• Predictive analytics and interview bias

    April 28, 2017 by

     

    The following are excerpts from “Predictive Analytics, Bias and Interviewing”, written by Kevin Wheeler of Global Learning Resources Inc and The Future of Talent Institute. Published to College Recruiter blog with permission from Kevin Wheeler.

    To download the full white paper, click here.

    For centuries people have been captivated by the idea of predicting the future. Crystal ball gazers and fortune tellers all promised to be able to do this. They played on our biases, weaknesses and gullibility and counted on us attributing chance occurrences to their predictive powers.

    But the rise of predictive analytics gives us the ability to reduce uncertainty by applying statistics and determining the probabilities that future patterns will emerge in the behavior of people and systems.

    By tracking things such as our location, Facebook likes, re-tweets, where we check-in, what and when we buy, what we search for and so on, analysts are able to make reliable predictions on our future behavior. When aggregated, correlated, and combined and then analyzed with the tools of statistics this data becomes not only relevant but commercially valuable.

    Commercialization that plays on our predilections

    Predictive analytics has had tremendous commercial benefits. Firms such as Amazon are built on predictive analytics that help them predict what we will buy, how much of it and when so that they can stock warehouses and order products before they are needed. Most retailers are investing in hiring analysts, which is a growing field.

    Biases that impede truth

    All humans have biases and many that tend to impact human resource professionals and recruiters.

    The selection and hiring of people is fraught with bias and subjectivity. Psychologists have assembled long lists of these biases which include our tendency to reject new evidence that contradicts something we believe to be true. Or the tendency to search for and remember information in a way that confirms our preconceptions. Recruiters need to do everything they can to make objective and unbiased decisions – even though perfect objectivity is never going to be possible. I offer a few suggestions below on how to reduce the impact of biases.

    There are numerous common biases. For example, if we believe that people with high GPAs, for example, are better workers, then we will seek evidence to prove that and dismiss any that contradicts it. We call that confirmation bias.

    Recruiters also often rely too heavily on one trait or piece of information when making decisions -often the first piece of information acquired or the information obtained from a trusted source. If someone recommends a candidate, for example, that recommendation may outweigh any facts that contradict or suggest that the person is not so good.

    Analytics can help dispel many of these [biases], but only if the results of the analysis are believed and acted on.  We need to trust the data more than our gut, and although data is not always right, the percentages are on the side of the data.  There are also many instances where our biases were unconsciously built into the algorithms that analyze our data, so it is important to understand what is being measured in an algorithm and with what weighting.

    Analytics can offer insight and help make sense of mountains of data that have been beyond our reach. Analytics can help us make choices that are based on facts. They can provide us insights and reduce uncertainty. But, as with everything, there are dangers. We need to troll the waters of data with care, ethics, and human judgment.

    What you can do to reduce bias

    Each of us has a responsibility to actively think about our prejudices and biases and work to manage their impact on our decisions.

    1. Know Yourself: What are your biases? Think about what you like and don’t like in people and then ask yourself why do I think this way?  You can ask yourself what you are really looking for in a candidate – is it something like GPA or age or a very specific kind of experience — and then ask yourself, what’s the evidence for this to be a decision factor? Is this really evidence that the candidate will perform well or just a self-fulfilling prophecy because of my bias?  Biases are hard to discover, hard to articulate and even harder to objectively measure.  But if you work at it, you can reduce the number of them and their impact.
    2. Prepare Neutral Questions: When you prepare for an interview, make sure that your questions are not aimed at bringing out a bias of some sort. Keep them job-specific and relevant to the work you want the candidate to do. Never ask about age, politics, or anything that is not job relevant.

    Read more concrete advice for reducing your bias by downloading the full white paper here.

     

    Kevin Wheeler of Global Learning Resources and Future of Talent InstituteAbout Kevin Wheeler: Kevin is the founder of Global Learning Resources and The Future of Talent Institute. He is a consultant, sought-after public speaker, writer, and university lecturer.   Kevin is the author of hundreds of articles on talent management, career development, recruiting, human capital, leadership, and on corporate universities, strategic planning, workforce planning, and learning strategies. Global Learning Resources and The Future of Talent Institute work to help organizations discover emerging trends that impact the talent marketplace and help organizations implement creative talent strategies to meet the challenges of the future.

     

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  • How recent college grads can ace the second job interview

    April 27, 2017 by

     

    Almost every job interview boils down to three key questions in the mind of the interviewer, says Steve Koppi, Executive Director of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, Mass) Career Development Center.

    1. Can this candidate do the job
    2. Will this candidate do the job, and
    3. How will this candidate fit in or get along with others?

    “These same principles apply to second round interviews,” says Koppi. “The good news is that you have cleared at least that first hurdle. The employer believes you, the candidate, can do the job, and you have the skills and knowledge they are seeking in a new hire.”

    Thao Nelson, Senior Associate Director of Undergraduate Career Services at the Indiana University Kelly School of Business, is also a former recruiter. She invited recent college grads to a second job interview when they convinced Nelson of these three things in the first interview:

    1. That they can do the job and provided strong, impactful, and relevant examples
    2. They really wanted to work for her company.
    3. That they were likable, and she or others on the team would enjoy working with them.

    A job seeker who makes it to a second job interview has demonstrated they have the background, core aptitudes, and transferable skills to do the job, says Cheryl Goodman, Talent Development Manager with Alexander Mann Solution’s, a talent acquisition and management firm with clients in 80 countries. Goodman is based in Cleveland, Ohio and heads up Alexander Mann Solution’s new graduate recruitment program.

    In the second interview recent college grads are “being assessed for long-term potential to thrive within the culture and contribute to the company,” says Goodman. “It’s about ROI, too, because the company will be investing in your career launch and professional development, so they are looking to be sure that’s a wise investment.”

    What to expect in a second interview

    A candidate who makes it to a second interview can expect to be presented with scenario-based questions, such as how they would respond to certain situations and why, says Goodman.

    Continue Reading

  • 6 tips for writing a great sales job description [Examples of good and bad]

    April 26, 2017 by

     

    Every day that a sales spot is left vacant in your company means revenue is being lost. In addition to losing money, an unfilled sales role can wreak havoc on customer relationships, day-to-day operation, and overall productivity in the workplace. The goal is always to fill the position as quickly as possible, which might tempt you to cut corners when you are writing your sales job description.

    Posting a less-than-stellar job description won’t help you in the long run since it will likely attract the wrong individuals. Applicants may not be qualified for the position, or they may not fully understand what the job entails. Writing a top-notch posting will attract job candidates who want to work for your organization and who have all of the qualifications and skills that you seek. In fact, a compelling sales job description may even attract the attention of top talent from other organizations. So how do you post a great sales job description that will attract the right candidates?

    1. Company Profile

    Writing a company profile might seem like an afterthought for a job post, but it should be the first thing to show candidates. Describing your company brand is critical to attract the right candidates for your role. In addition to describing what your company does, describe your core values and company philosophy. Also make sure to describe the work environment in as much detail as possible. For example, if the role is in a corporate environment where employees suits and ties every day, a millennial who is used to wearing jeans and hoodies to work might not be a good fit. Adding details about your company culture, such as a casual dress code, free lunches, and other company perks will help you attract candidates with a similar work style.

    1. Talk it Through

    Figuring out what to include in your job description is the most challenging part of the process. Start by having conversations with your best sales reps about the day-to-day activities of the position. Ask them about the day-to-day specifics, and longer term expectations. Having this conversation with someone who is performing well in the role will give you valuable insight into the qualifications you should be seeking, and what it takes to succeed. The goal is to write a job description that incorporates phrases and words that elicit an emotional response, rather than using a boring corporate tone or loads of buzzwords.

    1. Perfect Your Job Title and Summary

    Continue Reading

  • 10 reasons why college grads should consider entry-level sales jobs

    April 25, 2017 by

     

    Entry-level sales jobs present a great opportunity for recent college grads to learn professional skills that last a lifetime. And below, a variety of entry-level sales professionals, as well as business owners and sales executives with experience at companies like Google, IBM, AOL, and Dell Computers, talk about the unique and life-long skills developed through an entry-level sales job. Here is what every recent college grad needs to know to succeed in a career in sales:

    1. Sales jobs are not restricted based on one’s degree

    Recent college grads and entry-level sales professionals who are able to participate in a company-sponsored sales training program will learn skills that last a lifetime, says Maddy Osman, an SEO content strategist and digital marketing professional. Before she started her own business, Osman worked as an account representative for Groupon, where she went through over two months of cold-calling sales training, graduating among the top 5 of 25 trainees in her class. Osman says she still refers to the sales materials she learned in that training and applies it to her digital marketing role.

    “Even if you never work in sales again, you’ll learn about psychology, and negotiation, which will help you when getting a new position, negotiating for a higher salary, or creating strategic partnerships,” said Osman.

    In her role at Groupon, Osman worked alongside employees who majored in liberal arts, theater, marketing, and history, to name a few. The common denominator among those who were successful was that they were outgoing, and/or held student leadership roles at their college or University.

    “There wasn’t one area of study more represented than another,” said Osman. “So it’s not necessarily about the degree – as long as you have one.”

    That being said, one doesn’t have to go through a dedicated sales training program to succeed in entry-level sales jobs. Learn why below.

    2. Everyone can succeed in sales – even those who don’t think they can sell

    Mac Anderson graduated from Miami of Oho in 2015 with a degree in marketing. Anderson achieved a lot while in college, working a part-time job at a bar/restaurant, volunteering for two non-profits, and maintaining a full course load and active social life.

    “I learned a lot about myself by trying new things and making a leap of faith,” said Anderson.

    Anderson had a wide variety of other experiences too. He coached a traveling youth baseball team, and was a laborer on a construction crew. He also worked in sales, marketing, and logistics for a non-profit called Top Box Foods.

    But it’s his current entry-level sales job at ParqEx that has Anderson buzzing about where his career is going. ParqEx is a marketplace (mobile app + website) that allows owners of underutilized parking spaces to rent out their parking, by the hour, day, week or month, to a driver in need of convenient, affordable parking. ParqEx specializes in hard-to-park neighborhood and has partnered with many local neighborhood organizations and chambers of commerce to solve the parking nightmare.

    “I honestly never thought of myself as a salesman because I did not think I had the right characteristics,” said Anderson. Soon after Anderson started in his current role, he was presenting to a group of over 100 builders (and potential clients) – an experience that has played a key role in him developing a positive, can-do attitude, and desire to succeed in sales.

    “I have learned that I can do literally anything I set my mind to,” said Anderson.

    But many recent college grads are afraid to do what makes them uncomfortable, or not familiar to them in their job or career. Especially early in their career, and especially if it’s a 100 percent commission-based sales job. That’s why many recent college grads shy away from sales careers. But it’s been the exact opposite affect for Anderson, and has helped him thrive as a professional

    “Getting out of your comfort zone is essential for personal and professional growth,” says Anderson.

    Every sales person has a different style, says Anderson. That’s why he feels there’s no one-size-fits-all template to sales success. “Just try new tactics, do what feels right for you personally, and always be positive and confident,” says Anderson. “You will get comfortable and find your style.”

    Kevin Cote, Director of Sales at Namely, a leading HR, Payroll, and Benefits platform for mid-sized companies, agrees.

    “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” says Cote. “The only way to grow in sales and win business is to be confident in asking difficult questions, navigating awkward or tricky objections, and mastering the science of being comfortable in uncomfortable situations.”

    3. Sales is perfect training for future CEO or business owner Continue Reading

  • How to negotiate salary: Must-read tips for female college grads

    April 20, 2017 by

     

    Many recent college grads are unprepared to negotiate salary during an entry-level job interview. And in the long run, they pay the price – financially, that is.

    According to a recent Paysa study, younger workers, or those with only 0-2 years of experience, are 42 percent likely to be underpaid. The same Paysa data also found that women in markets across the U.S. are 45 percent likely to be under-compensated while their male counterparts are only 38 percent likely to be under-compensated. Paysa is a Palo Alto, California-based company that uses proprietary artificial intelligence technology and machine learning algorithms to analyze millions of data points, including compensation information, to help employees understand their market salary.

    But the reasons for these gender salary discrepancies vary based on a number of factors, however, says Chris Bolte, CEO of Paysa. In many cases inexperienced job seekers – including female recent college grads:

    • Do not know what their value is at that company
    • Do not know how to have a conversation about salary with the hiring manager
    • Are uncomfortable/afraid negotiating for more money due to any number of factors, including being new to the workplace, concerned the offer will be revoked, or because they are interviewing with an intimidating manager.

    But there is one glaring difference between young men and women, according to Sylvia RJ Scott, Founder of Girls’ C.E.O. Connection™ (Girl’s Creating Enterprising Organizations), a for-profit social enterprise dedicated to engaging and equipping females as entrepreneurs. In February Scott spoke to a group of young women who were members of the Theta Beta chapter of the Delta Delta Delta sorority at Colorado University Boulder. She discussed the topic of salary negotiation with the group, all juniors and seniors, and will be sharing a salary negotiation reminder checklist before they graduate this spring. Scott says female college grads are often too timid or afraid to boast about their academic, athletic, internship, or related work experiences when negotiating salary during an entry-level job interview.

    Their male counterparts? Not so much…

    “Males are not afraid to promote their accomplishments,” says Scott. “Women need to do the same. Be confident without being arrogant.”

    During an interview, females should focus on explaining how internship, club experiences, or extracurricular activities are relevant to the job, says Scott. Providing employers/interviewers with examples about what was accomplished in those experiences that can be transferred to the real world is key.

    “Know what you bring to the table from other experiences in college,” says Scott. “Be prepared to express to the employer how this background fits the job description. Do not hold back on tooting your own horn.”

    But keep in mind – most entry-level positions have a set salary, leaving little room for negotiation, says Deb LaMere, Vice President of Employee Experience, Ceridian.

    “Gaining a realistic expectation of entry-level salary amounts within similar industries, or the range for entry-level positions – through research and due-diligence – is a first step to determining what a reasonable salary might be and whether or not one has a strong case to negotiate further,” says LaMere.

    As women embark on the entry-level job search, they should be prepared to advocate for themselves.

    “Define your goals and ensure you have a solid understanding of your current capabilities in comparison to the role you are seeking,” says Linda Taylor, HR Manager at FedEx. “When negotiating or advocating for yourself, be confident that your voice is important. Whether it’s your gender, education, or skills, tap into your unique point of view and showcase how you can help the company succeed.”

    When you’re just starting out, it can be difficult to express your ideas or have the confidence to ask for what you want, says Taylor. But women should search for employers who celebrate differences and encourage all team members to be themselves.

    “Push yourself to be confident by practicing with little steps that can pave the way to big victories,” says Taylor. “Raise your hand in a big lecture class, ask a question at your first meeting, or conduct proactive research to see how your job offer compares to similar roles at other organizations. As you prepare for a first job, make a commitment to think and act like you would in the role you’re seeking, and stick to this mindset during the interview and negotiation stages.”

    Data driven discussion should drive salary negotiations
    So how do female college grads overcome obstacles to a fair entry-level salary? Start with research.

    Figure out what others like you are making at that company. Paysa offers tools that help job seekers understand what they should be paid at a specific company. Job seekers can also use salary calculators like the one College Recruiter offers.

    “Having a respectful, data-driven discussion with the recruiter or hiring manager that highlights your desire to take the job, but also starts the negotiating process, is important,” says Bolte.

    Highlight positives of position
    During the interview/negotiation, job seekers should cover key points and focus on positives by:

    • Expressing that the job with the company is an awesome opportunity.
    • Expressing how the company mission and values fit your goals.
    • Expressing that you see great learning and growth opportunity and are ready to make an impact/difference.

    Present your salary talking points – based on data

    Then, when discussing salary, tell the recruiter/employer the following:

    • That you want to be sure to get a competitive market compensation package.
    • That you’ve been conducting research, talked to other recruiters, companies, and professionals in the same industry/type of position, and “it seems that your offer is not as competitive as it needs to be. Specifically, it appears to be approximately <20% – insert real number from research> under market.
    • “What can you do to close that gap?”
    • Wait and listen…..

    “At this point, the recruiter or hiring manager may ask you what it will take to close the deal, so to speak,” says Bolte. “I would recommend going back to whatever the broad number is you learned from your research.”

    The company will likely get back to you with:

    • An adjusted compensation package the is somewhere between their original offer and your ask.
    • Your full ask.
    • A statement saying that their original offer is the best they can do.

    Confidence is key
    “These conversations with managers can seem intimidating/scary but they don’t’ have to be,” says Bolte. But it takes research, dedication and practice to succeed. “Go get it done,” adds Bolte.

    Be realistic
    When a recent college grad (regardless of gender) is starting out in their career, they may think – through lack of experience – that they should be making more than what’s being offered. But remember, that first job, or entry-level job, is a starting point, says LaMere. If there is room to negotiate on salary on an entry-level position, be reasonable and sensible.  It is important not to price oneself out of the market.

    During an interview, when a potential employer asks what would be an ideal salary, a good answer would be: “I would like to learn more about the position first,” putting the onus on the potential employer to be the first to name a number. Once a salary number is on the table, use Bolte’s advice above to approach the topic. Once a final offer is presented, don’t be afraid to take a day or two to think through the position and the opportunities that it offers, beyond just the pay, says LaMere.

    “While salary negotiations may be daunting for some new grads, as long as they do their homework about the job and pay range, are reasonable in their expectations and prepare themselves for the process, they will ultimately achieve the success they are seeking – both from an entry-level learning experience to start their career, and their salary compensation, for their efforts,” says LaMere.

    Additional salary negotiation and job interview preparation tips for female recent college grads

    Like any aspect of the job search, being able to successfully talk about salary, or negotiate salary comes from preparation. Scott offers these salary negotiation tips for female college grads:

    • Reach out to alumni from your school, sorority, or industry-related clubs who have previously held similar entry-level jobs and ask for advice or tips.
    • Get advice from a college career center counselor, many who have resources or experience helping college students and recent college grads with salary negotiations. They also may have contacts within their network who can help.
    • Get advice from female instructors and adjunct professors who know or still work in the industry.
    • Understand cost of living factors: Location and cost of living may play a factor in the salary offered. An entry-level job in San Francisco or New York City may pay more than a job in Biloxi, Mississippi, for example. But make sure whatever salary is offered is relative to the cost of living pending on location.

    Female college grads need to know their worth going into the interview/negotiation and show it. Do so by following these tips, from Scott:

    • Walk in with confidence, dress professionally no matter what the position. This is true even if the company is known to dress casual.
    • Practice in front of a mirror and watch the body language. Ask someone to role play as the person doing the negotiation. Try to find a female that has gone through the process, and get her feedback.
    • Be prepared to discuss what else can be negotiated to increase the compensation package if it does not meet expectations/research. Does the company have a tuition reimbursement package, flexible work schedules, more vacation time? It’s worth asking.

    Want more salary negotiation and job search advice? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

  • Three key employer branding strategies to recruit college students

    April 19, 2017 by

     

    In today’s competitive talent market, successful employer branding strategies go a long way toward attracting top college students and grads to your organization.

    However, the particulars of your employer brand – what your message is, how you deliver it, the aspects of the organization you choose to emphasize – will depend almost entirely on the segment of the talent market you wish to attract. If you are trying to engage entry-level workers in the media industry, your employer brand should look very different from an employer who wants to engage mid-career professionals in IT.

    When it comes to attracting college students and recent grads, what should your employer branding strategies take into consideration? We talked with a few experts on college recruiting to find out.

    1. It’s More Than Lip Service – You Have to Genuinely Care

    At the very basic – and most crucial – level, employer branding strategies aimed at college students and recent grads need to be genuine. If you’re simply paying lip service to the concept without actually taking the time to explore what student talent wants, young candidates will see right through the ruse.

    “You hear a lot about the ‘candidate experience’ and ‘employment brand,’ and it reminds me of how big tech companies used to talk about their small business customers in the ‘90s,” says Kristen Hamilton, CEO and cofounder of student-focused predictive hiring solution Koru. “[There is] lots of talk about systems and programs without a focus on understanding and empathizing with the experience of the customer – or the early career candidate in this case.”

    Instead of “treating candidates anonymously,” Hamilton suggests employers leverage technologies and techniques that allow them to “measure which candidates will align with their organization before a hire is made.”

    Employer branding should always start with identifying what kind of talent thrives in your organization and then tailoring your message to the talent in a sincere and truthful way. This is doubly true when it comes to students and recent grads.

    Tom Borgerding, president and CEO of college marketing firm Campus Media, notes that many of today’s college students are “cynical about the messaging, marketing, advertising, [and] promotions of just about everything.” If your efforts to build relationships with and market your brand to them are not genuine, they won’t be interested.

    “A clear, honest, direct message will go a long way with this audience,” Borgerding adds. “Even better: Give them proof behind what you are saying.”

    1. One Size Does Not Fit All: Customize Your Messaging

    Speaking of the need to be sincere and truthful in your employer branding messages: Students and recent grads will be much more receptive if your branding is tailored to a specific audience rather than a general slice of the population. Continue Reading

  • Recruiting salespeople who are adaptable, not just competent

    April 17, 2017 by

     

    You obviously want a competent sales team, as that’s tied to the rest of your financial performance and metrics. But the definition of “competence” may be somewhat shifting in the sales function. You need to be recruiting salespeople who can adapt and adjust to a new environment fairly quickly. And that’s likely to require new approaches to thinking about, and measuring, candidates in our sales pipelines.

    The value and quantification of sales

    Sales is also one of the most trackable elements of an organization. While the ROI on a training program or employee engagement program could be more subjective, sales is often very direct. Salesperson A sold X-items for Y-total, and Salesperson B sold A-items for B-total. If Y is higher than B, we can infer Salesperson A did a better job in that time frame (typically a quarter).

    At the intersection point of “crucial function” and “relatively easy to measure/compare,” we come to this question of whether hiring managers overrate competence.

    Competence and adaptability

    First: in this context, I define “competence” as conventional recruitment markers of success. For a salesperson, you’d measure their previous sales. For an entry-level salesperson, it might be GPA, college attended, etc.

    One of the biggest arguments against hiring on conventional competence measures is that skill sets can be learned. Today, salespeople need to be adaptable. The idea of “adaptability” is that a salesperson could learn a new skill set (or learn how to sell a new product/service) within a relatively short amount of time, even if his or her background was in an entirely different industry. In essence, it means someone who is receptive or responsive to changing priorities at work.

    Don’t hire brilliant jerks

    There are some generalizations here. In a long-form article on Quartz a few years ago called “This is why people leave your company,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had this to say (see photo below):  Continue Reading

  • Ask Matt: The best job interview questions to ask employers

    April 13, 2017 by

     

    Dear Matt: Do you have any interview tips? I always read about how important it is for recent college grads to ask the right interview questions during a job interview, but, I never know what job interview questions to ask. Can you provide a list of these interview questions and what employers want recent college grads and entry-level job seekers to ask?

    Matt: I will say this, I wish I had a list of job interview questions to ask when I was interviewing for entry-level jobs. Because it certainly would have not only helped me ask the right interview questions, it would have also helped with interview preparation, and confidence.

    Good news! There is a great, extended list of the best job interview questions to ask employers listed below, featuring outstanding advice from recruiters from corporate America, and career management leaders from two of the top business schools in the country.

    The reality is, if you are confident, and prepared, going into an interview, you can relax, be yourself, and shine.

    But many job seekers, especially recent college grads, are shy or timid when going into those first job interviews. I was one of them, and looking back at those early interviews, I never did ask the right questions, because I wasn’t prepared to ask the right questions. That makes a huge difference in how employers view you, and your potential to succeed in the job and fit in with the team.

    “Not asking questions can signal lack of interest, and a missed opportunity to sell yourself,” says Susie Clarke, director of Undergraduate Career Services at Indiana’s Kelley School of Business. “It is important to remember that an interview is a two way street and they expect you will have questions, so show them you are prepared and interested in their position.”

    Corinne M. Snell, Ed.D., the Assistant Dean of Student Professional Development at Fox School of Business at Temple University, agrees. Prior to her current role, Snell worked in corporate America, working in college relations roles for Campbell’s Soup Company, Siemens Health Services, and Lutron Electronics.

    “A certain level of spontaneity is expected in any job interview, but candidates should have a list of questions prepared in advance,” said Snell. “The worst thing one can do is indicate he/she has no questions or say something like, “Um, I think we already covered everything.”

    One of the biggest things a college student or recent graduate needs to remember is that just as much as the recruiter or hiring manager is interviewing them, they are also interviewing the potential employer, says Justin Bischoff, Talent Acquisition Advisor at Buffalo Wild Wings, a casual dining restaurant and sports bar franchise.

    “Ask questions about the things that matter to you,” says Bischoff. “These should be things that you feel will make you stay with an employer long term.”

    Try to keep it conversational, says Bischoff. For example, if you’re interested in sales, ask something such as “earlier in our interview you mentioned that one of the main focuses of this role is to drive sales in the restaurant, can you tell me a little more about that?”

    Asking about the culture of the organization and development programs also impresses employers, says Bischoff.

    “I am also impressed by a candidate who has done their research on the organization and the position prior to the interview,” says Bischoff. “By asking questions on matters that are truly important to you about what you have learned, you are able to showcase the time and effort you’re putting into joining the organization’s team.”

    Snell puts it bluntly, saying “Job seekers need to prepare for that moment when the employer turns the table and asks ‘what questions do you have for me?'”

    That’s what impresses today’s corporate recruiter, says Asma Anees, a Talent Advisor with Blue Cross, a Minnesota healthcare provider. She leads college relations at Blue Cross and is one of the first persons to interview/phone screen recent college grads and entry-level employees who interview with the company.

    Anees suggest job seekers break down interview questions into four categories, focusing on asking about:

    • The position/job
    • Evaluation
    • Training
    • About the company

    Anees provides these job interview question and answer tips:

    The position/job
    Job seekers who ask about the challenges of the position stand out, says Anees. Employers like candidates who want to be challenged, and who want to know about what it takes to succeed in that role. “It helps me understand their willingness to take on certain duties,” says Anees.

    Evaluation
    Anees likes it when job seekers ask job interview questions such as “What are the performance expectations or how will I be evaluated?”

    “These students have received grades for everything they do for the last however many years,” says Anees. “These Millennials want to know where they stand, and I can appreciate that. It tells me they want to perform well and be rewarded for it.”

    Training
    Good question to ask: Will there be any training or mentorship for this role? Anees says job seekers who want to pursue professional development opportunities stand out to her.

    Company
    Job seekers who are curious about the business, strategic plan, how the company makes a difference, and if the company is growing, are “all great questions,” says Anees. “It tells me they care for the well-being of the organization and their future.”

    Snell provides these sample job interview questions to ask employers:

    1. Questions related to the position:

    • What are the key qualities necessary for someone to excel in this role?
    • What are your expectations for this role during the first 30, 60 and 90 days?
    • What is the typical career path for someone in this position?

    2. Questions related to the company?

    • How would you describe the company culture (or values)?
    • What do you like best about working for this company?

    3. Questions related to the industry (these should vary from industry to industry):

    • What recent changes has the company made to product packaging?
    • How has industry consolidation affected the company?
    • How does the economy affect company sales?
    • What percentage of revenues does the company invest in R&D?
    • How is the company challenged by government regulations?

    4. Questions related to the hiring process:

    • What are the next steps in the interview process?
    • When do you expect to make a decision?

    “The likelihood of having sufficient time to ask a multitude of questions is slim, so the candidate needs to be prepared and have several questions ready,” says Snell. “Interviewing is a two-way street and employers do expect job seekers to be prepared with thoughtful, insightful questions.”

    Remember this though – thoughtful and insightful do not revolve around asking how much vacation time one gets, salary, or benefits. In time, that information will be discussed.

    Some of the best job interview questions to ask employers, says Clarke, include:

    1. Would you please tell me about yourself and your career path?
    Yes – job seekers should ask the person conducting the interview this. This will allow you to learn more about the employer, what this person likes about the company, and could create a common interest to make the follow-up connection stronger. “It is all about building relationships and showing genuine interest is important,” says Clarke.

    2. What are the reasons you stay with this company, or why did you recently join the company?
    Their response will typically tell you a lot about the work environment/culture of the company. “For many college students and recent college grads, the company culture is an important criteria when making their decision,” says Clarke.

    3. What skills or characteristics have led to your success here?
    This is an opportunity for you then to highlight your strength that relates to one of these skills if you have not already.

    4. I have learned a lot today and even more excited about this opportunity, so is there anything else I could provide or questions I can address about my ability to do this job?
    “This shows that you want the job and want to eliminate any concern that they might still have,” says Clarke.

    When the interview is near completion, and if the employer has not covered this already, Clarke says you should always ask: What are the next steps in the interview process?

    “This is important, so you know what to expect and when to follow-up if you have not heard back from them,” says Clarke.

    Asking the right questions during your interview can impact your chances of landing the job, says Bischoff.

    “When a candidate asks thought-provoking questions, it shows that they have solid communication skills, are genuinely interested in the opportunity, and are looking to make a long-term investment,” says Bischoff. Ultimately, asking the right questions makes that interview and the candidate memorable when it comes time for a hiring decision.”

    Dara Warn, Chief Outcomes Officer, Penn Foster Education Group, says that asking questions about how the company onboards new employees can impress employers:

    How does the company onboard new employees? Can you talk about what that process looks like?
    Why this question: By asking this question, the job candidate is demonstrating their interest in the company culture and its commitment to employees and their career path and setting them up for success from the outset. “The first several months in a new job are a key period in building the relationship between employee and employer, and the candidate wants to know that the company is a place they can grow and mature,” says Warn. “In our work with employer partners, we’ve helped design mentor programs, where new employees develop and strengthen workplace and interpersonal skills.”

    Another good question, says Warn, is asking “How does your company encourage its employees to collaborate/work as a team, and demonstrate integrity and initiative?”   
    Why this question: This question coming from a candidate demonstrates that he/she already possesses some “soft skills” that are typically learned and honed once in the workforce. This student may have graduated from an institution that offers soft skills (or “power skills”) training in the form of a standalone program and is already ahead of the curve when it comes to developing these critical work/life skills.

    Good questions will show that you have researched the position, company, and even highlight some of your strengths. “This signals to the employer that you are very interested and enthusiastic about the opportunity,” says Clarke.

    Show enthusiasm and interest when wrapping up the interview.

    “I appreciate when candidates take the last couple of minutes to reiterate their interest and why their skills and abilities would make an impact to the team,” says Anees. “Don’t forget to smile and a firm handshake.”

    Want more career and job search advice? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

    Matt Krumrie CollegeRecruiter.com

    Matt Krumrie is a contributing writer for CollegeRecruiter.com

    About Ask Matt on CollegeRecruiter.com
    Ask Matt is a new monthly career advice column that offers tips and advice to recent college grads and entry-level job seekers. Have a question? Need job search or career advice? Email your question to Matt Krumrie for use in a future column.

  • An entry level job seeker’s guide to interview outfits

    April 11, 2017 by

     

    The saying you only get one chance to make a first impression really holds true in today’s job market, says Melissa Wagner, Career Services Advisor for Rasmussen College. Your interview outfit is a big part of the first impression you make at a potential employer.

    “An interview is the candidate’s opportunity to sell the employer that they’re the right fit for the position,” says Wagner. “So it’s important that candidates bring their best game to the playing field.”

    Jama Thurman,  Counseling and Career Services manager at Hodges University, agrees.

    “Your interview attire and professional appearance can make or break you when meeting a prospective employer,” says Thurman. “First impressions are important.”

    While half (50%) of senior managers surveyed by OfficeTeam said employees wear less formal clothing than they did 5 years ago, and many companies are allowing workers to dress more casually in the office, you should choose apparel that’s a couple notches up for job interviews, says Brandi Britton, District President for OfficeTeam, a staffing firm specializing in placing highly skilled professionals into administrative jobs.

    “Job seekers should research the firm before the interview to get a sense of what’s appropriate to wear to the meeting,” says Britton. “This may include visiting the company to observe what current employees are wearing, tapping their network for advice, looking online for articles that discuss the company’s culture, or asking the recruiter or company’s HR representative for guidance.”

    Like the interview itself, dressing for success takes planning and preparation.

    “If you buy something new, wear it a few times before your meeting to make sure it fits well and you feel confident in it,” says Britton. “Pay attention to the less visible – but no less important – aspects of your appearance, like your shoes, socks and accessories. Make sure your outfit is free of wrinkles and stains, your hair and nails are well-groomed, and your shoes are polished.”

    Employers are not only judging how interviewees respond to questions, they also judge their professional demeanor and appearance – to make sure they are a fit for the company culture, or when meeting with clients (if applicable).

    “Do some research on the company and during an initial phone interview make sure to ask about the company culture and environment; including the dress code,” says Wagner. “As a representative of the company, your appearance is part of the full package when you’re out in the community, meeting clients, and working with customers.  And with competition for jobs tight, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Not only does your appearance help give you that professional polish that will impress the employer, but when you look and feel good, it can help give you additional confidence.”

    To help college students and recent college grads prepare appropriate interview outfits, we’ve put together this guide breaking down how to dress for job interviews within specific industries including, finance jobs, administrative jobs, creative/marketing jobs, advertising and public relations agency jobs, legal jobs, IT jobs, trucking jobs, and for internships:

    How to dress for finance job interviews
    The dress code for finance and accounting departments is becoming increasingly more casual, though still business professional, according to the professionals at Robert Half. While a full suit and tie or skirt and jacket may not be necessary for a job interview, it is often better to err on the side of overdressing. “Every company has its own culture, so it’s always a good idea to do your homework as much as you can to determine the dress code for the role and company where you are interviewing,” says Britton. The general recommendation is dress slacks or a skirt with a button-down shirt and blazer. Men should wear ties. Continue Reading

  • 5 Ways to wow your interviewer and show you’ll be a highly engaged employee

    April 07, 2017 by

    In today’s hyper-competitive business environment, businesses have identified the “secret sauce” for better overall performance. Highly engaged employees. The candidate who lands the job is the one who shows that they will be highly engaged at work.

    Highly engaged employees always give 110%. They volunteer for new and challenging assignments. They’re always looking for ways to improve on past performance and they consider their success and the company’s success to be one in the same.

    “A highly engaged workforce means the difference between a company that outperforms its competitors and one that fails to grow.” – Gallup, The Engaged Workplace 2017

    Employers love highly engaged employees because they have a positive impact on a number of important business metrics. Because they go the extra mile for their customers, they drive up customer satisfaction and NPS scores, known to be accurate leading indicators of strong financial performance. They tend to stay with an organization longer, lowering attrition and recruiting costs and adding value with every day they stay with an organization. Highly engaged employees also communicate and collaborate well, helping to break down silos and increase cooperation between departments. They also project success and confidence into the marketplace, bolstering your employer brand and helping to advertise the quality of your company’s workforce.

    Knowing all this, you can see why employers would seek to hire someone they knew was going to be highly engaged every time, if given the choice.

    So how should you present yourself in an interview to demonstrate that you will be your prospective employers’ next highly engaged employee?

    1. Be Prepared!

    Engaged employees go the extra mile and make sure to show up to meetings and assignments prepared, having done their homework and knowing what the situation requires. You can show your potential to perform like this by demonstrating it as an interviewee.

    Research the company’s needs. What are their biggest challenges and opportunities? Who are their top competitors? Visit Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Hoovers, and the company’s website. Read some of the content they have posted in their resources section and on their blog. You should be able to ascertain what their key messages are and then be able to speak their language in the interview.

    Make sure you prepare a few examples of how you have addressed a particular challenge in the past, the solution you came up with, and the results you achieved. Bonus points if you can relate these stories back to the specific challenges you might face in the job you are interviewing for and which your prospective employer is facing.

    2. Be Well

    Health and wellness is one of the most important but often overlooked aspects of employee engagement. To consistently perform at the highest level, both body and mind need to be running like a well-oiled machine. This isn’t rocket science, but you would be surprised how many people, especially those many would consider high-performing are actually doing themselves a disservice by not getting enough sleep, or not making the time for exercise. We all lead busy lives, but it has been proven that getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night and at least 30 minutes of exercise a day makes a huge difference in both daily performance and overall health.

    With that mind, be sure to get a good night’s sleep before your interview and, if possible, try to fit in a good workout as close to the interview as possible. If you can’t do that at least take a brisk walk or do some light calisthenics. It will get your heart pumping, help remove any pre-interview stress and put you in the right frame of mind to be limber in both body and mind. And lastly, don’t forget to eat. Not anything too filling that will end up lowering your energy as you try to digest a huge meal, but make sure have a nutritious breakfast that will help contribute to your mental acuity.

    3. Ask Questions

    Engaged employees are not afraid to ask questions and have the confidence to do so, knowing that a questioning mind is a sign of curiosity, which drives innovation. Critical thinking and an analytical mindset are two extremely important qualities of high performing employees. Today’s employers don’t just want unquestioning automatons, they want employees who will add to their company’s knowledge base and help bolster a culture of innovation.

    As you are preparing for your interview by reviewing the company website, looking into their competition and reviewing recent their media coverage, be sure to write down questions that occur to you. Be prepared when you walk into the interview with 5-10 questions about company strategy, competitive landscape, product or market positioning, etc. Also, don’t forget to ask about the corporate culture and values. If you don’t share that company’s values, even if you do end up getting hired, chances are you are not going to be engaged at work and the marriage isn’t going to last long.

    4. Be Confident and Know Your Strengths

    Highly engaged employees know their areas of strength and how to apply those strengths to helping their company succeed. More and more companies today are moving towards strengths-based development and performance management to ensure that their employees are put in the best position to succeed on a personal level and to help the company succeed.

    With this in mind, go into your interview feeling confident of your strengths and prepared to highlight them through specific examples of how you have used your strengths in the past to contribute to the success of a team or organization that you were a part. We can’t all be good at everything, but we all have unique talents and skills that can add an important element to the mix. If you’re not sure what your strengths are, reflect on past experiences. When did you receive praise and why? When did you feel proud of your work and why?

    5. Be Yourself, Be Passionate

    Highly engaged employees are passionate about what they do. They have connected to their work on a level that allows them to put their whole selves into it and make it more than “just a job”. This goes back to values. If you connect with a company’s values – whether those values emphasize a culture of innovation, of corporate social responsibility, or competitiveness – if you can see yourself in that company’s values, you are going to be happier and more engaged as an employee. So don’t be afraid to be yourself and to show your enthusiasm and passion for whatever it is that reflects those shared values.

    If you follow these five tips, you should have no problem demonstrating you have the potential to be a highly engaged employee, and will nail your next interview. Soon you will be contributing your particular strengths to some lucky organization.

    Josh Danson at AchieversAbout Josh Danson: Josh is Director of Content Marketing at Achievers. An accomplished marketing and communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience in the fields of marketing and PR, Josh graduated from Kenyon College and lives in San Francisco with his wife and 9 year-old daughter. In addition to work and family, he is passionate about music, politics and fly fishing (not necessarily in that order). Twitter: @dansonshoes