Conversational Interviews

Recently, I commented on a post about making interviews a conversation rather than an interrogation and it got me thinking about this blog that I do. I am one of those strange people that love to interview when I am looking for a job. I do not like looking for a job, mind you. I would rather have one however, I love when the interviewer asks questions that I have not had before, and I really get to dig deep into my past and talk about the fun that I have had in my past career as an HR professional. Yes, I have had fun!

If you are an HR person like me, you are truly passionate about the subject of HR. Employee relations, training, and yes, even the icky stuff like FMLA, ADA, and worker’s compensation. Of course, we prefer things that make us happier like the employee relations stuff and training, but it all balances out if we have a good team and a great boss.

Let us get back to the interview process though. In the beginning when we are hiring for a position and we have the luxury of conducting a phone interview with the candidate, I personally like to ask two types of questions. The first few are housekeeping questions. Why are you looking? What kind of notice are you giving? How did you hear about us? What kind of salary are you looking for? This last one is tricky because people get shy about this one. I personally like to give a range so that there are clear expectations of where the salary is compared to where their budget lies. If they know what the range is, they can see if it fits within their needs. If not, then the interview can end right then and there. We do not waste each other’s time. The next set of questions pertain to the job itself and I always begin by saying the following sentence: “I have a bunch of questions and I hope to have a fun conversation with you. During the course of our conversation, you might answer questions I have not asked you yet, so bear with me while I take notes, lets have some fun!” Then we begin. This is when you start the conversation. The interview may start out slow but if you engage in something they say, the candidate may start to relax and show you bits and pieces of their personality or the true passion they have for the position they are applying for.

One of my favorite conversations was with a man that loved to garden. We were hiring for a groundskeeping role, and he was talking about how much he loved to garden. He went on about the tools he liked to use to edge the lawn and how he took pride in making the edge straight up the walkway to the front door. It was moving. I know that sounds silly, but he was so passionate about what he did for a living that I moved him on to the next round and he got the job. He has been with the company for 12 years now. He does not need to be promoted; he is not looking for a management position. He is content and happy living his best life making the garden, lawn, and grounds beautiful and being happy in the process. A true work/life balance.

I know that sometimes we focus on the gaps in employment. I even have some gaps. Life happens. Sometimes we take time to have kids, we get laid off and have a hard time finding a new job due to the economy, we have ill family members that need care. As an HR professional, I tend not to focus on these too hard. I will ask about them, I want someone that is serious about staying in a position because as we all know, turnover is expensive. We do not want to have to rehire someone over and over again.

It is time to have those fun conversations with your candidates, see what you can find out. Listen to the other jobs that they have worked and the other skills they gave obtained for the current position you are offering. Education in a field is great, but you cannot beat real-world work experience. When a candidate is comfortable, they will reveal more of themselves to you.

Sneaky….not so much!

I have been in the applicant pool for a few months now and you can’t fool me when you have this fancy HRIS system that sets up a “profile” for me to check my applications and I am required to put my birthday in it. Why do you need this information? You are not supposed to discriminate against me or anyone else on the basis of age among a long list of other items.

You Can’t Fool Me

As an HR professional in the market place, you can’t fool me with this tactic. I guess you feel like people are so desperate that they will give you the information so they have a chance to get in to your company.

When an applicant is applying to multiple organizations, the thought of having to first fill out a profile and then an application is daunting. In my opinion, you should be making the application process much simpler for people. They should have the ability to send you their resume, answer a few pertinent questions for your team and be able to receive text messages for the status of the application.

Remember to K.I.S.S.

Continue reading “Sneaky….not so much!”

On-boarding; Make it the Best First Day of their lives.

An employees first day is one of the most important days of their tenure at your company. Better yet, the first two hours are. Those two hours are highly critical for their decision making process. The decision on whether or not they are going stay with your organization.

We could back up a bit to the recruiting process and the interactions and interviews you had with them because we know that these events are also ones that shape their decisions too. We must always be on our best behavior. Let’s just assume for the sake of this article that we already are doing this.

Day One…

My philosophy is to start the new employee later than their normal schedule will be and let them go home early the first day with a full days’ pay. You have already emailed the pertinent on-boarding paperwork to them so when they show up at 9:00 am on their first day they have all that paperwork with them filled out for you to simply double check. They should have their proper identification out and ready to present to you. Why do they have it ready? Because you emailed them a list of everything they need to bring with them on that first day. Is that snickering I hear from you? All of this preparation does come with the knowledge that sometime the new hire will not have read the email and come empty-handed. Remind them that they must bring in the proper identification to you within the three days or we are not in compliance. Don’t let this ruin the employees first day experience. We all know that we are responsible for getting that information.

Tips and Tricks

If you can have a card signed by the team and some executives ready for them that be a great welcome for them. Have their desk set up with all the basic supplies they need for their jobs and the card presented on the desk. If the position does not have a desk set up then presenting it at the end of the HR portion of their first day is fine.

The next step should be with a team leader or supervisor to give the new hire a tour of your facility. Take the time to show them the restrooms, lunch area, lockers if applicable, etc. After the tour have a special meeting to introduce them to the team with pastries and juice. A meet and greet if you will. Show the employee their desk and let them take a bio-break.

Mealtime

Lunch on the first day for the new hire should never be spent alone. We are not, or should not be too busy to schedule a special lunchtime meeting between the new employee and their manager. This is a nice way to answer get to know them personally, answer any questions they might have, and give them the rest of the days’ itinerary. A written agenda shows you took the time to prepare the days’ events and sets aside time for other for any other introductions with department heads this role with will be working with.

The End of the Day is Near

At the end of this first day, remember to give your new team member, if you can, a daily operation manual for them to go through or take home to read at their leisure. Right before they go home for the day the manager and the employee can work out the regular schedule for the rest of this first week and going forward depending on your needs at the organization. Having clear communication of expectations is the best way to start out this relationship.

This first day the new employee has met many people, learned many new things, and most likely is exhausted. Leaving early is a chance for them to regroup for the next day. (As well as knowing we have to get caught up on all the things we didn’t get to do today, its a never ending cycle).

First Impressions are Lasting

I hope this glimpse of a first day has helped you out. First impressions are lasting. Please comment with ideas you have used for on-boarding your new employees!