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Four Things Your Interviewer Wants You To Know

May 22nd, 2015

As you sit down across the desk from your interviewer (who may become your future boss if all goes well) you may not know exactly what they are thinking and what they want to get out of this experience. As your conversation moves forward, their expectations will become clearer, but for now, here are a five things most interviewers want you to know. This list may help clear up some of the mystery.

Your Interviewer Wants You to Succeed

Your interviewer is not trying to undermine your chances of landing this job. They are not trying to start an adversarial conversation with you, and they don’t believe that one of you can benefit only at the expense of the other. They are not trying to poke holes in your story, and they definitely are not trying to embarrass you, trip you up, or create an awkward scene. Nobody wants that. Ideally, they want both of you to enjoy this conversation and see the best in each other. In fact, they’re hoping that the interview goes so well that they can bring this selection process to an end and make a hiring decision.

The Interviewer Wants Your Help

A positive, successful conversation requires the combined effort and input of two people. The interviewer doesn’t fully expect you to take over, of course…But in a perfect world, that’s exactly what will happen. Ideally, they won’t have to keep prompting you and coaxing you to speak; instead, you’ll take the reins and start explaining how you’ve researched the company and decided that this job offers everything you’re looking for. You’ll explain what you know about the position and you’ll list all the ways in which you’re a perfect match. In the best case scenario, the interviewer will able to just sit back and listen.

The Interviewer Wants to Trust You

Before every interview you attend, regardless of your industry, imagine your interviewer as a first-time business owner who runs a corner store and needs to hire an employee to take on tasks that they are used to completing. Or just as effective, imagine them as a parent trying to choose a care provider for their young children. In both scenarios, your interviewer needs to feel a sense of deep, visceral trust in order for the interview to be a success. This trust has to come from the core, it should feel instinctive, and it should be based on a combination of intuition and body language, not just facts and credentials.

She Knows that You’re Nervous

Your interviewer knows that you’re nervous about this meeting, and that’s okay. They are perfectly willing to see past this (in fact, they expects some nerves). But they need you to do the same. Don’t worry about concealing your nervous energy…Just don’t let it control your behavior. Stay focused on the conversation and you’ll be fine.

For more on how to ace your next interview and land the job you need, reach out to the experienced job search professionals at Merritt.

Are you Hiring the Best Candidate?

May 15th, 2015

When you choose top candidates for your open positions, do you make your decision based credentials or future growth? Are you choosing new hires who have the skills and competence to step into your open positions and pick up the reins, or are you looking further into the future and choosing the kinds of employees who will help you reach your goals after a long — and possibly ongoing — training period? Here are a few things to consider as you shape your staffing program.

Hiring the “Perfect Right Now” Candidate

Sometimes, the wisest hiring strategy is too look no further than the end of the year, or even the month. If you have an open chair and you need someone to occupy that chair and start contributing immediately, you’ll need a candidate who’s already done this exact type of work before, and has hopefully developed a track record of success. You’ll need someone who requires no training and no investment on your part, a candidate who already fits the mold and requires no upfront launch period in which she costs more than she contributes.

But before you set your sights on this candidate, keep two things in mind: First, when you find her, expect her to be expensive. Hiring a candidate like this is like buying a beautiful model house with all the furnishings; you’ll be making your bid at the absolute top of the market. But since she’s already generating revenue on day one, you don’t have to hold onto her for more than a year or two to gain returns on your investment. She may not stay—especially if you can’t afford to keep her happy—but when she leaves, your bottom line won’t suffer as much.

Hiring the “High Potential” Candidate

As an alternative, consider hiring a candidate who seems slightly underqualified, but who makes up for this lack with ambition, intelligence, and interest in future growth. The high potential candidate may not have the degree credentials you ask for, and she may not have experience that aligns perfectly with the needs of your open position. But if you hire her, you’ll be able to do so at a discount. And once she’s on board, you can invest in her training, exposure, and formal education. In a few years, her salary will have gone up by only a small percentage of the base. But her skills and contributions will have increased immeasurably.

Before you hire this candidate, keep a few things in mind. First, your decision won’t start paying off for quite some time, so you’ll need to concentrate on retention. If your new hires keep leaving within a few months, you’ll never reap the benefits of your choice. And second, you’ll have to use the interview process to make sure that her long term plans align with yours. Ask as many questions as you answer, and draw a detailed picture of how you see this relationship developing over time. For more on how to make the right decision, reach out to the Staffing Experts in Fairfield County at Merritt.

 

Are you Losing Candidates to your Competition?

April 24th, 2015

If you lose one or two of your top candidates every now and then to better offers, that’s nothing to worry about. This happens to all employers every once in a while, and since candidates are free to walk away at any time (as long as they haven’t signed a contract), there’s not much you can do to prevent the occasional top choice from slipping away.

But if this disappointment is taking place on a regular basis, there are a few things you can do to step up your offer and speed up your hiring process. Show respect and present your company’s best side and you’ll grab the attention of top contenders. Start with these moves.

Show Interest from the Beginning

If a candidate shows enough respect for your company to apply here, then she deserves an equal level of warmth and interest on your part. Never leave a candidate waiting by the phone once you’ve opened a dialogue. And course, never leave candidates waiting in the reception area for more than ten minutes after the scheduled start time of an interview. Welcome them with a smile and a firm handshake, show interest in their backgrounds, and never cross examine them or put them on the defensive during the selection process. Would you work for a company (or hire a candidate) who treated you this way? Probably not.

Once you Make Your Decision, Act Quickly

When you’ve settled on your top contender, move fast. Don’t expect her to put her job search on hold while you slowly process her paperwork and wait for key HR personnel to return from long vacations. Make sure she knows that she’s the one for you by presenting her with a clear verbal offer, and if the written offer will take two days or two weeks to process, let her know the timeline and stick with it.

Handle Second Choices Carefully

Be perfectly honest with your runner up candidates about where they stand. Treat them with the same respect you would appreciate if you were in their positions. Don’t lead them to believe they’re at the top of the list, but tell them they’re still in the running until the day they aren’t anymore. Contact them on that day and deliver a clear, positive, and decisive message. Thank them genuinely for their interest in the company.

Keep the Process Short

Try not to conduct more than then three rounds of interviews total, including phone screenings. Dragging candidates back into the office multiple times will only alienate the ones who are strong enough to have other options. If you subject your applicants to ten rounds, you’ll lose the best contenders at round three, and by round ten, only the desperate will still be showing up. Respect your candidates and they’ll respect you.

For more on how to attract the most talented applicants in the marketplace, reach out to the staffing experts at Merritt.

 

Showcase Your Company Culture to Attract Top Talent

April 10th, 2015

When it comes to attracting talented applicants, you have plenty of tools at your disposal and plenty of aces in your hand. You offer fair and competitive salary rates, your benefit package is attractive, your workplace is safe and clean, your brand is respected, and your turnover is low (if any of these things don’t apply to your company, now is the perfect time to make some changes). But as valuable as any of these other selling features may be, you also offer a terrific company culture. Here’s how to make the most of this important detail.

Know how to Describe Your Culture

A “terrific” company culture means different things to different people. When you look around your office, what do you see? Are your employees quiet and diligent? Are they noisy and extroverted? Do they compete or collaborate? Are they driven or laid back? Any of these descriptors can be presented in a positive light…Just make sure you know which ones can honestly be applied to your workplace.

Consider Your Target Applicant

What kinds of candidates would you like to attract? Are you looking for bold risk takers who speak up even when their ideas haven’t been carefully considered? Or do you prefer cautious rule-followers who respect an established hierarchy? Are you looking for driven loners who will stay till midnight? Or would rather hire relaxed team players who watch out for each other and leave at five to attend to well-rounded personal lives? Before you try to pitch your culture as a selling feature, recognize who you’re pitching it to…and respect the kinds of social elements these candidates might prefer.

Go to the Source

Screen-focused millennial candidates who are online 24-7 can best be reached though appropriate social media channels. Seasoned corporate leaders at the mid-career stage can be best reached through industry organizations and higher level networking events. Trusted experts in narrow fields can be reached through specialized channels, and broad workers with general talents can be reached through national job boards. Keep in mind that workers in all of these categories are attracted to companies that emphasize productivity and show clear respect for their employees.

Let your Pride Show

If there’s something about your company culture that makes you proud, don’t hide that feature… Show it off! If you go out of your way to take care of employees at each stage of their working lives, from cultivating new graduates to supporting those who are planning families or preparing for retirement, make this clear. If you encourage your workers to laugh and socialize with each other, make this known. If your teams are driven to win at all costs, brag about this to your candidates. If they like what they see, then they represent the right matches for you. If not, they’ll self-select.

For more on how to show off your company culture to attract candidates who share your values, consult with the staffing experts at Merritt.

 

 

The Benefits of a Temporary Position

March 20th, 2015

You’re stepping onto the job market and you need to find work as soon as…yesterday. Ideally, of course, you’d like to land the perfect job—one that will take your career to the next level while paying the full time salary and benefits you need. So you’re following every lead and turning over every stone as you struggle to begin the next chapter of your working life. You’ve posted online profiles, reached out to your network, and scanned every job board you can find online. But have you also considered stepping into a temporary position? Here are some of the benefits of partnering with a temp agency during your job search.

Temp Work Often Leads to full time Employment

When you connect with a temporary staffing agency, you won’t just be filling your workweek and collecting a paycheck. You’ll be making connections with a potential new full time employer, one who may be able to offer a specialized position that matches your skills and sets you up for success in your chosen industry. If your relationship works out, you may have the option of shifting to full time work when your contract period expires.

Temporary Work Keeps Your Skills Fresh

Accepting a temporary position in your field can help you stay in circulation and keep your skills sharp while you continue looking for long term opportunities. You’ll also have an easier time keeping up with new trends and software tools that can help you excel no matter where your future takes you.

Temp Work Brings Low Risk

If you accept a temporary position with an employer who can’t meet your needs or a workplace that can’t accommodate your schedule, don’t worry; the agency can simply reassign you to another client. There’s no need for drama, and you can move from one position to the next with minimal gaps in between.

Temp Work Means a Steady Paycheck

Years ago, the word “temp agency” conjured up images of low skill work at low pay. But times have changed, and temp agency professionals now maintain client relationships with a wide variety of industry employers looking for candidates with every skill set at every level, including technical, executive, and professional positions. We serve clients in every corner of the marketplace, from healthcare to hospitality to IT. If you’re looking for a position that can help you keep your career and skills on track, contact the staffing team at Merritt and arrange an appointment today.

Do You Know Why You’re Losing Top Talent?

March 6th, 2015

After a few years of management experience, you’ve probably had at least one encounter with a common and upsetting scenario: You hire a candidate you love. You bring her onboard with a warm welcome. You invest in an expensive period of training and acclimation. And just as your (still much beloved) new employee is learning the ropes and shifting from a liability to an asset, she walks into your office to give notice. According to the math, you just paid for her education, absorbed the cost of her expensive newbie mistakes, and then handed your newly seasoned, confident, talented employee over to your competitors.

So what can you do to prevent this from happening in the future? Here are a few exit interview strategies that can better help you understand why skilled, valuable employees might decide to leave your company.

First, make sure you offer them.

If you don’t provide exit interviews to your departing candidates at all, that’s your biggest mistake. Start putting together a written survey or a series of scripted verbal questions that can be posed to your departing employee by an HR manager.

Keep your interview questions meaningful.

In most cases, departing employees have nothing to lose or gain as they complete your survey, so they simply follow the dictates of basic professionalism and politeness. They indicate that they enjoyed working here, but for reasons beyond your control, they decided to take their careers in a new direction.  But a bland, polite answer like that won’t really help you. So keep your questions pointed. For example, instead of asking: “Were you satisfied with your experience here?”, try: “Please name one thing we could have done to make your tenure more satisfactory or fulfilling.”

Use a ranking system.

Ask your employee to make a series of value judgments on a 1 to 5 scale. For example: “I believe that my manager cared about my career growth and personal well-being, one meaning no, and five meaning yes, very much.” Again, keep your questions pointed, or your departing employees will simply give the highest marks for every answer.

Record the results and use this data to make future decisions.

No survey has value or meaning unless the results are recorded and cross references against the results of other surveys during different years and across multiple managers and departments.  Don’t just collect this data: actually use it. Apply your findings to your retention strategy and your future hiring decisions. Look for patterns that might help you identify stepping stone candidates or inspire loyalty in those who may be tempted to jump ship.

For more on how to attract and identify talented candidates and then hold onto them once they step on board, reach out to the staffing and hiring consultants at Merritt.

Build Loyalty and Retain Top Talent

February 27th, 2015

As an experienced manager, you know that your company is only as strong as the people you hire, and your most important form of capital will always be your human capital. So you do everything you can to source, find and select the highest levels of talent. But once you have these key players on board, are you doing everything you can to keep them? The moves below can help you generate company loyalty and keep your best people on the team when and if they’re lured away by other offers.

Listen when they speak (and when they don’t).

Listen to your employees when they come to you with ideas, complaints, and requests. Keep your door open so they don’t have to knock, offer them a chair so they don’t have to stand, and don’t interrupt them or fiddle with your screens while they’re speaking. But you’ll also have to go a step further and read between the lines. Sometimes what they need most is something they won’t address directly. You’ll have to meet them halfway if you want keep them happy.

Don’t wait for a crisis (or several).

Take action on behalf of your employees, and do so BEFORE they’re a step away from resigning. If your employees are overworked, keep an eye on signs of burnout, and get ready to hire more staff before you see these signs. If your employees are underpaid, increase their compensation before they have to ask. Try to stay a step ahead of disaster, because when disaster strikes, they’ll be long gone and you’ll be facing it alone.

Foster a positive culture.

Again, don’t expect your employees to take care of this on their own and don’t wait for a toxic tipping point before you step in and take control. Actively work every day to keep your environment respectful, positive, supportive, and fun. Start by making sure your own behavior reflects these values.

Reward the behaviors you want to see.

Encourage and reward the employees who help you in your efforts to generate positivity and loyalty. Some of the most important people on your team may not be the best salespeople or the best producers, but if they promote morale and teamwork, they’re worth more than gold. And they should know how much you appreciate their presence and their efforts.

For more on how to generate a healthy culture and keep your best employees on the team, reach out to the staffing experts at Merritt.

 

Onboarding your Temporary Workforce

February 6th, 2015

Once you decide that you’re ready to add a few temporary hands to your team, you’ll need to take the next step: introducing and acclimating your temps to the culture and rhythms of your current workplace. New employees often struggle to find their feet and a friendly welcome can make a world of difference. Temps also need to know where to turn when they have questions about their tasks, and if your current teams are adequately prepared, they’ll be able to answer these questions without losing stride. Keep these tips in mind as your start dates approach.

Give your current teams all the facts.

Make sure your teams have plenty of warning about the start dates for your temps, but also be sure to share their names, their areas of expertise, and a little bit of each person’s backstory. Give both parties a few details they can use to launch a conversation, and encourage your full time staff to show interest in the newbies and make them feel valued.

Assign clear responsibilities.

Your teams should know exactly what will be expected of them when each temp arrives. Be clear about who will greet them at the door, who will introduce them to the office, and who will insure that their workspaces are prepared and functional. There’s nothing more awkward then a temp left standing alone in a workplace with no assigned guide, no desk, and no clear place to direct her energies.

Avoid redundancy.

Here’s another awkward scenario: your temp arrives and sits down to her assigned task, only to be approached by a full time worker who believes he’s the one charged with the same task. If the task belongs to the temp, make sure the regular staff member knows what he should be doing instead. Workflow communication and scheduling are critical to smooth temp-onboarding.

Bring everyone into the loop.

Too often, full time workers watch temps walk past in the hall without knowing who they are– or caring. Full time workers should recognize temps when they see them. And when these encounters take place, they should show friendly interest in the temp’s acclimation process. Encourage phrases like: “Do you have any questions? Are you adjusting okay? Do you have everything you need?”

For more on how to make your temps feel welcome, motivated, and ready to work, reach out to the temporary staffing experts at Merritt Staffing.

Interview Tips: Four Tricks That Make a Great Impression

January 23rd, 2015

Before you step into your next interview, add these four slick moves to your professional repertoire and you’ll increase your odds of making a positive impression. You already know that you need the basics: timeliness, neatness, preparation, eye-contact, and follow-up. But you may not know a few of these other strategies that can help you increase your likeability and establish a foundation of trust.

Enjoy the Process

Of course you’re nervous. All interview candidates are nervous, and all of them do their best to hide this fact. Employers are used to this and they expect it. A little sweat on your palm or a little restless tapping on the desk won’t hurt your chances. But if you can look past the moment, keep the entire day in perspective, and enjoy the ride, you’ll do two things: You’ll keep your nerves in check, and you’ll also put your interviewer at ease and help both of you create a positive memory.

Listen, Don’t Just Talk

Candidates often expect the interview process to resemble a kind of oral exam in which each question is followed by a polite (and correct) answer, a pause, and then another question. Interviews always happen this way in the movies. But in real life, interviews tend to take the shape of a conversation, and interviewers often take this opportunity to explain the nature of the job and the company. If you’re smart, you’ll listen while your interviewer talks. If you’re extra smart, you’ll take notes, and you’ll ask questions at the end of the process that show how well you’ve been paying attention.

Be Yourself

This sounds like a cliché, but during your interview, don’t try too hard to construct a persona that differs wildly from your real self. Unless you’re a professional actor, you won’t fool anyone; you’ll just confuse them and make them uncomfortable. Don’t flash your million dollar smile and try to tell jokes if you aren’t a smiler or a joke teller. If you’re naturally quiet and reserved, embrace that, and be the most professional and trustworthy quiet-and-reserved person in the room. If you’re naturally loud, that’s fine—use it to your advantage. If you’re a leader, be a leader. If you’re a follower, don’t hide it—be a follower, and a good one. Work with the grain of your real personality, not against it.

Treat the Interview Like a Date (Sort of)

Obviously, you shouldn’t make or accept romantic overtures with your interviewer, but the job search process and the dating process have a few things in common: In both settings, two parties come to the table as adults and equals, and both have something to gain from a potential partnership. Both parties are looking for the right match, and both benefit by presenting themselves honestly and expecting the same in return. Ask as many questions as you answer, and be polite but clear about what you’re looking for and what you have to offer.

For more interview tips that can help you relax, present your best self, and share information honestly with your potential employer, contact the staffing professionals at Merritt.

 

Employee Handbooks: Protect your Employees and Your Company

January 9th, 2015

If you’re not handing a comprehensive, updated employee handbook to each of your new hires during their first week on the job, you may want to consider drafting and distributing one in 2015. A well written employee handbook can help you clarify general workplace rules that are sometimes misunderstood or taken for granted. And if your workplace involves any safety hazards or unique HR requirements, a handbook can clarify these issues from the outside.

Employee handbooks can also help new hires understand the exact nature and requirements of their positions, which can keep the annual performance review process clear, effective, and on-track. As you sit down to draft and edit your handbook, keep these tips in mind.

Do some research first.

If you’re starting the process from scratch, lay the ground work before you begin drafting and editing the text of your handbook. Solicit feedback from all affected employees, and gather general length and content recommendations from your HR department and legal team before you move forward.

Keep job descriptions limited to one or two pages.

If you produce your handbook as a three ring binder, you can insert these pages into each specific employee’s copy upon his or her first day.

Obtain buy-in on each section.

Create a section for safety rules, a section for your dress code (if applicable), a section covering the performance review process, training requirements, a staff listing, an emergency phone tree, hiring, coaching, referral and termination rules, and any other section applicable to your workplace. But for each section, you’ll need to obtain approval from HR, legal staff, and upper management.

Be ready to update the handbook as necessary.

Company rules and policies evolve, and the handbook should be ready to evolve as well. Each page should be removable and replaceable, so when you distribute a new page, you can ask employees to remove and throw away the outdated section.

Keep a copy online.

Keep a tab on your webpage or internal intranet that takes employees directly to an updated online copy of the handbook. This way employees will still have access to necessary information even if they lose their binders.

For more information on the content and distribution of your new handbook, reach out to the staffing and management experts at Merritt.

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