Structuring an Interview

So you have prepared your questions, read over the candidate’s application and resume, and made all the necessary notations to ensure you ask all the right questions, what now?

Generally, the information you collect about an applicant before the interview indicates whether or not the applicant has the minimum education, training and work experience required for a particular position.

The interview is the time to verify this information and add to it.

The interview is usually the only opportunity you have to get to know something about the applicant’s personality, attitudes, and motivation. These personal characteristics five you an idea of how well a person will perform, how satisfied he or she will be in the mob, and how long the candidate will stay with the organization.

To get an interview started and keep it going smoothly, follow a structures. You can direct and control the interview by structuring it.

Here’s the basic structure to follow during an interview:

  • Introduction and small talk
  • Probing for information from the Candidate
  • Giving the applicant information about the job and your company

At Vested, this is the structure we follow for our temp recruiting process.

Let’s see what areas can be explored and what might be revealed about the candidate in each part of the interview.

Introduction and Small Talk

The first few minutes of an interview are very important because they set the tone for the rest of the interview. This is the time to establish rapport with the applicant.

If you help the applicant feel relaxed and comfortable immediately, he or she will be more likely to be talkative and open during the rest of the interview.

Begin the interview by introducing yourself and extending a warm and sincere welcome to the candidate.

After that, it’s a good idea to take a few minutes for small talk on a casual, neutral subject. Friendly chit-chat helps reduce tension and promotes communication.

Probing for information from the Candidate

This part of the interview can be any combination of subjects including: work experience, education, outside interests, and personal factors.

Discuss the candidate’s most recent job first. From there, work backward and cover the applicant’s other jobs.

Discuss only one job at a time and get a clear picture of how the applicant performed in that job before you move on to another job.

Here are some areas to explore about the candidates work history:

  • The applicant’s specific duties and responsibilities
  • The applicant’s successes and problems in each job
  • What the applicant liked or disliked about each job
  • What the applicant was looking for in each job
  • Why the applicant left each job

As we discuss an applicant’s work experience, look for the following types of information:

Relevance and sufficiency of work experience

  • Skills and competence
  • Adaptability
  • Productivity
  • Motivation
  • Interpersonal relations
  • Leadership Maturity and judgment

After reviewing a candidate’s work history, move on his or her educational background.

  • Here are some topics you might discuss:
  • Subjects liked best and least
  • Success and special achievements in school
  • Reason for choosing schools and major areas of study
  • How education and career are related

When consider a candidates educational background, remember that academic success or failure is not, by itself, a sufficient predictor of success or failure on a job.

Probing a candidate’s education background can reveal factors such as:

  • Intellectual abilities and versatility
  • Depth of knowledge
  • Reaction to authority and imposed assignments
  • Leadership and team work

When discussing outside interests, you have to be careful as it is a delicate subject and is not directly related to job performance.

Many interviewers no longer discuss outside interests with candidates unless they ask question specifically related to the job. Otherwise, it’s easy to unknowingly violate EEO laws.

If you are going to ask questions about this area, be sure to as the same question of every candidate of r a particular job.

This ensures equal treatment of all applicants.

If you have been supportive of a candidate during the rest of the interview, the interview will be flowing smoothly and the candidate will be talking openly by now. This make sit easier to discuss more personal information.

Basically, the purpose of this part is to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of candidates. You can also give applicants a chance to sell themselves by asking them to tell you what assets they feel they bring to the job.

When discussing personal factors, look for the following types of information about candidates:

  • Best talent and skills
  • Motivation
  • Social effectiveness
  • Where the job fits in with his or her long range goals

By this time, you should have some idea about whether or not this candidate is right for this job. If you are sure it’s not a match, there’s no reason to spend a lot of time giving the applicant information about the job and your company.

Simply conclude the interview cordially.

Giving the applicant information about the job and your company

If you feel positive about an applicant, start selling the job and your company. An effective interview is a two way street.

Now that you have the information you want about the candidate, give the candidate information about this job and company.

Begin this part of the interview by having the candidate tell you what he or she already knows about the job and what he or she expects from it.

Then you can tell more about the job by:

  • Adding to what the applicant already knows about the job
  • Correcting any misconceptions

Be sure to cover the following information:

  • Salary Shift or work hours
  • Overtime
  • Training
  • Travel
  • Relocation
  • Advancement possibilities

During this part of the interview, give the applicant all the information he or she needs to decide if the job is the right one.

Encourage the applicant to ask questions you discuss the job. A candidate who doesn’t get complete information in this part of the interview may be the same hiring “risk” as an unqualified candidate, because people are usually “good employees” only if they are place in jobs which satisfy their needs, us their ability and training, and encourages them to function somewhere near their optimal level.

Give the candidate a balanced and complete picture of the job. Be honest about its rewards and its problems.

If you’re hiring someone into a work unit or department with problems, let them know what they will face. Some people are trouble shooters and thrive in that type of situation.

Others don’t like and probably won’t do well in int. Also, let the candidate know what kind of atmosphere he or se will be working in.

One final question

By this point, you may feel you’ve covered all the necessary interviewing ground. You probably have. But it’s always a good idea to ask one final question.

Ask the applicant if there is anything else that he or she feels you should know. This gives the person the opportunity to cover any information you may have missed. It helps end the interview on a positive note.

Concluding the interview

Before you rush the candidate out the door, there are three things to cover:

  • Let them know when a decision will be made
  • When they can expect to hear from you
  • Confirm where and when they can be reached
  • Thank them for their time and interest

Taking these steps should allow an interview to flow with ease and provides for little “gray” area.

A candidate should leave the interview with a good understanding of the job and company and you should have a good understanding of whether or not they will make a good fit for the position.

Finally, check out this useful video on recruiting from Google:

Hire the Right Person

Hiring someone is like dating.

I was watching reruns of Jersey Shore last night (yes, I know it is my guilty pleasure). The women on the show do not generally get treated very well by the men they date.

The men on the show bring home women, schmoosh, and then get them out the door as soon as possible.

But most of us who see it from the outside realize that these women are all picking men who act the same way. The women choose the sharp looking man who says exactly what the woman want to hear.

Many hiring managers do the exact same thing. They choose the best looking, most charismatic person to work for them.

They are then surprised when the employee lied during the interview, or turns out to not be as good as they said they were.

Some people are very good at representing themselves. They could convince a stranger they were the president of a country if they wanted to. They use these skills to get exactly what they want, taking the easiest route possible.

Once the men have the woman hooked, they get what they want and never give the women what they want. The women are disappointed, but then go after the exact same type of man and are disappointed yet again.

If you choose the wrong employee they will probably mislead you into thinking they are doing more than they are actually accomplishing. This is why many businesses owners leave it to the staffing pros for their recruiting needs.

A wrong hire can set you back.

This may mean an employee who doesn’t do their paperwork, manipulates statistics, or steals your customers from you. They know how to make things look in their favor and you will be very happy with their ‘performance’.

If you want to be surrounded by yes men who have their own secret agendas, hiring the best looking and charismatic person may be your best bet.

If you need an outside salesman, this type of person may be ideal. But if you are hiring an accountant, analyst or something that requires thinking or interpreting information, you may want to go past the appearance and charms, and see what skills the person actually has.

A person who is very skilled will tend to see their flaws a lot more than someone who is a novice.

So if you go for the good looking charismatic candidate, you may be being played just as much as the girls on Jersey Shore.

Rules and Regulations to Know When Hiring Temp Workers

As a business owner, it’s important to be cognizant of the labor laws relating to the hiring of temp workers.

While federal rules and regulations govern many aspects of part time and temporary workers, employers typically have a great deal of flexibility when it comes to benefits.

According to the federal law, a temporary employee needs to work with a company for at least 1,000 hours in one year to be entitled to benefits. Moreover, the same employee cannot be hired by the same company as a temporary employee consecutively for more than two years.

Who is a part time employee?

As defined by DOL or U.S. Department of Labor, a person who is appointed to work with a business for a year or less and his work ends on a specific date can be considered as a part time employee. The terms of a temporary work appointment can be determined by the employer, but it should either be for a short term engagement or seasonal basis if the business is engaging him for several weeks or months.

The date of ending temporary employment can either be the completion date of the project or the return of the permanent employee from leave

Rights of temporary employees

According to the DOL’s 1,000 hour rule, temporary employee can qualify for certain benefits after working for an extended period. For instance, a part time employee can be eligible to be part of the retirement plan sponsored by the employer after working a minimum 1,000 hours annually or nearly 20 hours per week with the same company.

Some of the statutory benefits to temporary employees like social security, short term disability insurance, and worker’s compensation insurance etc. may differ from state to state.

Whereas some benefits like comprehensive fringe benefit package and the matters not considered by the applicable laws can depend on the part time employee benefit policy made by the employer.

Some of the benefits a company can include in its policy for the part time employees may include:

Retirement Plans: According to the ERISA or Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the owner of a small business is required to consider part time employees eligible for retirement plans, including 401(k) plans, as offered to other employees. The eligibility of part time workers for retirement plans is just like their eligibility for health insurance benefit, depending upon the amount of hours worked with them. The employee must work more than 1,000 hours with the company to be entitled to the retirement benefits.

Health Insurance: Usually the owners of small businesses do not offer health insurance to part time workers even if it is offered to permanent workers. Still some of them offer this benefit as an additional advantage to attract the employees. But the health insurance to part time employees depends on various factors including the definition of part time employee as per the law of that state and insurance provider to the company etc. When offering health insurance to part time workers the business owner should consult with their insurance provider to know about the minimum qualification required. Normally the temporary worker has to on average work a minimum of 20 hours per week to be eligible for health insurance.

Overtime: The employers covered under FLSA are required to pay overtime to all the employees equal to one and a half times of their regular hourly rate for all the hours worked more than 40 hours in a week. But according to the federal law, the employee is not entitled to get overtime for working on weekends or holidays unless those hours are really the hours of overtime work. In this way, the overtime for full time as well as part time workers depends on local laws, state laws and the policy of the company

Fringe benefits: The owner of small business can offer various types of low cost benefits to his temporary employees, which may include personal vacations, paid vacations, reimbursement for partial tuition or sick days, stipend for wellness and health, tickets for sports events or options of telecommunication etc.

Unemployment benefit: According to state laws, a part time employee can be eligible for unemployment benefits if the business is in operating condition. The unemployment benefits to temporary employees can depend on the number of hours worked during the previous year; the wages earned during a particular time period; and/or whether he is fired, quit, or unemployed. The owner of a business is also required to be enrolled with the unemployment insurance plan of the state.

Thus, the number of hours worked by the part time employee can help in making decisions about the benefits he deserves to get from the employer, and whether it includes the options of retirement plan or health insurance benefit.

However, the employers has more flexibility to decide about the eligibility of the temporary employees for other fringe benefits like vacation time and healthcare. Part time employees should consider negotiating with their employers about receiving benefits they are not otherwise entitled to.

On the other hand, the owners of the business should offer various types of benefits to their part time employees even if they are not included in the state or federal laws.

Though employers are restricted by federal and state laws in providing benefits to their employees, they can still use their wisdom while deciding about the eligibility of their part time employees for some of the statutory benefits provided by the law for permanent employees.

Lowdown on Contract to Hire Agreements

In a tight labor market, contract-to-hire agreements have become a popular employment strategy for businesses.

We have seen more and more of this type of work arrangement, as a viable temp staffing solution for small business owners.

What is a contract-to-hire agreement?

In simple terms, it is a contract with the promise of a permanent position at the end of a certain period.

In such an arrangement, a business provides temporary employment to a contractor to complete a certain task and his/her success in said task determines if the business will employ him/her on a long-term basis upon completion of the job at hand.

Advantages of a contract-to-hire

A contract-to-hire arrangement can be extremely beneficial to a business in the following ways:

1) Little training is required

A contract-to-hire tends to be task specific as mentioned above so very little training is required to bring a contractor up to speed with the ins and outs of the job in question.

With a full time employment scenario, however, businesses often offer extensive and thereby expensive training. So the fact that a contractor can hit the ground running at minimal cost is advantageous to not only the company but also the contractor himself/herself.

2) Low Human Resource expenses

Permanent employment comes with a lot of HR requirements e.g. leave management, payroll management, and 401 (K) benefits among other nitty-gritty. Contract-to-hire arrangements meanwhile have few HR requirements which means they consume little resources.

What’s more, in the event that a business decides to terminate the contract for whatever cause, it can do so no questions asked without paying out severances or without risking any legal backlash.

3) Employers get a trial run

Finding the right person to fill a certain role in a business can become an uphill task but contract-to-hires offer an effective trial period to help the employer separate the wheat from the chaff.

The company gets a view of the contractors’ skills and effectiveness and can decide to hire or let them go if they feel they are not a good fit. Whether or not candidates make the cut will depend strictly on what they bring to the table.

4) Contract-to-hire can provide stability

Vital roles in a business can become vast voids that take quite some time to fill in the event that the employee in place leaves.

Finding the right fit can be time and resource consuming but with the convenience of a contract-to-hire employee standing in, other company initiatives can keep up with normal operations even during this searching period when the business is looking for the best pick of the bunch.

Contract-to-hires accelerate initial onboarding and also quells any problems of instability.

Disadvantages

As with pretty much everything else, there is another side to the coin of contract-to-hire agreements. Some of its drawbacks include:

1) The process can become frustrating

The business might have to repeat the process over and over again as it is not often the norm that it will land the best candidate at the first go.

As the company kisses more toads than princes, it can start to lose faith in the process and the strategy can become frustrating.

2) Businesses can get two-faced employees

Arguably the most devastating of the drawbacks is that a company is at a risk of hiring employees who end up being unfruitful in the long run.

People will always put their best foot forward during the trial phase but once they get through the door of permanent employment, their entire persona changes drastically and so too does their work input. In a nutshell, it is not the best way to get top-notch personnel.

3) Many good employees are put off by contract-to-hire agreements

Truth be told, not many are interested in working for a company part-time and this is especially true for the talented or skilled employees who often prefer the financial security of a permanent placement.

This is not to say there aren’t any skilled labor with contract-to-hires. That said,how companies have treated contract-to-hire employees in the past will determine the caliber of candidates a business gets. Those with high success rates will attract the better candidates, while those with high turnover rates will not be very appealing.

When is a contract-to-hire agreement ideal for a business?

Whether or not a business should use contract-to-hire agreements depends upon a number of factors. While it might be perfect for some kinds of businesses, in other cases, it can become an ineffective means of procuring labor. At this juncture, we’ll be discussing the former.

1) It is a great strategy for a company with fluctuating labor demands

Those businesses that tend to require varying amounts of labor throughout the year-e.g. agricultural ventures where more hands are required during certain periods- benefit the most from contract-to-hire arrangements.

Instead of employing people on permanent terms only to lay them off when the job is at an end, these companies can hire extra personnel during the most intensive seasons of the year and let them go without having to pay hefty terms that come with permanent contract violations.

2) It is also excellent for small businesses with little resources

As discussed previously, permanent employment often comes with numerous incentives and conditionals. So for a business with a constrained budget that is just finding its feet in the industry, contract-to-hire agreements are the best way to go.

It allows small companies to cut down on human resource efforts among other related costs.

So is a contract-to-hire deal appropriate for your business? Well, that depends on the resources you have at your disposal and the nature of labor requirements in your company.

Simple tasks can be handed out on a temporary basis but more complex jobs require experienced professionals you can hire for the long haul. All in all, weigh the pros and cons of the strategy and you should find the way forward for your company.

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