by Mitch Byers :: May 31st, 2006 :: Posted in Interviewing to Win |
In summary, the top 10 are: 1. You’re not making finding a job a job itself! Many people don’t adopt a committed, passionate, failure-is-not-an-option attitude.
2. You haven’t developed a system of finding a job. The system should entail everything from goals and intentions that dictate planned activity to role-playing of interviews.
3. You have an unrealistic idea about the market for your skills. There is a tendency for people to over-inflate the ease of their ability to find a job.
4. You aren’t acknowledging the psychological and emotional stress that changing jobs entails. They confuse activity with productivity and focus on minor things that appear to be job-finding activities, but aren’t the most fruitful activities.
5. You ignore small businesses. You’ve forgotten or don’t realize that 97 percent of the businesses in the United States employ fewer than 100 people.
6. You don’t recognize that face-to-face interviews are the only things that matter. Pulling out all the stops by doing anything you can to get in front of a hiring authority with pain (the need to hire someone) is key.
7. You don’t prepare well for interviews. Most people are either not confident in themselves or act arrogant in the interviewing process simply because they are not as prepared as they should be.
8. You’re not selling yourself. The vast majority of people going into an interviewing situation simply don’t sell themselves very well..
9. You have the attitude, “What can you do for me?” Most people don’t realize that there is nothing to consider until you have an offer.
10. You give poor reasons for leaving your job. Whether it’s why you left your last employer or why you want a new job, most people present the reason from a selfish point of view.
Excellent list. My favorites are 2 and 9. When it comes to securing a new position, too many people shoot from the hip – and miss. An effective “system” will include Guerrilla networking; Careful analysis of job descriptions (preferably through the core competency schema); Customized resumes which address desired knowledge, skills, abilities, and job behaviors; Developing effective career stories (something I call �Memory Triggers”) which capture relevant career experience, Preparing for the interview (company research, etc.); Competency-based follow-up notes; and Salary negotiations.
When you develop a comprehensive strategy, then item 9, “What can you do for me?” begins to take care of itself. By thorough preparation, you begin to see the position from a new perspective, more closely replicating that of the hiring manager. When this happens, then suddenly you are “talking the same language.” It is much easier to build rapport when you are on talking the same language. Building rapport is critical your interviewing success. The hiring manager is going to hire a) someone that is qualified and b) someone they like.
Don’t think of the interview as the hour you are in the hot seat, but the 20 or 40 or 100 hours you spend to getting to the chair. This is the investment that will reap rewards.
by Mitch Byers :: May 28th, 2006 :: Posted in Interviewing to Win |
Chris lists a variety of non-standard job interview questions one might expect to hear at the main campus at Microsoft. The list of job interview questions is quite extensive and are divided into four categories. While there are a few that are relevant (see below), a majority fall under the “Strange” category, such as this situation: The interviewer hands you a black pen and says nothing but “This pen is red.”
A few listed that are relevant:
These are listed as relevant because they could help determine your needed expertise or your motivation. Admittedly, I would never utilize these questions without appropriate follow-up questions and a way to measure their relevance to a particular position.
Here is a brief sampling of questions for each of the four categories.
By far, a majority of the questions are ego driven and fall under the umbrella of “Stress Questions.” I use to support a hiring manager who would routinely ask technical job seekers, “If you were a fruit, what would you be?” and “Describe the month of June.” It is questionable if any of these types of questions do more than waste precious time.
From the hiring manager’s perspective, I can understand a need to develop tools to get beyond the boring and shallow job interview questions and answers, like “What are your strengths” and “What are your weaknesses.” Too many job seekers exercise Impression Management and provide a canned answer. Hiring managers want to dodge these worn out answers and avoid the job seeker’s “self-monitoring.” Snyder and Grangestad define self-monitoring individuals as those with the ability to “regulate their expressive self-presentation for the sake of desired public appearances, and thus be highly responsive to social and interpersonal clues of situational appropriate performance.” In brief, a well-prepared job seekers will tell you what you want to hear.
It is the hiring manager’s job to peel back the onion – to find out who this job seeker really is. Beyond their polished resume, what is this individual really bringing to the table? What value can be placed on their knowledge, skills, and abilities? Sure, they have an impressive background, but how successful will they be on MY team?
One of the key problems is hiring managers only have an hour or two of interview time before they make a hiring decision. Odds of making a hiring mistake are high – very high. We can date someone for three years before deciding to marry. Even with a three-year investment in time, the chances of us staying married are only about 1 in 2. How then, can we expect the hiring manager to make a quality decision in a day, or a week?
So what is the work around? Asking questions like, “Explain a scenario for testing a salt shaker?” Sure, if you are a salt shaker manufacturer. Obviously, asking the traditional interview questions has not worked for Microsoft (nor most other companies.) Here are a couple of suggestions that could be utilized separately, or in concert with another:
Benchmarking: Microsoft has some incredibly gifted individuals. Figure out what makes them tick. Look at the top performers and develop a Competency Model. A Competency Model is created by determining which 8 or so core competencies are required for a superior performer. Based on the questions presented earlier, I suspect two of the competences are Analytical Thinking and Conceptual Thinking. Another obvious one is Expertise, specifically Technical Expertise. I have actually developed a method for deconstructing a job description and assigning core competencies. If anyone working at Microsoft would send a copy of their job description, I’ll provide a pdf of the step-by-step process. The information can also be found in my book, InterviewRX.
Competency-Based Interview: Once the Competency Model has been identified, then behavioral interview questions can be assigned to each of the Competency. It will be important to set up several follow-up, probing secondary questions. This will allow the hiring manager to peel away the layers of the onion and get to the detailed information required for a reasonable hiring decision. A scoring system (generally 1-5 points) should compliment the behavioral questions. It is important that everyone on the interview team understand the relevance of the interview questions and be instructed on how to score the answers.
Pre-Employment Assessments: There are several excellent pre-employment assessments, such as the EQ-I or the ZRHS assessments. Both assessments measure components of Emotional Intelligence. Emotional Intelligence is our non-cognitive abilities, such as Assertiveness, Independence, Self-Regard, Empathy, Adaptability, Stress Management, Impulse Control, and others. 20 years of research and accumulated data has determined that our IQ (cognitive abilities such as Analytical Thinking and Conceptual Thinking) accounts for only 6% of our ability to succeed in the workplace. A growing number of companies are coming to the conclusion that IQ is a poor predictor of our professional success.
Emotional Intelligence, when measured is referred to in terms of the Emotional Quotient (EQ) and is normed to 100, just like the IQ tests. Our EQ has shown to account for approximately 27% of our job performance. In comparing IQ to EQ, EQ has four times the impact of IQ in our professional endeavors. Any company should be taking a serious look at the EQ of their potential hires.
I am not familiar with Microsoft’s interview and hiring processes to know which, if any of the suggestions may already be in place. The comments are really more global and are meant to be considered as a framework for any company trying to develop best practices.
by Mitch Byers :: May 25th, 2006 :: Posted in Negotiating Your Salary |
Here is an interesting article from the Society of Human Resource Management SHRM
Benefits consume 40.2 percent of payroll costs
The cost of employee benefits reached 40.2 percent of payroll expenses in 2004, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to a new study released by the United States Chamber of Commerce.
According to the 2005 Employee Benefits Study, retirement and savings plan costs experienced the sharpest increase, rising from 6.7 percent to 8.0 percent of payroll expenses from 2003 to 2004. The study included 720 U.S. businesses.
Medically related expenses remained the greatest share of employee benefit costs, at 11.9 percent, according to the Chamber. Payments employers made for time not worked, such as holidays and other paid time off, represented an additional 10.5 percent of payroll expenditures. The average dollar amount in benefits received by employees from the participating companies increased from $18,358 in 2004 to $20,158 in 2005. Benefit costs, as a percentage of payroll costs, have increased on average close to 1 percent each year since 2000.
�These results indicate that employers continue to strive to offer good benefits packages to workers, even in the face of increasing costs,� said Randel Johnson, a Chamber vice president, in a Chamber publication.
Compare the SHRM statistics to those provide by the U.S Department of Labor in a March 14, 2006 article.
EMPLOYER COSTS FOR EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION-DECEMBER 2005
Employer costs for employee compensation averaged $26.46 per hour worked in December 2005, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Wages and salaries, which averaged $18.59, accounted for 70.2 percent of these costs, while benefits, which averaged $7.87, accounted for the remaining 29.8 percent.
SHRM states 40.2 percent of payroll costs goes to benefits. The government puts the percentage much lower at 29.8 percent, or a difference of 10.4%. Obviously, they arrived at their numbers with different data. It would be interesting to see a side-by-side comparison of data to pinpoint the differences.
by Mitch Byers :: May 21st, 2006 :: Posted in Interviewing to Win |
o In a recent DDI (Development Dimensions International, Inc.) study, 44 percent of managers said their most significant hiring surprise was that a candidate’s personality in the interview differed from what they are actually like on the job.
Let’s examine the closely associated competencies, some of which are used more than once: Flexibility, Organizational Commitment, Initiative, Self-Confidence, Diversity, Self Control, Integrity, Achievement Orientation.These eight competencies, when bundled together, create a competency model – the characteristics that individuals have and use in appropriate, consistent ways in order to achieve desired performance. In fact, this competency model indicates the person will be 14 times more likely to become highly engaged employees. That is impressive. That is the power of understanding and screening (through assessment and/or interviews) for competencies.
It could be argued that most (if not all) of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types could mirror this competency model. For this reason, I think it is important to clarify the difference between personality and competency. Both are important, however their difference is as distinct as Mars and Venus.
by Mitch Byers :: May 18th, 2006 :: Posted in Interviewing to Win |
David just completed his Master’s degree. On a recent job interview the first question asked was “Tell me about yourself.” He found the question awkward – he was not sure how to answer it. David’s response to this often asked interview question is critical. Research has shown that hiring managers begin to formulate hiring decisions as early as four minutes into the interview.
Let’s say David takes five minutes to answer the Tell-me-about-yourself question and the hiring manager doesn’t like his answer. Like the Titanic, he just hit an iceberg.
Let’s assume that David did OK on his first interview and has been invited back for his second interview. This time, he wants to plan ahead for how he answers the question. David wants to avoid the two major pitfalls of answering the Tell-me-about-yourself question.
The first pitfall is not sharing relevant information. David may be sharing what he feels is important career news with the hiring manager, but they may not see the value of his information. While he is talking about international trends, they may be wondering how to keep their regional distribution plant open.
The second pitfall relates to sharing relevant information. David does not want to provide details that are not yet asked for. If David begins talking about details too early in the interview, it won’t take long before the eyes of the hiring manager begin to glaze over.
David rehearses his answer to assure he is sharing relevant information and avoiding unnecessary details. His response: “As an overview, I have over six years in the retail industry, with a focus on sporting goods. What started as a part-time job has developed into a rewarding career. Over time, I have progressively taken on more responsibility and during the last 14 months have served in the capacity of Store Manager. Now that I finished my master’s, I feel I am ready to contribute at a higher level.”In less than a minute, David answers the Tell-me-about-yourself question. David may have wanted to provide details about his ability to build creative displays. But how effective would that be if they were more interested in knowing how he was going to reduce the high turnover rate? David would have hit an iceberg. David glided by the iceberg by answering the tell-me-about-yourself question briefly.
Now, David needs to ask the interviewer to guide him to an area that is important to them. David simply asks, “What areas can I provide more information?” Following a brief answer with a qualifying question provides David an opportunity to address an area of hiring importance. When asked about reducing high turnover, David can mention his ability to mentor and train staff and his track record for keeping turnover below industry standards. Maybe later in the conversation there will be the opportunity to discuss his experience building displays.
David started the interview off on a positive note by providing a brief a brief overview of his background, and then asked a question to help guide the conversation. By getting past the me-about-yourself question quickly, he gave himself a real chance of being hired.
by Mitch Byers :: May 18th, 2006 :: Posted in Interviewing to Win |
As I look into my crystal ball, these are the hiring trends I predict we will see:
by Mitch Byers :: May 15th, 2006 :: Posted in Interviewing to Win |
According to the article NO Thank You Could Mean No Job on CareerBuilder.com, the following numbers were given, based on a survey of more than 650 hiring managers:o 15% of hiring managers say they would not hire someone who failed to send a thank you note following the interview
o 32% say they would still consider the candidate, but would think less of them
o 26% of hiring managers expect to have the thank you note in hand two days following the interview
o 36% of hiring managers expect to have a letter in hand within three to five days following the interview
o 21% prefer a typed hard copy
o 23% prefer a handwritten note
o 25% prefer an emailed thank you note
o 19% prefer emailed followed up with a hard copy
To add to the author’s general comments, here are a few additional helpful hints:
o Note cards generally come 10 to a box. Make your purchase at an upscale stationary or card shop. Any note is better than none, but one thoughtfully written in mailed in a beautifully lined envelope helps differentiate you from your competitors. The receiver will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
o Ask for a business card from each person you meet with. This will help you spell Cathy or Kathy or Kathi or Cathee correctly. You don’t want to insult anyone by spelling their name incorrectly. Also, everyone loves their title. Be sure to include the person’s correct title on the envelope.
o If you have a morning interview, mail the note the same afternoon. If your interview is in the afternoon, mail the card no later than the next morning.
o Show your enthusiasm for the position.
o Be specific in how the company will benefit by hiring you. Instead of, I feel my experience would be a great asset to your company, use My success at reducing customer hold time and improving employee retention would be of value in the reorganization of your customer service department. If you have a sparkling thank you note, please email it. I will add it to the Resource section of the website with your permission.
by Mitch Byers :: May 13th, 2006 :: Posted in News & Events |