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Evaluate Work Ethic During an Interview

July 10th, 2015

By the time your candidate walks into your office and sits down for her interview session, you already know plenty of facts and details about her readiness for the job. You have her resume printed out and sitting on the desk in front of you (ideally), and you’ve already looked over each section and prepared a few meaningful questions based on what you see. You’ve also made a brief assessment of her personality and corporate style based on her appearance, posture and body language. But so far, you don’t know very much about her basic work ethic. Here are a few questions that can help you gather data on this subject.

Just ask.

It’s okay to be direct. Simply asking a candidate to describe her own work ethic may feel like requesting a canned response; and yes, a few applicants will simply blurt out the positive, empty answer they think you want to hear. (“My work ethic is amazing!”, “I’d rather work than breathe!”, “I’ll work all day and night!” etc, etc)  But most of them won’t. It may come as a surprise, but trusting candidates to provide an honest answer will often encourage them to do just that.

Ask open-ended questions.

These are sometimes called “behavioral” or behavior-based questions, and they usually involve asking the candidate to tell you a story about her past. Try a question like: “Can you tell me about a time when you were asked to work harder than you usually do? What were the circumstances and how did the situation play out?” This question can provide value on two levels: first, it can give you sense of the candidate’s baseline definition of “hard work”. And second, it can provide insight into how the candidate responds to pressure and heavy workloads.

Read between the lines.

A candidate may tell you that he works harder than anyone else in the world, but if his resume looks like an unaltered template riddled with typos, and his cover letter looks like a lazy mass mailing, you’ll be wise to dig a little deeper. The same applies to the details of his background. If you ask why he made a certain career decision in the past, or why he moved from one city or industry to another, scan his answer carefully. His words, tone, and personal philosophy may reflect his attitude about shortcuts and easy options.

Ask about future plans.

Ask where your candidate would like to take his career in five years. If he shrugs and tells you that he has no plans beyond this job and this company, take that into account. But if she launches into an ambitious description of the future, and her plans align with yours, that may be a great sign.

For more on how to evaluate and select the right candidates for your open positions, reach out to the staffing team at Merritt Staffing.

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.


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