Monthly Archives: July 2016

5 Unusual Questions Smart Hiring Managers Ask Potential Employees

Starting a business is never an easy process, there are a million things that a business owner needs to consider from selecting the appropriate distribution channel to fine tuning the product/market fit until it’s nearly perfect.

However, once the business begins to scale and new hires become a priority, how much thought goes into the employee/company fit?

This is why savvy business owners have relied on these five somewhat unusual questions:

Related Article: Hire Smarter: 3 Job Interview Questions You Need To Stop Asking

1. What Have You Done to Educate Yourself in the Last Year?

This is the killer question, no doubt about it. As one hiring manager put it: “Why should I spend my time as well as resource sharing and educating a potential candidate, who has never had the inclination to educate him/herself”.We’re not referring to securing a place on a prestigious MBA program, it could something as simple as reading an informative book.

This question may catch candidates off-guard and their answers could become quite creative, a recent candidate attempted to make the argument that he is a perpetual learner because his fantasy investment portfolio required him to conduct research on a daily basis.

Simply put,this question allows you to quickly established whether you have a potential candidate, who is a self-starter and would be motivated enough to upskill whenever necessary in order to tackle challenging projects.

2. What Resources Do You Require to Fulfill Your Career Ambition?

I must admit that I’ve grown fond of this question as it improves on a similar somewhat archaic interview question of “where do you see yourself in five years?”

Sure, any candidate can regurgitate the answer to the ‘where do you see yourself’ question but if candidates articulate what they specifically require to achieve future success, it displays long-term strategic thinking and it is more likely than not that they didn’t simply use a scatter-gun approach when they applied to your company’s position as it fits in with their longer-term ambitions.

3. What Does Leadership Mean to You?

Folks, who understand leadership are aware that it is an important skill not only for employees in managerial or supervisory roles to cultivate but also for subordinates lower down the chain of command.

At the core of leadership is influence and the more employees at your organization that can influence each other in a positive manner the better. Let’s take the typical day of a business owner; there are a lot of fires to put out, which is time-consuming so in his/her absence it makes a huge difference to have employees that can influence each other and allow the company to operate seamlessly.

Related Article: Hiring Sales Staff? 15 Must-Ask Interview Questions     

4. What Do You Admire Most About Our Competitors?

It takes courage to ask this unconventional question, let alone answer it. Business owners are seldom willing to admire their competitor’s strengths, however, your business will fare better when you can take the best ideas from competitions and find your own way to use them.

Although this question may not be suitable to ask every candidate, it does provide an indication of how much thought has gone into the position they’re applying for. Let’s face it, there is nothing more of a turn-off during an interview than a candidate who is unprepared.

A candidate waxing lyrical about the strengths and weakness of the company is the minimum you would expect, however, if they can take that one step further and articulate what the competition does well too, then they’ve really done their homework.

Related Article: Ask the Market Experts: What’s Your Go To Interview Question?

5. If You Could Improve One Thing About Our Product/Service What Would It Be?

One of the reasons companies such as Apple is successful is down to its employees, from the Chief Technology Officer right down to the “geniuses”, who work on the retail floor, they all feel part of a tribe and really believe in the company’s mission.

They interact with the products on a daily basis and can translate that passion they have for the product/service whenever they interact with end users. This question helps to identify those candidates, who are in tune with the company’s mission and are much more likely to be a good fit.

These list of questions are by no means exhaustive and should be used as an addition to specific skill set questions i.e. technical questions for a software developer position. However, these unusual questions encourage a candidate to think out loud, more importantly, you get the opportunity to explore their deeper motives as to why they are suitable for your company.

7 Ways to Stand Out to Passive Candidates

Ever heard the adage “It’s easier to find a job when you have a job?”

From the employee’s side that’s probably true. But what do you do if you’re the employer looking to hire someone who already has a job and is not actively looking for work?

This type of candidate is referred to as a passive candidate – someone who is not necessarily looking for a new job, but would be open to taking a new job if the right offer comes along.

Getting someone in this situation to be excited about your company can be a tough task.

Why would you seek out someone who is not looking for a new job?

The simplest reason is that often the people with exactly the skills you’re looking for are hard to come by. And when you find them, the timing might be that they have already found someone else. But that doesn’t mean you’ve got to walk away without even trying to woo them.

Seeking out passive candidates as a prime aspect of your candidate sourcing strategy can be especially relevant when you’re looking to fill a role with someone who has very specific skills. Passive candidate recruiting is often the best way to find someone who best matches the skill set you’re looking for, rather than waiting on the ideal candidate to come to you.

How can you stand out to passive candidates?

By definition, the passive candidate is going to be tougher to engage than an active candidate. After all, when you find someone who appears to be perfect (on paper anyway), that person may not even be a passive candidate at all. They might not be willing to entertain offers, or it might take more than a casual comment to pique their interest.

The key is to not only give them a reason to jump ship but to also make it easy to do so. However, getting to that point in the conversation often takes time and persistence. Here are some tips to get there:

Do you seek out passive candidates as part of your overall candidate sourcing strategy? We can help you build your candidate pipeline!

1. Use social media

Use social media to your advantage. It’s often one of the easiest places to find passive candidates who meet your criteria, and also one of the easiest ways to reach out.

2. Be personable

Be personable, not stuffy. Even if your organization prides itself on professionalism, people and personal interactions make all the difference when it comes to job satisfaction.

3. Ensure your application process is simple and easy to navigate

Alternatively, don’t even bother forcing a passive candidate to apply formally. After all, you’ve sought them out, why make them jump through hoops? There’s no point in getting someone all excited about the job only to have them get frustrated when they can’t even get to the next stage of the process with ease!

4. Be mobile enabled 

Ensure that all of your sites (the main company site, all social media profiles, application page if applicable, etc.) are mobile-friendly. Also, be sure they work without any glitches from any device. Optimizing for smartphone access should be a given, not an afterthought.

5. Put yourself in their shoes

Most people don’t like a cold call out of nowhere. That just feels spammy. Find something to break the ice such as a relevant group membership or industry event you could invite them to attend. Or find someone they’re already connected to and have that person arrange an introduction. This lets you contact them in a way that feels less sales-y so the candidate is less weary from the outset.

6. Make it easy for them to research you

That candidate is going to be Googling the heck out of you if they’re not already familiar with your company. Make it easy for them to find information from multiple sources (you do have multiple social media profiles for the company, don’t you?), and make sure the information they find is consistent in terms of the image it creates.

7. Don’t become a stalker

Remember it might take multiple points of contact before a passive candidate will respond. They’re not actively looking, after all. Find balance  –don’t give up after one unanswered communication, but don’t become a stalker either.

Be warned, though. Going out to look for passive candidates by yourself will take a HUGE amount of time!

5 Ways To Attract And Keep Top Millennial Talent

Nancy Altobello is a big fan of millennials.

Altobello, Vice Chair of Talent at EY, shared her thoughts on the changing global professional landscape and how companies can attract and nourish top talent–particularly among recent college graduates–at Universum’s Employer Branding Conference this morning in New York.

Talent, and recruiting it, aren’t just on the minds of campus reps and college seniors, says Altobello, noting that in a world where everything is increasingly more complex,  talented, skilled labor is more important than ever before–and there’s less of it.

“Talent is now being viewed as an important resource by executives and by boards,” Altobello told Forbes. ”The dichotomy of talent being more important and less available has invented an executive issue.”

Below are Altobello’s observations about how to recruit and hang onto top-notch millennial employees.

1. They’re not all running for the door–if you can keep them interested. 

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that millennials only tend to stay in each job an average of 18 months. Altobello says this doesn’t have to be the case.

“We’re starting to hear from a lot of people who’ve had two jobs in three years and want to stay somewhere,” she says. “But the work has to be interesting, they don’t want to keep doing the same thing.”

2. When it comes to compensation, cash is still king.

In this way millennials are just like professionals at every other stage of their careers; the best way to attract and keep the best and brightest is to pay them well.

 3. To younger professionals, flexibility is almost as important as salary.

Altobello says in this context flexibility means millennials want choices abouthow to deliver a job well done. With the understanding that deadlines and client needs must always be met, they want options about where and when they work–and they want their managers clearly on board.

“People are looking for approval around flexibility.”

 4. Millennials want to be regularly evaluated and advance quickly–but they’ll do the work to get there.

It’s a regular drumbeat about millennials: They want to be constantly told how they’re doing and see the payoff.

Altobello says managers need to understand that this is a population accustomed to “quick knowledge”–they grew up contacting their parents over cell phones with a single question, or consulting Google–and to view this as an opportunity. A yearly performance review is simply not the right approach.

“They want the trophies,” says Altobello, “but they’re very willing to earn them.”

5. On-the-job training is essential. 

According to an annual survey by Accenture of soon-to-graduate college seniors and graduates of the classes of 2012 and 2013, 80% of 2014 graduates expect to be formally trained by their first employer, but 52% of professionals who graduated from college within the past two years say they received no training in their first job.

Altobello says the best way to meet your company’s demand for skilled labor is to invest in developing current employees.

“So many skills are teachable and coachable. Most important is on-the-job training. Move them fast through a lot of experiences.”

Top 10 Management Practices Of Effective Leaders

We’ve all had a bad boss or manager at some point in our lives, but how many of us have worked under truly inspiring leaders who know how to motivate and get the best out of their team?

Unfortunately, being good at your job doesn’t guarantee that you will be a good leader or manager. Effective management is an art – but luckily, it is one that can be learned if you follow some basic principles.

Different management styles will suit different contexts depending on company culture, the size of the team or organisation, the nature of the work or industry and the particular personalities involved.

There are some universals, however. Here are some tips on becoming a better manager:

1. Select the right people

It all starts with getting the right team in place – together, the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. You need to select the right people for the right jobs, build a complementary team, and align your people with your organizational goals and culture.

As Wallace Lee, a project manager with Westpac, puts it, ‘Recruit right. Make sure the person not only has the right skills but, more importantly, fits the culture.’

Knowing how various roles will help to achieve your organisation’s goals will help define the requirements against which you will interview and assess candidates, according to Iain Crossing, an organisational consultant with Inspirational Workplaces.

‘The development of key people may be the single greatest determinant of an organisation’s ability to deal with uncertainty and succeed. Central to development is a leader’s ability to engage people and align the needs of individuals with those of the organisation to deliver a united and cohesive front,’ states Grant Sexton, managing director of Leadership Management Australasia.

2. Show empathy

Empathy is the ability to listen to people, relate to their emotional experience and let them know that you are doing so. According to Iain Crossing, it is the most important core competency for managers and leaders.

‘Developing the ability to understand people and connect with them in a genuine, meaningful way is a key determining factor in how effective you can be at influencing them, setting them objectives that motivate them, and rewarding them in a way they each actually find rewarding,’ says Crossing.

3. Communicate

Communication is key to fostering empathy and building relationships of openness, trust and honesty with your team. The first step in effective communication, according to Crossing, is to create the time and space for people to talk, and to ask questions.

Both Crossing and Lee emphasise the importance of clearly communicating your goals and expectations, and defining people’s roles and responsibilities in line with these. After all, you can’t motivate people if they don’t know what you want. Crossing advises managers to set clear objectives for both the organisation and its people to discuss and negotiate, let people know what support and resources they have access to, and to clearly link rewards to objectives.

Providing timely and meaningful feedback to your staff is crucial, as is determining how best to give them this feedback. Crossing recommends tailoring your approach to each individual, with some people requiring regular assurance and support, and others preferring more autonomy. Lee adds that it’s important to let your staff know what they’re doing right as well as what areas they need to work on.

Non-verbal behaviour is just as important as what people say, so effective managers need to be keen observers to gauge how people are responding to a work situation at an emotional level. Lee says that managers need to be intuitive since staff don’t always tell you when they’re struggling.

Communication needs to flow in all directions, from managers to their staff, from staff to managers, and between team members. An effective leader is a good listener and fosters an environment where people get to know each other and understand each others’ strengths, weaknesses and styles. Good managers are open to the input of their staff and learn from their feedback.

4. Lead by example

Iain Crossing has observed that people will pick up on the verbal and non-verbal expressions of their boss’s state of mind, so leaders need to take responsibility for the atmosphere they create and shape it with their own behaviour. This can be as simple as your posture and demeanour when you arrive at the office in the morning, or more systemic like outlining values and protocols for working with each other.

It’s also important to practise what you preach. You can’t expect your staff to work harder than you’re willing to. As Lee says, ‘Respect doesn’t come from your position – you have to earn it.’

5. Delegate

It’s important to let your staff take ownership of their work and find their own ways of doing things. As Crossing advises, ‘Delegate responsibility rather than tasks.’

Wallace Lee also warns against micromanaging: ‘Don’t interfere – know when your staff can run with things.’

6. Be positive and constructive

It’s better to tell people what you want them to do rather than telling them what you don’t want them to do, according to Crossing. If you have to comment on poor performance, use actual observations to demonstrate the issue and talk about behaviours (which people can change) rather than criticise personalities or make value judgments.

7. Thank and reward your staff

This area is often neglected but can’t be overstated – it takes very little effort to thank someone but it can make all the difference to how people feel on the job.

When it comes to rewards, Iain Crossing says that it’s important to provide rewards that people will actually find rewarding. For example, some people love to be taken out for lunch, while others might prefer time in lieu or more autonomy or responsibility. Many managers reward people in the way they themselves like to be rewarded, which is not always effective. Homer buying Marge a bowling ball for her birthday springs to mind.

8. Develop your staff

Lee emphasises the importance of focusing on your staff’s development and says, ‘Help your employees to succeed – their success is your success. Be patient. Coach them and coach them and coach them … they’ll remember one day.’

The best way to coach your people is to help them focus on process rather than content, according to Crossing. As a manager you will have people coming to you with issues and problems, but instead of getting bogged down in the detail, coach people by asking them to outline the problem, describe the impact the problem is having, describe what they’ve tried already, define an ideal outcome, explore the resources they might use to get there, consider possible next steps, have them try it and come back with the results. This turns the problem into a great learning opportunity and empowers the person to solve the problem themselves.

9. Encourage innovation

It’s important for leaders to think outside the square and know when to take risks. As Wallace Lee advises, ‘Take risks with your employees – often they bring pleasant surprises.’

By giving people the latitude to work through problems and solutions themselves, you will encourage innovation, creativity and resourcefulness. Lee advises, ‘Let your team think for themselves, don’t strangle their creativity. Encourage innovation – Google allows one day a week for every employee for innovation.’

Google does indeed allow its employees to use 20 per cent of their time to pursue their own independent projects. Apparently this independent work time leads to 2.5 times greater productivity and generates the ideas for 50 per cent of all new product releases.

10. Be flexible

Good managers have a flexible approach and adapt their style to individual employees, allowing them to work to their own style.

Flexible workplace practices have also emerged as an increasingly important priority for many employees. A recent survey by Leadership Management Australasia lists flexible work arrangements/hours as the fifth most important influence on employee performance and fourth most important reason for employees to stay with an organization. In other words, flexibility pays.

The Ugly Truth About Online Job Boards: They’re Broken

If you’ve been looking for a job recently, you’ve discovered the ugly truth: job boards are broken.

They don’t work, they don’t help, and they aren’t getting you where you need to go. Sure it sounds nice in theory — making it so easy to apply to jobs for anybody from anywhere at any time.

But the truth is that the Internet has made it too easy for anybody to apply to any job.

So what happens? Everybody applies.

The typical job posting on Monster or CareerBuilder can get hundreds of applications, which means talented professionals like you can’t stand out from the crowd of student drivers, stand-up comics, and late-night janitors who have also lobbed in an application.

And recruiters and hiring managers have discovered it as well. Job boards are broken for them because when they have an important position to fill, and only a little bit of time to do it, they don’t have hours and hours and hours to sort through all the inappropriate applications that come to them over the internet.

I mean, c’mon, how many folks do you know in HR with tons of extra time on their hands these days? With all of the budget cuts over the past few years, they have less time than ever for each job they’re working on.

Zero Fee Recruiter strives to change how businesses seek their desired candidates. ZFR brings you qualified and interested candidates. Much better than sifting through hundreds of applications, only the find unqualified people applied.

Qualified and interested candidates are brought to you with our easy-to-use system.

What are you waiting on? Contact Zero Fee Recruiter today!

Job Boards are Dead: A Handy Guide to a Special Sub-Genre of Recruiting

Recruiting Bias

I’ve been consulting in the job board industry since 2009 and active with job boards for much longer. In all that time, a particular type of article / blog post / etc. has persisted and even occasionally thrived: the ‘job boards are dead‘ article. In fact, these have been so persistent and resilient (much like ‘Paul is dead‘ or ‘poinsettias are poisonous‘) that I thought it was time to catalog them. After all, perhaps you will someday be writing your own (erroneous) ‘job boards are dead’ post!

  •  Big job boards are dying: A current example of this type of article is here. These usually focus on a couple of points: a) there are too many applicants per job posting; b) the applicants aren’t qualified. A problem with this critique: how can a job board be ‘dying’ if it is producing boatloads of applicants for its employers? That is not to say, of course, that unqualified applicants isn’t a problem – it is. But it seems that the quality of candidates is the problem – rather than the fact that the job board is ‘dying’.
  • Job boards are old technology: When job boards came on the scene, part of their appeal was that they represented ‘new’ technology – a way of improving the results of the traditional newspaper classifieds. So it is somewhat ironic that job boards are now being criticized as ‘old’ technology. As with the previous example, there is some truth to the critique: ‘traditional’ job boards look and function much as they did in the 1990s. But there has been substantial change, too. There are job boards that are really career hubs, matching sites, social search sites, and so on. Bottom line: old technology is often in the eye of the beholder – and many sites are embracing ‘new’ technology.
  • Social recruiting will kill job boards: A very popular type of article – and surprisingly enough, it is often used by social recruiting vendors and evangelists. A key part of this argument is LinkedIn, as in ‘Look at how well LinkedIn is doing! How can job boards possibly compete?‘. Sure, LinkedIn is doing well. But one company does not make an industry-killing trend, I think. Many job boards are actually incorporating social recruiting products into their lineups. Some companies have had success with social recruiting; some have not. I suspect this type of article will continue for as long as it is effective as a sales tool for social recruiting companies – and no longer.
  • Candidates hate job boards: These articles suggest that candidates hate job boards so much that they quit using them. Data indicates otherwise. The core candidate complaint, of course, is lack of response from employers – a problem that resides with the employer rather than the job board. This complaint also occurs in other hiring channels – even (!) on social recruiting sites.
  • Job boards are too expensive: As in, job boards have priced themselves out of reach – or they just aren’t worth the money. Sometimes this complaint is actually being directed at the big general boards. Occasionally it is derived from specific data: the employer is tracking cost of hire, and a given job board doesn’t produce. But to say that because some job boards are not cost effective, all job boards will die, is a bit of a stretch, don’t you think?


Tips for Engaging Passive Candidates

Good recruiters know it’s insufficient to just post a job and blast candidates on social media.  They know there’s much more to recruitment, including finding passive candidates – those that are currently employed and not necessarily looking to change jobs.

How do you approach passive candidates? It’s important to really cater your initial contact with a passive candidate to sound both professional and genuine. You want to capture the candidate’s attention, but not in a spammy way.

It’s essential to stress the perks of the role you’re working on – after all, the candidate is likely comfortable in his or her current role, so you have to “sell” the reason they should change. Sometimes, it’s not all about the money. Really customize your email or message to draw in their attention with benefits like opportunity for growth, relocation package, or a really unique or flexible work environment/culture.

When you reach out to a candidate via social media, it can seem a little impersonal, so it’s important to focus on the candidate. Do your homework – dig into their background and find out their interests, and see if you can work that into your description about what makes the role perfect for them. A simple but personalized message shows that you aren’t just sending out automated responses to everyone on LinkedIn.

Make sure you explain who you are, who you’re with/what you do, and that you’re clear about the role. Sometimes recruiters try to make emails too brief so as to not overwhelm the candidate in the initial outreach, but it’s important you include enough information and detail to be informative and transparent about the role and your mission.

Always, always, include a “call to action” of a date and time you’re available to chat – even better, use a free email scheduler like to allow candidates to choose the time that works best for them.

8 Ways Companies Can Attract the Best Job Candidates

While employers often feel that it should be easy to attract great job candidates in a buyer’s market like this one, that’s not always the case. Top candidates always have options, and they can generally afford to be picky about what jobs they apply to, let alone what offers they accept. That means that employers who truly care about attracting top talent need to put special thought into how they recruit and screen candidates.

So what does it take to attract the strongest candidates? Much of it comes down to having a hiring process that treats candidates with respect.

1. Have clear, easy-to-understand job descriptions. Too often, employers post jargon-filled, incomprehensible job descriptions that barely explain what the position actually does. If job seekers have to struggle to figure out what the role is or who would be qualified for it, the best will simply move on.

2. Don’t force candidates to use convoluted and time-consuming application systems. Online application systems may have made things more convenient for employers, but they’ve done the opposite for job seekers, who regularly run into systems that are riddled with technical problems, ask yes/no questions that don’t fit many candidates’ situations and demand enormous amounts of information just to apply. Candidates with options aren’t likely to spend an hour wrestling with an application system just to get it to accept their résumé.

3. Don’t play games on salary. The reality is, most people work for money. Pretending that’s not true and refusing to discuss what a position pays – as plenty of employers do right up until they make an offer – will turn off good candidates. Talking about salary upfront – ideally in the job posting itself, or at least in an early-stage phone screen – will attract strong candidates who will appreciate the candor.

4. Respect candidates’ time. Canceling an interview at the last minute without any apology, not paying attention in interviews and leaving candidates waiting in the lobby long past their interview time are flags for candidates that this company doesn’t respect them. Savvy candidates know that it won’t get any better after they’re hired, and will focus on companies that treat them with respect instead.

5. Keep interviews focused on questions related to the work. Employers who ask goofy interview questions like “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” and “What kind of animal are you most like?” will annoy strong candidates – and plenty will decide they’re not a good fit with a hiring manager who hires this way. Great candidates want to spend the interview talking about their background, the job and what they might bring to it.

6. Be transparent through the hiring process. Hiring processes are so often inscrutable from the outside that it stands out when an employer is transparent and open with candidates. That can mean things like making it easy for top candidates to speak with would-be co-workers, being upfront about the downsides of the position (like long hours or difficult clients) and talking candidly about the reasons behind delays in the hiring timeline.

7. Remember that interviewing is a two-way street. Since the best candidates have options, they’ll interview and evaluate employers right back. Employers who assume that the assessment process only goes one way and forget to care about how they’re coming across to candidates – or even give them opportunities to ask rigorous questions and do their own evaluations – will generally turn off strong applicants.

8. Be worth working for. That means not only offering competitive salaries and benefits, but also providing a high-functioning work environment, with effective management, professional development and recognition for a job well done. The best-run hiring process in the world won’t be able to overcome bad word of mouth about what it’s like to work for a particular company.