How to Handle Overqualified Candidates

January 31st, 2014

Overqualified candidates can be a challenge, since they often come with a high price tag, questionable commitment levels, and difficulty adjusting to a given workplace culture. But for long list of reasons, an overqualified candidate might also be the best thing that ever happened to your company. So how can you make sure you recognize a valuable human asset when you see one? And if you suspect your candidate is overqualified, how can you avoid making false assumptions and losing a potentially terrific employee?

Handling Overqualified Candidates

1. Don’t decide before you investigate. If you encounter a candidate who seems too good to be true, or too good to be affordable, confirm your suspicions before you reject the candidate out of hand. A simple phone call—prior to a formal screening or interview—can allow you to take some key concerns off the table.

2. During your pre-screening, be direct with the candidate. Don’t hedge, imply, or suggest. Just let her know the exact level of the position (which may be more junior than she realizes), and state your concerns. As in “We’re afraid you might be a little overqualified for this role.” Let her address these concerns in her own words.

3. If you decide to follow through with a formal interview, you can feel free to ask the candidate to provide her expected salary range. After the interview, you can take these numbers and work to align them with your budget before you begin the negotiation process. If the lowest end of her range is still far too high, you can let her go, but at least you’ve given yourself a chance to confirm this.

4. If attitude issues might be a problem or you suspect your candidate will be unwilling to accept her position in the hierarchy, you can also address this directly before you pursue the process any further. Let her know that she’ll be reporting to others who may be younger or less experienced that she is, and ask her how she intends to deal with any potential conflicts this may generate.

5. Discuss the length of her potential commitment. Though she may not be contractually bound by her answer, ask her if she’ll be willing and able to maintain this position for two years, five years, or however long it may take for your hiring and training investment to pay off.

For more in how to approach a potentially overqualified candidate without missing a great opportunity, reach out to the NC staffing pros at PSU.

Four Management Habits that Drain Employee Motivation (And How to Fix Them!)

January 24th, 2014

You may think you’re giving your employees every reason to come in to work each morning and hit the ground running. And you may think the management training seminar you took back in 2003 taught you everything you need to know about how to keep your employees engaged and excited about their work. But if the skills, tricks and techniques you’re using aren’t bringing in the results you expected, take a closer look at your approach, and consider dialing back some of these common but destructive habits.

Creating a Culture of Criticism

If think you can criticize your way to success and nitpick your company to a position of market leadership, think again. Employees, like all human beings, don’t enjoy being told that there’s something wrong with them. Criticism of a person, no matter how it’s delivered, is demoralizing and disengaging. But if you need to let your employees know that they’ve done something wrong or disappointed you, you have plenty of alternatives. Start by criticizing the action, not the person. And while you’re at it, think carefully before you scold, and weigh the cost of each interaction against its potential benefits.

Being Too Quick to Fire

Some managers think that a few strategic firings will quiet complaints, reduce requests for salary increases, and make the remaining workforce a little more grateful for their circumstances. And over the short term, they’re right. But when your best employees wise up and find work elsewhere, replacing them will be expensive and difficult—especially with a damaged reputation. Instead of firing, try coaching, transfers, and reassignments of responsibility.

Mistaking Corporate Fun for Actual Fun

If your employees complain that they’re underpaid, overburdened, or unsupported, don’t put a patch in this problem by implementing Funny Hat Day. A few free lunches or an afternoon of mini golf might quell the rebellion for a short time, but eventually you’ll have to address your employee’s concerns. So just do it now.

Asking for Innovation and Risk Taking Behavior…in Words Only

Don’t encourage your employees to suggest new ideas only to criticize and silence them when they do. The nature of risk is that it’s risky, and not all bold ideas will pan out. But your employees will be more likely to think outside the box if they know you’re ready to back them up. Foster an environment of trust and respect, and encourage your teams to do the same. You’ll hear more bad ideas, but you’ll also hear the good ones that would otherwise have gone unshared.

For more on how to get your teams to engage fully and commit to their work and to each other, contact the NC staffing experts at PSU.

How to Make a Strong Impression During a Phone Interview

January 17th, 2014

Many employers who are pressed for time or constrained by tight budgets decide to streamline the candidate selection process by using phone interviews during the first round. A quick phone screening can reduce an applicant pool by half or more, simplifying a complex decision. And phone interviews cost almost nothing for parties on both ends of the conversation.

So, if you need to get past this first round before meeting your potential employers in person, here are a few moves that can help you make a strong impression using only your words and your voice.

1. Before the moment of your scheduled interview, stretch your body and loosen up. Then stand. If you can’t stand, sit up straight. These simple moves will open your circulation, expand your chest and lungs, and will have an impact that your listeners will be able to hear through the phone.

2. As odd as it sounds, your listeners will also be able to hear your smile. So smile before you answer the phone. And make your smile as genuine as possible—engage your entire face, not just your mouth.

3. Don’t rush to speak. Let your interviewer finish talking and then pause for a full second before you make a sound. In real life, the other person can take cues from your face regarding your engagement, interest and listening skills. But the phone won’t allow this. So relax. Don’t talk over your interviewer or cut them off, no matter how enthusiastic you feel.

4. Know exactly what you’ll say if your interviewer simply hands the conversation over to you, because this might happen. If she says something like “Tell me about yourself,” or “Tell me something about why I should hire you for this job”, know what you’ll say. Don’t let the line fall silent while you struggle to organize your thoughts.

5. Have a copy of your resume in hand. There’s a strong chance your interviewer will ask about it or refer to it as she speaks, so don’t waste her time while you slowly open your computer, let it boot up, search for the file, etc, etc. While you’re at it, you may also want to open the company’s website so your reviewer can use it as a reference during your conversation.

6. Allow the interviewer to control the conversation and follow their lead. Pick up their tone and reflect the same tone back. And if you run into a tangle or miscommunication, simply become quiet and allow her to ask for or provide the necessary clarification.

For more on how to navigate the phone interview process and make your way into the next round with style, contact the NC staffing team at PSU.

Flu Season Tips: Keep Your Employees Healthy

January 10th, 2014

January brings plenty of post-holiday energy and a renewed sense of commitment to most workplaces, but it also brings dreary weather, wet feet, warm, recirculating indoor air, and a paradise for communicable diseases. The winter isn’t just flu season—It’s cold season, and it’s also a time of low natural light, high stress, and lowered immunity. Flu shots can hold some of the damage at bay, but as a manager or business owner, you’ll need to take a few extra steps to keep your teams healthy.

1. The first tip is a no-brainer: Send your employees home when they’re sick. And don’t send mixed messages. In other words, don’t show sympathy for an employee’s illness but also disappointment when she decides to skip the launch meeting and leave early. Make health a priority with both your words and your actions. Don’t just let sick employees leave: order them to go home.

2. Discourage a culture of heroism. Not only should you send sick employees home, but you should encourage them to do the same for each other. Don’t cultivate praise and admiration for those who struggle into the office with 104 degree fevers. This is foolish, dangerous, and thoughtless, not a sign of dedication.

3. Keep shared surfaces clean. Every doorknob, elevator button, mouse, and “start” key on the copy machine should get a dose of alcohol based hand-sanitizer at least once or twice a day. Keep a bottle positioned close to these surfaces and keep one at the front desk and one in every bathroom.

4. Coach employees to cough and sneeze into the crook of the arm, not the hand. Use your own behavior to set a good example.

5. Encourage employees to leave the building at least once a day. For lunch, a midday trip to the gym, or a quick walk around the block, everybody should have a dose of fresh air and sunlight at least once during every eight hour period. With hats and appropriate outerwear, of course.

6. Cold and flu aren’t the only health threat this season—You’ll also need to prevent injuries related to wet floors and icy sidewalks and parking lots. Keep a close eye on exterior and interior maintenance, especially after a snowfall.

Pay attention to the health and well-being of your employees and you’ll dramatically cut down on lost work hours. For more information on how to do this, reach out to the NC staffing and management experts at PSU.

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