Posts Tagged ‘hiring’

Why Role Playing Can Be An Effective Interview Technique

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

While many companies hire based on candidates’ experience, others find raw talent to be a stronger harbinger of success. But, how do you identify and measure “raw talent” during the hiring process?

Austin Merritt, the COO at Software Advice – a website that presents reviews and ratings of sales and recruiting software – recently shared how he objectively measures raw talent during his team’s hiring process. I think it’s a great approach – something worth sharing with you.

In his post on Software Advice’s New Talent Times blog, Merritt writes about his “coffee scenario,” a role-playing scenario used when hiring for his inside sales team. It closely imitates the process his team goes through when placing sales calls. Except, instead of advising the caller on what software to purchase, the job candidate advises the caller on what coffee shop to visit. Here are a few key tips Merritt has shared about his process:

Develop a set of competencies to look for

What are the top uncoachable competencies required for a person to thrive in a role? For example, when hiring for their sales team, Software Advice grades along the following criteria:

  • Articulation – Do they clearly communicate their thoughts?
  • Energy – Does the candidate appear alert and genuine on calls?
  • Ability to take control – Can the candidate steer the conversation?
  • Ability to think on their feet – Can the candidate respond calmly, but quickly?
  • Coachability – Does the candidate understand the scenario enough to apply?

Your competencies may (and probably should) be different. Identify what empowers current star performers to be successful, and make your list of competencies around these qualities.

Create a project that tests each of them

The “coffee scenario” is effective because coffee is a familiar subject matter. Candidates are familiar with coffee, and it allows interviewers to focus on talent over domain expertise. The topic should be common enough for candidates to complete successfully without much preparation. In Software Advice’s instance, they set up a 10-minute mock sales call, but it doesn’t have be a phone call. Create something you can present to an applicant before meeting them in person.

Use a universal grade scale for performance

To ensure that every candidate gets a fair shot, develop a scoring method that can be kept consistent. If someone scores low in one area, but nails the others, it may be worthwhile to give the candidate another shot at the role-playing scenario. It doesn’t take too long, and by giving people a second chance, you’re leaving no stone unturned.

Before you bring someone to your office, try out a short role-playing scenario for them to showcase their raw talent. It’s a quick and easy way to critically assess strengths and weaknesses during the early stages of an interview process.

How To Compete Against the Big Boys for Tech Employees?

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

I read a lot of blogs, newsletters, books and articles, and every now and then I come across a really great one. What makes one great is not always some mind-blowing new idea or concept, but just the simplicity and relevance of the message – like the one I got this week in PMSI’s (Personnel Management Systems, Inc.) newsletter. PMSI is a great HR outsourcing company that I’ve personally had experience of working with. Thanks to them for letting me reprint the following:

You have probably heard the news. For tech employers there is a labor shortage. And to make it worse, the Big Boys (Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc.) are hiring – seriously hiring.

What is a small company to do?

Don’t panic. The good news is not everyone wants to work for giant companies. In fact, just the opposite – many people prefer to work for smaller companies. The trick is how do you position your organization so that you can attract and retain these highly sought-after employees?

Here are some ideas. Not all will work for every organization but give each of them some thought. Perhaps a tweak or two and you might end up with an idea that no one has yet thought of.

  1. Make a difference.  Many people want to “make a difference” and be a part of an organization that really improves people’s lives.  Many “mission driven” non-profits have this advantage over the private sector.
  2. Make it fun.  People want to work in organizations that are fun.  And, I don’t mean, go out and buy a foosball table.  Instead, create an engaging, interesting work environment where people embrace humor and enjoy being around one another.  If you think your work environment can’t be fun, read Fish! by Stephen Lundin.
  3. Work Life Balance.  The truth is many people don’t want to work 12 hour days.  They want to be home for dinner and spend time with friends and family.
  4. Work Environment.  Look around.  Do people look comfortable?  Are your break rooms and restrooms clean and well stocked?  Is it too loud, too cold, too crowded?
  5. Technology.  Has your organization embraced the newest technology?  Tech workers want access to the latest software and equipment.
  6. Quality of Management. It is a buyer’s market. Tech workers have choices and oftentimes will leave a job because of bad management.
  7. Open communication and collaboration.  We have been in business for almost 30 years.  In that time period we have surveyed thousands of employees.  Lack of communication is always one of the top complaints.  Employees expect a high level of communication and collaboration between themselves and management.
  8. Continuous Learning.  Tech workers want to be in an environment where continuous learning is part of the culture.  This could mean a strong mentor program, in-house speakers and reimbursement for course work and certifications.
  9. Pay and Benefits.  Yes, pay and benefits are important but that doesn’t mean as a small company you have to pay more than the Big Boys.  You just have to be competitive and “fair” to at least neutralize this issue.  Some tech workers will chase pay, and you may just have to accept this and let them go.  Others will look at the whole package.  This is how you can compete and win!

If you want to attract and retain your tech workers, then pay competitively, turn the job into something fun and meaningful and provide the best tools and work environment that you can afford.  Have a management team in place that truly understands the value of communication and understands and respects people’s desire to have balance in their lives.

Me again (Ross, that is): I think these tips apply to more than just tech employees…

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