Archive for the 'Recruitment' Category

It Takes Eight Interviews To Work For Apple

A few days ago Mark Rogers, the UK General Manager for Apple Computers, told me that for a job at Apple and above Manager level there will be around eight interviews.

Actually this came as no surprise. The energy that Apple put into selecting the right individual for their senior appointments is indicative of the energy that they put into everything they do!

However, when mentioning this to some of my business friends, they thought this process too long and protracted and would take up too much valuable time. Yet my argument would be that it’s better to expend valuable time at the start of the process and to get it right than to have to waste it later in clearing up a mess!

This latest video may help you decide



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Only the future can deliver results

Last week I was talking to a Sales Director about recruiting people for his sales team.

I looked through the job specification to see that almost every phrase was unrelated to sales.
“To submit monthly sales forecast”
“To attend weekly meeting”
and so on

Then there were the skills required:
“Good communicator”
“Five years sales experience”

I pointed out that top talented sales people would be turned off by the job descriptions because they were barriers to making sales.”Must be a good communicator” was a wasted phrase because to have become a top talent salesperson the individual must have excellent communication skills.The descriptions were bland and unexciting

“What you need is something that will draw in top talent, not put it off”
Was my advice and together we went about restructuring the documents. I was keen to show that job descriptions and specifications should be future focussed, attractive to the target candidate and avoid applications from candidates that were obviously NOT suited for the role.

Together we rejected the bland and unexciting language and replaced it with the following:
“The successful candidate will have penetrated two new clients and concluded half a million pounds worth of sales within twelve months of assuming the role”
Other phrases were designed to reflect the new focus and today he phoned me to say that a candidate had complimented him on having an “exciting and easily understood job role”.

For more info on effective job role design tel: (44) 01727 838321

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66% of hiring managers regret their decision

This week I’ve been talking to two businesses that are expanding about their interview programmes.

66% of hiring managers regret their decision
Both were surprised when I told them that 66% of hiring managers regret their interview based decisions. When you consider the vast sums of money that organisations invest in their recruitment process one has to wonder what’s wrong. The problem is that, despite some having very prescriptive systems, most companies interview and select their new hires very badly. In fact around 40% of new hires go on to fail to deliver the results anticipated.

Top talent walks away
The biggest problem is that many managers will hire on whether they like the person. Then again I know of some interviewers that like to place a lot of pressure on candidates. Only a desperate job hunter will put up with this technique and most “top talent” will simply walk away. The lesson here is that asking questions to make them squirm is ineffective and counter productive.

Future tense questions reveals capability more effectively
Then again most questions are “past tense” and historical questions and a well prepared candidate can shine.
I always suggest asking most quwestions in the future tense that include actions that they would use in the job on offer. It becomes easier to to assess capability for the job that needs doing.

Much, much more revealing
Posing a top talent candidate a real and actual business problem and holding a discussion and debate with them using a white board to record detail and thought processes will reveal much more about “thinking, compatability and ability” than just posing questions. It may take longer, it may be less structured than you currently use but it is also likely to be much, much more revealing.

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Discrimination from social media

I observed an interesting discussion between an HR Director and his team yesterday on the ethics and legal consequences of looking at social media pages of candidates as a part of employee selection. The discussion arose from the article in the Young Island Blog I had pointed out earlier.

Facebook was a particular area of discussion simply because many people are more relaxed over the content they post on their Facebook pages. Specifically, some employers are requesting applicants to provide access to their social media accounts as a condition of employment.

Prove they weren’t discriminated against
His comment to the team was, “I’m waiting for the first gay, Muslim or another religion where the candidate hears about an employer accessing their Facebook activity, then not getting the job and making the
employer prove in court that they were not discriminating against their sexual
orientation or religious beliefs when they failed to get the job”.

Examination question
Although this topic has been discussed ast great length on-line and in the media I’m not sure that there’s been a satisfactory conclusion. Doubtless it’s a question in some HR or Law examinations. Certainly the more I’ve thought about it the more complex the answer seems to be.

Any thoughts?

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Strange interview questions that entertain interviewers

For some weeks I’ve been tweeting “Strange but true interview questions” that I’ve discovered. Interview questions such as “Why are manhole covers round?” and “If you were a salad, what type of salad dressing would you choose and why?”. Whenever I’ve asked interviewers the purpose of such questions the replies usually include “It brings some humour to the interview”, “I want to see if the candidate can think on their feet”. I’ve never been convinced by the answer.

An antidote to boredom
I was delighted to discover that Peter Honey the chartered psychologist and the founder of Peter Honey Publications Ltd agrees with me that such questions are a waste of time and could only be useful to someone trained in Psychology. In his article in People Management Peter states that It has nothing to do with assessing candidates; they have been invented
purely to entertain interviewers.They are an antidote to boredom
and I must admit I totally agree with him and the reason that I’ve recommended that my clients don’t use such questions.

Interviews are stacked against interviewee

Peter considers that interviews are being stacked against interviewees who are not well turned out, have poor body
language, are not verbally fluent and who are too honest. This is
despite the fact that he or she might be perfectly capable of meeting
the demands of the job
It is one of the reasons why my business Assimilating-Talent developed the “Interviewless Interview” process some years ago as a way of reducing prejudice and poor interview selection.

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Do Aliens Conduct Interviews?

I’m having great fun collecting examples of “strange but true interview questions” and their answers. Some of which I’m posting onto Twitter for the enjoyment of my friends and followers.
One of my favourites is “If Aliens landed in your garden and offered you a job on their planet what job would it be?”.

Favourite interview answers
My favourite answer to the interview question “What’s your greatest weakness?” is still the candidate that responded “Kryptonite. I have yet to discover whether he (I presume it’s a he) got the job.

Other strange but true interview questions that caught my eye include:

  • Why are manhole covers round?
  • If you laid all the roads in the UK end to end, how many times round the world would they go?
  • If you were a type of cheese, what cheese would you be?
  • If you were a salad, what type of salad dressing would you choose?

Three Admirals
Another interview answer I like is for the selection board for the Royal Navy, made up of three retired Admirals, interviewing some school leavers. One candidate was asked to name three famous British Admirals. The answer came “Nelson, Drake… and I didn’t catch your name Sir?”
He didn’t get selected for insubordination which I think most unfair!

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Why do they still do it?

It’s Halloween but twice last week I came across a gory story that sent a shiver down my back. They were both business teams that were failing because the leaders of the team had recruited people without establishing or following procedures.

I won’t go into the blood curdling details of each story, just to say that they were messy, very messy. The results were taking up more management time than would have been needed had the leader made correct employment checks, developed need assessments and written work briefs and so on.

Is it laziness, desire to save money or a feeling that “It’ll probably be OK”?.
I don’t know the answer, except that team leaders with such problems are often surprised when they’re told that that it’s their fault the problem exists!

The costs?
Classically between 10 to 25 times the salary of the failed individual or the whole team if that fails.
So a salary of £40,000 can cost up to a whopping £1,000,000.
Now if that’s not an incentive for CEO’s and company recruiters to get it right first time then nothing will be

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Gifted employees need not be hard to find

despite the high levels of unemployment many of the businesses that I talk to are finding difficulties in hiring gifted and talented people to join their teams.

This is backed up by the recent research from the CIPD talent planning survey 2011 that found that 52% of businesses are finding it difficult to fill vacant positions with the talent they need to do the job. The CBI suggests that more than half of their members aren’t confident of finding talent to meet their needs.

So what can a business do to find gifted employees?

  1. Consider using job boards such as those on LinkedIn and Facebook
  2. Consider using on-line groups and forums to say you are seeking talent
  3. Ensure that you are looking for the talent that will match the business strategy
  4. Consider internal candidates
  5. Consider if the job, benefits and profile of your business will attract the very best and if not then restructure the position so that it will be attractive to the talent you are looking for
  6. Calculate your talent needs for the present, medium and long-term and create strategies to deliver these
  7. Don’t be too rigid in recruiting the “very best”. The perfect employee doesn’t exist. But make sure you capture the “best available” before your competitors.
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Taking advantage of your competitors misfortune

Last week two people contacted me to discuss the “advantages of failed recruitment” that I mention in my business and conference talks. So I thought I would let my blog buddies benefit too.

Picture a business wanting to recruit a new team leader…3 Months
Time taken to induct and allow new leader to in-bed……..3 months
Time taken to identify failure and dismiss…………………..3 Months
Time taken to recruit new leader …………………………….3 Months

“That’s a whole year of lost opportunities that allows the competition to take advantage” and the competition can make huge strides if they know how!

If you’d like to have a consultation with me on SKYPE on the topic of
“Don’t risk another expensive recruitment failure…when you don’t have to” or
“How to take advantage of the competitions misfortune”

then email me at to arrange a convenient time.

For further information:

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Silly Interview Questions

Each week I like to take time to catch up on research reading. So last night I reread Anne Fisher’s article in FORTUNE/CNN Where she talks about interviewers resorting to desperate
measures in their efforts to narrow the field of candidates. It strikes me that interviewers and company’s will experiment with interview techniques too often and without understanding what they will do with the answers. Like having too many interviews or a number of personality tests.

Silly Questions
Anyway, back to the silly questions. In most
cases the interviewers were reported to be more interested in how candidates responded, identified their thought processes and seeing if they kept their cool. Some of the questions, however, are truly bizarre!
Here’s three of my favourites:

“Using a scale of 1 to 10, rate yourself on how weird you are.” Capital One (COF)

“Explain quantum electrodynamics in two minutes, starting now.” Intel (INTC)

“How many balloons would fit in this room?”  PricewaterhouseCoopers

Candidates questions
What would the reaction be, I wonder, if the tables were turned and candidates started to do the same? With that in mind:
What would be the questions you might be tempted to ask an interviewer for a job?

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