Archive for the ‘Employee Training’ category

7 ways to screen employees before the first interview

Have you been struggling to fill open positions at your company? Want to find a better way to get the A-talent joining your team?

Building a talented workforce is top of many recruiter’s to-do lists. A solid team gets work done, strengthens company culture, and improves their skill set.

But finding these individuals is tough.

You have to wade through an endless amount of resumes, field calls from interested candidates, and find time to make offers and negotiate salaries.

How do you make that process more efficient?

By pre-screening candidates. Instead of interviewing everyone who applies, why not do some pre-screening and only bring in the best candidates for the job.

Here’s 7 ways to pre-screen employees:

1. Call them up

The phone is a lot less intimidating than an in-person interview. A quick 2 or 3 minute interview to get an idea of how they answer basic questions and communicate tells you a lot about a potential hire. Here are a couple questions to ask:

These are are all soft-balls. Avoid asking challenging questions. Often, candidates take these calls while they’re running out of the office or driving. Keep it quick and easy. After all, it’s just a screening phone call.

2. Check LinkedIn

Almost every college grad or mid-career worker has a LinkedIn profile (and if they don’t, I wouldn’t invite them in for an interview). A strong online presence is necessary for today’s unemployed because practically everything happens online these day. What should you look for on their LinkedIn profiles? Here’s a couple tips:

LinkedIn provides a wealth of information for recruiting teams. Use it as a reference, but not an all-knowing source of information.

3. Call references

Some HR professionals discount a reference’s opinion (because 99% of the time they’re stellar). I take a different stance. References offer an objective view of the benefit and value they received from their former employee or coworker. It’s likely they’ll be able to provide the same value for your company. Here are a couple questions to get the most out of references:

And no, there’s nothing wrong with calling references prior to the interview. It just means you could hire the candidate on the spot if you wanted to.

4. View their personal blog

Oh, they don’t have a blog? I can understand if you’re trying to hire a material scientist or custodial engineer, but if your job is full of work on the web, I would expect an established web presence. Here’s a couple things a personal blog tells you about the candidate:

Blogs are one of my favorite ways to see what makes candidates tick. They may be applying for a job in product management, but write a blog about their travel adventures. You learn a lot about people by looking at their writing.

5. Read their cover letter (hopefully there is one!)

I can’t believe the number of people who skip over the cover letter. The candidate wrote it for a reason. It explains why you should hire them. A resume doesn’t do that. Take time to read the cover letter. Here’s what it tells you:

6. Compare them to your job listing

There had to be an obvious one in this list, right? Do side-by-side comparison of your job candidates and the listing. Do they match up. While it may not be perfect, here’s a three things to keep in mind when you’re comparing:

Whatever you end up doing, decided on your hiring strategy for this position early. Is an 80% going to cut it for an interview or are you looking for the candidate to meet all of your requirements. This makes a difference on who you’re going to bring in.

7. Give them a test or project

Back in college, I applied for an art internship with a popular brewery. I was a marketing major with zero art experience. But I understood the importance of a consistent brand. While I did have some self-taught Photoshop skills, the Art Director wanted to see how I put those skills to work. She sent me a test to turn an ugly beer distributor poster into a poster that better represented the brewery. And I passed with flying colors.

Finding a test to send to potential hires is a fantastic way to separate the experienced candidates from the rest of the pack. Stuck with what to do? Here are a couple of ideas:

The hunt for the best employee takes time. That’s why pre-screening is so important. Rather than waste your hiring team’s time on unfit candidates, do work beforehand to bring in the A-players.

How To Succeed Without Ever Trying

Bob Slydell: You see, what we’re actually trying to do here is, we’re trying to get a feel for how people spend their day at work… so, if you would, would you walk us through a typical day, for you?

Peter Gibbons: Yeah.

Bob Slydell: Great.

Peter Gibbons: well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late, ah, I use the side door – that way Lumbergh can’t see me, heh heh – and, uh, after that I just sorta space out for about an hour.

Bob Porter: Da-uh? Space out?

Peter Gibbons: Yeah, I just stare at my desk; but it looks like I’m working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch, too. I’d say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.

Does this iconic exchange from the movie Office Space sound familiar? Are you thinking, “this sounds like me,” or even worse, “this sounds like my staff!”

Many employers are disappointed with their employee’s lack of knowledge – regardless of experience.

The reason lies in corporate training.

Employers pile on large amounts of information for each employee. And then they don’t follow up with their staff about the new content. This may be a consequence of employers not spending enough money to effectively train their staff. And it’s hurting their bottom lines.

4 Reasons Corporate Training is Failing

1.Employers aren’t following up

Many new employees go through an introductory training course when they’re hired. This usually involves a 1 to 7 day downpour of information. Employees are then expected to remember everything – with no refresher.

Why this isn’t working:

Managers are not following up.

After a week long training, employees are confident they know company policies. But, a year later? They’re lucky if they recall half of the information.

The solution is to consistently check in with employees. Follow up with them during training as well as throughout their time with the company to ensure that they are trained to their fullest potential.

2. Every college graduate knows business etiquette

One of the biggest mistakes employers make is hiring college graduates and expecting them to have business knowledge. They may be educated, but real-world experience is near zero.

Why this isn’t working:

Employers believe colleges train students to work in the real world. In reality, they only further their education.

Because of this mindset, employers hire college graduates expecting them to succeed with no training. But, employers get confused when new hires don’t meet expectations. Employers need to realize college educates, they train.

3. Relying on technology

To save money and “better train” their employees, a lot of companies have turned to apps and game simulations to engage their teams.

Why this isn’t working:

While playing games has proven to be more affective in memory retention, companies are not following up. Great ways to follow up are periodic quizzes and simulations throughout the training session and beyond.

4. Fear of loyalty

Companies don’t want to waste money on corporate training because they don’t want other firms stealing their top talent.

After all, employers don’t want to spend money on training, only to lose employees to another company. That means having to reinvest in a new hire.

Why this isn’t working:

Because companies are cheap. They’re not investing in training. This ultimately hurts the company – and the employees. Why? Because poor training leads to poor performance.

How to fix corporate training

Make it useful. Making it something employees refer to throughout their tenure. And follow up with your team to make sure they’ve still got the knowledge to succeed.

See if your employees know company policies. Test their knowledge by creating a free quiz at

The only way to find the perfect employee

Finding the Perfect Employee

Have you decided to bring on a new team member recently? Maybe you need marketing help or a bookkeeping assistant. You set out write the job requirements down.

Let’s take the bookkeeper for example. Your requirements may be:

Of course, there’s more. But, let’s press on. When you’ve got your requirements list, you post the opening on Craigslist, let your followers on twitter know, and start talking to colleagues in the area.

You get a phenomenal batch of candidates.

Three to five are given two rounds of interviews. And you end up hiring Jessica, a bookkeeper with several years of experience and a bubbly attitude. She’ll talk to anyone.

But is she perfect?

Probably not. Can you remember a time when you hired the perfect employee? They probably met 85-90% of your expectations. But, she gets the job done.

The problem is that a lot of companies stop at the 90% mark. They accept 10% imperfections. But, don’t you want your team firing on all cylinders?

Of course you do!

A team made up of 50-60 percent team members and a couple of star players simply isn’t going to propel your company forward. So how do you make your team the best they can be?

By training them in the skills they’re lacking.

Surprisingly, employees want to learn. It keeps them motivated and sharpens their skill set. They want to spend a day learning about better accounting principles. They want to research better ways to get more customers into their software. Or, maybe the want to experience a different department.

Giving them the opportunity. The benefits far outweigh the costs. Let’s explore how training development helps your team.

How does training and development help your team?

1. Cross-training

What if the employee who runs the cash register in your retail store calls out sick? Someone has to run the register! That’s why you train Cindy in receiving how to run the register. That way, she can jump in to run the register to help out when your employees call out or need back up.

2. Opportunity for advancement

To make it to the next level, employees often need to acquire new skills. When you train them to advance – whether to another department or management position – they’ll not only be motivated to learn, they’ll appreciate you chose them to move to a position with more responsibility.

3. More productivity

One of the main reasons behind hiring a new employee is so you can grow your business and get more work done. By acquiring new skills, team members may be able to simply get more work done. And what’s wrong with that?

4. Motivation

Learning new skills is a natural source of motivation for almost any employee. They’re not only developing their own skillset, but they’re able to add a new piece of software to their resume or build up a list of certifications. Now, that’s pretty motivating!

This whole training thing sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it?  The only downside is, although you may want to, the transition to a training-first company can be challenging.

Embarking on a huge training blitz will overwhelm your team. Some team members may not want to learn new skills and others might not think they have the time.

How to work with one person to turn them into the perfect employee (and get the rest to follow suit):

1. Identify a team member who wants to improve

It often just starts with one employee who wants to learn. An employee who wants to improve their skill set. Find them in your team – or another manager’s and proceed to step two.

2. Find out what they want to improve on

The best way to get a team member interested in learning more is to see what they want to learn. Maybe they want to spend the day in another department or maybe they want to get Google AdWords certified. Write a couple learning goals down together and move on to step three.

3. Discover tools and resources to help them get there.

You can learn practically anything online. There are millions of blogs, videos, online tutorials, classes, and conferences to attend. Get a learning plan together and pay for the resources if you need to. Your beta employee shouldn’t have to pay out-of-pocket to learn new skills.

4. Follow up

Once your employee has gone through the training, ask them how it went. What did they learn? Is it something they think other team members would benefit from? Gathering this feedback is useful when you roll out a company-wide training program.

One team member is a great start. Use his or her experience as a launching board to a larger team initiative. With several team members on board learning new skills, you’ll be well on your way to eventually working with the “perfect employee”.

How have you used training to help your team get to the next level?