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Don’t Become a Stepping Stone Employer

December 23rd, 2011

Hiring a new employee can be an expensive process, and once a candidate comes on board, the time and cost required to train her can put a serious dent in your budget. Factor in a temporary slowdown in productivity while she learns the ropes, and the dent becomes even more significant. After about six months with you, a new employee can represent a considerable financial investment. If she leaves at that point, your investment goes with her and you’re back to square one.

Candidates are likely to take a position with a “stepping stone” employer if they need a temporary paycheck but are ultimately looking for a more rewarding position elsewhere. They may also treat a company like a stepping stone if the company simply can’t keep up with their ambitions or offer them sufficient compensation in a competitive market.

This scenario can be frustrating, but it’s a very common part of the employment process, and it’s more likely to take place when hiring managers fail to ask the right questions during the screening process or fail to retain new hires who are too overqualified or ambitious to make a long term commitment.

When you decide to interview a candidate who seems overqualified, make sure you ask about her long term plans. Find out where she wants to be three, five and ten years from now. If you don’t have the resources to help her get there, tell her so upfront. And protect yourself. Even if she’s very talented, her talent won’t help you if she leaves in three months.

If you recognize a stepping stone candidate after the fact and realize that an expensive new hire is about to jump ship, find out what you can do to keep her in the fold. If you can’t raise her salary, try to find ways to offer the education and incentives that will help you make the best use of her skills and encourage her to grow within the firm.

If you’re having trouble with stepping stone candidates, contact a temp staffing agency in CT at Merrit Staffing.

Five Non-Traditional Interview Questions That Can Help You Select the Best Candidate

November 23rd, 2011

As you get ready for a few long days of candidate interviews, you’ll want to make sure you choose questions that accomplish the following goals. Regardless of the position, your interview questions should:

  1. Allow the candidate to reveal her qualifications for this particular job.
  2. Offer open-ended opportunities for the candidate to express her personality and personability.
  3. That’s all.

No matter how bored you may be with traditional interview questions, or how tempted you may be to test a candidate’s wits by asking something off-beat, don’t do it. Stay professional and keep your questions relevant to the job at hand. Resist the urge to ask things like, “Give me five reasons not to hire you”, “If you were a cartoon character, which one would you be?” or “Which do you value more, work or family?”

In an interview setting, these types of questions are unprofessional and not nearly as amusing as you may think. Give applicants a chance to shine. Don’t bait or embarrass them, don’t expect them to grovel, and don’t let silly, poorly-chosen interview questions allow excellent candidates to slip away. That being said, there are several legitimate ways to expand on traditional interview questions in order to gain deeper insight into an applicant’s problem solving skills, sense of humor, perseverance, and other relevant character traits.

Some of these can include the following:

  1. Describe a situation in which you worked with a team and the team failed to reach its goals. How did you respond and what did you learn?
  1. Describe the most challenging aspect of your most recent position. How have you managed this challenge on a regular basis?
  1. Describe one of the worst interpersonal conflicts you’ve encountered in the workplace. How did you handle this conflict?
  1. Tell me about a time when you had to win someone over to your way of thinking. What approach did you use and how well did it work?
  1. Tell me about your proudest moment in your last position. What challenge did you overcome? How did you excel?

For help contacting the best candidates, your local recruiting agency in CT at Merritt Staffing can weed out the best candidates to keep you from performing endless interviews and keep you fresh for the top performers.

“Why SHOULDN’T I Hire You?” Trick Question, or Opportunity to Reflect and Impress?

November 18th, 2011

Every now and then, especially when dealing with novice hiring managers, you may find yourself fielding odd, intentionally quirky, or even insulting interview questions. Hiring managers sometimes present these questions because

1. It makes them seem innovative or offbeat, and presumably sets them apart from other employers

2. They genuinely want to ask candidates something off-putting to see how well the candidates think on their feet

3. They simply want candidates to grovel for the job, since the willingness to do this may suggest higher levels of dedication down the road.

Ideally, an interview should be a civilized conversation designed to assess your skill sets and readiness for a specific position. As they help employers get to know you on a personal level, questions should stay straightforward and should focus on your qualifications. But like life, interviews aren’t always perfectly predictable, and interviewers aren’t always perfectly professional.

If you’re presented with something that seems like a trick question designed to test you, pause and reflect before answering. Ask yourself how badly you want this particular job.

If you’re desperate for the job and are willing to put up with a bit of nonsense, give the interviewers what they want. Answer in a thoughtful way that highlights your humility, your grace and your wits. You can also answer by politely taking control of the conversation and steering the interview back on track. For example, if your interviewer asks for a list of reasons not to hire you, you can simply use the question as another opportunity to list your qualifications, gently but firmly bringing the interview back where it needs to be. Politicians do this all the time. But remember: If you get this job, you’ll be working with these people all day, every day. Make sure you’ll be comfortable within this company culture.

If you aren’t desperate for this particular job (and you shouldn’t be), then you have every right to politely decline the question. No job is as costly as your dignity. Your skills and qualifications were hard- earned, and as a candidate and a person, you are worthy of respect. Stay confident, patient, and self-possessed, and the right job will come your way in time. For more interview opportunities contact your local employment staffing services at Merritt Staffing for help.

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