The Art of the Hire: Interview Tips

posted by NextGen'rs |

If you’re sitting down for a face-to-face conversation, chances are the candidate has been vetted at least somewhat and will have the necessary skills to do the job. You’re looking to find something less obvious. Is this specific person going to be the one to move your team forward? This information doesn’t live on a resume, it likely has more to do with attitude and problem-solving abilities. So how can you lead an interview that gets past the shiny interview-day smiles and self-puffery and surfaces these qualities? Here are a few lines of questioning to consider.

There’s no success like failure, and failure’s no success at all.

That’s how Bob Dylan put it, but the idea that failure is essential to success is not seen as paradoxical in the era of the startup. Can your candidate talk about past failures openly? Try to find out two things: how the candidate viewed and learned from the experience and how much fight did he or she have. Sometimes there’s a sensible reason for failure, but how hard was it to accept that reason? It’s good sportsmanship not to badger around this question. If it’s not revealing, simply move on.

Work Ethic.

As trite as it sounds, nothing trumps hard work. And hard work is all about tolerance and tenacity. How far can they push a project before they hate it and you and everything? How well do they perform the small tasks when, to borrow another quote, the only thing at stake is the tissue-thin difference between a thing done well and a thing done ill?

Compromise and Unexpected Results.

Ask about projects they worked on that they didn’t expect to succeed but were pleasantly surprised by. Ultimately you want to find out how open the person is to exploring projects that they may initially think are dumb. This hopefully casts a window into what they perceive as below them (yikes) as well as whether or not they’re willing to try new things. Could be very revealing.

Rockstar Question.

Ask about a project they worked on in which they were firing on all cylinders. This is something they should be a little prepared for, but that’s fine. Pay attention to what motivated them more than the results. Hopefully you can find out what makes them tick — in under an hour.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

The Art of Retaining Top Talent Series: The Growth Path

posted by NextGen'rs |

Talented people typically know they need to look down the road. The career path they’re forging has to tell a story; to explicitly demonstrate accomplishment, achievement and success. Most of us have been asked Where do we see ourselves five years from now in an interview. It’s a fraught question that usually gets a carefully calibrated answer that probably does more to demonstrate an ability to prepare for an interview than highlight any real ambition. It’s become trite because it’s important, and it’s important that your way of finding out the ambitions of your star players go beyond that wooden question.

I felt there was nowhere else for me to go.

Companies are dynamic. Maybe your office only has 50 people and lacks a hierarchy with a lot of visible rungs. Titles are still important, but like money they are in many ways an external goal, something to impress others with as opposed to satisfy yourself. For millennials, this isn’t as alluring; the real goals are often internal: the need to feel satisfied and engaged. Titles can be important at larger offices for their perceived ability to speed things along, but many smart companies are aggressively working to remove those barriers and bureaucracies that slog good ideas that don’t come from the top brass.

Titles still have transferable value, but since they’ve grown so obscure and specialized (Forestry Technician), even ridiculous (Chief Inspiration Officer) a candidate is given a lot of levity to express their title and level when seeking another job. So what can you do to keep your top talent engaged with a visible growth path? Like many things, the best thing to do is keep your business moving forward by getting out of your employees’ way.

Googlers famously get to apportion a percentage of their time to go after projects they want to pursue. Talk about a stellar recruitment tool. Your top talent is usually self-motivated and enjoy being creative in the way they solve problems. So empower them to attend whatever workshops they want, whatever conferences they have interest in. Allow them to grow in the ways they want to grow and in return they will yield a better work product. And they’ll stick around.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

The Art of the Hire: Interview Advice

posted by NextGen'rs |

Press the suit, shine the shoes. Now’s not the day to try out a new hair style. Arrive early — but NO MORE than 15 minutes early. Have a good breakfast. Thanks to the internet you have way too much information that you’ll need to know if you want to beat out the competition. You have to thoroughly research the company and the people with whom you are interviewing. And that’s on top of crafting a narrative for your career so all of your former jobs form a progression pointing to, you guessed it, your future job with this company. You’ll be their guide through your career path; think lovely meadow, as opposed to class 4 rapids.

But back to the research. You’ll want to start with LinkedIn to see if anyone you’ll be talking with falls within that nebulous orbit of connections you’ve cultivated. Look for any positive associations you can talk about, but not in a creepy way. You may not want to tell an interviewer you know where their kids go to college. But maybe you volunteered with an organization that one of your interviewers also volunteered at and you can allude to it. What a great way to talk about a project that really made you feel fulfilled and great!

You probably already have a sense of how to conduct yourself in a professional way, trust that sense. Be friendly, but polite. Don’t be nervous, but don’t be glib.Talk freely, but stay the course — remember you’re the guide, so a little spontaneity is nice so your fellow travelers (on the journey of your career path) feel special, but don’t get everyone lost.

Some interviewers are going to try to throw you a curveball, even test your level of irritation with inane questions. Keep your path in focus, and try to work everything back to it. You know how politicians never seem to answer the question they’ve been asked? Well the good ones can do that in a way that doesn’t seem evasive. It takes a little skill, but any time you can nudge their question so that it reveals the narrative you’ve crafted, the better off you’ll be.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

The Art of Retaining Top Talent: Philanthropy

posted by NextGen'rs |

There are so many benefits and reasons for companies to give back to the communities they serve. But it’s not just about dollars and cents if you really want to make it work. A company needs a good strategy for its philanthropy and social responsibility, and this is where it can get thorny and maybe some companies decide they’d rather remain focused on their business. Philosophical arguments can be waged about charity and business, but very simply put: Young, talented people want to see their talents enrich more than just themselves and their companies.

Apple was notoriously stingy in the Steve Jobs era. This has since changed. Google has wrapped their identity in their unofficial Don’t be Evil motto, and has famously empowered its employees to be driven not by profit but by making the world a better place. And their public battles with shareholders and banks over their business model has only made being a Googler more desirable to young talented people.

The benefits of philanthropy are enormous; so big that it’s hard to parse when motives move from altruism to self-serving. But who cares? Showing people you’re willing to fight the good fight and that your organization’s bureaucracies or short-sightedness haven’t crippled its ability to do the right thing attracts good talented people.

The pressures to quantify results are growing at an insane rate. And some of the benefits of philanthropy, including making your place of work a great place to work, are difficult to track. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

The Importance of Speed in Hiring

posted by NextGen'rs |

Haste makes waste, right? Well yeah, but too much analysis leads to paralysis. So on which side of the spectrum do you fall when it comes to hiring? Let’s start by stepping away from the cliches and getting a bead on when it’s important to make an offer.

Big Companies that Move like Small Companies.

So many big companies describe themselves as “agile” and “hungry”. They’re told at meetings they need to behave and think this way, that the market demands it. But what does that mean?

It starts with being able to quickly pull the trigger when it comes to hiring. Locking in on the right candidate moves your planning and decisions from more unknowns to less, and that is how you move your business forward. Don’t wait around for the “perfect candidate” with an impeccable track record. Go with the most adaptable; the one who will make your team better not on paper, but when it comes time to make real decisions and execute. Trust your instincts and trust the abilities of your team to onboard and acclimate.

Budgets Open and Close.

Most business decisions, really any important decisions, involve negotiating or balancing opposing forces. When it comes to hiring, one thing you have to keep in mind is how budgets are time-sensitive.

Hiring freezes are a reality at healthy as well as less-than-healthy companies. So when you have some room in the budget to hire, there’s no guarantee it will be there forever. That doesn’t mean you hire anyone, it just means it’s something you need to balance against the candidates that are before you.

A Changing Labor Market.

If you were looking to hire someone in 2008 or 09, you were in an excellent position. If you’re looking to hire someone today, well you’re still in an excellent position. But things have changed a little, and you can’t afford to have the same perspective. You don’t want to be the guy who says things like I remember when milk costed 4 cents a gallon! The market has changed and not only does that affect price and availability, it also affects the speed with which you need to make decisions. When you identify the right candidate, you have to move faster in a tighter labor market — like the one we have today. There is no 4-cent-a-gallon milk anymore.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

Benefits of Temp-to-Perm

posted by NextGen'rs |

Test Drive.

The biggest benefit for working with a temp-to-perm arrangement for both employer and employee is the ability to try out the position before committing. Temp-to-perm gives an employer a lot more flexibility to make a smarter decision. You can learn about someone when they’re all dressed up and well-rehearsed for their interview. But what about their behavior and their motivations on a Tuesday three weeks later when maybe there doesn’t seem to be as much to prove? Isn’t that what makes more of the difference?

It Usually Works Out.

It takes resources to onboard and train someone, and no one wants that to be for nothing. So while there is more opportunity to scrutinize and evaluate someone who is temporary, the general incentive for all is for this to be a stepping stone to permanent, and for everything to work out. For both parties, it allows a disaster to be averted more easily. An employee can have the experience on the resume as a “contract” position so it doesn’t portray a professional inability to stick around. The employer gets flexibility around the hiring process which can often be painfully bureaucratic.

Stigmas.

Some companies still segregate contractors from full time explicitly even in email addresses. This practice is changing and with the prevalence of contractors and more fluid employment arrangements in general, the stigma of being temporary is not really much of one any more. It’s just too commonplace. So, someone in temporary status is not as likely to have issues integrating and will have the opportunities to succeed that they need.

What about Health Care?

For someone who gets benefits through a spouse, contracting can mean more money in the paycheck. This means there’s incentive even for people who are already employed to drop their full-time jobs and try something new without having to worry about health care costs. There is no one-size-fits-all arrangement but temp-to-perm is becoming more and more of an appealing option for everyone.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

The Art of Retaining Top Talent: Compensation

posted by NextGen'rs |

As we move through a new year with a general feel that the economy is rebounding, some of your top employees will bulk up their resumes and LinkedIn profiles and start thinking about making a change. Will money buy their loyalty? Probably not. It may keep some for a little longer, but if you don’t give them what they really want then your problem won’t go away. But what do they want?

I just needed a change.

Is this just a pat answer to shoo off nosy aunts and colleagues or is there more to it? There’s a common misconception that people who are unhappy in their jobs will not perform well. This is especially untrue with millennials. They’ll have the knowledge base and the ability to perform tasks very well even when they don’t feel all that fulfilled in their role. For many, It’s the only way they know how to do anything. So it can come as a shock when they leave.

When there’s no reliable tells to employee dissatisfaction how do you avoid it? Well, talking to them and trying to find out what they want is a good place to start. It’s not easy, but even efforts that feel true and not part of some corporate mandate will let your employees know that their happiness is important. And, that’s what really motivates.

In a widely cited paper, Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton reported that one’s sense of emotional well-being increases with salary levels up to $75,000, then it plateaus. So, while you need to pay people so they can do things like pay their bills, you’re not providing the type of motivation or reward they’re looking for with money alone. It takes a lot more.

Customizing the Approach

This is the era of pleasing customers with experiences tailored to them. Your company wins when it figures out how to do this well. But for some reason compensation systems are still based on the premise that what works for some people will work for all. Retaining good talent really comes down to having really good managers who are good at engaging their teams. In fact, one of the leading causes of organizational disengagement is incompetent leadership. So while money is important, it still can’t buy the things that really matter to your company.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

How to Work with Your Recruiter

posted by NextGen'rs |

Clear Communication and Trust.

This is what nourishes a blissful relationship with your recruiter, and helps keep top people on your workforce. What could be more simple right? Well here’s what often gets in the way and how you can avoid the traps.

Cosmic forces sometimes align.

I’m talking about your business needs and general labor market conditions. Sometimes they come together, but how long can you wait for them to align? The reality is you need to fill a position before you burn out your staff. Luck plays a role in how things pan out, but luck is the residue of design, as the famous adage goes. Cultivating a strong relationship with your recruiter is part of that design. While your recruiter may not be able to perform any cosmic shift, he or she should find the very best talent available. A recruiter has access to a network of passive candidates who haven’t sought out or sent a resume to your company, and this is the pool where you typically find your best match.

Avoid Imposing Your Bureaucracy on a Staffing Agency.

Sometimes the recruitment systems at your company can work against what they’re trying to do: help you hire the right person. Be as flexible as you can, you don’t want company bureaucracies to undermine themselves by not allowing you to hire the right candidate.

Tell Me About Yourself.

Be as honest as possible, and then some more about your office and the tasks associated with the open position. Share specific examples of the “rockstars” of your company. Talk about their values, as well as the pains and stresses of the job. Talk about the things you do well and need to do well but also talk about the things that tend to go wrong, and how successful people deal with it. Yes, the horror stories help. But it’s important to be very honest with the horror stories.

Not Just Plugging a Hole.

Ultimately it’s to everyone’s advantage to look long-term and adjust the incentive to a broader vision of success. You’re not just plugging a hole, you’re advancing a winning strategy and nourishing a winning work culture.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

The Importance of your Brand

posted by NextGen'rs |

People overwhelmingly choose a better brand over a higher salary when deciding which company to work for. Where you work is part of your identity. When people ask you what you do, you want to wow them. This is more powerful than money. And there’s more, we all know a company with a powerful brand not only looks better on a resume, but offers the opportunity to rub shoulders with top talent from which powerful career networks are created. It’s a key to future opportunity; it’s really the foundation of future opportunity. So how important is it for you to invest in your culture, how important is it that your employees say your company is a great place to work? You simply can’t afford to find out the hard way.

People work harder when they feel positive about their company and think it’s on the right track. The value of your brand does more than retain top talent, it moves talent up. Ultimately the value of your company is built upon the way people feel about your company. So how can you grow that? Well, first of all, your company’s culture is more intangible than other assets, so it’s easy for it to lose priority to other more tangible assets. The commitment to improving your brand and workplace must be high priority and that must be visible to everyone.

Empower.

People want their work to be meaningful and impactful. When you hear people say that big corporations need to act more like start-ups, this is what they mean. Empowering employees and holding them accountable for their failures and successes.

Reinforce.

Give your company’s brand presence at every touchpoint. Set the context for the way everyone should approach their tasks. Let employees know that even the small things they do work towards being a part of a greater good. From onboarding to townhalls, keep going back to the values and aspirations of your company. The more you do this, the more it resonates and becomes reality.

The Will to Win.

Success, like a smile is contagious. Don’t forget to take time to show your workforce not just the challenges and goals but how you’re winning. A confident workforce works better.

A Nice Office: Yes, it matters.

Make the investment and make your office a place where people want to go to. If they like it, that means they don’t want to leave, and that’s the goal.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

The Myth of the Perfect Candidate

posted by NextGen'rs |

It’s natural and wise to be very protective of your team. No one wants a dissatisfied employee or a toxic work environment. When looking to bring in someone new, you want to make sure you get the right someone. You want The Perfect Candidate. The problem is Perfect Candidates are in short supply when the demand for labor is high. And keep in mind, that Perfect Candidate might not really be as Perfect as he or she seems. In telecom, you have to adapt even more to the growing demand and shrinking supply of talent.

The swing in the talent pools from 2008 when unemployment threatened our economy to now has been incredible, especially in telecom. This is great for the economy but makes hiring more tricky. Overall, it’s not a terrible problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. Economic conditions play a role in your hiring strategy, and right now the labor market is not as flush as it was. So that means you need to lower your standards right? Wrong. You need to adapt your standards. That right someone is out there, but you’re not going to find him or her if you don’t know the truly important things to look for.

Don’t hire on Pedigree.

Rethink the boxes you need checked. This is where it helps to have a staffing firm that can curate the process and steer in reliable, smart and curious candidates that make sense for you. Maybe the candidate didn’t graduate from a top University. That’s OK. Can they learn quickly? Are they curious? Motivated? Are they nice? These are the qualities that are going to be more important to your team’s success. Your business changes fast. And the way you look to build your team also needs to.

Experience: Focus on the What not the Where.

Passionate people are everywhere, not just in the sunny offices of Apple and Google. Listen closely to the way people talk about what they’ve done. The underlying current of successful people is passion. Were they able to find something in their daily tasks that drove them to do great things? Maybe it was something that’s hard to express on a resume.

Embracing Change Sure Sounds Good.

We’ve all heard the corporate mantra, and it’s easy to say you embrace change when there’s nothing you fear more. Some people are better than others at working without a roadmap. Identifying these people will make the difference. Change is the only thing that’s constant.

Collaborative over Siloed Skill Set.

A team made up of people from diverse backgrounds working together always works better. Avoid the “geniuses” who don’t have the patience to work at the slow pace of their teammates’ inferior intellects. These are the people that create the toxic environment, and it’s sometimes hard to spot them. In fact, they’re often the ones that look like the Perfect Candidate.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.