Evolving Interview Strategies

ciel blog - interview strategies

Technology has been disrupting a number of things in our day to day lives including each day at work. Cloud technologies, mobility, social platforms, big data and artificial intelligence have transformed many activities in HR function of an organization, right from the way talent is attracted, and assessed to the way it is developed and retained. Behaviours and habits of employees have changed significantly over time. Hence, employer organizations are evolving their practices to adapt to these developments around us.

Let us focus on one cog in the wheel – interviews. This is one of the most commonly used tools to assess talent while recruiting for a role. Traditionally, organizations held face to face discussion with a potential hire to check if the person has the competency, attitude and interest to do the job, has adequate depth of experience and demonstrates alignment with organizational values. We know, this is a herculean task to assess all of these in an interview. Interviewers need to be experienced and competent to carry out such an assessment. Even if they are, research shows that reliability of interview as a tool of assessment is less than 35%. Yet organizations follow this as the common practice. Needless to say, with the advent of new technologies and changing norms in our society, we should introduce new methods.

Multi-Stage Assessment

Talent is a competitive advantage for any organization. It is extremely critical that an organization must choose the best and not settle for anything which is lesser. We have now access to a range of assessment tools that can reduce human bias, use analytics to increase reliability of the findings and are easy to administer.

In our current times, instantaneity is a virtue. Assessment methods which give a report immediately after the session are a great way to attract candidates to take up the challenge. IT industry and some Government programmes have started using hackathons, codefests or similar such sprint-like events which bring out the best in people working in a competitive game-like environment. However, all interviews do not have to be in a sprint-like environment. The strategy is to deploy a multi-stage process, each focusing on evaluation of a few aspects in adequate detail.

Instantaneous results and preferably a detailed feedback of the interview process are attractive to the aspirants. Considering the logistics of travel and busy schedule that each of us endure, we have to find technology to make such a multi-stage process a reality.

Leverage Technology

Video Interviews allow a candidate to take an interview at his or her convenience and Interviewers can evaluate the responses when they are free. There is no need to sync-up the schedule of both for this method of assessment which can be very efficient for screening applicants. This is very useful for recruiting junior level roles in an organization where the number of applicants for a job could be 20x of the number of open roles to fill.

Online mobile-based tests, case studies, hackathons, gamified assessment tests, analysis of simulated cases, virtual reality based interviews are new tools that are making recruitment easy to administer and test multiple parameters at the same time. Traditional methods of interviewing have to be preceded by some of these tech-based interventions. The organization will strengthen its employer brand and pick up candidates who are more likely to be successful.

Build a Roadmap and Execute

It is easy to say that technology tools and multi-stage assessment methods have to be deployed. However, it is very hard to put them into practice. Several organizations have not yet brought this onto their anvil, let alone planning and execution. It is a missed opportunity unless we bring this into action. When the leadership team is committed to the cause of boosting employer brand and making the selection process more reliable, planning can be kicked off.

The first step will be to list down the evaluation parameters, agree on a commonly agreed benchmark for evaluation and translate them into objective measures. The next step will be to design a battery of tests such that they are fit for the purpose and add value to the potential candidate as well as the employer organization. The choice of tests come next, keeping in mind the ease of administering them and the acceptance of the potential candidate. A lot of work, exciting and value-adding!


Ref: http://www.cielhr.com/evolving-interview-strategies/


Bridging the Generation Gap at Workplace

ciel blog - bridging generation gaps in the workplace

Our workplaces have a significant number of people in their 20’s and 30’s and are led by managers in their late 30’s, 40’s to 50’s. Given the economic and social changes in the 1990’s, people born in that period, especially in our cities grew up in the digital era. Using technology and internet is their second nature. The way they interact among themselves and their seniors is very different from those who were born a decade before. They have grown up with smart phones and social media unlike their older counterparts who learnt all these well later in life. They are used to quick responses, snappy chats, informality in communication, the world of upvotes and downvotes, emojis, transparency and at the same time, a deep sense of privacy.

Build a Positive Confluence

These behaviours are in a realm which is very different from the older social norms of demonstrating respect while interacting with elders, taking initiatives when asked, operating within set boundaries, fearful consciousness about hierarchy and authority. Our workplace today has people who have grown up in two distinctive realms which are way apart. How can the people born in 1960’s and 70’s and in senior leadership roles align with the thoughts and actions of their direct reports who are in  the crucial mid-level leadership roles having grown up in a different era? Similarly how can these mid-level managers lead the millennials who have a very different way of life? In a way, it’s the clash of three distinct ways of doing things. Can we convert clashing ways to a positive confluence?

The senior leaders have to adapt and drive adaptability throughout the organization. The unspoken and unwritten value for all progressive companies has to be adaptability, mutual respect, trust, openness to change and humility to learn. These do not need to be specified. These are the basics of workplace etiquette. Our colleges and families have to teach these to our children as a part of their growing up.

Diversity at work

Understanding one another and learning from one another are key to building harmony. Simple things such as using chats, videos, abbreviations, quick comments are a way of life for the young. Seniors have to learn and adapt their content, frequency and style while communicating to the others. Similarly, the traditional approach of face to face meetings, discussions and presentations are to be used for specific occasions and events. Everyone in the workplace have to learn using multiple methods and tools to get things done.

This is easier said than done unless there is mutual respect and flexibility. We have to discover the goodness in traditional methods and the value of grey hair; similarly we have to appreciate the value of new methods and learn how to deploy them to raise efficiency and speed. We have to value the energy and enthusiasm of our younger colleagues and leverage them appropriately. Leaders have to compose diverse teams to carry out various tasks and activities of a business so that there are enough opportunities to appreciate one another and the confluence starts delivering positive outcomes.

Respect is earned

There are cases where someone in his or her 20’s leads a team having many elder people in there. While the organization and senior leaders have to position the young leader well in the team and clearly vest the authority in the person, this does not ensure that everyone in the team accepts him or her as the boss.

Foundational principles of humanity have not changed. Our workplaces are not led by autocrats and hence, we cannot force others to respect their boss. Respect is earned by the person by his or her contribution to the success of others. Our younger generation is more comfortable than the older colleagues to recognize the boss for his or her competence and contribution. They do not worry much about the seniority, age, power and authority of the person. However, the older colleagues are habituated with reporting to someone who is senior by age and bestowed with power.

As more and more millennials are entering the workforce, it is likely that the boss is younger than many in the team. In such situations, the manager needs to be sensitive towards the mindset of the older colleagues while directing them and earn their respect.

We live in exciting times – we have to work overtime to build a confluence of ideas and positive energy, deploy diversity in work situations and demonstrate sensitivity towards the diverse norms at play.

Ref: http://www.cielhr.com/bridging-the-gen…gap-at-workplace/ ‎

Care about Candidate Experience?

ciel blog - candidate experience

Organizations focus on customer experience and the moment of truth. They invest substantially to deliver superior experience to a customer – prospective as well as existing. It is the employees of the organization who make the difference right from the stage of design to delivery of the product or the service. Attracting the right-fit employees is the first challenge and then, keeping them motivated for a long time is the next challenge. That brings us to the topic of Employer Brand. The stronger this brand is, the easier and economical it is, to attract and retain talent. Like reputation and credibility, employer brand takes time to build. Top leaders of the organization wrestle with all long-term issues and hence, this is one such topic that ought to find time in the Board room. Today, it is yet to find a place on the table because not enough has been done to measure the lost opportunity and the hidden treasure.

Are we attracting the best?

Place an advertisement for an open job and check the response. In most parts of India across sectors, we find many applications. But, are they the best that we can get? More often than not, the best talent doesn’t come forward to apply for a job unless you or the hiring manager is a talent magnet.

Organizations have hiring plans and they have to fill the vacant roles within a certain period of time. The recruiters within the company and the agency partners muster all energies to get people on board. The question remains if we are getting the best. Is the hiring engine well-tuned to pick the best?

One of the recent works of research, CIELWorks 2018 shows that employer brand is the 2nd most important challenge before the recruiters while attracting talent. Given the growth of an economy, talent is the competitive advantage that can potentially differentiate the performance of an organization from another. So, the best efforts must be done to attract the best!

Do your top employees receive many headhunting calls? Do you find a very few people in your industry to be better than your employees? Do your customers offer great reviews about your employees? If it’s YES all the way, you are doing well!

Devil lies in the details

Like we are concerned about the moments of truth with our customers, we need to be thinking of the moments of truth with the candidates. Their journey starts right from the time someone speaks or emails them about an opportunity. The candidate does some background work before he or she decides to pursue the opportunity. If it is a top talent, one is likely to deep-dive to understand more about the opportunity. The information about our organization, our top leaders, our plans, our ex-employees, vendors, clients and current employees are all available on the internet. The conversations that we are having with the others and vice versa leave behind trails which are moments of truth for a potential hire. Do we know if they are reflective of who we are? If not, do we do anything about it?

Does the hiring manager take the interest to brief the recruiters who are going to look for candidates? If the recruiters are going to the talent market with a generic job description, we cannot attract the best. Neither can we provide a realistic idea of who we are, what the job is and how the career is likely to shape. Job description document is something created by the HR team sometime in the past to comply with some requirements. That doesn’t describe fully what the line manager is looking for. Most organizations make the mistake of sending out a sample job description to many recruiting agencies. As a result, recruiters play the game of ‘fastest finger first‘ to churn out a few candidates. Naturally, candidates get half-baked or incomplete information about the opportunity. The best-fit might decline it and the organization makes a compromise hire!

Similarly, the way a candidate is received, interacted with, communicated and engaged are all moments of truth. They determine what he or she is going to speak about us in his or her circle. Given the power of social media, the experience gets amplified fast.

These minor details determine the quality of candidates we attract not only today but also in the future. Do we really care about these details of how a vacancy in our organization gets communicated and a candidate is engaged with?

Drive it right from the very top

Perception about an organization’s culture, norms and future prospects sum up its employer brand. It takes time to build. Hence, one needs a long-term approach to define what this employer brand is and what actions must be taken to realize its full potential.

While talking about employer branding, often experts talk about technology and standardised methods such as Application Tracking System, Website, Social Media presence, asynchronous video interviews, rewards for internal referral, Apps to engage with candidates and training recruiters. While these are useful and need to be done, the main hurdle to overcome is to treat this subject as a long-term strategic agenda and paying attention to it as much a strategic topic deserves.

Ref: http://www.cielhr.com/care-candidate-experience/


Introvert or Extrovert – doesn’t matter

Introvert ExtrovertOur society celebrates extraversion, the tendency to be outgoing, expressive, assertive and sociable. Schools and families tend to show disdain towards children who are reserved and tend to be quiet. We are told, human beings are gregarious and hence, we must improve our sociability quotient. Organizations achieve results by working in teams, influencing one another and inspiring groups of people. Hence, it is important to be expressive and connecting with others. Introverts are labelled as shy, anxious and under-confident. For leadership roles, most interviewers tend to prefer people who exude confidence and are articulate.

Is this fair to judge someone by one’s preference to live life in a certain way? Are all leaders extraverted? Is it necessary to be an extrovert to be a good leader? Is introversion a handicap to emerge as a leader? Answer to all these questions is a ‘NO’.

Understanding people who they are

Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking tells us how we have narrowed our world-view and started promoting a certain kind of personality trait. As mobile technology has been engulfing us, an increasing number of people are either not developing their social skills or losing whatever they had. Our organizations have young employees who normally prefer engaging with others through chats, emojis, emails, blogs, status updates and comments rather than face to face conversations and physical meetings. They need quiet corners to work rather than the traditional din and bustle of an office space.

Introvert or extrovert, it doesn’t matter, everyone has a preference for the way they want to accomplish a task and the way they discuss and deliberate a topic. The peers, seniors and subordinates need to understand the person’s style and work accordingly. Some people may like to respond instinctively while some others might want to think through it and form their opinions. So, we shouldn’t push everyone to react instantaneously on an issue. Deliberations on an issue have to be held in such a way that personalities of either type get the right environment to contribute. One has to invest energies in understanding the other as a person and engage accordingly. It calls for empathy and genuine care for the others.

Leaders play an important role

Extroverts are naturally expressive about their feelings and thoughts. They bring spontaneity, energy, candour and articulation to any interaction. In situations where the group has a large number of introverts, conversations become dominated by the extroverts and nobody listens deeply. The introverts could quietly switch off and feel discouraged to express their opinions. And at the same time, the extrovert loses the opportunity of listening to other perspectives.

Similarly, introverts prefer conversations to be focused and planned. They would like to think about the topic in advance and present their views. They do not like to react on the fly. At Amazon, they start meetings with quiet reading time of a memo that spells out the agenda. This is an ideal scenario for either type of executives to contribute meaningfully.

Leaders plan conversations and drive an agenda in a discussion. It is their skill to guide the conversation in such a way that all the team members are able to contribute meaningfully. They delegate tasks and responsibilities to their people such that the strengths of their people are leveraged appropriately.

Many Successful leaders in the world are introverts

Introverts are not necessarily shy people. Neither they are anxious. Shyness is a state of mind that makes one awkward or uncomfortable in interactions with others. Normally such a feeling creeps in when one is apprehensive or fearful of the situation, either due to lack of knowledge, expertise or preparedness or an anxiety that stems from past experiences or an ego-driven issue. Extroverts could also feel under-prepared and shaky; they tend to express their state of mind in other forms of emotions too. Though many tend to link introversion with shyness, they are different phenomena. When someone is shy, it is not possible to communicate meaningfully. However, shyness is not a direct result of introversion.

Introversion is the preference to stay away from a crowd, interacting with a large number of people and so on. Introverts may prefer one-on-one meetings and small group meetings to public meetings and large stages. Hence, it is unlikely that an introvert will like to take on roles such as a movie actor, a stage performer, a public speaker, a preacher, a coach of a football team and so on. However, we have had legendary leaders like Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, al Gore, Mark Zuckerberg, Mahatma Gandhi, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, Barack Obama and many more who are believed to be introverts. Some of them have openly talked about their styles and preferences of introversion.

Introverts and extroverts, both have their unique preferences and strengths. Organizations need to combine them and produce something meaningful and powerful.

Ref: http://www.cielhr.com/blog

Showing Emotions at work

ciel blog - emotions at work

Workplaces are microcosms of our society. Humans work there and they are not machines. It is natural that we will bring our emotions while working. It is unfair to expect that employees will bring with them the positive emotions such as love, happiness, high spirits, respectfulness, patience, pride, modesty and so on. Similarly, it is not realistic to expect that employees will leave behind the negative emotions such as anger, sadness, contempt, disgust, anxiety, fear and many such. As a student in school or college, we learn about the norms in the society and a workplace. Should we show emotions or not? If we show them, what are the do’s and don’ts?

Acceptance of self and everything around

Organizations study employee satisfaction and tend to do a few things to win over the hearts of their employees. There are various theories explaining the factors to enhance employee satisfaction and engagement. One of these theories attracts me – help the employee to be successful; we will see a direct impact on employee satisfaction and company’s financials. If we go by this theory, we have to focus on helping each employee find success.

The first and foremost thing to success is to accept the person with all his strengths and limitations. Often we do not accept our environment in its totality. We have strong likes and dislikes about various aspects of our environment; we rue over the shortcomings. Most often, our remorse takes us nowhere. Moreover, we hold ourselves in a surreal way rather than accepting our own self as a mosaic of positives and negatives.

The root causes behind fear, insecurities, hatred, anger and so on lie in lack of acceptance. Once we sort this out in our mind, life becomes easy, stress-free and enjoyable. The paradigm changes from ‘what I do not have’ to ‘what I have’.

Organizations and leaders must invest their energies on building the culture of acceptance of each other and acceptance of factors beyond one’s control. This makes the ride smooth and joyful because people look at the bright side of things and are motivated to make the most out of a given situation. The people who are uncomfortable with the environment of acceptance will leave for good. Such an environment of acceptance takes away fear and various such insecurities; thus, people show positive emotions such as ambitiousness, drive, joy and concern for others. These emotions are welcome at work!

There is a bad day. Recognize it!

All of us do have a bad day. Things do not go right. Client is not happy with our work, a colleague falls sick and a pile of his work has landed on your desk, people need you at home urgently to attend to something serious, your boss is in a bad mood and gets angry with you seeking permission to leave early, your car breaks down, you lose your mobile phone and wallet somewhere.

People will advise you to calm down, take a few deep breaths, pray God, be objective, not be judgemental, not blame it on stars of the day, not to be reactive and so on.

It’s okay to tell people that you are having a bad day and seek their understanding. It doesn’t make sense to fake a smile, put up a brave face and prove to the others that you are a strong human. It doesn’t help anyone; rather it wears us down and builds a lot of tension and stress which are completely avoidable!

Adapt and Communicate

Every place has its own norm and it changes over a period of time. The way our parliamentarians behave inside the parliament these days is very different from the way they did 3-4 decades ago. The norms of expressing oneself have been changing. Hence, it is important that we learn the norms fast and follow them.

Communicating one’s feelings, positive or negative, in an appropriate manner lightens the burden and sets one free to do one’s routine. It is a good idea to confide in someone trustworthy if you are not sure how to deal with the emotions running through the body and mind.

Finally, there is no reason why you should torture yourself bearing the burden of pent-up feelings and hurt. In spite of one’s best attempts, if you are unable to let them go and keep your sight on a better and brighter tomorrow, there is no point bearing the pain. Be authentic and move on!

ref: http://www.cielhr.com/showing-emotions-at-work/

How does HR change in ‘Experience Economy’

ciel blog - experience economy

Recent study by Barclaycard who processes nearly 50% of UK’s debit card and credit card transactions, showed that customer spend in department stores, consumer appliances and vehicles have come down significantly while the spend on theatres, pubs, restaurants and cinemas have gone up. Many people do not want to spend money buying cars, homes and stuff; rather they would like to spend their time and money experiencing new environments, unique places, innovative practices, first-of-its-kind feelings and so on. Thanks to social media, they can flaunt all they have! And the friends and friends of friends make their posts go viral. That’s the experience youngsters are looking for!

If someone goes shopping or watching a movie, it’s a complete experience that she or he is looking for. Hence, the need is to go beyond what the shop sells or what the theatre plays. The shop has to think how it engages a customer right from the stage of pre-buy to long after the buy is done and provide an engaging experience. That is why modern-day theatres are turning into multiplexes complete with experience zones, food-courts, loyalty programs and are integrated with shopping centres, hair salons and game zones.

Today, owning stuff is not critical and does not necessarily reflect status, rather people are concerned about where they watched a movie, what holiday they went on, what they did there and where they had food and so on. It is not so much about what they bought as about the experience they had while buying. How is HR adapting on the face of this rise of a new economy called ‘experience economy’?

Candidate Experience all the way!

It is not a new theory – in the last two decades, business leaders and HR leaders alike, have stressed the importance of candidate experience. However, what has changed is about the ‘here and now’ impact of an experience that is not so good. Our smart phones and social media are a potent combination for the fire to spread and at the same time, has the potential to accentuate a positive experience.

HR Team has to be on its toes all the time to watch out for any negative comment and neutralize it at the earliest. Similarly, they need to gather the positive experiences and showcase those. It’s not natural for people to be spreading positive experiences as much as they do for negative stories. So, the HR team has a task at hand to create the right environment and spread the positives. It’s the experience which matters.

How is the Employee feeling now?

Each day at work is different for everyone in an organization. Employees work with their peers, sub-ordinates, bosses, also in some cases, with external stakeholders. Each interaction is a moment of truth and each moment adds to the overall experience. It is natural that all interactions do not become great. When the sum of all these experiences is above the mental image of a good day, the employee is happy. When majority of the days do not turn out to be good, it’s a trouble!

HR Team has to be tuned to the early signals and intervene at the right moment. Sometimes, HR teams are busy addressing various issues and hence, have no time to switch on their receivers. They do not make field visits, gather no relevant intelligence and hence, can at best operate in the reactive mode. Typically, organizations wait for the results of the annual employee satisfaction study to take action. But, it’s too late in today’s world! They have to find the energy, bandwidth, interest and capability to listen to all signals coming from the workplace so that appropriate actions can be taken in time.

Build the enabling infrastructure.

Often, the HR leaders and the Business leaders are well-intentioned to listen to experience of candidates as well as the employees. The HR team is capable of tuning into the vibes at the workplace and taking corrective actions. In spite of all the right things in place, execution suffers because the employees aren’t sure if they should be honest and genuine while interacting with the HR team and the senior leaders. They might be apprehensive because of unfavourable experiences in the past.

Leaders of the organization set the tone and show the candour in making decisions. This goes a long way in enabling the communication systems to work and collaborating with external centres of excellence to improve organizational processes.

In the days to come, as more and more people are going to be focused on the short-term and concerned about the experiences, HR has to ensure that agility and holistic approach in whatever it does right from talent attraction, assessment and acquisition to engagement, maintenance and development.

Ref: http://www.cielhr.com/how-does-hr-change-in-experience-economy/

Hire Smart

ciel blog - hire smart

In our world of smart phones, high speed computing and intense communication, everything has to happen fast. Enterprises are often not happy with the pace of execution internally as well as with their external stakeholders. They hate to see positions lying vacant because of the fear of missing opportunities in the market.

Line managers are busy to describe what they need and the HR managers have no time to sit down with the line manager and agree on the requirements. At the same time, candidates look around for possible choices when they decide to apply for a job opportunity. They are not sure what kind of a role and employer they should be searching for. So, there is a lack of planning at both the ends and hence, hiring is damn difficult. How can an organization be smart in dealing with these complexities?

Do not waste time with CVs!

Marquee employers have researched extensively to understand what kind of talent fits them the best. They have tried to perfect their recruitment process by comparing the prediction of a recruitment process with actual performance of the new joiner in 6-12 months’ time. All these studies haven’t yet yielded a formula that is universal.

Normally, companies use a pre-written job description document to kick-off the hiring. Recruiters typically pick a few keywords from the document and dig into several databases to find a few CVs that have a high occurrence of these keywords. They speak to these folks about the job and push them to attend a job interview. Many candidates are open to check their market value and have hardly anything to loose; so, they agree to attend the interview without giving it a good thought. Interviewers normally review 20 CVs and interview 5 candidates before they choose one. Does the process have to start with a CV?

These days, CVs are not a good indication of what the candidate brings to the table. There are several resources which help a candidate produce a CV that matches the job requirement well. Secondly, interview as a tool is not highly reliable and hence, an applicant who answers well in an interview is not necessarily going to be a successful employee.

Can we define the business challenge the role has to deal with and the outcome expected? Based on these, can the recruiter develop a job description for the role, interview the candidate accordingly and provide a few paragraphs about the applicant justifying why you should interview him?

We do not need CVs. Let us conserve the time which is normally used to read up CVs of applicants. Rather, ask your Recruiter to give you a note of recommendation for the candidate. This note will be a good overview of the candidate and at the same time, triggers thoughts for the interview.

Go beyond the obvious!

We know there is no perfect-fit in this world. We have to always settle with a close-fit or the best-fit. All line managers do not like to believe this. They keep interviewing candidates with the hope of discovering the jackpot. It becomes an endless loop!

Sometimes, interviewers go along predicted lines of matching qualifications and past experiences of the candidate with their mental picture of an ideal candidate. One can manage the impressions of the interviewer in such a context because the desired responses are well-known.

One has to go beyond the obvious and deep-dive into the realms of behaviours, beliefs and attitudes of a candidate. Interviewers must be trained to ask open-ended questions, follow-up conversations, hold the discussion in an unbiased manner, rate the fitment as per pre-agreed rating scale and write a good summary of the findings. This is easier said than done. Organizations with mature HR processes invest on these infrastructure. Ideally, each interview must focus on specific aspects and explore deeply on just two to three aspects.

More than one conversations are essential

Google follows a Rule of Four where 4 experienced Googlers interview a job applicant and the total of their scores forms the base of hiring decision. There are similar such practices in other organizations as well. The idea here is to look at the fitment from a diverse perspective.

Candidates prefer a quick conclusion to their application process. Enterprises want quick closure of their open positions. Yet several challenges leave both the employer organization and candidates frustrated with the long cycle times.

One of the ways to deal with this dichotomy is to schedule multiple discussions back to back at one go. This helps candidates and the employer organization to assess one another holistically for a potential fitment. Moreover, the interviewers or assessors get an opportunity to compare between the candidates and firm up their mind.

Senior leaders play an important role in making the hiring process smart. Their commitment to make the process stable, reliable and robust is the first step. Else, the war for the best talent remains as a rhetoric and doesn’t reflect on the ground.

Ref: http://www.cielhr.com/hire-smart/