Thursday, January 19, 2017

How to Conduct Job Interviews with Remote Employees

While employers should always look for well-qualified employees to fill both in-office and remote positions, hiring someone who will work outside the office full time requires a slightly different approach. Even if the job interview is conducted via video conference it's still going to be a different experience from a traditional face-to-face job interview.
With the lack of in-person meetings, hiring managers can't rely on body language, facial expressions and other nonverbal cues to help them determine the best candidate. If you're planning to hire a remote employee, here are a FIVE STEPS to take throughout the virtual job interview process that will help you evaluate candidates:

1. Assess the candidate's communications skills
A good remote employee needs to be exceptionally accessible and communicative since that person won't be reporting to the office every day. See how quickly they respond to emails, how clearly they communicate digitally, how flexible they are in terms of scheduling meetings, etc.

2. Give your prospect a trial period or test assignment
If your hiring timeline allows, give a remote candidate a test assignment before you make a final decision. This project or assignment should be easy to complete in a short period of time, so you are able to see the candidate's quality of work as well as his or her ability to stay on schedule.

3. Pay closer attention to past work and professional references
Has this candidate freelanced or worked other remote positions in the past? While most hiring managers consider the past work and previous employers of any type of employee, it's especially important to do so for remote employees.

4. Set out crystal-clear expectations during the job interview
Remote employees will have a different set of questions that need to be addressed. It's important to give remote employee job candidates a real understanding of the expectations in order to make sure that you're both on the same page.

5. After the job interview
Once you've chosen and hired the right candidate, in order to help them feel like an important part of the company culture you should welcome them to the team just as you would any in-office employee. Fly in remote employees every once in a while to encourage team bonding and building. Provide remote employees with extra services, such as online chat rooms and videoconferencing, to make sure they feel like they're in the loop.

Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

It's Better to Give Than Receive - Holiday Networking

As the holidays approach, most kids' thoughts turn to gifts. Visions of beautifully wrapped packages stacked high fill the dreams of many children. What will be in those packages? Will you get everything you put on your wish list? Receiving gifts is something everyone enjoys. But did you know that many people enjoy giving gifts even more than receiving them? It's true. You may have heard people say from time to time, “It's better to give than to receive."

When it comes to the holidays and networking it is the perfect time to arrange 
introductions with the people you’d like to know.

But even more, it’s a great time to focus on how you can help others rather than just focusing on your own networking needs. The most successful networkers make it a point to find ways to help others, suggesting assistance and offering support before it’s even asked. The most reliable networking strategy promotes good relationships by concentrating on giving more and expecting less. Find ways to surprise people by offering assistance before they ask. This generosity demonstrates good intentions, creates good interpersonal chemistry and generates a desire to return the favor.
Yes, it is better to give.
This time of year offers many occasions to nurture relationships, create lasting positive impressions, get on the radar and be remembered for your assistance.

But don’t forget, you want to be remembered for the right reasons:
  1. Don’t overindulge in food or beverages.
  2. Conduct yourself professionally at all times.
  3. Dress conservatively. 
  4. Just one meaningful dialogue creates measurable value from every networking event.
  5. It’s the quality not the quantity of relationships developed, pursued or renewed.
Holiday networking targeted to giving and helping is good career management that produces networking benefits throughout the new year.

Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group

You Have Done A Lot This Year - More Than You Realize

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.
They must be felt with the heart. Wishing you happiness.”
Helen Keller
Tis' the season of lights, shopping, giving, charity, caring, connecting with family and old friends, and to jump on that one last chance before the year ends to get organized.  Well…maybe.  Perhaps this year has been a great year for you. Maybe you are ready for a fresh start. Perhaps it’s been a hard year, and you’re more than ready to tell it goodbye.
Either way, there’s one last thing to do before we step over the threshold into what’s next.  We need to celebrate. And sure, that can mean all the things you usually think of when you hear that word. It can mean celebrating the good things in our lives – our families and friends, our health, our ability to earn a living, the roof over our heads. For some of you it may mean celebrating that you’re still in the game, no matter how hard the road.
We’re always thinking about what’s next, where we can go with our lives and our businesses. And we criticize ourselves for all the goals we haven’t reached yet. Sound familiar?
And yet – you have done a lot. More than you realize. Think back over the past year, look over the questions below. Answer them all, or use them to guide you to write down wherever your thoughts take you.

  1. What’s one thing you tried this year that you’ve never tried before?
  1. What’s one thing you’ve said this year that you couldn’t have said before?
  1. What did you learn this year, that you never understood before?
  1. If you’re a business owner, what new steps did you take this year that you couldn’t have taken before?
  1. What blessing came your way this year that you might have missed before?
  1. What did you learn about yourself that you didn’t know before?
  1. Where have you gained clarity when you were confused before?
  1. What hurdles did you overcome?
  1. Where did you build confidence when you’d always struggled before?

As you reflect on all you’ve accomplished, all that you’ve learned, and before you say good bye to this year, allow yourself to feel good. No matter what and in spite of everything, life is good.

Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Key Component to a Successful Job Interview

For years I’ve counseled candidates who are preparing themselves for a face to face job interview.  There are several important topics for discussion and consideration. 
A key component to a successful job interview experience is “rapport.”

Rapport is often defined in these terms: relation, connection, especially harmonious or sympathetic relation.
Rapport is a good sense of understanding and trust. If you have rapport with someone, you two communicate with trust and sympathy. The word is often used to mean good interaction between people in different positions.
Building rapport is all about matching ourselves with another person.  For many, starting a conversation with a stranger is a stressful event; we can be lost for words, awkward with our body language and mannerisms.  Creating rapport at the beginning of a conversation with somebody new will often make the outcome of the conversation more positive. 

  • Talk about established shared experiences, the weather, how you travelled to where you are.  Avoid talking too much about yourself and avoid asking direct questions about the other person.
  • Listen to what the other person is saying and look for shared experiences or circumstances - this will give you more to talk about in the initial stages of communication.
  • Try to inject an element of humor.  Laughing together creates harmony, make a joke about yourself or the situation/circumstances you are in but avoid making jokes about other people.
  • Be conscious of your body language and other non-verbal signals you are sending.  Try to maintain eye contact for approximately 60% of the time.  Relax and lean slightly towards them to indicate listening, mirror their body-language if appropriate.

We create and maintain rapport subconsciously through matching non-verbal signals, including body positioning, body movements, eye contact, facial expressions and tone of voice with the other person.
It is important that appropriate body language is used; we read and instantly believe what body language tells us, whereas we may take more persuading with vocal communication.  If there is a mismatch between what we are saying verbally and what our body language is saying then the person we are communicating with will believe the body language. 
Building rapport, therefore, begins with displaying appropriate
body language - being welcoming, relaxed and open.

Reflecting back and clarifying what has been said are useful tactics for repeating what has been communicated by the other person.  Not only will it confirm that you are listening but also give you opportunity to use the words and phases of the other person, further emphasizing similarity and common ground.
The way we use our voice is also important in developing rapport...When we are nervous or tense we tend to talk more quickly, this in turn can make you sound more tense and stressed. We can vary our voices, pitch, volume and pace in ways to make what we are saying more interesting but also to come across as more relaxed, open and friendly.  Try lowering your tone, talk more slowly and softly, this will help you develop rapport more easily.

Here is a recent article from the Wall Street Journal very applicable to this topic:

Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group

Monday, November 28, 2016

Is Your Company Losing Top Talent Due to Outdated Policies?

The work place is a constantly evolving and changing space.  What was once generally accepted is no longer the norm today.  A quick, easy example is business suit and equivalent attire for women. Most companies have gone to business casual as the accepted norm or even more casual in some companies.
Companies that do not keep up with what is now considered the norm stand the risk of losing good employees. I realize in some cases it is tempting to hold on to what was once tradition, but the real importance of this must be carefully weighed against securing and keeping good talent. More so than ever with the market changing and it becoming increasingly difficult to source, attract and secure top talent.  Organizations must do a critical self-assessment of their policies to see if they are losing top talent because of outdated policies.

What are some examples?
  1. Internet use
  2. Office attire
  3. Flex time

Let’s take the example of restricting Internet use.
There are certain sites that no one should be visiting at work... Once you block those obvious sites, it’s a difficult and arbitrary process deciding where to draw the line. Does your company draw it in the wrong place?
Right now is probably a good time to review your Internet policy. How does your company and human resources department feel about employees being able to kill time on the Internet during breaks? When companies unnecessarily restrict people’s Internet activity, it can more than demoralize those that can’t check Facebook; it limits people’s ability to do their jobs. Some companies restrict Internet activity so heavily that it makes it difficult for people to do online research. An obvious example is checking the Facebook profile of someone you just interviewed.

Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

First Impressions are Critical During a Job Interview

First impressions are critical during a job interview.  Knowing exactly what is being evaluated can help you best present yourself.
Amy Cuddy, Harvard psychologist and author of Presence, shows how your body language influences others and even changes the way you see yourself. Social scientists have shown that we make sweeping inferences and judgements based on body language, judgements that can predict meaningful life outcomes like who we hire and who we trust. 
In Presence, Ms. Cuddy reveals that we have the power to affect how others see us simply by changing body positions. Cuddy says that people quickly answer two questions when they first meet you:
  1. Can I trust this person?
  2. Can I respect this person?

Cuddy says that most people, especially in a professional context, believe that competence is the more important factor.  But in fact, warmth, or trustworthiness, is the most important factor in how people evaluate you. While competence is highly valued, Cuddy says that it is evaluated only after trust is established. And focusing too much on displaying your strength can backfire.
She says that some people are often so concerned about coming across as smart and competent that it they come off as unapproachable.

As I prepare candidates for interviews I stress the importance of presentation. This not only includes dressing appropriately but also body language aka non-verbal communication.  So as you prepare for your next interview never underestimate the importance warmth and trustworthiness play in how the hiring manager or human resources person will evaluate you.

Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Fundamentals of Hiring

Stop looking for reasons not to make a hire.
Overly narrow job descriptions and overly choosy managers are killing companies. It might be the economy that makes managers so risk-averse. Such aversion often clouds business thinking. Their companies are hurting while they hesitate to hire good people.  Their current employees are being overworked and morale is suffering while they find reasons not to make a hire. 

What is it going to cost the company to leave this position un-filled and the job un-done for several more months?
What is it going to cost when one (or all three) of those “fit and qualified” candidates join the company’s competition — and work against this employer? 

Hiring someone who actually hits on every bullet point in a job description is rare indeed. And what if you wait months and actually DO find that person?  Just because someone did amazingly well at a previous role doesn’t, unfortunately, ensure they’ll do the same with you...
  1. Holding out could  impact you in numerous ways. You’ll never be satisfied with candidates until you find that star and they could cost you a lot, both in salary, and, if you are wrong, in undoing the mess they leave behind.
  2. Instead, look for people who will add real value, supported by data driven hiring practices and tools.
  3. Unless an amazing candidate lands in your inbox, and they are suitable following pre-screening, due diligence and an interview, then look for the best fit from the candidates in front of you.
  4. Avoid analysis paralysis. Slow to hire and you lose. 
Being stuck on the bullet points and you spend months with an open job.  If the person has a proven track record, you like their energy and personality but they lack a license, so what?  Allow them to get the license.  Otherwise you could go months with an open position, when in reality the person could have gotten their license and have become a productive part of your team while you are still waiting.

Sticking to the fundamentals of hiring the right way, finding the right candidates, not hunting for a unicorn, is much more likely to lead to a successful fit, plus gets your positions filled quicker so you stop hurting your business.

Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group