8 Questions Every Candidate Should Ask During Job Interviews

October 21st, 2014

Many candidates have questions they have prepared for an interview, but as a hiring manager, what are some of the best ones that you have heard? Read below for some of the best ones. question 疑問 はてな

1.  What role will I fill?

When it comes to an employee’s role in a business’s strategy, the job title explains only so much. When a candidate asks this question, it will provide clarity as to if they will need to be an ideas person, a mentor to other employees, a creative force, a rule follower, a rule breaker.

2. Why does this role matter to the growth of the company?

This question can be used by the candidate to explore the expected level of engagement. Will the position be a low- or a high-impact role? Will it be universally respected within the company or will they be the undercover hero?

3. Who would my colleagues be?

The best interviews include three to four team members. That way the candidate can insight into team dynamics and personalities.

4. What would I be doing that makes your job easier?

The answers to this question will inform the candidate of the immediate problems each team member is hoping the new employee will solve.

5. What are additional important skills I will need to do this job well?

This will give the prospective employee better insight into if the company needs someone who is also a self-starter or works well in teams.

6. How does the company measure success?

This question will give the candidate a better idea of whether or not they will be successful. The common work habits of people who have this position gives insight into whom the company considered successful.

7. What would you expect from me this month, in three months, and in a year?

When a candidate asks this question, they are trying to gauge what the role is that you had in mind for them to deliver in the next coming months.

8. What is your mission?

Employees are most happy when their goals align with those of their employers. This is one of the most important questions a candidate can ask. It allows for them to see if you both want the same things.

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2014 IT Salary Survey

October 14th, 2014

Find out which tech positions make the most and where 2015 information technology salary expectations stand in TechTarget’s IT Salary Survey for 2014.

According to the survey, leading the pack were network managers, database administrators and security managers, whose average total compensation increased 22%, 22% and 17% year-over-year respectively. That trumped the 8% increase in average total compensation (base salary plus bonuses) for senior IT executives — including CIOs, CTOs, executive vice presidents and directors of IT— and the 8.7% increase in total pay for CISOs. Business application directors raked in a respectable $148,097 in average total compensation in 2014, but that represented a 10% drop from 2013.

59% of the 1,200 IT professionals who took TechTarget’s 2014 IT Salary and Careers Survey had increased total compensation in 2014, 49% received a raise and 36% received a bonus. Nearly half expect a raise, and 20% a bonus, in 2015.

See a further breakdown below.

Salary Index

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Simple Tips to Avoid Making Bad Hires

October 7th, 2014

When a company makes a bad hire it can cause major impact to the overall company. This impact can result in lower Bproductivity, lost time and money in hiring and training, decreased employee morale as well exposed negativity to clients which could affect the sales team in the long run.

When making your next hire, examine how you feel about the organization. Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Would you want to work there?
  2. Why do you work there?
  3. What makes your organization unique and attractive?

After taking a closer look with your thoughts, consider adding these next steps:

Profile your ideal candidate

  • Poor analysis of job functions can lead to inappropriate recruitment criteria
  • Poor analysis of the required skill sets and behaviors can lead to inappropriate selection criteria

Know where the candidates are

Interview right

  • Inadequate initial screening can lead to wasted time and the wrong candidates on the short list
  • Inadequate interviewing techniques, resulting poorer access to the facts
  • Overselling of the company and career and/or money expectations can lead to a frustrated and unmotivated staff

Resist the temptation to fill the job quickly

  • Pressure and urgency to hire for new positions can result in wrong induction

Always check references

  • Not checking references properly can lead to troublemakers sneaking onto your payroll

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Hiring Mistakes and How to Recover

October 1st, 2014

BThere was a recent article posted on LinkedIn stating examples of hiring mistakes and how you can recover from them.

Mistake: Overlooking culture fit.

Recovery: Culture should be part of the interview process. An ideal candidate for a job has the skills and qualifications, as well as the cultural values that are important to the company. When interviewing them, ask questions about their activities outside work.

Mistake: Hurrying through the interview because you are pressed for time.

Recovery: Take the time to get to know each candidate, and be efficient with your time. Ask the right questions or make your candidates complete tests. Give each person a rating based on qualifications, likeability/culture fit, and long term potential.

Mistake: Hiring family and friends.

Recovery: You may think you are doing someone a favor, but if the job doesn’t work out, you might lose more than an employee. If you decide to hire family and friends, make it clear in the beginning that personal life stays outside of the office. It would make other employees uncomfortable if someone was getting preferential treatment just because of the personal relationship.

Mistake: Not enough clarity on a job description.

Recovery: Going through job applications from interested candidates is hard enough without confusion about job duties and expectations. Be clear about what you are looking for. Be specific enough so the perfect candidate will reveal themselves in a cover letter or an interview.

Mistake: Onboarding process is limited or nonexistent.

Recovery: Inadequate training for new employees makes the job harder for both of you. The new employee process doesn’t stop after hire. Proper onboarding includes a transitional period. There is always a learning curve for the new hire, such as learning new names and faces, internal processes like file handling, and introduction to day-to-day operations (to name a few).

To view the original article, please click here.

Have you recovered from any recent hiring mistakes? We would love to hear them in our comments section below.

What’s the Most Revealing Interview Question You Should Ask?

September 23rd, 2014

When you are interviewing for your next hire, you may be ready to ask the standard questions, but what is the most revealing interview question you should ask? “Tell me about your friends.”

I am sure you can find an exception or two, but for the most part, good people hang out with good people. High performers usually associate with high performers. Whether it is at work or outside of work, high achievers tend to stick together. The same is usually true for people who do minimum work, gossip and complain.

When you ask this question, truly listen to the answer as it can reveal a lot about the person. Learning more about their friends will also help you discover more like their organizational skills and personality traits you would like to have or not have on your team.

What do you find is your most revealing interview question?

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It’s an IT Employee’s Market

September 16th, 2014

You’ve probably heard the real estate terminology “it’s a buyer’s marketing” or “it’s a seller’s market.” These phrases allow you to figure out if you should buy or sell property based on factors affecting the real estate market such as lending interest rates, size of the market, supply and demand, the ability to qualify for a mortgage, etc. Just as in real estate, in the business world there are similar factors that influence the equation when determining if it’s an employer or employee market. These factors include: the amount of economic expansion, production, demand of goods, skilled labor force, fixed costs, projected revenues, etc.

As you can see in the infographic below, the evolution of the employee from past to present has taken quite an interesting progression. In IT specifically, it is an ever-changing environment where anything is possible; breaking the norm and liberating the constraints of hierarchical organizations. Now, technological advances improve creativity and collaboration that unleash new opportunities and allow for more innovation within organizations.

it employee market

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Are You Overpaying New Recruits?

September 9th, 2014

Dishonest BusinessmanDeciding what to pay a new hire is one of the hardest parts of the recruiting process. Generally hiring managers will start by asking what the candidate is currently earning then add 10-30% based on what they feel is reasonable.

Someone may be getting overpaid or underpaid, thus they should not be entitled to only earning a certain amount on top of that.

The following list will help guide your decision on what to pay new recruits:

1. Be realistic- the minimum you should offer is market rate. Companies who try to hire talent on the cheap are sending the message that they don’t value their employees, and their competitors do. Your employees are your most important asset so it is crucial to treat them as such.

2. Decide on a pay range beforehand and stick to it. As a hiring manager it is your responsibility to do research before the interview process to be sure your pay range get attention from the right candidates.

3. Pay people what they are worth- not based on what they currently earn. The last thing you should do is base a new hires salary on what they are currently making. This penalizes those who were underpaid and rewards others who may be undeserving. As a result you will send the message that you do not treat all candidates equally and take advantage of another person’s situation.

4. Realize to attract top performers you will need to pay significantly more. More often than not, top performers are not looking to change companies and are being paid very well. The likelihood of them switching companies without a considerable upside for them is slim to none. This is something all hiring managers should be aware of before entering serious conversations with these candidates.

5. What is the cost of not filling the vacancy? Instead of saving money on hiring, never lose sight of the importance the role plays in the organization. Ask yourself: Will not filling the role cost us money? If we hire a top performer could they bring significant revenue? Don’t be afraid to pay aggressively if the new hire can bring value to your company.

6. Be consistent with your current team or be prepared to change. Hiring managers should be aware that bringing on new people who make more than current team members is bound to upset a few of them. Only pay top performers if they genuinely deserve it.

7. Remember one excellent employee is worth more than 2 average ones. Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg are both news companies that do around $2.5 billion in profit. However, Thomson Reuters has 60,000 employees and Bloomberg has only 15,000. How do they achieve the same profit with a quarter of the staff? Bloomberg pays their staff approximately twice as much as Thomson Reuters. Never be afraid to pay top performers top dollar, they will product better result, increase your profit and use less management time. In essence, paying for themselves.

8. Don’t negotiate salary too hard. Be realistic when it comes to salary negotiations. If you have done your research beforehand you know your limits and what you can afford. Be fair and straightforward.

9. Smaller companies need to offer more (but not necessarily more money). The less a company can offer against a candidate’s current employer, the greater the upside has to be. While the obvious choice is to offer more money, there are other options. These include a more aggressive bonus structure, stock options, flexible working schedule, etc. As a hiring manger, you need to stay up to date with what your company can offer to attract top talent from the market.

10. People don’t move for less money. Less than 5% of people who are currently employed move for less money than they were currently earning, and only 15% made a lateral move. Be realistic and remember that people will rarely make the move for less money.

11. Remember it is not all about the money. Be cautious of candidates who are only moving because of money. These candidates will be on the hunt as soon as they are offered a better deal. Candidates who put compensation before job satisfaction, opportunity and career development should be pursued very carefully.

A large percentage of hiring is due to salary related issues. This can be easily avoided if hiring managers do their research, prepare and understand market value.

At TopLine Strategies we offer our clients a blended job description and compensation report based on industry standards with geographic data cuts for the most accurate salary ranges. This helps our clients recruit and maintain the best talent at the best rate which ensures longevity of new hires. In addition, we technically screen candidates prior to submitting them to our clients to confirm each candidate has the desired level of technical skills. Lastly, we assist in the negotiation stage and make sure each potential new hire fully understands the benefits and overall compensation of the offer including: commute, PTO, bonuses, stock options, medical, vision, dental benefits, etc.

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The Magic Six – Traits to Seek Out & Nurture

September 2nd, 2014

When you are making your next hire, there are certain traits that you can seek out and use as a guideline for the culture you company is striving for—employees that are competent, hard-working and truly care. The key mix includes applied solving and natural empathy which can be referred to as left brain and the right, in harmony.

Infographic_the magic six

Why are some positions so hard to fill?

August 27th, 2014

Sometimes there are positions that are harder to fill than others, but why? Here are some answers:

“We want one just like the last one.”

It’s not uncommon for a job to evolve over time around a current employee’s skill set.

In the IT realm, there may be a .NET developer that also has additional skills like graphic design and since they had an added bonus on their resume, it may be something you will not find in another .NET developer and therefore, the position can be harder to fill.

 “I’m leaving, but I can’t let go.”

Ownership can be a double-edged sword. We all want our employees to take ownership of their jobs. But this can become a problem if an outgoing employee is involved in the process of hiring their own replacement. Some people may feel so possessive of their job that they can’t imagine anyone else taking their place.

“They have worked at too many companies.”

In this changing world of work, traditional career paths are becoming less common. Fewer people are working for the same company for five years or more. Especially in IT, many employees may even work in temporary, part-time and project-based jobs as independent contractors. Do not dismiss these types of candidates as job hoppers you may miss out on some very talented prospects.

“They don’t have a degree? I’ll pass.”

Before you require a degree for a position, ask yourself whether it’s really necessary. Could a certain amount of related experience be substituted for a degree? Many of the IT skills that someone needs are not always learned in the classroom, but through on-the-job training.

“They don’t have all the skill requirements.”

Don’t treat a job description like a checklist! You need to understand the essential job requirements that the candidate must have, and which ones you can train them to do.

“We don’t really know the full duties of the position.”

Jobs that are poorly defined, or that have no real job descriptions, can be very hard to fill. And employees in those roles can be set up for failure. Unless you can find a true jack of all trades (and don’t forget the rest of that saying, which is “master of none”), you’ll probably have a revolving door.

“Java Ninja can be a job title.”

Make sure that the job title accurately and professionally represents what the position entails. If you are trying to be clever, it may work against you and not people may not apply or you will get people who don’t fit the role.

“They seem over-qualified.”

Many people shy away from a resume with too much experience, assuming that an overqualified employee will be unhappy and leave their job quickly. Before you make that assumption, talk to the candidate!

“I want it all and I want it NOW!”

When you find a great candidate who is currently employed, it’s important to realize they need to give their current employer sufficient notice. You’d appreciate that if they were leaving your business. Don’t pass them up simply because you have to wait a couple of weeks. After all, you’ll hopefully have them in your business for a good long while.

The wrap-up:

If you see yourself, or your business, in any of these scenarios, it’s probably time to reassess what you’re doing. Be aware that while your job sits vacant, and is advertised week after week, great talent is getting quickly snapped up by your competitors. On top of that, active job seekers who see a job advertised endlessly begin wondering just what is wrong with the position or with your business and stay away.

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Never Have I Ever…

August 19th, 2014

Have you ever hired what you thought was the perfect candidate and then find out that person lied on their resume after it was too late? This is an ever-increasing trend that has been a major problem that many businesses face each day.

Hiring the wrong staff is one of the biggest challenges a start-up venture or really any company for that matter can face. A poll conducted by Harris Poll alongside CareerBuilder found that 60 percent of hiring managers have caught people lying on their resumes and it’s only getting worse. Ever since the recession in the United States, hiring managers have seen a substantial surge in the amount of people embellishing their resumes in order to stand out in the sea of competition.

Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder, recommends if you want to enhance your skills, it is a better idea to embellish tangible examples from your professional experiences instead of lying on your resume and breaching the trust with the hiring manager from the very beginning.

common resume lies


industries most likely

Most Memorable Resume Lies:

  • Applicant claimed to be the assistant to the prime minister of a foreign country that doesn’t have a prime minister.
  • Applicant claimed to have 25 years of experience at age 32.
  • Applicant claimed to have been a construction supervisor. The interviewer learned the bulk of his experience was in the completion of a doghouse a few years prior.
  • Applicant applied twice for the same position and provided different work history on each application.

What are some of the most memorable lies you have encountered?

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