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Via Herald Tribune : Conducting exit interviews that are worth doing

My last column was about onboarding for new employees. So it is only fitting that I cover the opposite end of this spectrum: conducting exit interviews for the recently departed.

One important consideration is whether the employee has resigned or been involuntarily terminated. Exit answers may be very different — and perhaps unreliable — for terminated employees.

These are some comments on the subject I gleaned from a question I posted at helpareporter.com. They make it apparent that getting good information from an exit interview can be difficult but is invaluable.

Employees who leave on their terms

“In cases where people are leaving on positive terms, you often get throwaway reasons such as compensation, or gentle rationales like, ‘It’s a great place and I wasn’t actively looking, but the opportunity is just amazing.’ This is understandable because people want to preserve relationships,” said Tim Toterhi, an Internatinoal Coach Federation-certified executive coach and founder of Plotline Leadership (www.plotlineleadership.com),

Employees who are terminated

Toterhi continues, “When people are let go or leave under a negative cloud, the response is often raw, exaggerated and hyper-focused on recent activity. You may learn something about the conditions that led to the event but you rarely get to the root cause.”

Other issues

“Few people are properly trained on how to conduct an exit interview, and fewer have a strategy for what they hope to achieve,” Toterhi said.

“Do they hope to find the root cause, uncover patterns in talent loss, win back key employees via a “stay interview” or preserve the brand through a positive final interaction? Teaching managers to have productive conversations with employees while they are still employed is much better.”

Kevin Huhn, chief inspirational officer at the motivational company Be Your Best Today, said that, “Exit interview answers often come out of desperation, not inspiration. I recall a situation where a female manager changed her story with HR and it resulted in a crying session.”

“I believe that people will do whatever is necessary to protect themselves. They’ll comply with exit interview questions if they feel safe. Most of the time, the answers are what they think the company wants to hear, or they use the opportunity as a chance to blow off steam. A life lesson I learned is that hurt people, hurt people.”

Jamie Press, senior vice president of PrimePay, a nationwide payroll provider, says, “The problem with conducting exit interviews is that employees are often reluctant to be transparent about the issues they are having with their employer.

“Exit interviews are important because a person has little to lose when they are no longer employed. Information collected in these interviews can be used to find patterns and trends to help shape decision-making in the future. For example, we can examine what most people think about our benefits compared to other companies. For us, it helps to understand the company’s strengths and weaknesses.

“We can help determine areas for management training or if there are areas of the business with on-going problems that need to be addressed. If there are specific employee-related issues, those can be examined as well.”

Start, stop or continue?

Lisa Barrington, a certified coach who is working on a doctoral dissertation on employee engagement, said “Ideally, exit interviews should be used to identify the reason the employee is leaving. Once identified, further query into the employee’s experience will be helpful for leadership, in particular if it is rolled up with other data (exit interviews, engagement surveys).

“Ideally, a firm wants to collect information from a “start, stop, continue” approach. What is it that the company needs to start doing that would have kept you? What do they need to stop doing that would have kept you? What did they do that kept you here up to this point? Demographic data should be tracked to identify if there are issues with a particular leader; or with a particular group leaving at a faster pace than others.”

Deanna Arnold, president and owner of Employers Advantage LLC, suggests, “If a company chooses to do exit interviews, they need to make sure they do something with the information provided by the employees.

“They should only be done with employees who voluntarily resign and not with employees who are fired or involuntarily terminated. Not only will the information from them probably be skewed, it isn’t a good idea to let someone go and then ask them to do the company a favor by completing an exit interview.”

“The expectation from conducting an exit interview,” Arnold said, “is that the employer will be able to get insight and information about the company, benefits, management, etc., to help them create a better work environment.

“Don’t wait until the employees are leaving to ask them those questions,” she said. “Conduct stay interviews instead.”

In summary, know what you want to get out of the interview and listen carefully. Your goals should include improving retention and minimizing risk and employee turnover by discovering why good employees leave. Ask open-ended questions about how to improve communications and processes and about how to work better together.

Then change what is needed to keep the good ones from leaving. Exit interviews should be part of your employee-engagement program.

Via Forbes : 14 Bad Hiring Practices And What You Can Do To Improve

The hiring process is long, involved and expensive. There are a lot of different hoops to jump through, including creating an ad that draws in the right candidates, sorting through a horde of resumes — not all of which will be worth your time — and then running through the interview process, with its myriad of quirks and pitfalls.

Given all the different people and aspects involved in the process, it’s remarkably easy for things to go off the rails, or for bad practices to slip into the system. A good interviewer knows that having a clean application system, one that won’t drive away candidates, is crucial. Job postings not only need to include a pay range, but should clearly specify what tasks and duties you’re looking for someone to perform.

That clarity has to continue after the interviews are complete, as well: Candidates who know what steps are coming next, and what information they’re likely to get — and when — are more likely to sign on when an offer arrives. After all, interviewees are reviewing a company as much as the company is reviewing them, and the most skilled and talented candidates are perfectly aware they have other options if things don’t look right.

So where can your hiring process improve, and how can you get the most out of your interviews? Members from Forbes Coaches Council have the following advice:

1. Upgrade Your Applicant Tracking System

The first impression a job candidate has of a company is how difficult it might be to apply for a job. Good companies with antiquated applicant-tracking system computers can frustrate the job candidate to no end. Instead, companies should go through their application process to see if it is easy or difficult, in order to evaluate if an upgrade might be needed. – Rebecca Bosl, Dream Life Team

2. Don’t Be Corpo-Robotic

Companies must stop viewing the interview process as a necessary evil. It’s a great chance to be human, relatable and caring to every candidate, instead of being perceived like every other robotic corporation with people who don’t prepare, ask the same useless questions and end up hiring based on the same biases as usual, leading to disastrous hires and turnover rates. – Yuri Kruman, Master The Talk Consulting

3. Include Pay Range On Your Job Posting

Set fair and equitable compensation structures for your company, and then make these standards clear on the application or in the initial phone screens. This will save time for you and the candidate if the range is no longer a good fit. It will also improve overall culture by reducing salary resentment between coworkers. – Lindsey Day, Magnetic Career Consulting

4. Be Clear On Key Aspects Of The Role

When managers use interview intuition and resume roulette to make hiring decisions they make big mistakes. Hire people who will be motivated and inspired by the accountabilities of the role. Ensure from the questions asked during the interview that this is the right person to do the work. Not being clear on the key accountabilities for the role is a bad practice, one that can easily be solved. – Shawn Kent Hayashi, The Professional Development Group LLC

5. Don’t Use A Recruiter Who Isn’t Familiar With The Position

Repeatedly, I’ve seen and heard of companies using a recruiter (even internally) to screen potential employees without knowing much about the position or role. This is a mistake. The potential candidate is interested in knowing the details to see if it’s a good fit, but also to offer value to the position. This can’t be done with little or incorrect knowledge of what the position entails. – Kelly Meerbott, You: Loud & Clear

6. Be Prepared For The Interview

The interviewer must be just as prepared for the interview as the potential job candidate. An interviewer who is distracted, underprepared or indifferent to the interview process sends a clear signal that the candidate has little value to the organization. It is unlikely that the most qualified candidates will accept a job offer! – Erin Urban, UPPSolutions, LLC

7. Don’t Create Too Many Hoops

Avoid having candidates go through a never ending gauntlet of interviews. Meeting with 10, 15 or 20 people will not ensure that you are hiring the best person for the job. As a matter of fact, it may sabotage the process because you can never get that many people to agree. Determine what your criteria are, who can help make the decision about the candidate and who adds value to the process. – Edith Onderick-Harvey, NextBridge Consulting, LLC

8. Don’t Make People Wait During Scheduled Appointments

I have found making people wait when they have a scheduled appointment with you, interviews included, leaves a person feeling devalued and disrespected. Keep this in mind and honor your appointment times. This will demonstrate respect those who are there to meet with you. Their time is as valuable as yours. – Michelle Braden, MSBCoach, LLC

9. Don’t Dominate The Conversation

Avoid dominating the interview by speaking the whole time. It’s often said in journalism that the person who gets the other person to talk more wins the interview. Ask thoughtful behavioral questions to assess “fit.” See what the candidate knows about the group. Have they done their research or conducted informational interviews or looked at the web site? Resist babbling about the company. – Joanne Markow, GreenMason

10. Don’t Seek Free Consultancy Work From Interviewees

It’s important that employers understand how a candidate approaches challenges through their thought process. However, many employers cross the line by asking for free work, lists of potential clients or consultant type solutions with no real intention to onboard. If the interviewing process is extended, do not rob candidates of their intellect in an effort to impress. – LaKisha Greenwade, Lucki Fit LLC

11. Resist The Temptation To Dig for Dirt

News flash for employers: Candidates are human, too. It’s likely they’ve taken at least one job in the past that wasn’t a good fit or struggled early in their careers (perhaps you’ve done the same?). Instead of interrogating interviewees about negative items, encourage open communication about what interests them and what they could do for you. You might find your ideal candidate a little faster. – Laura Smith-Proulx, An Expert Resume

12. Your ‘Gut’ Is Not A Recruiter

“I know it when I see it.” “I kinda go with my gut.” This approach is the biggest issue that companies have when it comes to recruiting and interviewing. While your “gut” may react to a candidate, it is not your best gauge of the candidate’s abilities. Instead, interview against a set of competencies that support the job description, with behavioral-based questions addressing each competency. – Kathleen Taylor-Gadsby, KTG Leadership Solutions

13. Don’t Ask About Previous Pay

When salary history questions are asked in the beginning of an interview, like, “What is your previous salary or what is your current salary?” there is an expectation that a candidate will disclose their personal information. Often salary questions are asked before qualifications have been discussed. This practice leaves candidates wary of the corporate brand, culture, pay equity and the hiring process. – Elva Bankins Baxter, Bankins Consulting, Inc.

14. Don’t Neglect To Share Next Steps

Often, job candidates leave the interview with no clue about what happens next. I believe the candidate should be aware of expected communication, whether or not the candidate receives a job offer. The interviewee is also interested in other details, such as how long the resume will be on-file and active, time frame for the hire decision and whether more interviews may be required. – Deborah Hightower, Deborah Hightower, Inc.

Via Bytestart.co.uk : Interviewing job candidates – How to get it right

Getting the recruitment process right is important for any business as employing the wrong person can have a significant impact on future success. It will also save time and costs as the process will only have to be carried out once and not repeated.

Although some employers perceive interviewing as a small part of the recruitment process, it is a vital opportunity to examine how potential candidates measure up against the needs of the business and, as such, it is important to get it right.

There are also risks of discrimination that employers should be aware of to avoid a tribunal claim, so here’s how to make sure your interviewing process gets the right results.

Prepare in advance of the interview

Where possible, a minimum of two interviewers should take part in the process to ensure there can be no claims of unfairness or bias. Having two people involved will also help with decision-making as they can make a collaborative decision, rather than relying on their own thoughts.

Preparation should be carried out beforehand to ensure the interviews start on time, there are no interruptions and a standard procedure is followed across them all.

Some consideration should be given to ensuring the candidate has been sent sufficient information to find the location of the interview, building security are expecting candidates, there is a room available and refreshments are on hand for those in the interview.

The correct documentation should also be available including having the job description, application form and copy of the candidate’s CV on hand to enable questions to be asked.

The interview is an opportunity for the candidate to get their first impressions of the business so ensuring the interviewer is fully prepared will give the best impression to future staff.

Applicants should have had the opportunity to indicate whether they require any reasonable adjustments making to the recruitment process, including at interview. If this has been indicated, the interviewer should ensure these adjustments are made to avoid the risk of applicants claiming there has been a failure to make reasonable adjustments.

Questioning candidates

To be able to compare candidates after the interview process, each interview should be approached with consistent methodology. All candidates should have the same opportunity to impress by asking each one the same questions. These questions should be based on the job description and the skills, qualities and experience required for the role.

Asking the applicant open questions will allow them to expand on the information in their application, rather than simply answering yes or no.

Having a set list of questions which can be taken in to the interview itself will ensure the interviewer is not under pressure to remember the required questions and will remove the risk of forgetting an important questions.

Notes should be taken of the answers to the question either on the set list or on a separate piece of paper. These notes should be kept after the process so the interviewer should not make any notes that they would not want to be seen at a later date, for example, if the documentation is ever placed in front of a tribunal.

The interviewer should also provide the opportunity for the candidate to ask them questions. This will be useful to cover any information about the job itself that the candidate is unsure about and can also indicate how much they know about the business itself.

Interview questions you should avoid

It’s important to remember that job applicants can claim discrimination even though they don’t work for the business at the time of their interview. This means some topics should be avoided to ensure the interview does not fall foul of discrimination legislation.

Questions regarding whether the candidate has a protected characteristic or around circumstances arising from a protected characteristic should be avoided. The usual risky areas include asking questions about;

  • Whether the job applicant has any children
  • What their plans are in relation to children
  • Whether they have a disability or any illness
  • How many sickness absences they have had within a certain time period and
  • Whether they are a member of any religion.

The act of asking the question is not, in itself, a discriminatory act. The risk lies where these questions have been asked and then the job is not offered to that person as they could claim the answer to the question influenced the decision to not offer them the job.

If there is another reason why the person was not offered the job, it can be shown that this question was not the influencing factor, however, it is safest to steer clear of these questions completely.

After the interview

The interview should be closed by thanking the candidate for attending and informing them when they can expect to hear the outcome. The interviewers should then carry out a uniform rating of all the candidates to review which applicants come out on top.

An offer letter should be sent to the best candidate with a pending letter sent to the second best candidate to ensure they are available if the original offer is not accepted.

Keeping detailed notes and records of the interview process is vital as evidence of the recruitment decisions in case these are questioned in the future.

Other documents that should be kept on record include copies of the job advert, the job description, any application forms and the applicant’s CV.

Via SHRM : These Interview Questions Could Get HR in Trouble

To ask or not to ask? That is the question.

And the answer is no—that is, if you are an employer interviewing a job candidate and you plan to ask about a candidate’s race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, disability or other sensitive topics.

Employers use interviews to find out if a candidate will be a good fit for a job and for the company. However, HR and hiring managers should be aware of questions that are illegal, unethical or that could stray too far into a grey area, according to HR and employment law experts.

Understanding where to draw the line is important for employers to avoid accusations of unfair hiring practices or lawsuits.

“There are a bunch of questions that are just simply taboo to ask in an interview, and they all relate to discrimination and have nothing to do with the candidate’s ability to do the job,” explained Jana Tulloch, an HR consultant with DevelopIntelligence, a technical software development company headquartered in Boulder, Colo. “Any question that refers to an individual’s sexual orientation, marital or family status, religion, and so forth are no-gos.”

For example, Tulloch said, during an interview an employer should never ask “are you planning on starting a family soon?” Employers also should never ask “how old someone is or what ethnicity they are. Candidates can easily claim discrimination if they feel that they were not selected based on their religious beliefs, sexual orientation or pregnancy.”

Additionally, “employers need to be sure that their interview questions are the same for all candidates, and that [questions] relate strictly to the knowledge, skills and abilities required to be successful in the role,” Tulloch said. “There are some questions around physical abilities that may be asked, as long as [physical ability] is deemed a bona fide requirement of the job.”

Charles Vethan, president and CEO of Houston-based Vethan Law Firm, cautioned that it’s wise for employers to know state and federal laws concerning interview questions and procedures.

“Taboo topics are not blatant violations of any law, but they may have the tendency to lead the conversation into illegal territory, or may place the employer in a bad public relations light,” Vethan said. Some examples of taboo topics include:

  • Alcohol consumption.
  • Dating.
  • High school graduation date.

Other troublesome questions, according to Vethan and David Weisenfeld, a legal editor with XpertHR, include:

  • “We are hiring because our business is about to become very busy. Do you have any plans that might interfere with your ability to work full time over the next year?”
  • “Are you married? Will you be starting a family any time soon?”
  • “Your name is very exotic; where are you originally from?”
  • “This job requires the ability to lift things heavier than 20 pounds. Have you had prior medical problems that would prevent you from being able to do so?”
  • “Did you take any sick days or extended medical leave last year?”
  • “Do you have children? What kind of child care arrangements have you made?”
  • “What year did you graduate college?”

And, according to this LinkedIn article, there are many more troublesome interview questions.

On the other hand, there are questions that may make job seekers nervous but that are completely acceptable to ask. Some of these questions delve into whether a job candidate can meet the requirements for the position, according to Weisenfeld, who specializes in recruiting and hiring topics, including pre-employment screening, interviewing and selection.

These questions may include:

  • “Will you be able to meet the attendance requirements for this job?”
  • “Where do you live?” (An employer may have a legitimate concern if an applicant will have an excessively long commute to work.)
  • “Can you perform the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation?”

According to another LinkedIn article, there are more such questions.

The bottom line is: When interviewing job candidates, employers should stay focused on the job being interviewed for and determine if candidates meet the criteria for that position. Anything beyond that could be venturing into unwelcome and potentially litigious territory.

Via Inc. : There are now more Millennials that any other generation in the workforce. Use these interview questions to hire the best of them.

Of the four generations in the workforce today, Millennials (aka “Generation Y”) are the largest with roughly 35 million people employed. The number of Millennials will continue to rise, and they will soon be occupying many senior level roles in organizations. It is therefore essential to make great hiring decisions. Pulling from these 12 questions will help you when you interview Millennials.

Would you rather be an inventor or a leader? There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It simply will help tell you where their passions lie and if they like to build things or build people.

What would you rather have: A). A small team with a shoestring budget and significant autonomy; or B). A large team and budget with multi-layered decision-making processes? This gives a sense of their sense of drive and risk taking compared to their desire for control and norms. People with an entrepreneurial spirit will always take the first option.

Tell me about a time things felt helpless but you knew you would pull through. Millennials are an optimistic group, and you want to be sure you are bringing that into your organization. Hire people with optimism and you will find they reach for big goals and try to change the future for the better.

What would you do if you are in a meeting that is running long with a senior leader and an important phone call that you were expecting comes through? Millennials are notorious for multi-tasking. This type of scenario will lend insight into how they handle completing priorities when they can’t do two things at once.

Tell me about a time you failed. Right or wrong, Millennials have been pegged as a group that gets their way, which has been reinforced by helicopter parents and participation trophies. Failure will happen (and is a valuable way to learn), and it’s important to know how they respond to it.

Give me an example of a situation when you worked in a diverse group with different opinions. Millennials are the most inclusive generation, and it would be a flag if they did not have good examples of inclusive behavior and collaboration.

Tell me about the volunteer or charity work you do. This generation is passionate about giving back, whether through missionary work, the Peace Corps, military service, or local charities. Giving and selflessness is a hallmark of great leaders.

Tell me about a large project you worked on – and your role – that took longer to complete than planned. Millennials grew up with constant stimulation and can be impatient. It’s important to understand how they react when something takes longer than they expected.

Would you rather work at home, in a traditional office, or an office with an open floor plan? People have preferences for how to work and you will want to ensure that you have a workplace aligned to this (or provide clarity on your work environment).
How do you like to receive feedback? Millennials are a group that desires frequent positive feedback. Balancing this against your internal culture will be important.

What role do you expect to have in 5 years? This question may sound presumptuous, but Millennials have a strong desire for achievement and promotion. Providing career paths and clear expectations are important.

Tell me about a time you were passed up for an award or promotion you felt you deserved. Millennials can get frustrated if they don’t achieve quickly (see question above). Seeing how they respond will give you an idea of their commitment and resiliency.

If you think the workplace is already complex, just wait a few years when a 5th generation is added to the mix. Regardless, people are people; no matter the distinctions we find, human needs and motivations transcend generations and will always be more similar than different.

Weigh in with your experience. What interview question have you found to be an effective predictor of success with Millennials?