeking go. The recruiter’s job is less and less about internal interviews, paperwork, scheduling and process and more and more about relationships and networks. If this becomes the focus of the recruiter’s day, then the territorial wars with HR generalists will disappear. There is no magic. The role confusion will continue and get worse as the stakes are raised and talent becomes THE issue of the 21st century. Organizations that begin to refine roles and work toward developing processes that re-enforce each other and leverage strengths will be way ahead of the others.

Technical Intimidation: How To Learn the Language

by
Kimberly Bedore
Sep 12, 2000

Congratulations on your new position! As part of your responsibilities, you will be asked to sit across from candidates, interpret a foreign language, and evaluate them based on this language that you don’t speak. By the way, did we tell you that your success in this role will be judged by your ability to display competency in the new language in a short period of time? And did we mention that the training budget has been cut? Many recruiters new to IT recruiting experience this anxiety. They are placed in a technical recruiting position with little or no training, and very little guidance on where to gain this knowledge. One of the most common questions I hear is, “I’m new to technical recruiting. How can I learn how to speak technical to technologists?” This question is usually followed up by, “How did you learn about technology?” The answer is very simple: I asked. Chances are, if you are an IT Recruiter, you have access to technical people within your specialty. These can be individuals you are attempting to place, or people within your own company. Rarely have I asked for help understanding the concepts and been turned down. An added bonus is that you begin to see the candidate’s perspective on what a recruiter really needs to know. In an interview you can use this to your advantage. For example, tell the candidate you’re not familiar with a term and see how the candidate answers. If the answer is clear and easy for you to understand, the candidate most likely has solid communication skills and would be able to speak easily with end users, perhaps in the role of desktop support, help desk or analyst. I often use this in interviews even with terms I understand. It never hurts, and there’s always more to learn about candidates and technology. Don’t forget the Internet. You can find easy to understand definitions of technical terms at whatis.com, Webopedia, and TechEncyclopedia. These can help you prepare for an interview or get a better understanding of the job description. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> Of course, there’s always a training course–if you’re one of the lucky ones with a training budget. There are a plethora of training programs available geared to teaching technology to recruiters. Many of these are very good and very thorough. Many are also very broad, covering many focus areas in a short period of time. They can be a great foundation, and in most cases, the materials provided make a great desktop reference after the class. However, buyer beware. If you are new to IT, choose a class that concentrates on your greatest area of focus, or be prepared for information overload! Some training programs to check out are SemCo Enterprises, The Breckenridge Group, and Dallas Training Consultants. SemCo provides training materials that stand alone as a great desktop reference. The Breckenridge Group has a series of programs focused on such areas as Telecommunications and Internet Technologies. Dallas Training Consultants offers a course called “A Guided Tour Through Technology” which gives a great introduction to basic technology and removes some of the mystique. Most importantly, don’t let the technology intimidate you. You don’t have to know how to write code in order to interview a programmer. You just have to understand the concepts and buzz words. For example, consider yourself ahead of the game if you know that CORBA is not a deadly snake, but is used in architecting a distributed system. As you talk with a Java Developer, for example, you don’t have to be able to read and understand the programs he/she has written. Leave that to the technical evaluation. It doesn’t hurt, however, to know what Java is used for and what common skills are associated with it. As technical recruiters, our effectiveness is impacted by our overall understanding of the skills for which we are recruiting and our ability to communicate effectively with the technical community. This understanding will lead to knowledge of where to seek the required skills, stronger ability to rank candidates against job descriptions, better technical evaluations, and greater credibility among the technical community. These are all things to strive for, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient, ask questions and listen. Most importantly, don’t be intimidated. It isn’t necessary to understand the bits and bytes, but merely to gain a conceptual understanding and feel confident in interviews.

For The Ten Billionth Time, Stop Exaggerating!

by
Ken Gaffey
Sep 12, 2000

An age-old issue between Recruiters and Corporate HR (or Corporate HR and Hiring Managers, for that matter) is the act, or art, of “prepping” a candidate for an interview. Should candidates be “prepped” by anyone before an interview? If so, who should do it and where is the line between “Prepping” and “Deception”? Can you “prepare” a qualified candidate without risking being accused of “creating” a qualified candidate? Is there a lost measuring tool in the interview if a candidate is “prepped” instead of self-prepared? Is there a limit to the number of consecutive questions you can put in the same paragraph? Does this tie go with my shirt? As in many issues, the answer lies less in the act itself, and more in the express purpose or intent of the act. For example, when I go to a new car lot, I expect the cars to be clean. A few days after the purchase, the car I buy will become dirty, pick up a few dents or scratches (let’s not even mention seagulls) and cease to be that creature of perfection I saw on the lot. However, a clean car is still an honest representation of the product I am looking to acquire. It is shined up to appear at its absolute best. But it is still at its best. But if the dealer used glue to put the bumper back on after it rusted off that morning, now that’s deception! When you think about it, the interview team did some “prepping” of it’s own before the interview. If the interview was done properly (that is, if you run a good team), the resume was distributed at least 48 hours before the interview for prior review, key areas of candidate experience were set to be “quizzed”, appropriate interrogators were assigned to discuss critical issues, the order of the interview was pre-determined, and goals and strategies were discussed (If she really knows how to sell phone services, she must have…). The team has the previous interviews with other candidates and the knowledge developed therein to open and explore new areas or avenues in each successive candidate. An interview, refined by trial and error or knowledge acquired by repetition of the acquisition process, is not all that spontaneous! There is nothing “off-the-cuff” about a well-conducted and professionally prepared company interview. Is it not a little unrealistic to expect the candidate, or the allies of the candidate, not to put a little effort into the preparation process of an interview as well? In addition, the corporate HR person traditionally is the one encouraging and prepping the hiring managers for the candidate. It is a little uneven (I hesitate to say “hypocritical.”) to be concerned about agency recruiters prepping their candidates. Who should prep the candidate for the interview? Well first, I hope the candidate is a little motivated to do some of their own prepping. We all seek the mythical perfect candidate who shows up on time, makes reasonable salary demands, and did all their own preparation and research about the company. But you will not fill all your open positions expecting that candidate to show up. However, as the candidate is not an interview professional (at least I hope not), there is always some justification for a level of support and assistance in their preparation. Candidates do not have, as a rule, as much experience at being interviewed as their interviewers have at interviewing candidates. This is not their fifth time meeting with the team. As mentioned above, the team may have had four, five, six or more previous meetings with other candidates for this same position. They are all warmed up. They have it “down.” They are “prepped.” In my humble opinion, should the candidate not be afforded the same opportunity? Is that wrong? As an HR professional, I often prepare candidates for their meetings with my own hiring managers. Interviewing is not a natural state for most people. Unprepared, the interview teams merely see a nervous kid trying to be all things to all people, because the candidate thinks that is what an interview is all about. Or, they end up interviewing a person who honestly believes the focus of the position in question is other than it truly is and blow the opportunity by speaking to all the wrong points. If the interview team is either weak or judgmental, a good candidate is lost for no good reason. Without preparation, the applicants often feel as if they are being pushed through a dark hallway in a strange house and expected to find their way without error. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> Agency Recruiters feel that their efforts to prepare the candidate are required to insure that their chance to close a deal is not ruined by issues that are not germane to the process or the position. They have knowledge and experience with their clients based on past interviews. They have acquired knowledge of the interviewers’ questions, process, and quirks. This information can assist in making a candidate feel more comfortable and more like themselves. That is the point on which the difference between preparation and deception exists. Are you prepping the candidate to be themselves, or a fictional representation of what you know the interview team wants them to be? As professional interviewers, we have the knowledge and experiences to make the candidate relax and be themselves. (Actually, I think I could “chill” a tornado if I had a big enough office.) But often the hiring managers and interview teams do not have the desire, experience, or inclination to do more than rattle off questions like some sort of crazed automatic electric Pez dispenser. An unprepared candidate with limited interviewing experience may fold, panic, or become negative based on this experience. Since the atmosphere of the interview has nothing to do with the atmosphere of the daily office routine in which this applicant would work, what do we prove by allowing this sort of “hire by torture”? (The correct answer was “nothing.” If your answer was “everything,” the Spanish Inquisition has a position for you in their HR Department.) So how do you make a candidate be “himself or herself” and yet not coach them in deception?

  • Remind them of the truth they told you in your first interview.
  • keep reading…