Hiring Managers! Job Seekers Are Judging You on These Two Criteria!

If you’re out looking for a job, it usually feels like you’re being judged on every little thing you do, have done, or potentially will do in the future. Interestingly enough, a Harvard professor discovered you’re actually only judged on two things:

“People size you up in seconds, but what exactly are they evaluating?

Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy has been studying first impressions alongside fellow psychologists Susan Fiske and Peter Glick for more than 15 years and has discovered patterns in these interactions.

In her book, “Presence,” Cuddy says people quickly answer two questions when they first meet you:

 – Can I trust this person?

 – Can I respect this person?

Psychologists refer to these dimensions as warmth and competence, respectively, and ideally, you want to be perceived as having both.

Interestingly, Cuddy says that most people, especially in a professional context, believe that competence is the more important factor. After all, they want to prove that they are smart and talented enough to handle your business.”

Trust and Respect.

I’ll add these are probably two things you’re being judged immediately following the judging that gets done on your overall appearance, which is almost instantaneous! Let’s face it, we like to hire pretty people.

Once you open your mouth, you’re being judged on how well you can trust what this person is telling me and if you respect their background, work ethic, where they came from, etc. Most of this is based on the person doing the judging, not you. I know, that sucks.

How do you help yourself?

1. Try and mirror the energy of the person who is interviewing you. If you come in all calm and cool, and the person who is interviewing is really upbeat and high energy, they’ll immediately question you as a fit.

2. Do research on who you’ll be interviewing with and try and get some sense of their background and story. Try and make some connections as fast as possible in the interview. This will help build trust and respect with this person. In today’s world, it’s not that hard to find out stuff about an individual. If HR sets up your interview, just politely ask who you will be interviewing with (the name).

3. Be interesting. Have a good story to tell, one that most people will find funny or interesting. Not too long. A good icebreaker to set off the interview in a great tone.

I tell people all the time. An interview isn’t a test, it’s just a conversation with some people you don’t know. We have these all the time. Sometimes you end up liking the people, sometimes, you don’t. If you don’t like the people you’re interviewing with, there’s a good chance you won’t like the job!

What are we missing around Quality of Hire (QoH)?

This week CrossChq released a report titled”The CrossChq “Q” Report” that was loaded with some research and data around the quality of hire. The quality of hire metric is like the holy grail of HR and Talent Acquisition! Everyone talks about it, but no one really feels like they know what it is and where they can get it!

Let’s dig into what they found

The one that will jump right out and make you question your own existence is this:

“Internal Referrals have a Quality of Hire -26% below the industry average”

What? The What?!

Since the beginning of time or at least the beginning of HR, we have all lived by one unbending truth! Referral hires were always of higher quality than some hires out of the general population. You get taught this in the first hour of the first day of HR and Recruiting school!

Turns out, we’ve been lied to or at least led to believe that referral hires were better when they weren’t. How could this be the case? Well, we love to believe in this one premise, which was probably never proven. We want to believe someone who works for us would never refer a candidate who wouldn’t be a great worker!

The reality is most people just refer friends or family, and they have no idea how that person works, nor do they really care. They just want to hang out all day with people they like, regardless of how they work!

Another thing in the report that was somewhat shocking:

“Interviews show only a 9% correlation rate to Quality of Hire!”

Okay, we all know that our hiring managers suck at interviewing. In fact, almost everyone sucks at interviewing! Why? For one, 90% of hiring managers don’t interview enough to ever sharpen that skill. On top of that, we are all too gullible and believe what we here and don’t dig in. BUT, this number is shocking!

I think most organization should be testing “no-interview” hiring. That doesn’t mean we don’t talk to people or try validated assessments (more on this in the study), but formal interviews with a 9% success rate are a giant waste of time!

This study is definitely worth a download and read. I’m always skeptical of vendor-based research, but I really like the effort, data, and quality of this one. I think it has some true merit. We all know we need to select better, but we mostly keep doing and believing the same stuff, without really any merit.

The Only Interview Questions You’ll Ever Need!

A while back, Forbes had an article Top Executive Recruiters Agree There Are Only 3 True Job Interview Questions, that shared the “wisdom” of a handful of Executive Dinosaurs Recruiters on the only things that you should really have to ask a candidate. 

These 3 questions were:

1. Can you do the job?

2. Will you love the job?

3. Can we tolerate working with you?

Simple enough and straight to the point, and you can assume for the $75,000 you’re paying, this is probably the extent of their screening as well!

In my Recruiting/HR career, it’s probably the single most often asked question I get from other Talent Pros, Hiring Managers, and random people who know I’m in HR. “What are your best interview questions?”  Then you get to hear their questions and how Google has some really great ones, and I even heard once about a company that asked people if they were an animal which animal would they be, and if you only pick one vegetable to eat for the rest of your life, would it be carrots?  It goes on and on until you want to vomit!

The actual interview questions have very little impact on the success of the interview.  If you are interviewing anyone with some decent smarts, they are going to be able to ace your questions with little effort. What is important in interviewing is what you allow the candidate to get away with.  I find that most recruiters and hiring managers are way (I mean WAY!) too easy when it comes to questioning candidates.  See if this example sounds familiar:

Interviewer: “John, it looks like you left your last next to last company in May but didn’t start your current position until July. Can you explain that gap?”

John: “Sure, you know I was doing a great job, and I didn’t see myself moving up in that company, so I wanted to go find somewhere I could move up the ladder.”

Bam! At this point, most interviewers move on to the next questions. When clearly, John deflected, and someone needs to rip into some Gestapo interrogation tactics and find out what’s really going on. But they don’t. It would be conflict, and he might think we are rude. We’ll move on…

Follow-up questions to original answers during an interview is a skill in itself. 

The only interview questions you really ever need are the questions a Jealous Girlfriend asks when you come home on a Saturday morning around 3 am. Shoot, just hire Jealous Girlfriends as your interviewers they’ll get to the bottom of a candidate’s background! 

The hardest interview I ever had was with a woman that was eventually my boss, who was a former U.S. Army interrogator, and it was exhausting, it was painful, and it was Awesome. I actually lost my voice (after the 7th hour – True Story!).  She was the ultimate Jealous Girlfriend. In fact, I think she trains Jealous Girlfriends in her spare time. There wasn’t an answer I could give her that she was satisfied with, she just kept at it until I would slip and say something I really didn’t mean to, and once she smelled the blood, it was over. The result? She hired the best talent (excluding me) in the entire organization by far! Bad hires did not make it past her interviewing technique.

So, don’t worry about having the “best” interview questions, really. Any will do just don’t accept the first answer you get!

5 Signs You Should Not Make That Job Offer!

If I have learned anything at all in my HR/Recruiting career, it’s that everyone has an opinion on what makes a good hire. If you ask 100 people to give you one thing they focus on when deciding between candidates, you’ll get 100 different answers!

I’ve got some of my own. They might be slightly different than yours, but I know mine will work!  So, if you want to make some better selections, take note, my young Padawans:

1. Crinkled up money. Male or female, if you pull money out of your pocket or purse and it’s crinkled up, you’ll be a bad hire!  There is something fundamentally wrong with people who can’t keep their cash straight. The challenge you have is how do you get a candidate to show you this? Ask to copy their driver’s license or something like that!

2. Males with more selfies on their Instagram than all other photos. I don’t even have to explain this (also, don’t go do a count on my IG!).

3. Slow walkers.  If you don’t have some pep in your step, at least for the interview, you’re going to be a drag as an employee.

4. My Last Employer was so Awesome! Yeah, that’s great. We aren’t them. Let’s put a little focus back on what we got going on right here, sparky. Putting too much emphasis on a job you love during the interview is annoying. We get it. It was a good gig. You f*ck’d it up and can’t let go. Now we’ll have to listen about it for the next nine months until we fire you.

5. Complaining or being Rude to waitstaff.  I like taking candidates to lunch or dinner, just to see how they treat other people. I want servant leaders, not assholes, working for me. The meal interview is a great selection tool to weed out bad people.

What are your signs not to make an offer?  Share in the comments!

The Most Important 20 Minutes of Your Week!

A lot of folks are currently Looking for work and there are a ton of open jobs, like 12.5 million! This means that this week you’re likely to do more phone screens than a similar week a few years ago. Almost everyone in TA is working harder and trying to push more through the funnel. You and your teams will be cranking out phone screens!

You and I (TA Leaders and Pros) don’t consider a twenty-minute phone screen to be an interview. Candidates definitely believe it’s an interview. They prepare for your phone screen at the same level they prepare for an in-person interview with the hiring manager. First impressions and all.

Here’s the problem, that twenty-minute phone screen, one of many you will have during the week, isn’t even in your top 25 most important things you’ll be doing this week. So, how do we address this variance in importance with how the candidate will ultimately view your employment brand, you, your hiring manager, and the job?

That’s a tricky question.

I think the first thing we need to do in talent acquisition is simply to recognize this reality. We are going to be talking with scheduled candidates about who we are, who they are, and what we have, and this is extremely important to them, especially for those out of job. To have some empathy and understanding of the situation. To provide something of value, even as we look to gain some value of information ourselves.

It’s a powerful thing to know you’ll be talking with a number of people in a week, all of whom this could be their most important conversation of the week, month, or year. That we (all recruiters) have a major impact on this event in their lives. We can create an amazing experience, or we can do something less than amazing.

I have this naive belief that all of us humans actually want to do things that make other people happy and satisfied. Isn’t that a great little fuzzy, cute world I live in!?! If we knew we had the power to make someone’s life just a little better, we would use that power for good. That if given the choice to make someone’s day brighter, we would always make the right choice.

Well, we do.

Do Good. Be Kind. As Chris Kurtz would say.

This week, as you go out into the world and phone screen your brands out. Try and make someone’s week. You are worth it. They are worth it. It will be the most important twenty minutes of their week, it’s important we remember that!

What’s the best question to ask a job candidate?

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Just kidding, that question sucks!

One of my favorites to follow, Tyler Cowen, has a weekly column over at Bloomberg, and his article this week was “The Best Question to Ask a Job Applicant.” Now, put it into a context that Tyler is an Economist by trade and an Academic, so he doesn’t do a ton of hiring.

So, what’s Tyler’s question?

“What are the open tabs in your browser right now?”

It’s not bad, but it does scream ten years ago Silicon Valley tech startup question! Plus, it also assumes either this interview is remote, and you are doing it via Zoom, and you have tabs open, or you let the person bring their laptop to the interview, and they have open tabs.

The belief is your open tabs speak to your interests. You leave something open because you haven’t finished with it yet, or you want to dive in a bit deeper. Knowing your interests, in Tyler’s belief, must then correlate to you being either a good or bad hire. There actually isn’t any correlation, which speaks to how dumb interview questions can be!

I took a look at my own open tabs and here’s what I had today:

  • Theater tickets in London (I’m taking a trip this summer and will see a show with my wife)
  • Investment site (yeah, all of our 401Ks are in the toilet!)
  • PR Site for news on a recruiting tech company (I got to keep up on the latest)
  • LinkedIn (It’s open all day, every day)
  • Tweetdeck (same as LinkedIn)
  • WordPress (how the hell do you think I wrote this!)
  • Rhone (active wear clothing site, I need new golf shorts)

So, yeah, I guess it does speak to my passions and interests!

What is my favorite interview question?

I like to find out how passionate people are about their work. So, I love to ask a question that gets to the heart of that, which isn’t that dissimilar to Tyler’s question above. Here is mine:

“Tell me how you develop and educate yourself in your current position and industry? What resources do you use? How much time do you dedicate?”

I hire recruiters. I will often sit in front of a recruiter who will say something like, “I Love Recruiting!” “Recruiting is my life!” I’m like, sweet! Tell me more. And I ask the question above.

The vast majority of the time, I find their “love” of recruiting is complete bullsh*t. Their love is that they actually show up and do the job, but not much else. I want people who are passionate and self-educate. They could say things like, I joined a recruiting community online, and I frequently read and add tips to help others. I write recruiting articles on LinkedIn. I purchased a recruiting training program on my own, and I’m learning Boolean. Etc.

People who are passionate about their work won’t necessarily be successful, but there is more likelihood they will be. Can you be good at your job and do none of this? Yes, but it’s not often, and it’s most likely not sustainable.

Do you ask your interviewer about your competition?

So, here’s the deal. Timmy gets his big break and gets the interview he’s always wanted. Goes in. Kills it. You know how Timmy does! The interviewer is doing interviewer things and drops the question, “So, Timmy, do you have any questions for me?”

Do “I” have questions for you!?! Heck, yes! I’ve been preparing for this interview for all of my life, or at least for about thirteen seconds before walking in the door! I do have some questions!

What question can an interviewee ask that will totally turn you off? 

There are probably a lot. We covered one a few weeks back in terms of asking about money, which is a big turn-off for a lot of interviewers. But one question came up and I wanted to crowdsource some results! Here’s the question:

“So, Mrs. Interviewer, can you tell me how I stack up against my competition?” (The other candidates who are also interviewing)

Hmmm….

I’ve got some feels on this:

  1. Gutsy. It could definitely blow-up on you in a hurry! Might be an immediate turn-off, and I’m not sure it would ever be a real turn-on.
  2. It does allow you to redirect the conversation back to strengths if your competition has some things they like over you. “Well, let me tell you a little more about how I also bring this to the table…”
  3. Most Hiring Managers will politely decline to talk about other people interviewing, maybe chuckle a little at the question, it’s a bit old school, so the older the people in the room, probably more likely to get a positive response.
  4. It’s aggressive, so if the role is a position where aggressiveness is a trait that is desired, it might be worth a shot.

I think there might be a better way to ask the same question, but use different wording to engage the conversation:

“What have you seen, by others interviewing, that you really liked about what they would bring to this position? Or, was there something you were hoping to hear from me, or others interviewing, that you’re not hearing?” 

This now takes it off the personal comparison of one candidate to another, and back to what the hiring manager is really looking for. Which again, allows you to redirect to your strengths, or minimize a weakness.

What say you TA and HR Pros? Hiring Managers? Does this question turn you off? If not, is there a question that would turn you off on a candidate?

Hit me in the comments!

Should You Ever Ask About Pay During a Job Interview?

NO! YES! I DON’T KNOW! WHY ARE WE YELLING!?

This question gets asked so often by all levels of individuals who are going through a job search. Entry levels to seasoned professionals, no one really knows the correct answer, because, like most things in life, it depends on so many factors!

First off, you look like an idiot if you show up to an interview and in the first few minutes you drop the pay question!

“So, yeah, before we get too deep into this, how much does the job pay!?” 

Mistake #1! 

First, if you’re asking about what the job pays in a real face-to-face interview, or virtual interview, you’re doing it wrong! The time to ask about pay, is almost immediately, even when you’re desperate for the job. Usually, this happens during a screening call, email, text message from someone in recruiting or HR. Talent Acquisition and HR Pros expect this question, so it’s really not a big deal.

The problem we get into is this belief that somehow asking about pay and salary looks bad on us as a candidate. “Oh, all you care about is the pay and not our great company!?”

Mistake #2! 

Actually, TA and HR would prefer to get this big issue out of the way, right away, before they fall in love with you and find out they can’t afford you. Doesn’t matter if you make $15/hr or $100K per year, everyone involved needs to understand what it’s going to take to hire you. As a candidate, even when you desperately want the job, you still have power. You can still say, “No”.

The best thing you can do is get the pay question out of the way, up front, so both you and the company can determine if you will truly be the best hire. The worst thing that can happen during an interview, is you both fall in love with each other, then at the end find out it won’t work financially! That’s a killer!

Mistake #3! 

As a candidate, you get referred to a position and you have a pretty good idea of what the pay will be. Your friend works at the company, even in the same position, and makes $45K, so you’re not going to ask because you feel you already know.

The problem is, the company might not see your experience and education the same as your friends, or the market has shifted (like a Pandemic hit, and now the market pays less for your skills). For whatever reason, you are thinking one number and they are thinking another. This gets awkward when it all comes out at the end of the hiring process.

So, once again, be transparent. “Hey, my friend actually referred me and loves her job and the company. She also told me what she makes. I’m comfortable with that level, but I just want to make sure we are on the same page for a starting salary/wage before we keep going.” Simple. Straight-forward. Appreciated.

Yes, ask about Pay! 

Yes, ask about pay, but “no” don’t ask about pay as the last step of the interview process. Calm down, you’re not some wolf of Wall Street expert negotiator who’s going to wow them with your brilliance and get $100K more than others doing the same job. Most jobs have a set salary range that is pretty small, so you might get a little movement, but there is really no need to play hardball.

In fact, from a negotiation standpoint, getting your figure out early with a statement like, “I just want to make sure we are in the same park, I’m looking for $20-22/hr in my next job. Does this position pay that?” Gives you and the company some room to negotiate, but it’s a safe conversation since you both put some bumpers around where that conversation will go.

Also, if you decide you want more, it’s a great starting point. “Yes, I really like the job and the company and I’m interested in working for you. I know I said I was looking for $22/hr, but Mary told me I would also be doing “X” and honestly, I think that job pays a bit more than $22/hr. Can we discuss?”

Discussions of pay can be difficult because we often find talking about how much money we make taboo. I blame our parents! They never talked to us about it and if the subject was ever brought up, we got hushed immediately! Raise your hand if you knew what your Dad made when you were 12! Not many hands are up!

The reality is, it should be a very transparent, low-stress conversation. This is where I am. This is what I want from this job. Are we on the same page?

Hiring Managers! Job Seekers are only judging you on two things!

If you’re out looking for a job it usually feels like you’re being judged on every little thing you do, has done, or potentially will do in the future. Interestingly enough, a Harvard professor discovered you’re actually only judged on two things:

“People size you up in seconds, but what exactly are they evaluating?

Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy has been studying first impressions alongside fellow psychologists Susan Fiske and Peter Glick for more than 15 years and has discovered patterns in these interactions.

In her book, “Presence,” Cuddy says people quickly answer two questions when they first meet you:

 – Can I trust this person?

 – Can I respect this person?

Psychologists refer to these dimensions as warmth and competence respectively, and ideally, you want to be perceived as having both.

Interestingly, Cuddy says that most people, especially in a professional context, believe that competence is the more important factor. After all, they want to prove that they are smart and talented enough to handle your business.”

Trust and Respect.

I’ll add this is probably the two things you’re being judged immediately following the judging that gets done on your overall appearance, which is almost instantaneous! Let’s face it, we like to hire pretty people.

Once you open your mouth, you’re being judged on how well can I trust what this person is telling me, and can I respect their background, work ethic, where they came from, etc. Most of this is based on the person doing the judging, not you. I know, that sucks.

How do you help yourself?

1. Try and mirror the energy of the person who is interviewing you. If you come in all calm and cool, and the person who is interviewing is really upbeat and high energy, they’ll immediately question you as a fit.

2. Do research on who you’ll be interviewing with and try and get some sense of their background and story. Try and make some connections as fast as possible in the interview. This will help build trust and respect with this person. In today’s world, it’s not that hard to find out stuff about an individual. If HR sets up your interview, just politely ask who you will be interviewing with (the name).

3. Be interesting. Have a good story to tell, one that most people will find funny or interesting. Not too long. A good icebreaker to set off the interview on a great tone.

I tell people all the time. An interview isn’t a test, it’s just a conversation with some people you don’t know. We have these all the time. Sometimes you end up liking the people, sometimes you don’t. If you don’t like the people you’re interviewing with, there’s a good chance you won’t like the job!

5 Magic Phrases that Will Instantly Make You More Likable in an Interview!

We’ve heard for decades that most interview decisions are made within seconds. Someone meets you and pretty much sizes you up in those first few moments. I think that’s mostly correct, but every interviewee still has that time to change hearts and minds.

Sure, you came in and immediately made a verbal gaffe or smelled like old lady feet, that doesn’t mean you’re dead in the water! You can still make a comeback, but it really depends on your personality and how you engage with those in the interview.

Here are 5 magic phrases if you used at the right time and context can make you exponentially more likable in your next interview:

1. “Wait, can you say that again, I want to write that down?” 

Of course, you need to use this phrase when appropriate. Let’s say a leader in the interview says something about how they like to manage, or something about their leadership style, etc. It should be quotable or something that would need writing down. But the phrase is very flattering to the person it’s said to.

Alt versions:

“I love that idea! I’m going to write that down so I don’t forget it.”

“That’s interesting, I like how you do that, I’m going to write that down so I remember.”

2. “Thanks for asking…” 

Again, needs to be used in the right context. “So, tell us about yourself.” Is not a good time, to say, “Thanks for asking, well let me tell you about me!” That seems corny at best! But, many times in interviews we get the, “Do you mind if I ask…” This is when it’s a perfect time. “No, in fact, Thanks for asking that question…”

3. “Sorry for interrupting, I’m a little nervous during this interview and can get really excited to respond.” 

This works well when you know you probably jumped the gun, but the interviewer was let you go on anyway. To be able to finish your thought, but let them know that you know, you probably stepped in too soon. “I’m sorry, I think I interrupted what you were going to say…” Also, especially in a setting when you’re a male being interviewed by a female, you don’t want to come across as mansplaining or hogging the floor. Being able to acknowledge you’ve interrupted shows high self-insight and gives the floor back to the person who should have it.

Alt versions:

“Sorry for interrupting, I’m just really into this topic!”

“Sorry for interrupting, I think I didn’t let you finish your question or thought.”

4. “I’d love your input on…” 

In every interview, usually towards the end, there is always the, “do you have any questions for us…” A better way to approach that as an interviewee is to use the “I’d love your input on…” I’d love your input on how you believe “X” technology will evolve or change your business? I’d love your input on how you think my skills can be used within your department? From a communication standpoint, asking for input connotates conversation and peer level. It brings the interview back to the level of professionals having a conversation.

5. “I usually dread interviews, but this has actually been fun.” 

Now, it might have been torture, but you don’t want your captives to know that! Letting your interviewers know you had ‘fun’ when interviewing them lets them know you feel comfortable. Much of the interview process is about “do we and they feel comfortable together”. Just as you worry about do they like me, many interviewers are worrying about the same thing! You are saying, whoever I am, I match you guys and I could get used to this.