Archive for the ‘Employee Selection’ Category

DEVELOPING HIGHLY ENGAGED EMPLOYEES STARTS WITH GOOD HIRING, but not every STAR interviews well, a little help for them – PART IV










Don’t forget to collect business cards so that you have correct job titles and accurate email addresses for your Thank You Notes. 

REMINDER:  Your Thank You Note will be an important tool for reminding the interviewers about your interview performance (hopefully that’s a good thing) and jog their memories about your qualifications and what you could do for the company and a department.


At the close of the interview be sure to get answers to the following:

  • What will next steps be?
  • When do you expect to make a decision?
  • How will I be notified?





The unfortunate truth is that going into a recession and coming out of one skews compensation levels.   Compensation structures that existed before the recession probably won’t hold during recession – hiring is a supply vs. demand activity – just like any other market and these two factors determine price/salary.   Conversely, the compensation being offered can climb rapidly in a fast moving recovery.  The most recent recovery was excruciating slow, but now as we rapidly approach full employment we are seeing the impact of that on salaries being offered for desirable skills and experience.  Regardless of where we are in an Economic Cycle, it is important to be aware of the demand in the local job market for your skills and experience and monitor salaries being offered.

If you accepted your current job during the last recession or worked through the recession at the same company, you may find your current salary is below market today.  It is important for you to have that perspective and awareness.  If you were “about average” before the recession and managed to hold at that level in a recession job change, a move now should allow for a nice bump in pay – know the local market for your skills and experience.    Part III of this series – Asking Questions  provides suggestions for getting information to help you to evaluate the company and the job vs. your professional needs and goals

As we begin 2018, we have moved away from an employers’ market and the economy is doing well.   The job market has tilted in favor of the employee. with some “skills” already very difficult for employers to find.






Next To Last Thought – Connect the dots for them!


That means, YOU make the link between your skills and experience and the requirements of the job.   BECOME the square peg that fits the square hole or a close facsimile

Success and Failure Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.

Don’t expect or wait for the people doing the search to figure out how you are a potential fit for a job’s requirements and can be successful in that job.  They won’t, they’ll move on to another candidate who’s easier to figure out, so carefully connect the dots for them. 

Keep this uppermost in your mind, people seeking to fill positions are pressed for time with the demands of their own jobs combined with the need to review multiple resumes, and then carryon interviews (many of them).  It is very important for a candidate to *connect the dots for recruiters, HR, and managers.  You cannot wait for the people who are hiring to do it.  They are going to go after the candidate who is easy to figure out – the square peg who appears to fill the square whole.

Further, focus on industries, departments or job functions or activities where you have a track record and a story you can tell that will resonate with those involved in the hiring process.  Read job specs carefully to see if you can glean from them where they are hurting.

*Get more info about the company’s & a department’s needs or some specific skills and experience they are focused on in filling the position.  A recruiter should be tuned in to this.  The listing might give you a clue as well.    NOW – when you talk to someone involved in the recruiting process or write a cover letter – you connect the dots for them.  

Create the links amongst your past job titles or individual responsibilities, job successes, and skills.  BECOME the square peg that fits the square hole or a close facsimile – close enough to get to the next step.

You will not always be successful – that’s part of the process, just keep these concepts in mind when you are connecting with people.  Also, remember, your search and being placed in a job may be among the most important things you are currently involved in.  The same sense of urgency does not exist for your cause by the people who are conducting the search.   You need to make it easy for them to decide they want to contact you.


Last thought:  Career change is always difficult.   Ask yourself, is this the correct time (in your life – in the current job market) to do a career change!

Many of those in a difficult job search – meaning they are not “landing” – decide the problem is their career path.  That may not be the problem.  The problem may be the way they interview and their failure to “connect the dots” for the interviewer.   Changing career paths and the jobs for which you interview is certainly not going to fix those kinds of issues.  Maybe it’s time to have someone review your resume and get some interview coaching.   


If career change is something you really want to do, but are out of work and really need to find a job – expend 75% of your effort focused on finding a job in your current career path and the rest on making that career change including doing seminars and coursework toward that goal – for the future.

In pursuing your career change do try to link aspects of your past work experience with the new job options you are exploring when talking to a recruiter or hiring managers,  reference the previous section “Connect the dots for them.”

When the job market tightens, making that career change will become less challenging…….as companies struggle to fill open positions.

……..assuming you’ve set yourself up to be viewed as a viable candidate with some training, relevant course work, maybe an internship, and a difficult to dismiss “Can do Attitude.”

Good luck – next step for you, becoming an ENGAGED, CONTENT, HIGHLY VALUED & PRODUCTIVE EMPLOYEE

Next step for me, back to providing managers and companies with insight and tools to promote employee engagement!

PART I – Preparing for the ‪Interview‬‬‬‬‬‬.

PART II – Now On To The Interview.

PART III, You Ask Questions Now & Get the Info You Need.


DEVELOPING HIGHLY ENGAGED EMPLOYEES STARTS WITH GOOD HIRING, but not every potential STAR interviews well, a little help for them – PART III






In addition to providing information during an interviewing, you also need to get good information about the job, the department, the company.  

Asking questions has a far more important impact than you might think.  It isn’t just about you getting information.   In asking questions, you are also making an impression.

Asking questions and the questions you ask convey your level of interest in the company and the job.  They can also communicate your understanding of the concept of  “deliverables” or “objectives”  for which you will be responsible.   Your questions will also convey your level of business acumen.  



You’ve done your research about the company, what do you need to know about the company and the position?

  • Definitely the future prospects of the company, its challenges, growth opportunities for the business.
  • How are they investing in their future success?
  • What is employee turnover like – HR should have that number.   If it’s high, you’ll want to figure out why.   9 – 12% is the average turnover range, but there are industry standards and that number is obviously the more important one to know relatively to the company with which you are interviewing.
  •  Why is the position open?  If it’s a new position, you want to learn if their is clarity about the job’s responsibilities and objectives, the qualifications and experience required?   The questions below will help you learn the answers to these important questions.

Questions that are critical for you to ask

In asking these questions and receiving answers, be aware of opportunities to link your experience and skills with a stated need or challenge.

 From the hiring manager:*

  • What are the most significant challenges the person coming into this job will encounter?
  • What skills and characteristics are you most focused on in hiring for this position?
  • What will you expect the person coming into this job to accomplish in their first 6 months, first year?   OR
  • When evaluating the success of the person hired, what will be the three most important accomplishments considered or the accomplishment having the most weight?   At what intervals will they be formally evaluated, 6 months, 1 year?
  • Can you describe the Objective setting and Performance Management process?
  • How will the person hired be brought up to speed on what they need to know, who they need to know?  What is the *onboarding and training process going to look like etc.?

* Onboarding is not Orientation!  (See Post After You’ve Made That Great Hire

Some companies or departments have abysmal training and on-boarding programs.  Lack of such programs can threaten your ability to get up to speed quickly and can derail your ability to succeed and derive satisfaction from your job – it’s important to know how organized such activities are before you decide to accept the job and before you walk in the door so that, if necessary, you are prepared to find your own way on day 1.

  • What are the biggest challenges facing the department?
  • The Company?
  • How would you describe the culture here?

At the close of the interview

  • What will next steps be?
  • When do you expect to make a decision?
  • How will I be notified?


From other members of the hiring department:

  • What are the most significant challenges the person coming into this job will encounter?
  • What skills or characteristics will be most helpful to the person coming into this job?
  • How is training typically carried out?


From Interviewers outside of the hiring department:

(These are likely to be people who will work closely with the person hired)

  • What are the biggest challenges facing the _______ department?
  • The person coming into this job?
  • The Company?
  • How would you describe the culture here?
  • What types of interactions occur between the ________department and your department? OR How are the two departments dependent upon one-another?  OR go more specific …How does the holder of the job for which I am interviewing interact with your department?   (helps the candidate to get a picture of how things work at the company and develop questions to get more information about day to day operations)

It is valuable to see if people outside the hiring department & other members of the department, hold the same opinions and views as those within the hiring department and the hiring manager.





Please keep in mind the following facts related to why people fail in their jobs within the first 12 – 18 months:

  1. Failure to obtain a clear understanding of the job’s deliverables and the time frame for accomplishing these (both during the interview and the first weeks on the job).
  2. Failure to develop the relationships that facilitate learning, communications and cooperation with other employees and departments.
  3. Applying exactly the same actions and processes in your new job that helped you to be successful in your previous job without first understanding and evaluating the needs of your new company or department, understanding the company’s culture, the department’s objectives, and the outcomes expected of your performance.

Next Post on Interviewing:




Previous Posts on Interviewing:






DEVELOPING HIGHLY ENGAGED EMPLOYEES STARTS WITH GOOD HIRING, but not every potential STAR interviews well, a little help for them – PART II





 Smiling African American businessman

These posts will follow

Part III – You ask the questions

Part IV – Finishing up

Quick reminders:


Of course, you’ll be taking notes during your interview so that you can write a relevant, focused thank you note to the interviewers.

Your Thank You Note will be an important tool for reminding the interviewers about your interview performance (hopefully that’s a good thing) and jog their memories about your qualifications and what you could do for the company and a department.

Some companies ask interviewers to complete a candidate evaluation form immediately following interviews.  This is followed by a meeting in which all interviewers will come together to discuss and evaluate the merits of each candidate – excellent practices – unfortunately these practices are not universal, SO… your thank you note may be the only avenue for reinforcing and reminding interviewers what you offer the company.

Don’t forget to collect business cards so that you have correct job titles and accurate email addresses.

A  CAUTION on the thank you note:  Be careful about offering solutions to problems solely based on a brief interview discussion.  Do review your experience and qualifications relative to the job description and the needs mentioned by the interviewers.  Broadly touch on issues faced by the company that may have come up in the interview and simply mention your experience in similar situations.


If you are interviewing for a specific job, have a good understanding of the job responsibilities before your interview so that you are properly focused in presenting your qualifications.   You can ask for the job description when your interview is scheduled and for the interview schedule and interviewer’s names and titles.   You can get an idea of interviewers’ backgrounds and interests from sites like LinkedIn.  As stated previously, get as much information as possible about the company and the department you will be working in.  More often than not, interviewers will ask what you know about the company to determine your level of interest in being part of their organization and also your level of diligence in handling important activities.

If the interview is more general, the company is interested in you, but have not defined a specific role, give an overview of your experience, but do get in questions about the company’s structure/reporting relationships, recent successes, challenges, and plans and similar information about the department(s) that you may be interested in.  This information will help you to make links between your background and the company’s needs.

The following interview suggestions will assume that you are dealing with practiced interviewers who are asking good behavioral interview questions and allowing you to detail your skills and experience to do the job for which you are being interviewed.  I’ve included a technique*, below, to use in the event that this is not the case.

If you are dealing with a poor interviewer, * you will have to drive the interview by interjecting, at opportune times, your accomplishments specific to the job for which you are being interviewed.

Look for these signs of a poor interviewer.

A poor interviewer will….

 >  do most of the talking,

>  be a poor listener,

>  ask few, if any questions that link your skills and experience to the job requirements, or the company’s broader needs.

Preparing For & Responding To Questions

Remember the STAR model described previously.  Whenever you respond to a question or relate an accomplishment, be sure to include the components of the STAR model.   See Part I, Preparing for the Interview

Understand the Focus of each Interviewer

You will likely interview with people who have different focus in interviewing you, for example:

  • Some will be very focused on your qualification to do a specific job, your work and collaborative style.  These will be people with whom you will work closely, the hiring manager and the like and people from other departments who will be dependent on the quality of your work.
  • Some interviewers are talking with you to support the decision of the hiring manager – to pickup on any glaring gaps in capability or mismatches with the company’s culture.

It is important for you to pick up on the interviewer’s focus and what they want to know and how much they want to know rather than just rambling on about something they aren’t interested in.  Listen carefully for cues in the type of questions they ask and notice when they loose interest in the detail you are giving them, i.e. provide focused answers – give them what they want. You can also ask “would you like to hear about…..OR would you like to hear more about………these questions help you provide the information they want.

Practice giving concise and clear responses and then asking –

  • Shall I give you more detail about that?
  • Would you like me to explain further?

Don’t be afraid of silence between the question and your answer.   It is important to think about how you would like to answer a question.  If silence feels uncomfortable to you and you usually feel as though you must jump in with an answer, simply say, “Let me think about that.”   It’s calming and these words will actually help you to focus.

Keep in mind these important objectives of any job interview

1)    Present your credentials to successfully do the job for which the company is recruiting and be sure your interest in the company and the job is apparent.

Note:  A company’s primary objective during interviewing is finding a qualified person who will contribute to their success, so focus your remarks and responses accordingly.

Comments about how much the job will benefit your career – what the company will do for you – are not going to benefit your candidacy.  Once the company’s primary needs and goals are being met, they will be/should be interested in seeing that your career and other needs are met as well.

2)  Convince the interviewers that in addition to being “qualified,” you are someone who  will be successful in that jobin that company, and someone they could work with.

This piece is about establishing rapport with each interviewer (or most interviewers) – the ability to have a productive conversational exchange.  See Mirroring, below.

 Sales people learn to do something called “Mirroring” to establish rapport in order to build relationships that will lead to making sales.   In an interview you are selling your ability to do a job within a specific environment.

“Mirroring” involves adapting your communication style to the interviewer’s style.  This is also called “Flexing” your style.  This is very easy to do, once you are aware of this concept, you will start to notice the communications styles of others in interviews and other social situations.

Is the interviewer? 

  1. Concise and to the point in expressing themselves, do they speak in “clipped” sentences, are they reserved in their movements and gesturing
  2. Fast talking, but detailed and given to sweeping gestures, personable.
  3. Very precise in capturing every detail of what they want to say to you, do they talk very slowly, and are they very reserved in their movements.
  4. Somewhere in-between.

If you respond to interviewer #1 with long wordy sentences, expressing yourself in great detail and with emotion and gesturing, you will not establish rapport with this person.

If you respond to interviewer #2 by talking very slowly and behaving in a reserved manner, you will not establish rapport with this person.

       You get the idea……

When the interviewers sit down to evaluate candidates there might be comments like, “I really found it difficult to talk to this person.”

Just think about conversations you’ve had or observed where the styles are off as I’ve described. These two people will find it difficult to really communicate.   They might avoid seeking each other out for important discussions – they will likely not work well together, unless **

**Some companies invest in programs that educate employees to understand and appreciate the contributions of different personality types and styles and the accompanying differences in communication styles.  Such awareness training can improve overall communications and cooperation in an organization.   However, this type of awareness training is not universal and awareness doesn’t have the desired effect on everyone.

Another thought on the person you may perceive as a “poor interviewer” – you feel you aren’t being asked questions that allow you to present your credentials or accomplishments or you don’t feel you are being given the opportunity to give full detail. CONSIDER – that particular interviewer may be getting all THEY want or need, confirm that by asking these simple questions,

          • “Shall I give you more detail about that?”
          • “Would you like me to explain further?”
          • “Would you like to hear about……?”


Questions about your previous employer Or How did you come to be in a job search?

It is amazing how many people think it’s OK to bad-mouth their previous employer or manager.  IT NEVER IS.

Practice your answer to these types of questions with the understanding of how your response is coming across to the interviewer who probably knows very little about either your previous company or your boss, but is trying to figure out if they want to work with you.  

Keep your answer simple, for example, “following the recent acquisition of my company, my job was eliminated.”   Best to avoid elaborate explanations.

Talk about self-incrimination!

What do you consider your greatest professional weakness?

If you find this questions off-putting, you are not alone and you are probably very uncomfortable answering it.   Ignoring it isn’t really an option.

So turn it into a positive about yourself – Maybe you’ve done one of the many personality or work style evaluations and you can state this,  “I’m quite self-aware as a result of having done several personality and work style evaluations.  One area that I work on improving is………..and I have been quite successful.”   Have an example of where you have seen improvement in case the interviewer asks.   Most interviewers will move on after you have given this type of answer.

One last thing to consider regarding your interview performance 

If you were making a hire, would you choose someone who seemed qualified but showed little enthusiasm for their job related accomplishments which they’ve shared with you, or marginal interest and enthusiasm for your company and the job for which they are interviewing?  

Interest level and enthusiasm are always factors graded on the candidate evaluation forms I’ve created and used.  These aspects of a candidate’s behavior are always factors in the hiring decision.


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DEVELOPING HIGHLY ENGAGED EMPLOYEES STARTS WITH GOOD HIRING, but not every potential STAR interviews well, a little help for them – PART I





Businesswomen at Table


Part I – Preparing for Your Interview

These posts will follow

Part II – The Interview

Part III – You ask the Questions

Part IV – Finishing up

Before you can become an engaged, productive employee – the main focus of this Blog – one needs to get hired, so here’s a little practical help for those trying to do just that!


In addition to your resume(s), you should have a document that bullet points your most important career accomplishments, WITH bullet pointed detail (the story) that will fulfill the components of the STAR MODEL.  This document we will call “Your Accomplishments List.”

Why Bullet Points?  To keep your list concise and make it easier to remember and focus on key points only.

The “Star Model” is centerpiece of the “Behavioral” Method of Interviewing.   This interviewing technique is considered the most progressive and the most effective candidate screening tool – if the interviewer has been trained effectively in using it.

Typically your resume doesn’t have the kind of detail needed to satisfy this interview model and as a result you may not have that detail at the tip of your tongue.  This can hurt your confidence during an interview when these types of questions are asked.

The STAR Model 

THINK……… Situation or Task, Action taken, Result.

Situation or Task:  What is this “story about.”  What had to be accomplished?

Action:  What did the candidate do?  Was it a team effort, what was this candidate’s actual contribution?

Result:  What was the outcome?  Failure/Success.  What, if anything, was learned either way?


Preparing For & Responding To Questions

Going over your work history, job by job, as listed on your resume is the best way to jar your memory to create your Accomplishments List.  Review your accomplishments & the detail before your interviews.  Focus on those accomplishments that will be most relevant to the upcoming interview.

Whenever you respond to a question or relate an accomplishment, be sure to use the STAR model.   A good interviewer will be using the STAR model or something similar and ask follow-up questions to make sure that they have the full picture of a candidate’s behavior, actions, and outcome in dealing with various professional/work challenges.

Creating this “Accomplishments” document is a very worthwhile exercise that will contribute to improving your interview performance.   Sometimes we forget what we’ve accomplished or the details of these efforts, what the interviewer is looking for, gets fuzzy.   This exercise will put those accomplishments and the details up front in your mind and boost your confidence level.  The Career Accomplishments document and your Resume should always be kept up to date – whether you are in a job search or not.

Your pre-interview “Due Diligence”

You will do your research on the company, (and if possible, even the department in which you might be working) its recent successes, challenges, important products, and important customers.  Networking contacts can be very helpful here and of course Internet sites and social media as well.


Next Post:






REV Question mark

In a previous post I asked a question

  Can we “select” for high levels of Engagement?

The  Answer

 Most definitely and it should be “baked into” the hiring process!

But the trend of the last few years,  

– hiring the square peg that fits the square hole –

would seem to run counter to

circumstances that create a highly engaged employee and this trend is producing unintended consequences.


“Training” seems to have become a dirty word and is driving the square peg mentality.   Read on.  This is a  wakeup call!  

Any savings from reducing or eliminating the need for training, by going to the “square-peg” hiring mentality, is insignificant when compared to the loses from deteriorating and nonexistent employee engagement – the link between, the “square-peg, learning, training and engagement is explored later in this post.  

The savings from training might be easier to calculate and more visible in the short term.  The loses from dis-engagement are far more sinister in the way they present themselves often masquerading as customer service issues, quality issues, understaffing, lack of resources, errors, equipment failure and the like.    

Often a great deal of time, energy, and money is expended to correct these issues before someone starts to realize that disengaged employees are at the root of problems.   Typically, at that point assistance from outside the organization or costly staffing changes are required. 


What happens to the


when companies hire the “square peg to fit the square hole?”

Employee Engagement is too important to leave the question unasked.



A recently released study stated “over 80% of the global workforce is actively disengaged.”

The “square peg” approach is ill conceived and potentially backfires when the new employee’s engagement begins to dwindle after 6 months on the job – doing the same “stuff” – and in the same way they did it in their previous job — and we are asking, why are so many employees disengaged?   

The square peg approach negatively impacts engagement by short-stopping the motivation that arises when a new employee is faced with challenges & the need to learn that should come with taking on a new job.

“The Life Cycle of Employee Engagement” diagram clearly shows the problem with the square peg approach to hiring.

The term of a typical employee’s engagement with their work is related to the challenge of having to increase or improve knowledge and skills, perhaps learn new software, OR learn to apply what they know to new situations in new ways.

Your “square peg” is probably at Stage 3 within a few weeks on the job and at Stage 4 by 3 – 6 months.

Lifecycle diagram detailed

Most of us are driven to achieve (motivated/engage) when we are placed in circumstances that challenge us.


Companies benefit from this because while we are learning, we are also more likely to see the potential for innovation, evaluating processes and systems through new eyes and identifying alternatives that spell improvement.   The square peg in the square hole typically does not see these alternative approaches and has already gotten the message during the interview process that they are being hired to get the job done the way it has always been done.



The takeaway:  significant

and far reaching losses in innovation & productivity.


A Success Strategy

The takeaway:  Pro Active Work Behaviors & Going that extra mile,

Creativity, Innovation = Retention = Improved Productivity



Is Industry experience really a factor in being successful in the job you need to fill?

Some jobs groups transfer very well from one industry to another and this inter-industry hiring provides benefits, see below.

There is an advantage to bringing in outside the industry experience for cross-pollination of best practices – many functions and tasks have similarities that cut across industries.

Some industries, some companies are more progressive and innovative than others.   There is the potential to improve functional operations in a company through cross-pollination of best practices from companies that are progressive into those that are not (assuming astute management in the less progressive and initiatives to push for improvement).

Use the interview to identify candidates, from progressive industries and organization, that can bring in new and better ways of approaching tasks and functions common to many companies – your company.  We often see this kind of hiring for this very purpose at the highest management levels to turnaround under performing companies and not very long ago this type of hiring across all levels was the stuff of best practice seminars.  When did we forget this?

The ability of HR and hiring managers to identify candidates with the talents, skills, experience and temperament to bring in fresh thinking is critical.  Of course this approach requires astute management, openness and a perceptive eye toward what could be versus what is.

Train managers in good hiring techniques such as Behavioral Interviewing,

So that they know how to ask questions and the questions to ask to learn what they need to know about the candidate’s approach to learning, time management, innovation, change, job challenges, and some specific relevant job challenges.

Use candidate assessment tools that make sense for your organization, BUT do not totally rely on these in decision making.   They should be part of the mix in making hiring decisions…….. Just because a candidate is identified, by your hiring tool, as having the ability to execute a certain way, if they have never actually “done it,” there is little guarantee they will while employed at their next job at your company (especially given the term of employment at a job today).  However, if the “tool” tells you they have the ability and they tell you about how they have done something similar to what you need and want, chances are they will execute again, and with proper training, likely make a direct connection with what the department needs.

Most important, learn to hire the appropriate TALENT for jobs you are filling. 

Talents or Abilities are distinct from skills.  Skills are function-driven capabilities we acquire over time through education and work experience. Abilities/Talents are innate we are born with them.

An individual may develop the skills to work in a profession or job but if they don’t have the inborn talents, which make the practice of that profession easy and satisfying, the person will struggle to excel regardless of their efforts – this is hard on individuals and really hard on managers.

People who are doing the “wrong” work will find their work unrewarding even frustrating and will be unlikely to “engage” with the work**.  When we are able to apply our abilities (innate talents) to our work, we perform better and are more satisfied.

In interviewing for “engagement,”

**I strive to identify past accomplishments and other activities that generate enthusiasm from a candidate to help me understand where their talents lie and determine if those activities link with the responsibilities of the job and the competencies required.

Of course, I look to identify any specific job knowledge required, also the appropriate temperament including adaptability and drive.

I also evaluate past relevant successes in job responsibilities to suggest success in the new job and expect to plan for targeted training to fill gaps in the selected candidate’s skills.

I prefer to hire for the next step in a person’s career, based on job content, rather than hiring the square peg to fit the square hole.

Lateral moves can also provide challenges. experiences and tasks new enough to generate as much enthusiasm as a step up and will also lead to engagement that benefits the company and the employee.


We were in a search for a Research Associate.   We needed someone at low to mid-level capability to work on a project at inception with the potential to grow as complexity increased.   One of the candidates we brought in seemed very promising for meet the requirement.

She had a undergraduate and graduate degree in Biology from an Ivy league school and 7 years of relevant experience.  She had been a stay at home mom for 4 years and was now seeking to re-enter the workforce using her Science background.  During her time at home she had been working part time as a coach for the swim team at the local “YMCA.”

I typically interview last.  The interviewers from R&D expressed satisfaction to me with the candidate’s knowledge and experience.  My job is to get a read on the candidate’s “fit” for the organization and department, determine interest level, and ensure understanding of the job’s deliverables and departmental expectations.

As I proceeded through my interview, I saw no enthusiasms (not a smile of any kind), no excitement or expression of anticipation for the components and outcomes of the job for which she was interviewing and no enthusiasm, pride, or satisfaction with the candidate’s previous work and accomplishments in Biology.

I put my pen and note paper to the side and asked the candidate, “tell me about your ideal work environment and your ideal job.”   She looked down at the table and back up at me and simply said, “Swim Team Coach for the “Y”.

This person would never have become an “Engaged” member of the R&D Department.

As a service to both this candidate and the organization – we did not hire her.


Conduct excellent onboarding and focused training

Once you’ve made those good hires what you do next, and how well you do it, in the areas of on-boarding and training, will determine the trajectory of new employees’ success in your organization and also positively or negatively impact the productivity of those working with them and around them.


Please see:  ON-BOARDING IS NOT ORIENTATION  AND   TRAINING & ON-BOARDING SHOULD NEVER BE OPTIONAL , also  Develop Training That Clearly Communicates, “Excellence & Productivity Are Our Goals




Smiling Group of Professionals



“Skills Shortage” “Qualified Candidates Shortage” – REALLY?


We have a skills shortage in areas such as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  This is not a new issue.   However, a skill shortage or the inability to find qualified people, beyond those STEM areas is an illusion created by failure of process and execution.




It’s not a supply problem.  It’s an execution problem OR more honestly, a failure in execution.


Quite frankly……….. the claim that it is difficult to find qualified people to fill jobs, is more often attributable to……

        • the application of a misguided recipe for candidate selection,
        • an aversion to training,
        • a shortage of interviewing skills for identifying and selecting “talent,”
        • an aversion to making hiring decisions, and
        • discriminatory hiring practices. 

Companies are searching for the square peg that fits the square hole. Job openings are listed with requirements drawn so narrowly that they even include experience using the same software in use at the hiring company.  In addition to having the same job title – with the same responsibilities – in the same industry, some also want a candidate who has performed the job in the same way.  Please see post: Hire for Employee Engagement – It’s not the Square Peg!

With such qualifications required to fill a job, how can it be anything but difficult to find people to fill an opening.

You would suspect that no one has ever learned a new piece of software or a new skill, and yet, because of the pace of change………the exact opposite is true. 

People at work are successfully being introduced to new software, processes and procedures on a regular basis driven by technological advances. 

……And it’s not just the “Square-Peg Mentality.   We also see…….. 



Against the  UNEMPLOYED,  Against the OLDER WORKER

people blurred


DISCRIMINATION against the unemployed, is another mis-guided practice that leaves highly qualified and educated people on the sidelines, unemployed while companies talk about their inability to find qualified people.



Rather than eliminating these people without even a look at what they offer. we need to TAKE A LOOK AT THEM INTELLIGENTLY.

  • Look at what that “unemployed” person has accomplished in their work history.  
  • Look at what they have been doing as they look for work.  
    • Have they kept current with seminars, training, and other professional growth activities
    • Have they extended themselves to help others with volunteer work, 

      and most of all……

  • that unemployed person needs to brought in for an interview, just like other people with equivalent skills and experience.

We are barely coming out of the worst economic downturn since the depression.  The so-called recovery has been sluggish in comparison to other recoveries.  I would think this is widely known along with the understanding that most long term unemployed are in that situation due to factors unrelated to performance, attitude or ability.  

As the economy contracted so did businesses; less customers – fewer employees needed.  Many companies completely shutdown, shutdown divisions, or product lines.  Some became acquisition targets at attractive prices.   Staff redundancies resulted in terminations that had nothing to do with ability but whether or not you were an employee of the acquired company or the acquirer.  

Over 8 million jobs were lost (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).   As of this month, we are close to having gained back approximately the number of jobs lost – might sound good, but it’s not.    Why?    it is estimated that there are 125,000  new entrants to the workforce each month.   How many is that since 2008?   Gaining back close to 8 million jobs gets us only “half way down the field.*

Bottom Line:   A majority of the unemployed were thrown into an untenable and unprecedented situation in our lifetimes and they probably represent the largest segment of the workforce receptive to becoming Engaged Employees.  They deserve at least a level playing field in their job searches.

DISCRIMINATION against the older worker; 

Another source of skills and expertise sitting on the sidelines while companies declare, “we can’t find skilled people;” a total fail to execute effectively.  

We need to TAKE A LOOK A THEM INTELLIGENTLY as well.   They also deserve a level playing field.

  • Look at what that older person has accomplished in their work history just as you would anyone else.  
  • Evaluate them on their ability to do the job as you would anyone else.

Step back from stereo-typing, step away from discriminatory behavior.


Discrimination of any kind is illegal, unethical, morally wrong and is also bad business policy.


Discrimination of any kind is not the hallmark of a rational well thought out and executed hiring process designed to bring onboard qualified, capable people.  

Discrimination is the exact opposite.


We have to do a lot better – there’s an awful lot riding on it!


Once again, for at least some of this problem, we go back to interviewing skills also touched upon in the post on “Square Peg” hiring.   

A skilled interviewer should easily be able to determine, skills and attitude, and if a candidate is unemployed, how they came to be unemployed.  Reference checking is a valuable additional  action that can support a decision to hire or not.    

…… and the other issue that is beginning to surface.  Qualified candidates are declining to accept the salaries being offered.  It appears the some of the mismatch is not between required skills and candidates available.  It’s between the salaries offered and the salaries requested.

Peter Cappelli, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, argues in his book “Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs” that employers can’t find qualified workers not because of a “skills gap,” but because employers’ hiring requirements are unrealistic, salaries are too low and overly rigid applicant screening keeps most people out

Yes, we are living in a risk averse period in the conduct of business and this is impacting if, when, and how we hire.

Unfortunately, I also know that nothing very impressive and little if any innovation has come out of being averse to risk, so let’s shake that off – and get back to innovating and intelligent risk taking before we forget how that works!

* We entered a very weak recovery in July 2009, following the deep recession that began in December 2007.   Through 2013, Economist referred to the recovery as “off balance.”   As we approach mid- 2014 the recovery is still called “wobbly.”   First Quarter 2014 GDP results were disappointing and below estimates.

There are some differences amongst Economist’s projections, but the ball park seems to be that in order to gain back all of the jobs lost in the recessions and keep pace with new entrants to the workforce we would need to produce at least 300,o00 new jobs per month for several years.  I cannot find any month where we have reached this number since the recovery began.

Further, and the reason why we have not seen that 300,000 number, that type of job growth typically requires GDP growth of at least 3%.   GDP and job growth statistics are widely available to review.

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