This year I’ve had to don my recruiting hat more and more often, and I am astounded by the number of people who apply with absolutely no experience in the specific job, despite a specific set of required skills. However, I think it’s even worse when I receive a resume that lists those skills and abilities, yet when I’m interviewing I quickly determine that they have stretched the truth considerably or outright lied just to get an interview.

For the candidates

helicopter photoIt might seem like common sense, but be able to do the job if you apply for it. Don’t tell me “I just need a little training to get up to speed” or “I have a friend who says it’s not that difficult” or “I’m a fast learner.”

We aren’t a charity and we need to find the best person we can afford with our hiring budget. If you’re lying and I waste the time to bring you in to interview only to determine your resume is overblown and false, I will remember that for a long, long time.

Be truthful. Apply for jobs that you’re qualified for, and don’t assume that the employer owes you training or another benefit unless you have something very unique to offer.

For the recruiters

This was spurred by a combination of current interviews and a friend sending me an article about using a quick (and simple) coding test for software engineering jobs.

I love that, and that’s why I always have a technical expert in interviews with me. I don’t know enough about this stuff to always dig deep and determine a candidate’s claims of proficiency.

As simple as it seems, we should be trying harder to disqualify people for a lack of substantial job-related skills. We need to be doing sharing realistic job preview scenarios to ensure a proper candidate fit. Don’t feel bad for rejecting someone who isn’t qualified to do the job. Just because they are likable doesn’t mean they are the right person!

One interview I participated in several years ago fits into this discussion very well. We had an opening for an electrical engineer. We brought in a candidate who was very personable and had what seemed like a good bit of experience to fit our needs. However, when one of our guys gave him a simple electrical schematic to explain, he was unable to fulfill the request.

And I don’t mean he stumbled around, guessed, or made an incorrect assertion. He just sat there and said he had no idea. This was one of the key skills we needed out of the person taking the position. Whoever had the job would be creating, reviewing, and proofing these types of documents from day one. And this guy failed miserably.

Sometimes we like to pitch softball questions. We like to talk more about ourselves and the company than the candidate. We like to prompt responses instead of allowing the person to respond without help.

Let’s step back from that and try to incorporate job-related assessments (as in the electrical engineering example above) into the hiring process. It will make for better hires, fewer headaches, and a stronger workforce overall.

(Just a quick FYI. I’ll be moving to my “summer hours” on the blog starting next week. Instead of the regular Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule, I’ll be posting on Monday/Thursday. I’m trying to spend more time with family this summer, and I hope you are doing the same. It’s going to be a busy summer at work for me, including some new and exciting experiences, so look for some fantastic content, just a little less of it. Thanks!) :-)

Tell me if you’ve done this before.

You’re talking with a candidate that you genuinely like. They seem likable and qualified for the position, and you have a natural rapport.

They ask what’s next in the process, and you give them a quick rundown on the process as well as some tips and hints for dealing with the hiring manager during the interview.

Should you have done that? Should you have coached the candidate?

One of my friends is very open about this and absolutely believes you should offer as much help as possible. She even goes as far as sharing links to blog posts with candidates on how to craft a cover letter and resume, how to prepare for the interview, etc. Her thought is that a great candidate for the job might perform terribly in the interview, so she tries to level the playing field.

Another friend believes that coaching someone provides an unfair advantage when they might not even be the best candidate for the job. What happens if you help them have an edge, only to find out that they really weren’t the best candidate for the role in the first place?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you approach this. It’s a minor detail in some ways, but if you end up hiring the wrong person, that can turn into a major problem!

I firmly believe in the power of using the locus of control theory to have a richer, more fulfilling career. Read on for how you can use the locus of control theory to evaluate job candidates.

locus-of-control-theoryLast week I had a discussion with another local HR pro, and we were talking about interview questions that help to discern what candidates lack the requisite people skills to get the job done. We’ve all run across candidates who may interview very well, but then they turn out to be a nightmare once they are on board.

One of the questions that she likes to use is this:

What were people like at your last job?

In her opinion (and mine), that can tell you a lot about someone. Let’s look at my theory for why that is, then we’ll get into how it applies.

Locus of control theory and meaning

Here’s a snippet from Wikipedia as a refresher:

Locus of control is a theory in personality psychology referring to the extent to which individuals believe that they can control events that affect them… A person’s “locus” (Latin for “place” or “location”) is conceptualized as either internal (the person believes they can control their life) or external (meaning they believe that their decisions and life are controlled by environmental factors which they cannot influence).

In terms that apply to the workplace, I see it as this: you either see life as a series of things happening to you, or you see life as a series of actions you take to make things happen. 

It’s an oversimplification, but it works for the purposes of this discussion. Now let’s dig into how it plays into the question referenced above.

Locus of control theory at work

Let’s say you have two candidates in front of you. They’re fairly evenly matched with regard to skills and experience. Then you ask them both the question, “What were people like at your last job?”

  • Candidate A-I worked with a great group of people. We got along well and it was a great experience for me.
  • Candidate B-I worked with a terrible group of people. There was constant fighting and I could never get any work done. It was a terrible experience.

Here’s the kicker–those people could have both come from the same company. Now I know and agree that there are some organizations where Candidate B’s comments would be legitimate, but it’s important to dig deeper into those comments to understand the full depth and breadth of the issues if possible.

I’ve heard it put another (more direct) way.

If you’re walking down the street and meet someone who is a jerk, you had a bad day. If you’re walking down the street and meet several jerks, you are causing others to have a bad day.

Look for people who identify with the inner locus of control theory. They believe that they have control over things to some degree, and they won’t sit there helpless waiting for someone to solve their problems. It’s not necessarily fool proof, but it is a good idea to keep in mind.

Ever considered the locus of control theory with regard to yourself? Do you think it’s internal or external? 

Ever been quizzed in a job interview? Test prep is difficult when the interviewer moves away from the rote questions and asks you to actually perform the job as a display of your competency. I ran across this great post the other day by Jorden Bartlett and just had to share. She talks about using tests during interviews to assess someone’s ability to actually (gasp!) demonstrate the skills required for the job.

It made me wonder… What sort of tests could we use at work on our own employees? Continue reading

Just finished a podcast about the SHRM Leadership Conference with my good friend Bryan Wempen of DriveThruHR. We talked about local SHRM chapters, the volunteers that make up the backbone of the organization, and my sweet little babies. :-) Click the button below to listen to the show.

Listen Now

Also, my good friend Dave Ryan had a go with Bryan on the show just before I got a chance to get on. Dave’s interview can be found at this link. Big shout out to Dave for allowing me to share his hotel room for SHRM Leadership. I offered to sleep in the floor, but he got his room changed to have a second bed just for me. I promised him blogging assistance in return. :-)