Tag Archives: hiring

7 ways managers can improve the hiring process

For you hiring managers, you might have taken notice upon seeing the title of this post. While it’s true that job seekers can benefit from advice on their job-search techniques, there’s something to be said about how you can improve the process.


You can make the hiring process a better experience for job candidates. This is within your power, as you are usually the one making the hiring decision. Your goals is to hire the best possible candidates; it’s to your company’s benefit.

Read this article by FastCompany.com about some mistakes hiring managers have made.

Are there hiring managers who interview well? Absolutely. They have mastered the process and hire great candidates. But for those who don’t, here are seven things to consider.

1. Get trained on how to interview properly. Smart companies send their hiring managers to training on how to interview properly. Hiring managers are taught about which questions to ask and how to conduct an interview that draws the best attributes out of job candidates.

“I’ve been managing people for years, and I was never trained how to interview candidates,” one of my workshop attendees said after I made the bold statement that some hiring managers are not the best interviewers.

The statement from my workshop attendee did not surprise me; training can be expensive and time intensive. The Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) provides training for hiring managers. Among the various techniques SHRM teaches is which questions to stay away from, namely illegal ones.

2. Don’t ask illegal questions. One of my clients told me he went to an interview and the second question the hiring manager asked was, “How old are you?” I asked him to repeat his statement. I was so shocked by this blatantly illegal question.

Although it’s hard to prove, under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 candidates 40-years and older are protected by age discrimination. But age is not the only topic hiring managers should stay away from. Questions about nationality, marital status, gender identity, race, disability, political preference, and religion are taboo.

3. Don’t discount the value of the mature worker. Related to the previous reason, some hiring managers—young and older alike—discriminate against age. They are subtle about it, or quite obvious. Many of my clients, who average 53-years of age, tell me about times when they could see this on the hiring manager’s face.

This is not only illegal, it’s bad practice. Mature workers add value, through their job experience, maturity, great problem-solving skills, dependability, and more. Am I saying that mature workers don’t lack some skills younger workers do? No. Every age group has strengths and weaknesses.

4. Hiring the best candidate is a priority. Probably the last thing hiring managers want to do is interview someone for—as an example—an office manager, when she has multiple projects to oversee. Here’s the thing, the hiring manager needs someone who can run the office and make her life easier. She needs a problem solver.

Yes, overseeing the projects is important, but finding the right administrative assistant should take priority. Rushing through the process could lead to a wrong hire which doesn’t relieve the problem and can be expensive (approximately 30% of the candidates first annual salary).

5. Be willing to interview strangers. The preferred method of hiring a candidate is through a referral because candidates come with a mark of approval. But sometimes the best candidate is not known someone who works in the company or someone who knows someone who works in the company.

Herein lies the rub: hiring managers need to go through the process of reading résumés from strangers and interviewing them. As unpleasant as it may be, if they want the true problem solver they seek, the right person might not be a referral.

6. Work with your recruiters and HR. A complaint I often hear from recruiters and HR is that they need to play a bigger role in the process. They want to do more than conduct phone interviews to determine a candidate’s salary  and experience.

Recruiters and HR want to be business partners and know hiring managers’ thoughts before approaching potential applicants. They should not go into screening candidates without a full understanding of what hiring managers are looking for in terms of: “the must haves vs. the nice to haves,” the interview layout, etc. Read this article from the Muse.

7. Stop looking for the purple squirrel. This is a common term meaning the candidates must be perfect. Candidates must be able to hit the ground running, a fit for the work environment, and liked by the hiring manager.

A candidate who has the required experience and  is compatible with his colleagues and the hiring manager is essential; but some hiring managers want a clone of themselves and someone they would want to go out for drinks with. What’s most important is that the candidates possesses high EQ.

This last point is why many of my clients are frustrated by the time it takes employers to hire them. Three, four, five rounds of interviews. According to SHRM, the average time it takes employers to hire job seekers is 26 days. This figure seems low to me, as I’ve seen some of my clients wait two or three months for employers to pull the trigger.

Coupled with poor hiring methods and a long process, job seekers are frustrated. Do you blame them? I don’t.

Photo: Flickr, Kristof Ramon 


Experience with a disability is sometimes the best experience

Talking about real-life, hands-on experience. I ran across a job listing on Indeed.com that called for someone who has “Lived experience with mental health issues and treatment.” An organization in eastern Massachusetts says this experience is strongly preferred. For the first time, I am impressed with an organization’s willingness to openly hire a person with a disability—in fact, require it.


I’m not ignorant to the fact that organizations employ people with disabilities; I just haven’t seen a job ad that highly suggests that candidates must have a disability.

Before I became a workshop facilitator at an urban career center, I was its Disability Program Coordinator where I helped people with disabilities re-enter the labor market. So I’m familiar with the struggles this population faces in getting past the stereotypes of being disabled, physically, mentally, or both.

Never did I see an organization actively seek people with mental illnesses. Hell, it was hard identifying those organizations who would entertain the idea. This is the main reason why I found job development so frustrating; too hard getting past the gatekeepers who showed their disapproval like a billboard when you asked if they needed someone with qualifications…who happened to have a disability.

It is a known fact that many substance abuse counselors are in recovery themselves. This gives them a better idea of what people with substance abuse issues are enduring and allows them to speak about recovery more accurately.

Sometimes the best cops are the ones who grew up “on the streets,” because they know the environment and behavior of the criminals they’re trying to apprehend. Real-life experience is the best teacher in my mind.

So I was encouraged to see this ad that calls for a person with real-life experience to assist a defined population. Doesn’t it make sense that the people who understand others with disabilities, substance abuse, and criminal backgrounds help or otherwise interact with them?

More to the point, this organization opens up opportunities for people who may be victimized by discrimination because of their disability. Instead they welcome candidates to share their knowledge and expertise with the less fortunate.

I recall one assistant director of a Department of Mental Health clubhouse proudly exclaim that he suffered from bi-polar disorder. He happened to be a great advocate of people with mental illness. Incidentally, he became a director of another DMH clubhouse.

Should employers who serves those with mental illness be the only ones to hire people with this type of real-life experience? Hell no. A brilliant psychologist who worked for the Department of Mental Health told me something I’ll never forget, which was that the best medicine for someone suffering from mental illness is work.

Photo: Flickr, Ryan Baker

Job interviewers, 10 things you need to know about your candidates

In a US News Money.com article titled 10 Things You Should Know About Your Interviewer, Alison Green enlightens job candidates on what interviewers are thinking during the hiring process. Interviewers are human too and have their own struggles. Her 10 statements are below.

But job candidates have their own struggles. Let’s look at it from the candidates’ points of view, according to what jobseekers have told me.

1. We want to find the best person for the job. Many job candidates want to be that person but are passed over for a number of reasons, such as they don’t perform we at the interview…regardless of their qualification. There are other reasons why candidates don’t qualify as the best person for the job, but should nerves be one of them?

2. We’re busy. Candidates get that and value your time. But keep in mind, the best candidates will take a great deal of time preparing for the interview, sometimes more time than some interviewers.

3. We might have our hands tied by human resources. HR is the gatekeeper and makes it difficult for candidates who just want to deliver their résumé and cover letter to the person who will make the decision. So interviewers shouldn’t complain; candidates have it tough from the get-go.

4. We’re afraid of making the wrong hire. Job candidates don’t want you to make the wrong hire either. They want you to hire them as long as it’s going to be a happy marriage and won’t end poorly. In this case, it’s not “better to love than love at all.”

5. We want to hire someone we get along with. Ditto.

6. We’re trying to figure out what you’ll be like to manage. Most candidates want to know what it will be like being managed, as they might have had difficult managers. It’s a two-way street, as they say.

7. We want you to help us figure out why we should hire you. That’s fair. Don’t ask them a bunch of stupid questions like what kind of tree they’d like to be, or where they’d like to be in five years, or what is their greatest weakness and strength. Take some time to figure out how to get the best answers out of them, not the answers you’d necessarily like to hear.

8. We won’t always tell you what we really think. Now why wouldn’t you? If a candidate is daft enough to tell you he hated his last boss, or seems more concerned about the length of lunch time, or seems completely insincere; he deserves to hear your thoughts ASAP.

9. We’re wondering what you’re not telling us. Ditto again.

10. We hate rejecting people. Jobseekers don’t want to be rejected either, but they hate being put on hold more. If you’re not going to hire the candidate, and you know this very soon in the game, have compassion and tell him as soon as possible.

It seems, according to what Alison says, there is a lot of angst over hiring the candidates to fill positions, and it’s refreshing to hear some honesty. What it comes down to is making the best hiring decision. The process isn’t perfect–some say as high as 60% of all hires don’t work out–but who’s to blame for that?