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The Best Question A Potential Hire Could Ask During an Interview

We've all been in an interview before, and we've all heard the standard list of questions. After working with DRYVER for a couple of years, I've seen a lot of questions and asked even more about the recruiting process.

While speaking about the future of work around the world though, I realized quickly that the job description isn't really a description of the job at all. It is merely a skills and requirements checklist, offering very little understanding about the environment and cultural 'fit' of the job.

And so, when we look at the typical job description, we often wonder why there isn’t anything on it about the people they are going to be working with, how conflicts are mitigated, and what employees like to do in their spare time.

Although it might seem a little odd to consider talking about employee's favorite activities outside of work, we have to remember that in many cases today, the skills required to do the job may not be as significant a differentiator as the culture and the experience while at work.

But during an interview, how do we get a full understanding of what the experience at work is like? Especially in larger companies, how is it that we know what lives employees live both inside and outside of work? Does HR really know the experience of all of the departments and the people in it?

In some cases, maybe not.

A question that we believe is very important in the recruiting process is to ask the recruiter if it is possible to have a 30-minute coffee with an individual who is already in the position. And for employers, offering an opportunity for the potential hire to have a conversation with an existing employee already in that position is a great idea for a few reasons:

  1. They will give authentic responses.
  2. There will be a better sense of trust developed.
  3. The responses will be more accurate, as they will be coming from someone who is living the experience.
  4. They may realize there is a good sense of fit.
  5. They may realize there is no fit at all.

While it seems like understanding there isn’t a fit is a bad thing, it actually saves a lot of time and money. To get a better understanding of not only the job that needs to be done and the skills associated with it, but the people as well, it is very important.

In our findings, we’ve seen that there is an increased need to have a sense of belonging and fit in the work that we are doing. As we know, work isn’t something that is as transactional as it used to be, and we can take it places we wouldn’t have dreamed of even a few years ago—think emails in bed or conference calls in the car. The fact that work is so much ‘bigger’ than it used to be requires us to have a better understanding of what the experience entails. Getting a better idea on what the team dynamic is like, how they work together, and who they are outside of work is an important part in understanding if there is going to be a fit.

It seems to me that everything we have been doing, when it comes to technology and recruiting, is about speeding up and being ‘faster’ and ‘more efficient’ than we’ve been before. But through the work we’ve been doing at DRYVER, and seeing that workplace anxiety is going up, satisfaction is going down, and the need to feel a sense of belonging increasing, taking a few minutes to slow the process down and have a meaningful conversation between current and potential employee during the recruiting process can’t be understated.

Succession Planning

Like any solid team, it is important to have a full and healthy bench.

The same is true in the workplace.

Not simply across leadership – as is a common misconception – but across all organizations and industries, it is critical to effectively execute succession strategies.

You’ll notice that said execute, not just ‘have’.

The challenge is that, in order to execute, there has to be a plan that is acted upon.

The largest demographic wave in North American history is hurtling towards (and is already reaching) retirement. Not only at the leadership level, but throughout entire organizations. Boomers across the globe are – and will continue to be – working not only to replace themselves in an operational capacity but also to bridge an intangible quantity of experience and historical knowledge.

It is not a surprise, and it is likely something that (even though we haven’t all been experiencing it) we’ve definitely read about.

75 is the new 65. Rightly so. According to The Atlantic, the recession in the United States created so much of a hit that ‘the nation’s 401(k)s and IRA lost about $2.4 trillion in the final two quarters of 2008, and the average loss that year for workers who had been on the job for 20 years was, according to one estimate, about 25 percent.’ Pair that with the ease of working flexibly or remotely, and the ability to be passionate about work makes sense that people are staying in the workforce longer.

But here we are now, not 10 years later and (Baby) Boomers are retiring at alarming rates. Actually, ‘10,000 [people] hit the typical retirement age of 65, every day. This trend is expected to go out until 2030’.

So you might be asking yourself… how do I build a full, healthy bench? And, while we are at it… what does a full healthy bench mean?

Here are a few things to consider:

1) Start early, and scout often.

Empower leaders in your organizations to be scouting the up-and-coming talent. 20% of the team will be top performers by nature. They inherently work hard and have to prove themselves early. This is a great group to choose from.

2) Get in touch with the team’s personal and professional goals

Is growth within the organization a goal of theirs? Do they see the opportunity, and desire the challenges and development associated with movement?

3) Formalize intentions

Enroll the team in all succession planning objectives. Let them know that the intention is to tap high-potentials to join the bench, share why and what that will look like for those who are scouted.

4) Don’t be afraid to trade players or send them back down to the minors

Part of building a strong, healthy bench is evaluation and re-evaluation. Many organizations already have great strategies for continued development and performance reviews through their year. Evaluating to benchmark, and re-evaluating to determine continued fit for the succession plan, is key to maintaining a strong and healthy roster to groom from.

And remember… your bench will change. Your top players may be recruited to a different team.

It is your job to scout out new talent to fill the vacancy – it doesn’t always have to be full, but – if it isn’t – you should be on the lookout for your next star and execute the plan to ensure years of experience don’t just walk out the door in a Banker’s Box at 65 years old. Sorry, I mean 75.

The Job Description

After a short ‘research’ mission to learn more about how companies recruit for positions, I found myself knowing less about the jobs than before I had started looking. Before looking, I at least had an assumption about what I was getting into. After, I found that that might not even be true. But what was? I found myself reading:

  • Are you a hard worker?
  • Do you know how to use XXX
  • Are you a team player?
  • Do you have 5 years experience?

This job is great for you!!!!!

I don’t need to be too delicate when I say that this is nothing short of ridiculous. Of course, anyone who is looking for a job that will pay the bills and is a ‘team player’ will be applying for the job. Anyone who feels they work hard will be racing to throw a resume in with bated breath and crossed-fingers.

Instead though, consider a job posting that is focused on a case of what was done, and what the individual that is being recruited could have done for the position. Something like this may work much better:

In early 20XX, our company won the opportunity to work with a company in the XX sector. Our objective was to increase efficiencies by 15% by improving productivity in the workplace. The position we are hiring for had a very important role ad was asked to interview employees to see what they loved and thought could be improved within their jobs. This individual spent the next 60 hours talking to numerous people and ultimately found the root of the problem. After constructing a very strong paper identifying opportunities for the company, they were but on the implementation and monitoring team.

Because of the nature of work, it is essential for us to have someone who is hard working, knows how to use XXX, is a team player, and has enough experience to show us we can trust them right away.

By changing the job description and giving examples of a case that an individual could be working on, it becomes much easier to visualize the position and what the experience might look like within it. Further, talking about numbers and figures is important as well, as it shows how the work may be weighted within the position.

We have already entered an age where information is all around us- almost to a fault. We see postings everyone and can apply to tens of jobs a day. But it is the companies that take the extra time to elaborate on a position to really help the candidate understand what will be required of them if they were to get the job that will ultimately help with the recruiting process. I would go as far as saying that there may even be fewer candidates that would apply, but a higher quality of people that would show interest because if we are to talk about more specific details of the job, people will know if it is a better fit for them

More details now, less headache later.

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