Thursday, December 27, 2007

#1 of My Top 8 Behaviors for a Successful Interview

#1: Be your best “you.” There are many things a job candidate cannot control in an interview. The candidate has no control over whom, how and when interviews are conducted, what questions will be asked, or obviously, control over who gets the job. But there are a number of other things that a candidate does have control over. A candidate should ever lose a job offer because of something that was within their purview to make happen. Examples include: Being early for interview (anything short of a natural disaster sounds like merely an excuse for being late – and there are no excuses); Learn name of interviewer (smile, look them in the eye, and be sure to greet with a firm handshake); Use good manners (remember, this applies to everyone a candidate comes in contact with); Relax and answer each question concisely (noticeable nervousness and/or rambling answers are a distraction); Use proper English (avoid slang, speak clearly, focus on connecting and communicating); Be cooperative and enthusiastic (go with the flow, do not pick arguments, and smile a lot); Show interest with body language (use eye contact, sit-up straight, do not cross arms, etc.); Ask questions about position and organization (but avoid questions whose answers are easily found on company Web site); Avoid asking about pay in initial interview (unless a job offer is made, it can appear self-centered on part of candidate); Thank the interviewer (say thanks when you leave, remember the firm handshake, send a short thank you note).

In review, my top eight behaviors for a successful interview are:

#1: Be your best “you.”

#2: Clean-up your act.

#3: Treat everyone you encounter as a potential interviewer.

#4: Keep Cool.

#5: Beware of the small talk.

#6: There is value in the details.

#7: Do your homework.

#8: Smile.

Doing these eight behaviors will help you get an edge over the competition and achieve successful interview results. Best wishes for a profitable job search and winning interview in your future.

Monday, December 24, 2007

#2 of My Top 8 Behaviors for a Successful Interview

#2: Clean-up your act. This is a controversial area, but like it or not, a good part of the impression an interviewer first forms of you depends on how you're dressed. All protests aside about not “judging a book by its cover,” appearance still counts in an interview. Wear a nice suit or whatever is considered appropriate for the business. Even if you know the work place to be a casual environment, I believe it is OK to dress-up anyway. By wearing clothes that are coordinated, clean and pressed, it is one more way for the candidate to show interest and that they want the job. I know, many job candidates believe they are not being true to themselves if they dress differently than they do every day. But with competition for some jobs very keen, why not improve the odds of success by changing those things within your control?

Another long-time area of conflict is facial hair. Though beards are popular and more accepted on men of all ages, I still see surveys of hiring managers indicating a bias toward the clean shaven.

And though tattoos various body piercings are now mainstream and at the height of popularity, they too can be a point of bias on the part of interviewers. Therefore, all body art should be covered and all visible body piercings removed (with the exception of earrings). If the position requires you to represent the company to customers and/or the general public, the hiring company may have something to say about display of these things post-hire anyway.

Put your best foot forward in the interview, and "dress for success." You will be glad you did.

Monday, December 17, 2007

#3 of My Top 8 Behaviors for a Successful Interview

#3: Treat everyone you encounter as a potential interviewer. Many hiring managers ask all people who interacted with a candidate, from the administrative staff to members of their department, for feedback on a prospective employee. So smile and be pleasant toward all of those you meet and curb the tendency to focus only on those who are perceived to be the hiring managers. You never know whether a seemingly small event outside of the interview will be noticed and reported and potentially make the difference (examples: holding a loud cell phone discussion in front of an administrative assistant while between interviews versus quietly using the time to prepare or relax.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

#4 of My Top 8 Behaviors for a Successful Interview

Remain Calm. A great way to make a good first impression is to master the interview butterflies. Feeling some stress is a natural response to the interviewing process, and most candidates experience it at some level. The trick is not to show it. Even though most aspects of the interview are outside a candidate’s control, it is important to leverage the things that are in your power. One example: give yourself a time cushion, and plan to arrive at the interview destination 10-15 minutes early. This will give you some extra time in case you get lost or find unexpected traffic travel conditions, or at very least allow an opportunity to compose yourself and relax a little. Another thing successful candidates do it anticipate questions they are likely to be asked, and give pre-thought to the answers. This bit of preparation will be a confidence booster and stress reliever. Whether any or all of those specific questions are asked, many of the answers often prove useful with respect to other questions. The more pre-work you do for the interview, the more it will calm the nerves.

Over the course of my experience, I have conducted hundreds of employment interviews for positions ranging from shop floor to executive level. After awhile you begin to notice that successful candidates did certain behaviors that contributed to their positive outcome. Likewise, the unsuccessful candidates have certain other actions in common which did led to their not being chosen or at the very least, did not help them.Many hiring managers say they can often tell if someone is the right fit for his or her organization just minutes after the handshake. In a recent Robert Half survey, executives polled said they typically form an opinion of a candidate within the first ten minutes of an employment interview. With such a short amount of time to interact with a hiring manager, what can the candidate do to achieve a positive response? No matter what position level or career experience, doing these eight behaviors will help a candidate get an edge over the competition.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

#5 of My Top 8 Behaviors for a Successful Interview

#5: Beware of the small talk. Small talk plays an important role in the interview by helping to break the ice and put both parties at ease. But be careful: it is easy to make costly mistakes during the informal periods like walking between interviews or at lunch when guard is down. Strive for a happy medium in your comments. Saying too little can make you seem aloof or afraid. Saying too much can alienate, and come across as obnoxious or worse. If the hiring manager asks whether traffic was heavy or if you had problems with the directions they provided, offer more than just a "yes" or "no" answer, but be sure not to chatter needlessly.

Over the course of my experience, I have conducted hundreds of employment interviews for positions ranging from shop floor to executive level. After awhile you begin to notice that successful candidates did certain behaviors that contributed to their positive outcome. Likewise, the unsuccessful candidates have certain other actions in common which did led to their not being chosen or at the very least, did not help them.

Many hiring managers say they can often tell if someone is the right fit for his or her organization just minutes after the handshake. In a recent Robert Half survey, executives polled said they typically form an opinion of a candidate within the first ten minutes of an employment interview. With such a short amount of time to interact with a hiring manager, what can the candidate do to achieve a positive response?

No matter what position level or career experience, doing these eight behaviors will help a candidate get an edge over the competition.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

#6 of My Top 8 Behaviors for a Successful Interview

#6: There is value in the details. Managers are often incredibly busy, which makes for short interviews. Therefore additional importance is placed on maximizing the time available and requires a focus on the more subtle points of the interview, such as giving a firm handshake, maintaining eye contact and practicing good posture. Your nonverbal cues can say a lot about your personality and interest in the position. Seemingly small behaviors can send un-intended messages, and examples include:

· Crossing arms: Closed; keeping people at bay.
· Over-reacting; nodding hurriedly: Insincere; unprofessional.
· Tense facial expressions: Nervous; control-oriented; or angry.

It is normal to be nervous, and some tension is to be expected. Take a few long, slow breaths to calm down.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

#7 of my Top 8 Behaviors for a Winning Interview

Do your homework. Managers often begin the interview by asking candidates some general questions about their experience, knowledge of the company and ability to be successful in the position. For example, "Can you tell me a little about yourself?" "What do you know about our organization?" and "Why do you want to work here?" are some generic questions. Doing a little homework ahead of time gives the candidate something to talk about when asked these questions, and enables them to relate question responses specifically to the organization's needs or priorities.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

#8 of My Top 8 Behaviors for a Winning Interview

Many hiring managers say they can often tell if someone is the right fit for his or her organization just minutes after the handshake. In a recent Robert Half survey, executives said they typically form an opinion of a candidate within the first ten minutes of an employment interview. With such a short amount of time to interact with a hiring manager, what can the candidate do to achieve a positive response?

I believe there are eight things a candidate for employment must do. No matter what position level or career experience, these doing these behaviors will help a candidate get an edge over the competition. Starting in reverse order:

8. Smile. I know for some people this may be painful, but a ready smile says you are confidant and positive. Being positive goes a long way toward convincing the interviewer that you're right for the job. Consider whether you're making any common nervous mistakes (e.g., such as rushing your responses or not listening to the full questions), and adjust your communications as necessary. Many employers want positive people. They are nice to work with and customers appreciate them. A smile says you are that person.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Future Trends In Business

Dr. James Canton, Chairman and CEO of the Institute for Global Futures listed his "Top Ten" list of trends in business. They are listed below with IGF permission:



  • Business and technology are fusing into one system, one conversation, and one strategy for one world.

  • Innovations are about new business models, new leadership and knowledge engineering.

  • Formation and networking of knowledge that creates results, is the true asset of the 21st century.

  • The ability to capture and analyze customer information about products/service use, needs, wants, and behavior will lead to bottom line business results like never before.

  • Customer touch points are becoming integrated across all channels.

  • Organizations will thrive based upon their ability to understand trends in technology, society and the marketplace.

  • Disruptions are coming in the forms of emerging markets, electronic communication, security breeches and changing customer demographics.

  • Human capital, the value of talent, will be the most valuable resource.

  • Entirely new industries will be formed by innovations yet to be brought to market, including breakthroughs in health enhancement products and on-demand supply chains.

  • A new kind of leader will emerge that is aware of how to attract talent, manage innovation, set high visions, and execute profitability.


    If these observations prove true, what role do you see for human resources in the future? What may be different for human resources? Where does it fit?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Labor Strikes in the New Millennium

There have recently been some high profile labor strikes in the news. As I write this, Hollywood writers are on strike. Not long ago there was a brief strike at Chrysler before their new labor contract was approved. But frequent or large numbers of labor strikes across the country are a thing of the past. Often, when there is a strike it is of short duration.

However, there are a few exceptions in recent years, like the Goodyear strike a few years ago, where the strike lasted longer and had more serious ramifications for both sides involved. In many ways that strike reflected a reality faced by many American manufacturers. Key facts included:

The United Steelworkers union called the strike because Goodyear had announced plans to close two plants (Gadsden, AL and Tyler, TX).

Goodyear expected to be $2.2 billion short in covering pension obligations in 2006 and said it could save $50 million/year by closing a U.S. plant.

Goodyear said the union refused to help them to remain competitive in a global economy, and the contract provisions the company wanted would protect jobs long term and provide for retiree medical benefits.

The Union said they had agreed to closing a plant and cutting pay and other benefits in the 2003 negotiations, and now was being asked for similar concessions again.

In 2003, Goodyear lost more than $1 billion, took on billions in debt and saw its stock go down from a high of $20 per share in 2002, to below $4 per share in early 2006. The stock later rebounded to the $14 per share range.

One complicating factor in negotiations was that senior executives received huge bonuses in 2006. Securities and Exchange Commission records showed Goodyear CEO Robert J. Keegan collected a $2.6 million bonus in 2005. Head of North American tire division, Jonathan D. Rich, was paid $680,000.

Ultimately the strike was resolved with the union being unable to prevent the plant closures, but preserving some benefit previsions for current and retired employees.

This strike illustrated the issues presented by a number of situations in American manufacturing. We live in a global economy and there are ever expanding alternatives for where goods can be manufactured for less. The collective bargaining process cannot prevail against market pressures. A strike is never a pretty situation, and I do not envy those involved on either side.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Determining Fair Pay

Pay issues at work can be among the most emotional in the workplace. When employee pay amounts are allowed to evolve without benefit of some structure, they can sometimes become skewed and unfair. Many a sleepless night is experienced by people who are unhappy about pay or related issues, along with turnover and other problems experienced by the organization.

Compensation system development programs determine how much to pay employees using objective and unbiased guidelines. Organizations need to make valid comparisons in order to keep rates of pay fair and current. It is essential to also consider such factors as total compensation (i.e., pay, benefits, etc.), and legal exposure, in order to make the best use of compensation dollars.

Such compensation processes provide for development and implementation of strategies, systems for the control, validation and integrity of compensation data, and benefits products. These processes also play a quality assurance role, such as analyzing and evaluating compensation plan deliverables and providing advice and guidance to the management team.

There are three key issues that must be addressed when designing a compensation structure:

Internal equity - Are the jobs within the organization fairly priced in comparison to one another?

External equity - Are the jobs within the organization fairly priced in comparison to those of other organizations with which it competes for employees?

Individual equity - Are the jobs within the organization fairly priced in comparison to one another in the eyes of employees?

Have you noticed evidence of these tools being used within organizations or companies you are/were involved with? Watch for them and see the role they play in providing fair and equitable compensation.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Don't Copy Policies

There are well publicized incidents these days of plagiarism. Stories of people in universities and print media come to mind. But what if someone copies a policy or handbook from another company or the Internet? You may not run afoul of copyrights, but there are many other risks and problems such a practice can bring about. Following are a few examples:

· “Borrowed” handbooks or copying someone else’s policy can cause problems if there are unique standards or rules that should be communicated but are missing. Also, if some other policies should not be there, they may be adopted by mistake.

· A use of impersonal, third person or “legal-like” language may cause someone to think it actually is a contract.

· The employer may accidently imply promises of employment security (e.g., phrases used like “permanent employee…” Also an employer may say things that inadvertently promise employment security (e.g., “You’ll have a job here as long as you perform well”).

· Similarly, resist the urge to publish a policy just because it sounds good, when there is actually no support for it. It can be very difficult later if the organization publishes a grievance process that management may later disregard.

· Policies may contain absolute or “zero tolerance” wording and may require a “proof” standard. Mandatory wording (e.g., “shall” and “will”) conveys a commitment. It is better to use discretionary words (e.g., “may”).

Word to the wise: jurors cannot take a transcript of court testimony into the deliberation
room, but can take a copy of the employee handbook.

Organizational leaders generally and HR managers specifically have an opportunity to
influence the content and handling of policies and avoid many problems.