Artisan Blog

6 Questions for Coaching Your Staff

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

6 Questions for Coaching Your Staff

Concepts proven to be successful at the top levels of the business world are often just as effective throughout every level of the organization. To make the most of your team's engagement and growth as well as improve retention and morale, we’re sharing a few models from the world of executive coaching.

When he works with high-powered executives, well-known and in-demand business coach Marshall Goldsmith, uses a "six question" model, which he summarizes in a Huffington Post article. His model works equally well when helping employees maximize their potential and determine how they can best fit with their team and help drive the company mission.

Use these six questions in your coaching or review sessions to empower your staff.

1. Where are we going?

Each member of the team has a unique perspective that lends itself to specific, valuable insights on how the company can evolve to better meet its objectives. Asking team members for their observations and insights on the company at large can generate useful ideas for growth and change. It also makes them feel invested in the company's future and lets them know that their perspectives are valued.

2. Where are you going?

Many job interviews include questions such as, "where do you want to be in three to five years?" As employees become tenured and experienced, it is important to maintain that conscious focus on the future. Change is the only constant, for organizations and individuals alike. Check in on how individual team members are changing and growing, and how that relates to the company and their roles within it.

3. What is going well?

Share where the employee is excelling, then allow them to point out, celebrate, and take credit for their strengths and achievements. This will help them focus on what they do best and continue to build their strongest skills. It helps set a positive tone, so that any challenge can be tackled with optimism.

4. What are key areas for improvement?

Start this section with their suggestions for self improvement, as it’s important to ask the employee to commit, via greater self awareness. Everyone has areas where they could be a bit more effective. Gently drawing attention to these areas of potential growth casts a light on them and makes it easier to improve through mindfulness, effort, and diligence.

5. How can I help?

As much as you may foster an atmosphere of collaboration and inclusion, some employees may feel isolated, left out of important decisions and discussions, or insecure about asking for the resources and guidance. This question lets them know that they have your support and opens an opportunity for dialog.

6. What suggestions do you have for me?

This brings the conversation full-circle. Just as team members may have revealing perspectives on the company as a whole, they might also be able to provide insights that can help their supervisors and hiring managers grow. Let them know that you value their feedback, and you also appreciate opportunities to strengthen your skills as a manager, and create an atmosphere of mutual respect.

In our 20+ years of connecting creative talent with top clients, we have gained knowledge and built strong networks.  Contact us today to discover how we can apply our expertise to help you build your dream team.

We hope you enjoy the 442nd issue of our weekly a.blog.


Tips for Employee Engagement

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Tips for Employee Engagement

Creating a strong, engaged, efficient and successful team results from diligent recruiting, targeted hiring, effective onboarding, and ongoing training. When properly orchestrated, this process can lead to higher retention, attracting fresh talent while keeping your existing core members engaged.

According to recent statistics, nearly half of American workers leave their jobs within a year of being hired. More than 40% leave within their first six months. Numbers vary across industries, but clearly, in all areas, there are opportunities for organized, mindful, and emphatic practices to improve staff retention.

Keeping the right people happy and engaged for the long haul makes all the difference. At Artisan Creative, some of our greatest satisfaction comes from watching teams connect and grow over time.

To that end, we’d like to share a few guiding principles to help hiring managers select and retain top talent.

Set Expectations

Whether you’re onboarding new talent or working with tenured team members, it is crucial to be as transparent as possible. Each position has its own challenges and responsibilities that may not be immediately apparent and may shift over time. 

Communicate goals, responsibilities and expectations early and as needed.  Include the team in the big picture so they understand why a specific task is being requested.

Foster an all-pervasive atmosphere of transparency, and trust, in order to retain the talent you need to succeed.

Share Feedback

Many employees report leaving their jobs due in part to a lack of appreciation, understanding, and feedback. As a hiring manager, best practices include holding regular check-ins and creating buddy systems. 

To make sure employees have the support they need to succeed, provide specific, honest, and constructive feedback on a regular basis. Depending on your company culture, team size, or location of your team members, you may have to define what a “regular check-in” means to you. Marshall Goldsmith, a leadership coach and author of several management books recommends at minimum to set quarterly meetings.

Acknowledge that team members have lives outside of work and do what it takes to make sure their jobs support them through any significant life transitions. Be prepared to work with them to strengthen the professional relationship through whatever outside forces may arise. Holistic support builds ironclad loyalty.

Reward Success with Opportunity

When employees adapt to their responsibilities, accept their challenges, and make their jobs their own, they have earned opportunities to build on their success.

Make sure that all employees can clearly envision a path to advancement, whether this comes through promotions, increases, or other rewards. As with any relationship, it is important to maintain the sense of optimism with which it began. Make sure that no one ever feels taken for granted.

When employees find that more focused effort reaps richer rewards, they will reciprocate and make the most of your shared opportunities.  Building success is a marathon, not a sprint.

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we have worked with a range of creative talent and clients. Our experience gives us the tools and understanding to help professional relationships thrive. We would love to share that with you and your organization. Contact us today to learn more.

We hope you enjoy the 441st issue of our weekly a.blog.


5 Tips for Resignation Best Practices

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Changing jobs every few years is the new norm according to a report published by JobVite which says 34% of all job seekers have reported changing jobs after 1-5 years, and that 74% of employees are open to a new job, despite the fact that they are satisfied with their current one.

Chances are you too could be completing new negotiations, accepting a new job offer, maybe even moving across the country for a new opportunity. Before you can start your new role though, you have to resign your current one. Not as easy a task as it may seem. For some, the resignation meeting can be a daunting process.

Utilizing our 20+ years of experience working with talent through every stage of a job search from resume to interview to offer and acceptance, our a.team has also helped many jobseekers through the resignation process with the following tips:

1. Speak to your manager. Make an appointment for an in-person meeting and have your resgination letter prepared to share. Do not resign via email, text, phone or social media. Thank them for the opportunity and the experience you’ve gained. Even if it wasn’t the ideal role, every role is a learning opportunity. Discuss with your boss how best to tell the team.

2. Give notice and offer a plan for your last two weeks. Share a plan for a smooth transition with your manager. Offer to create project tasks and folders and train others to ensure a smooth transfer of knowledge and responsibilities. If your role is external facing, map out a plan with your manager for informing clients and how to handle their account going forth.

3. Create an opportunity for a co-worker. Your departure will create an opening on the team. Often times, this can be the perfect opportunity for another co-worker to be promoted into your role, take on additional responsibilities and grow in their own career. If such a person exists on your team or in your department, share the recommendation with your boss. This will not only create an opportunity for your co-worker to grow, it will also leave your manager with the peace of mind that someone else can step right in.

4. Remain professional. Stay professional, calm and positive even if your current role wasn't the ideal career move, or if your manager’s response to your resignation news is less than positive. Keep on track with your commitments through the duration of your stay.

 5.Know your motivation for leaving. It’s not always about money.  Whether it was the location, salary, team, boss, responsibilities, lack of challenge or simply that you are ready for something new, there is a reason you found a new position. Identifying your real motivations will enable you to know what to do if you encounter a counter offer. 

It’s not uncommon to cross paths with former co-workers or employers in the future. The ideal scenario is to keep the lines of communication open and professional. You’ll never know when you’ll need a letter of recommendation, or the former employer becomes a client. Respect and professionalism are the best policies.

If you need help in your next job search, please connect with the a.team.  We are celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 439th issue of our weekly a.blog.


4 Tips for Better Brainstorming

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

 


While generating fresh ideas requires limber and liberated thought, there is more to consider than the standard group brainstorming techniques.

The most productive and galvanizing idea generating sessions are guided by qualified facilitators applying best practices under the right conditions. According to one study, brainstorming sessions that meet these guidelines can generate more than four times the number of useful ideas than those that don't.

While there's no substitute for a group brainstorming session led by a trained professional, if you know and apply the following best practices, you will likely get more out of your brainstorming session, making it a more satisfying experience for your group and a more fruitful pursuit for an organization.

Establish Ground Rules

Make sure all participants understand what a brainstorming session involves, and don’t get caught up in problem solving. Add ground rules that best reflect your group and culture and set expectations ahead of time.

Set the Setting

Make sure all participants have the opportunity to plan ahead for the session and think about the key questions and issues in advance. Allow space for solo thinking ahead of time to enable members to contribute freely, avoid groupthink and generate a larger number of ideas.

The session itself should take place in a quiet and comfortable place, free of the normal workday distractions. Some organizations rent off-site rooms (such as those available in co-working spaces). A change of scenery may help shake up established assumptions and patterns of thought.

Ask the Right Questions

To be useful, brainstorming must be more than a group of people talking. To borrow from Proust, the right questions, games, and structure can inspire participants to ideate "like good poets whom the tyranny of rhyme forces into the discovery of their finest lines."

This excellent piece offers a menu of structured brainstorming exercises that may help generate more productive thinking and discussion. The most important factor for success is to build the session around a powerful central question. According to the research of Flow author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the brightest thinking is prompted by the strongest questions. Create a central question or theme that best describes the issue you are brainstorming around.

Write First, Talk Second

In a piece for Fast Company, Rebecca Greenfield recommends that much of the mental action take place before the group convenes. All participants submit their ideas in advance, which can then be made anonymous and put to a group vote. This mitigates the influence of more dominant and vocal personalities, empowering everyone to contribute more and establishing a "meritocracy of ideas."

At the least, the session should be set up and run in such a way that constructive criticism is encouraged and the loudest voices don't dominate the exchange. This requires rigorous adherence to time limits and other rules, and a pervasive atmosphere of mutual respect. This can be a delicate balance to establish and maintain.

Each organization is different. Its particular decision-making criteria will factor into whether or not actionable ideas emerge from brainstorming. Thus, leading a productive brainstorming session can take some trial and error, but the investment will pay off in greater satisfaction, innovation, and organizational cohesion.

 

Artisan Creative's a.team is here to help you build your dream team. Contact us today for assistance with your hiring needs.

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 436th issue of our weekly a.blog.



How to Write Compelling Job Descriptions

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

At Artisan Creative, we recruit for a wide range of creative, marketing and digital roles, and therefore post an array of job descriptions to our Open Jobs page.  We write job descriptions every day and would like to share some best practices with you.

When you’re writing a description, we recommend using the following pointers to ensure you attract the best candidates--not only from a skills perspective, but someone who is also the best culture fit with your team.

As a hiring manager, how you write a job description will make an enormous difference to who is attracted to your company and role. 

Pick the Right Title

Start with a job title that reflects your company’s needs and culture.  Craft a description that portrays the role specifically and accurately. Job titles and expectations change with technology, time, and shifts in the landscape of your industry. If you are hiring for a new role, do some research to see how the job market is searching for this kind of position. Make sure the right candidates gravitate towards your opportunity with clear awareness of how they might fit in with your team.

Be Specific

It’s important to identify key responsibilities. Your candidate must be willing and qualified to do handle the must-have requirements. Remember it takes every new hire time to get up to speed in a new role - your aim is to identify potential talent who can minimize that learning curve as much as possible.

Eliminate jargon and buzzwords and replace them with more concrete and concise language. Use strong action verbs and relevant words that communicate passion and values. Tell a story! Borrow tested formulas from storytellers and marketers to make your job descriptions connect.

Use Strong Keywords

While you want to use fresh and exciting language, you must also consider what potential candidates look for online, and how search engines will spot and rank your description. While tired buzzwords can obscure your meaning, popular keywords can be useful in luring qualified talent.

SEO and social media play essential roles in the modern job search. To ensure that your job description will be seen by as many eyes as possible, read similar job descriptions online and use keywords that are specific to your related industry. Remember to include the titles of their potential coworkers as they will be working closely or reporting to them. Additionally list programs they will use, or the trends they should follow.

Also. be mindful of how your job description will appear to mobile users, as their ranks are steadily increasing. If your current company website or job portal site isn’t mobile friendly, consider updating it.

Requirements

If a skill is "nice to have" but not "required,” make a point of noting the difference – some candidates will make up for a lack of prior knowledge with high adaptability and an eagerness to learn.

Highlight Your Company Culture

We are currently in a candidate driven market. If you are trying to attract a candidate who may have multiple opportunities, or may be considering leaving their current role, think about “why” they would be attracted to your firm and list those details. For example, if you have a friendly pup roaming the office halls, or your office is next to the beach or offers flex scheduling… mention these great differentiators.

The clearer you are in your job descriptions, the more targeted your candidate pool will be. For more guidance in finding the right candidates and building the right team to fulfill your mission, contact Artisan Creative’s a.team today.

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 433rd issue of our weekly a.blog.


Remote Work Best Practices

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 424th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

More and more employers, employees, and freelancers are thinking outside the cube.

According to a recent Gallup survey covered in The New York Times, as many as 43% of employed Americans spend at least some of their professional time working at home or off-site, representing a four-point increase from 2012 and indicating a growing trend toward remote work.

This trend may seem liberating, however, with freedom comes responsibility. Remote work pumps different muscles of accountability and discipline.

If you're new to remote work or plan to work remotely in the future, these best practices can help maintain or improve your productivity.

1. Get to know the team

When starting a new remote freelance assignment or a new full time remote job, you'll want to learn everything you can about the company, its team, and its culture. 

Since you will not be seeing everyone in person on a daily basis, it may take longer to get to know the team or manage issues as they arise. Miscommunication may affect your work and your relationships if you aren’t familiar and intuitive enough to mitigate them. 

However, if you understand the people you work with and share their values and mission, you will have an easier time hashing out difficulties through email or video meetings.  

2. Keep the Paths of Communication Open

When you are communicating as a remote worker, err on the side of generosity.

If you can, schedule regular check-ins to discuss how things are going and address any potential issues before they turn into active problems. It's key to be open, honest, and thorough in all your communications.  Setting up virtual zoom meetings or participating in your company's slack channels can be a good way to stay connected.

Since most of your communication will be digital, take care to avoid digital miscommunication. Learn to convey your professional diligence and interpersonal skills through digital channels, and respond to any questions or concerns as quickly and thoughtfully as you can.

3. Find the Right Environment

For some people, working from home is a dream come true. They roll out of bed, start the coffee maker, and "commute" to their desks, twenty seconds away.

Others may work better in "third places" that are neither homes nor offices. These workers may find their ideal environments in coworking spaces or coffee shops. It is no coincidence that, as remote work has increased, new spaces and industries have appeared to accommodate those who still need to separate their work from the rest of their lives.

Wherever you decide to work, make sure the atmosphere is ideal for your productivity. If you are energized by the bustling ambiance, try working from a coffee shop. If you need quiet and isolation, find a peaceful place to work and set boundaries to protect it.

This requires some trial and error, so before you commit to full-time remote work, understand your own patterns, preferences, and boundaries. Any assignment is easier when you’re tackling it within your designated sweet spot.

4. Know Thyself

The right external environment is as essential as the right mindset. The relative freedom of remote work can empower you to play to your strengths.

The new world of work provides more freedom than ever before. Making the most of it requires wisdom, experimentation, and sensitivity to your own body and mind.

That's where Artisan Creative can help. We work with a wide variety of talent with different styles and work preferences. We can help you play to your strengths and uncover opportunities where your skills and efforts will be the most appreciated. Contact us today to learn more.


Building Your Network

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 423rd issue of our weekly a.blog.

To build a network, you want to be simultaneously interested in the people around you, the things they do and need, and the ideas that drive them. Great minds are, in fact, very interested in other people!

Here are some guiding principles to help you build a new network—or expand an existing one—of people who can help you along your personal and professional journey.

Set Your Intention

Before you set out to do anything, put some thought into what you're looking for in creating new connections. Set a clear intention, and use that intention to guide your behavior.

Make sure your goals are realistic, attainable, and thoughtful. Start with a goal that's easy to hit and build from there. For example, if you're attending a conference with the goal of learning something new, add an additional goal of meeting 2-3 new people within your industry during your time there.

 

Setting the right intention will guide all of your actions when building your network.

 

Do Your Research

Part of setting your intention is determining who you want to add to your network. Perhaps there's a specific company you want to work for or a specific person you'd like to call on for advice. What types of professionals do you envision as your mentors and collaborators?

With your intention established, begin your research. Where do these people congregate to share their ideas and experiences? Are they online on Linkedin groups or do they meet in person at Meetups or industry conferences? What are they passionate about and where do they access information that matters to them? Where do your own skills and interests intersect with their values and needs?

Most importantly, what specific discussions and content would potentially help the people in your network?

Add Value

Reciprocity is the principle that governs all professional relationships. You can only expect others to treat you with as much respect as you offer. Approach all networking as an opportunity to help others.

Determine the issues that challenge others in your wider network and devise creative ways to solve them. Instead of asking for favors, pitch ideas as possible solutions. Offer value without expecting anything in return, and over time you will become someone that others will want to add to their network too!

It's essential that your desire to help be genuine. Too many eager networkers try too hard to seem helpful when they're really out for themselves. This erodes both trust and patience and discourages people from willing to partner with you.

Be a Connector

If you follow these principles, you will meet more people than you are able to help on your own. As this happens, introduce them to other people in your network who are better positioned to help and may have the skills you lack.

By making effective introductions, author James Altucher has built a network that includes leaders in technology, business, and the arts, many of whom he has interviewed on his successful podcast. He describes his method as becoming a “super-connector.”

To preserve the value of your relationships, follow the rules behind another Altucher concept, "Permission Networking." That is, don't introduce two people unless you've cleared it with both of them and you know it will add value to both of their lives and careers.

Enjoy Yourself

Building a network should be an extension of your own work and life as well as add value for everyone involved. It doesn't have to involve activities that you aren't comfortable doing.

If you don't attend networking events, you can just as easily use these principles to build relationships by networking online. Author Derek Coburn jokes that "networking events are the nightclubs of the professional world"—they can be useful and fun, but they're not for everyone — and says that  "Networking 3.0" happens online.

 

You'll have an easier time building a network if you're in your element, doing what you do best, stretching yourself, and helping others in a way that also works for you.

 

Use Your Resources

You can achieve explosive growth in your networking efforts if you plug into large and existing networks, such as the one we've spent years building here at Artisan Creative. Connect with us to discover how we can all help each other thrive.


Tips for Better Interviews : Listening

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 421st issue of our weekly a.blog. 

Whether you’re a job seeker interviewing for a full-time position, a freelancer speaking with a potential client, or a hiring manager looking to add to your team, an interview is your opportunity to connect and learn the most you can about the person sitting across from you. While this may sound like you need to do a lot of persuasive talking, what it actually requires, is your focus on the more difficult side of the equation: listening.

Here are three quick guidelines to keep in mind.

1. Give the speaker your complete attention

Attune yourself to the speaker’s nonverbal cues. You can learn much more about the person than just what meets the ear.

Stay focused and avoid preparing your answer while they are talking. As you’ve already done your research and preparation beforehand, you are now free to give the speaker the attention and respect they deserve. Sometimes the best cure for nerves is to pay attention to another person’s concerns and questions.

Suddenly, it’s not all about you. And that’s a relief!

2. Use your body language

You can show that you are listening attentively by nodding, reacting with a facial expression, or saying "mm-hm" or other confirmation sounds. Just don’t overdo it. Forcing particular nonverbal cues can be more awkward than just letting your body behave naturally.

The most effective way to marshal your best body language is to cultivate a relaxed, positive mindset, letting your body and mind work in sync. If you approach your interviewers with an attitude of openness, helpfulness, and optimism, it will reflect in your calm and attentive demeanor If you come from a place of curiosity and generosity, you will be less likely to close up and get nervous.

To make things easier, try improving your body language a bit every day. Borrow a trick from life coach Jordan Harbinger, called the “doorway drill.” Every time you pass through a door, take a moment to look your best. Straighten your shoulders and back, take your hands out of your pockets, shake off any tension, and smile. Practice this exercise every day, and soon it will be your default.

3. Pause

Only when their question is finished is it the right time to gather your thoughts, and respond.

Take a moment to think about the question asked. Sit with it. Breathe. This is a conversation, and you are letting it unfold at a comfortable pace by listening carefully, understanding thoroughly, and putting appropriate thought into your answers.

And, when you're finished with your answer, take a pause. No need to jump in with more detail, if your answer was complete and well-prepared. The other person will give you a clue if indeed additional clarity is needed.

 

If you are a candidate looking for a new job, or your are a hiring manager looking to add to your team, contact Artisan Creative today.

 


Tips for Active Listening

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 419th issue of our weekly a.blog. 

 

MIA: When in conversation, do you listen, or do you just wait to talk?

VINCENT: I wait to talk. But I'm trying to listen.

 -Pulp Fiction, 1994  

Active listening requires that we set aside our own egos and imperatives as we listen to another person speak,  in order to be fully engaged with what that person is communicating, both verbally and nonverbally.

When done in good faith, active listening gives rise to an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect. At work, it can help mitigate conflicts and facilitate better teamwork and higher morale.

When listening actively, use these five principles until they become second nature. Don’t worry too much about whether or not you’re doing it correctly. Simply open yourself up to the conversation before you.

1. Notice body language and sub-communication

Communication is about much more than what is said out loud.

In order to really listen, you must get beyond the stated facts and pick up on the tone and emotions behind them. The same speech can have two entirely different meanings depending on whether it is delivered with self-assurance, with a knowing smirk, or with lots of filler words ("like," "um"), crossed arms, and erratic eye contact.

To actively listen, stay open, withhold judgment, and take in the sum of the spoken and unspoken communication.

2. Repeat, rephrase and ask questions

Before you respond, make sure you understand what has been said.

You can do this by repeating the speaker's key points, and restating them in your own words. This will give the person an opportunity to clarify or add more information. This way, before you respond, you can be fairly sure you fully comprehend the other person's point.

Before you offer a rebuttal, ask thoughtful, open-ended questions to clear up any lingering misconceptions. This can open a productive conversation and lead into fruitful areas of discussion neither one of you anticipated.

3. If you get lost, start over

Have you ever been having a conversation and suddenly realized the other person had been talking for a long time and you stopped paying attention some time ago? It's okay to admit it.

Just be honest. Say, "I think I lost you back there somewhere. I was with you up to a point. Would you mind clarifying this one area?" Make sure you are getting all the information you need to hear and understand the speaker in context.

If you are indeed listening in good faith, pay attention to what is being said, keep up with the content as it’s shared, and quiet your own inner voice.

4. Don't rehearse or think ahead - stay in the moment

When you're ready to listen, take a deep breath, and take a moment to let go of your own thoughts, opinions, ideas and perspective. Be fully present with the other person's experience. Perceive their feelings and get to know the human behind the voice.

If you begin formulating a response while you are pretending to listen, you are bound to miss important subtext and implications. You risk sounding dismissive or defensive. People can tell when you aren't listening. Don't interrupt. Wait your turn. Listen to others the way you would have them listen to you.

5. Care

The best way to connect, listen and learn is via genuine curiosity about other people's experiences and to have empathy.

Empathy is a learned skill that requires constant honing. Practice active listening, and you may find that other people's experiences resonate with you far more than you ever expected. You may discover a spirit of cooperation within yourself that you may have been too nervous, defensive, or distracted to appreciate before. 

At Artisan Creative, active listening is the key to creating trusted relationships with our talent and clients.



​5 Secret Techniques of Great Interviewers

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 414th issue of our weekly a.blog.

As an HR professional, you have an array of responsibilities from vetting prospective hires to determining their qualifications and how they will contribute to company culture. At the same time, you are a front-line representative for your company, and must ensure that candidates also get the right first impression.

Here are a few techniques from the fields of sales, psychology, entertainment, and beyond that can help you conduct an unforgettable interview and get a candidate’s job experience started on the strongest possible footing.

Pace and Lead

Psychologists, salespeople, negotiators, and hypnotists build rapport through "mirroring' or mimicking another person’s tone and body language. This invites the candidate's trust. It may also spark some empathy on your part as you relate to that person's experience.

After rapport is established, you can shift your own gestures and speech to move the conversation in a productive direction. If the candidate is nervous, you can invite them to relax and loosen up. If the interview is too rigid and formal, you can inject some light humor or make things more conversational.

Know your Purpose

A good job interview is about more than hearing a prospect recite their resume and go over a list of mundane tasks. You must determine if this person's skills,  personality, values and worldview are compatible with the role you need to fill.

Before the interview, connect with the department’s hiring managers to understand the day-to-day duties of the job, and the purpose these duties serve to the organization, and fits within the team structure. Know the long-term goals that must be hit and what a successful first year would look like. Picture the ideal candidate performing this role to the best of their abilities.

Before you start interviewing prospects, clear up any confusion about what the job really entails with supervisors and stakeholders in your company. Think far beyond the job description.

Pause

“Active listening” means focusing your attention on the candidate when they are speaking and paying attention to the nuances and subtext of what they are saying. Be careful not to rush the process. Feel free to linger or elaborate on any intriguing points or rich topics that arise.

A good way to do this is to take a deliberate pause. A pause adds emphasis to an important point and gives you and the candidate time to interpret what is being said.

When the candidate finishes a thought, wait a few beats before you move on to the next question. This takes some practice, and you'll find that people often give the most revealing insights into themselves when they have finished canned responses by giving them a few more seconds of space to fill.

Find the Why

Business writer Simon Sinek devised "The Golden Circle," an immensely popular and powerful model for determining values. According to Sinek, every individual, group, and business has three layers. The outer layer, the “What,” contains our day-to-day tasks, what we actually do. One layer deeper, we find the "How," our attitudes, practices, and culture. The innermost layer, closest to our hearts, is the "Why." This is where we discover our deepest passions that motivate us.

Avoid getting too caught up in the number of years the candidate worked for a previous employer or the bullet points on their resume. Go deeper. Find core principles, values, and ideas that have stayed consistent throughout their career. If your candidate's "Why" is compatible with your company's "Why," you may have found a much better match than you would if you went by experience and references alone.

Go Off Script

When a waiter drops a tray full of dishes on the floor of a comedy club, a good comedian takes a beat and gets back into his act. A great comedian, however, reacts to the situation, riffs about it with the audience, and comes up with a new joke that's perfect for this particular time and place.

As an art form, conversation is less like rehearsed acting than it is like improvised comedy. It is crucial to "read the room" and adapt to any surprises that may come up.

Every candidate is different, so every interview should be different. Know your facts and the information you want to share. More importantly, be human. Take some notes beforehand, and be willing to throw them out if the conversation goes in an interesting direction that you didn't anticipate.

If you need help hiring and interviewing, contact us to learn more. Have the a.team help build your dream team.



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