Four Questions that can Help you Gauge Productivity During Your Interview

October 31st, 2014

You can ask your interviewee about her previous employers, and you can ask her about her GPA and her areas of interest and ambition. You can ask about her sales record, and you can ask how many people she’s managed in the past, and you can ask what kind of opportunity she’s looking for at this point in her career. But how can you ask her about her overall productivity levels? After all, this is a subjective question, and if she doesn’t know your standards or your system of measurement, she can’t answer accurately even if she wants to. So try using these four questions to find out what you need to know: Can she pull her weight in your workplace?

1. “How would you define “productivity?” Can you describe a highly productive day in your last position?”

Encourage your candidates to answer questions in a narrative format. The stories they choose to tell and the formats they use to tell them can speak louder than any words.

2. “In this role, you’ll be asked to meet very tight deadlines. For example, you’ll need to process at least five forms per hour by the end of your second week. And within one year, you’ll need to reach ten per hour. How do you feel about this?”

Don’t pull punches or sugarcoat the truth about the position and your expectations. The interview provides a perfect opportunity to share the most challenging and potentially unpleasant aspects of the role. When you share this information, carefully observe his reaction. If he pauses and cringes before answering, take note.

3. “Can you complete this test?”

If there’s any logistically practical test you can use to assess your candidates level of focus and her ability to apply the most important skill sets required by this role, feel free to administer this tests. Make sure your tests are accurate, and make sure they can be completed within the time frame of the interview.

4. “Describe an occasion in which you were criticized for productivity-related reasons. What did you learn from the incident?”

Listen carefully to your candidate’s answer and read between the lines. Be skeptical if he can’t admit to being criticized or refuses to share a single applicable story.

For more information on how to assess your candidates productivity or any other necessary trait, reach out to the staffing experts at PSU.

Should You Hire Overqualified Candidates?

October 24th, 2014

Two of your candidates have made it into the final round of the selection process. And since you have only one available position, you’ll have to make a commitment to one candidate and say goodbye to the other. In almost all ways, the two are equal contenders; they’re both pleasant, they’re both hard-working, and either one will fit right in with the culture of this company and get along well with your clients. But there’s one essential difference: Candidate X holds exactly the requirements and credentials listed in the job post, and Candidate Y offers quite a bit more.

You asked for a bachelor’s degree, which X earned just two years ago. Y holds a Masters and several certifications. You asked for at least two years of experience; X can offer exactly that. Y has been actively engaged in this field for eight years, and two of those years have been spent at the management level. X is interested in working directly with clients, which the job will entail. X has already worked with a wide range of clients across several market sectors. X can do the job. Y can do it better.

This may seem like an easy decision, but before you let X go and hand the job to Y, think twice. Consider these additional possibilities.


Overqualified candidates can be more expensive. If you intend to offer annual cost-of-living and performance-based raises, you may be offering these on a percentage basis, so taking on a candidate at a discount will keep paying off over the years. Overpaying at the start may lead to budget problems a few years down the road. Before you hire Candidate Y, get a sense of the salary range she expects.

Personal Conflict

Overqualified candidates often struggle to accept the authority of those who are younger, less experienced, and less knowledgeable (and rightly so). Before you make your decision, ask Candidate Y about her willingness to accept the status quo instead of pushing for change. Be direct and honest as you do so.


Overqualified candidates often set low sights during the job search so they can land a position—any position—and maintain an income while they continue searching for something better. Is Candidate Y prepared to stay with you for at least one year? Again, just ask her. Be direct. If she hesitates to commit, strike a deal and find out what you can offer that might help maintain her interest. If you aren’t in a position to negotiate, Candidate X may be a wiser bet.

For more on how to navigate the details of your staffing and selection process, reach out to the management experts at PSU.

Three Mistakes that Are Already On Your Resume

October 17th, 2014

After all the time and effort you’ve invested in your resume, it may be impossible to believe this polished, beautiful document is anything less than perfect. Your best friend has had a chance to look it over, and so have your parents, and on all counts you received rave reviews. So you’re ready to roll, right? It’s time to attach this baby to your expertly written cover letter, click send, and move on.

…Or is it? Chances are, you still have a few errors hidden away in your text that you’ve been overlooking, and you’ll want to take care of these before you send your resume out into the world. Give your document one more review with these specific problems in mind.

There’s a typo in there.

There’s at least one typo in your perfect resume. Trust us. Your mission is to find it. Start by reviewing each line from the bottom of the page up and from the right side to the left. This will keep you from missing it yet again. Keep an especially close eye out for missing words and articles (like of, and, the, and or.) And watch out for contraction problems and other issues your spellchecker won’t catch. (For example, “its” versus “it’s”.)

There’s also a missed opportunity.

Flash forward into the future and imagine yourself sitting at your desk, suffering with pangs of regret because you somehow forgot to mention an important skill or accomplishment that would have impressed these specific employers. Now come back to the present and be glad that you still have time to insert this critical detail.

Find the confusing sentence/phrase.

Chances are, there is one phrase in your resume that you just can’t seem to smooth out, no matter how many times you rearrange the words. Everything you do to fix it just seems to make it more awkward and confusing. Well, here’s some news: it’s still in there, and it’s still awkward and confusing. Rewrite it, get help from a friend with strong writing skills, or take it out altogether.

Once you get these three final problems identified and sorted out, you’ll be on your way. Turn to the Gastonia job search professionals at PSU for more help and guidance as you work your way up the career ladder.

Dealing With Procrastinators

October 10th, 2014

First-time managers, take note: You’ll need to master some difficult new skills as you make the transition from employee to boss. And most of these new skills can be filed under a broad category, one that includes all the forms of coaching, criticism, and behavioral modification that you’ll administer to the teams under your purview. From lateness to stubbornness to corner-cutting, you’ll need to have strategies at the ready that will help your direct reports overcome obstacles to personal and company success. And one of the most important demons you’ll do battle with on a daily basis will be procrastination. If you have a procrastinator on your team and this tendency is holding everyone back (including you), here are a few moves that can help her get past this challenge.

Understand the link between procrastination and perfectionism.

Procrastination usually stems from a form of perfectionism, a much uglier demon and a bigger roadblock to success. Perfectionists are often terrified of failure, and since they can’t risk getting something wrong or doing a less-than-perfect job, they sometimes just sit still, paralyzed and unable to get anything done at all. Reassure your procrastinators that nothing terrible will happen if they fall one degree short of perfect success. Discourage fear and remind them that doing the work adequately will be far better than avoiding it altogether.

Break down large projects into smaller steps.

If your employee is intimidated by the work ahead, reframe it for him. Instead of pointing him toward the final goal and turning him loose, break the entire project down into bite sized pieces, and break those pieces down into even smaller pieces, until each one is the size of a single baby step that can be completed in a day, or even five minutes.

Put his feet in motion.

If you complete the moves above and your employee is still in a state of suspended animation (chatting with coworkers, refilling the coffee pot, or cleaning his desk though he can already see his face in it), then you’ll need to push him toward the first baby step. A one-day (or one-hour) deadline for the first step will put his feet in motion, and once he’s taken the first step, the rest may come more easily.

Perform constant check-ins.

There’s nothing wrong with micromanaging a procrastinator during the early stages of a project. Keep one eye over her shoulder at all times until you can trust that she’s on her way to project completion. Even when you scale back your check-in rate, keep your door open so she feels comfortable coming to you for additional direction and motivation. Contact the Shelby staffing experts at PSU for more management and leadership tips that can help you move your teams forward.

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