Archive for July, 2014

Is It Time to Ditch the Ridiculous Interview Questions?

July 25th, 2014

bad interview questionsIt’s natural for human resources professionals to want to go beyond asking such boring questions as, “What is your biggest weakness/strength?” when interviewing candidates. In the scramble to discover the best person for the job, many prominent firms have made it a practice to ask fairly ridiculous questions to avoid getting a programmed response.

A strategy of asking silly questions may seem to make sense on paper. After all, a job interview is not an ideal place for job seekers to present their true selves. Strange, out-of-the-blue interview questions are supposedly designed to catch candidates off-guard because not only will they not likely have prepared to answer them ahead of time, you get to see how their minds work when confronted with unusual situations.

For example, Google would rely on brainteasers, asking potential recruits questions such as “How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane?” Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations, said that such questions only serve to waste time and don’t predict anything, noted a recent article at Business Insider. Google switched to asking behavioral questions along the lines of how candidates solved tough problems at their previous job to improve their hiring process.

It seems like there is no shortage to weird questions asked by HR interviewers at a variety of firms. Consider “If you were shrunk down to the size of a pencil and put into a blender, how would you get out” (said to be asked at Goldman Sachs, according to a recent Fortune article) or “How many bricks are there in Shanghai? Consider only residential buildings” (attributed to Deloitte Consulting).

While these questions could force a candidate to “think outside the box” and come up with a unique or creative solution, they typically have little or nothing to do with the actual work the employee would wind up doing. In fact, Bock says these kinds of ridiculous job interview questions serve more to make the interviewer feel intelligent than to get a useful response.

Kristi Hedges offered some useful interview questions in a recent Forbes article that you might want to adapt for your own organization. Ask candidates to tell you about your company and provide high-level analysis. Have an interviewee walk you through the first five things he or she would do upon being hired. It’s also useful to ask a question along the lines of what was the candidate’s proudest moment at the previous job.

If you have been relying on ridiculous interview questions to no avail and are hoping to get more out of the time you spend with job candidates, you will want to come up with sets of questions that will better address the needs of your organization. It may take you a while and some trial and error before you settle on a better mix of questions, but in the long run, you stand to get much better responses and a more capable workforce.

 

The Right Way To Turn Down a Job Applicant

July 11th, 2014

Turn Down Job ApplicantsIt’s not easy to give someone disappointing news, especially for people who prefer to avoid confrontation out of fear of hurting another person’s feelings. Unfortunately, this can prompt HR leaders to avoid communicating with job applicants about the status of their application.

Being strapped for time and resources can also lead to silence from HR, of course. It’s not uncommon for overburdened HR departments to fail to get back to each job seeker, especially when there is a deluge of candidates. As many as 75 percent of job applicants never get a response from hiring managers, according to a survey from CareerBuilder.

Keeping the lines of communication with job seekers is more important than ever these days, especially when so many applicants are accustomed to using social media and websites to do research on firms. In fact, almost 60 percent of applicants surveyed in 2013 for the Candidate Experience Awards indicated that they felt they had a relationship with a company before even applying for a position there, according to a recent post at Forbes.

What’s worse, there are websites where people can post anonymous comments about companies they deal with. If people who have applied for work at your organization and never got a response decide to post negative feedback to warn other job seekers about their experience, there is nothing to stop your current employees from seeing these comments and thinking less of your HR department. They may even reconsider working at your firm.

Coming up with a good rejection letter requires art and tact, noted a recent post at Business Management Daily. At the very least, personalize your template-based message to include the job seeker’s name and the position applied for, and indicate that while his or her qualifications were good, you found another applicant who was more suited for the position.

Just as smart job candidates will follow up with a thoughtful thank you letter to HR after an interview, savvy HR professionals will send thank you letters to job seekers, according to a recent post to the blog of Newton Software, an applicant tracking software company. Newton cited the many positive messages it saw from applicants who were fortunate enough to get a reply from their recruiters.

You will do your organization a disservice if you fail to communicate with every job seeker who approaches you. Resorting  to automatic responses distributed from an applicant tracking system, it’s still better than absolute silence. And, some applicant tracking systems actually allow you to tailor your responses by the stage of the recruiting process.  Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to include a personal touch in your response, such as a line of constructive criticism about the applicant’s resume or performance during the interview especially if you have met with the job seeker. After all, keeping the lines of communication open is part of being a good member of the community.