Provisional Blog

The Best Questions to Ask an Interviewer

July 3rd, 2018

Want to impress a hiring manager? As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, Provisional recommends being prepared with your own insightful and meaningful questions to ask. When you are, it will go a long way in demonstrating your interest in the job and your willingness to do the work to determine whether a position is right for you.

That said, you have limited time and a lot of questions to ask. So how do you identify which ones are the most effective?

First, start by making a list of questions you’re interested in asking. When you get everything down on paper, you might see some redundancies or areas where you can consolidate. You’ll also be better able reflect on each one to determine whether or not it’s a good question to ask.

To help you along the way, here are a few to include on your list:

  • What are the biggest challenges or obstacles that come with this role?
  • What’s a typical day like in it?
  • If this is not a new position, why did the previous employee leave?
  • How many people work in the department?
  • What’s the manager’s leadership style like?
  • Will I be expected to travel or relocate?
  • Are there any opportunities for training, growth or advancement?
  • What’s the culture like?
  • What do you like most about working here? Least?
  • What type of personality works best in this position?
  • How will success and performance be measured?
  • Is there anything you need clarified about my qualifications?

Once you know the questions you’re going to ask, bring a copy of them with you. The hiring manager doesn’t expect you to have them memorized, nor do you want to forget to ask an important one. Beyond your questions, also bring along a small notebook and a pen so you can jot down any details or information that’s important to remember.

Whatever you do, don’t ask questions that could be misconstrued by the hiring manager. For instance, don’t inquire about vacation days and how many hours you have to work each week. These are red flags for the interviewer.

Need more helping getting interviews – and getting your next job?

Call the experts at Provisional. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, we can help you craft a great resume, polish your interviewing skills, and land the job you want! Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more.

Workplace Safety: Why You Need to Review Your Policy

June 26th, 2018

Trips, slips and falls might sound seemingly minor. But, as one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows that accidents and injuries at work are expensive. In fact, OSHA reports that employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone. Direct costs include things like medical expenses and legal services.

The good news is that there are ways to reduce the injuries and accidents in your workplace and their associated expenses. With strict safety practices in place, organizations can cut down on these situations and their related costs by as much as 40%. That’s why it’s so important not only to have protocols implemented, but to review them on a regular basis and modify them when needed.

To help you during the process, a few steps to take include:

Determining any new hazards.

What new hazards or problem spots have been identified since the last time you reviewed your safety program? If you’re not sure, it’s time to do some digging. Walk around your facility and look for any threats to safety or risks. Some specific areas to keep on the lookout for include rugs that are curled up in corners, electrical hazards, obstructions in walkways and faulty machinery. Also talk to your employees and ask about what safety issues they’ve noticed.

Educate your people.

You can’t look over the shoulders of your employees every day to ensure they’re operating in a safe manner. You need to able to trust and rely on them. It’s therefore important they understand the expectations you have for them in terms of safety and what specific safety-related tasks or duties they’re responsible for. On top of that, you should also consider annual refresher courses on safety to talk about the company’s specific rules, why they’re important, and the role employees play in ensuring a safe workplace.

Make sure it’s all in writing.

Beyond communicating expectations and rules to employees, you should also put everything in writing in an up-to-date safety handbook. This offers employees a resource they can reference whenever an issue or question arises. Information in it should include how to communicate workplace hazards, what to do in the case of an emergency, the company fire prevention plan, and the policy on personal protective equipment.

It’s always wise to invest in safety measures at your company. When you do, you’re protecting your people and your business bottom line. But beyond a policy, you need safety-minded employees to ensure your workplace remains as secure as possible. That’s where Provisional can help.

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we know where to look to source smart and careful candidates for a wide variety of positions and fields. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

Laid Off? Get Back on Track with These 6 Steps

June 19th, 2018

Professionally speaking, getting laid off is probably one of the worst experiences. It’s bad enough when you know it’s coming. But when you’re blindsided by it, it can be traumatizing. Not only that, but there’s a sense of powerlessness about the situation that can be difficult to manage through.

Take heart though. People with all levels of experience and in all different industries have been in your shoes and recovered successfully. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows that many even find themselves in positions and industries that are better-suited for them than the original job they had. But to get there, you have some work to do.

Here are some tips getting back on your feet and getting your career back on track in the weeks and months ahead.

Start the unemployment insurance process.

Don’t wait to file for unemployment. You might have a job in a few weeks, but you never know. It’s important to take every precaution in this situation and get this process rolling. It might take a while due to red tape, so you don’t want to delay.

Know your benefits and your rights.

If you’re being offered severance pay or are taking advantage of COBRA insurance, read the fine print so you understand what you’re being offered by your former employer. Also, if you believe you were let go illegally, signing a document often revokes your right to sue. So also make sure you understand the legality of the situation before signing on the dotted line.

Notify your network.

Connect with friends, family and former colleagues to let them know the situation and that you’re officially on the job market. If you know someone who works at a company you’re interested in, contact them and inquire about any job openings they know about. Not only will they be able to alert you to current opportunities, but ones that open up in the short-term future.

Get a budget going.

Once you know your severance and unemployment benefits, you can get a better sense of your financial picture and where you stand. With that information in place, you can then create a budget. What areas do you need to cut back in? What daily or monthly non-essential financial obligations can you put on hold at least until you find a job (e.g. gym membership, cable provider, etc.)? With this information and a plan in place, you’ll know what you can spend and gain more peace of mind as a result.

Jump start your job search.

Before you start looking for a new job, think about your career goals and what you want out of your next employer and position. That way, you’ll be able to focus on those opportunities that are a fit for you. Once you’re ready to get going, make sure you:

  • Polish your resume and tailor it to each opportunity you apply to
  • Create or update your LinkedIn profile so you can put your best foot forward online
  • Network both online and in person at seminars, career fairs, industry events, alumni affairs and other places that can help you get your foot in the door with your next employer
  • Practice your answers to common interview questions before an interview

Be patient.

Job searches are difficult, especially when they’re unexpected. But make an effort to keep yourself on a schedule each day and avoid the temptation to lay on the couch or wallow in self-pity. Instead, be patient with the process, be kind to yourself, seek out sources of inspiration, surround yourself with positive people, and put plenty of time and effort into your job search. It will pay off in the end.

Interested in professional employment help?

Call the experts at Provisional. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, we’ve placed more than 8,000 professionals with leading local employers since 1994. And we can help you find a new job too! Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more.

4 Ways to Keep Your Employees on Track & Motivated During Summer

June 12th, 2018

Between traveling and kids out of school, summer can certainly be a busy time for everyone, including your employees. As a result, it’s can be easy for them to lose focus, impacting your productivity numbers in the long run. To ensure you keep your people on track during the hot summer months, here are a few easy tips from Provisional – one of the leading staffing agencies in the Northwest – to put to use:

#1: Set challenging goals.

Just because it’s summer, doesn’t mean employees should be slowing down in terms of performance at work. To keep staff motivated, it’s even more important during this hectic time of year to meet with your people individually and make sure they understand their performance goals and expectations. Just make sure that whatever objectives you do set, they’re both challenging and attainable.

#2: Offer flexible work hours.

A flexible work schedule can be a small step that shows employees you care in a big way. Not only does it help your staff maintain a better work-life balance, but numerous studies have shown that it positively improves morale. In fact, according to one such study by PGi, 80% of employees reported higher morale when working from home.

A flex work schedule can mean a range of different options. For instance, it could include telecommuting one day a week. Or it could simply offer employees the option to come in at 8 and leave at 4, instead of working 9 to 5. Other possibilities include letting employees leave early on Fridays. It’s really up to you in terms of what works best for your team and your company.

#3: Encourage time off.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but it’s important to encourage your employees to take vacation days. If they don’t, they’ll risk burnout, which can negatively impact productivity, not to mention increase absenteeism and the risk of mistakes. In today’s culture, many people think it shows their dedication to not take time off. But if you want your employees to stay healthy and motivated, then they need a dedicated chunk of time to relax and unwind away from the office.

#4: Invest in training.

If summer is your slow time of year, look at it as an opportunity to ramp up your employees’ knowledge base. Send them to seminars, bring in speakers, host brown bag lunches, and offer online training opportunities they can take advantage of. It will be a change of pace from their daily tasks, while also enabling them to refresh and polish their skills, as well as gain new ones.

Need extra hands on deck during summer?

If summer is your busy time and you need more manpower to get the job done, Provisional can provide it. As one of the leading Northwest staffing agencies, we can help you find and hire the people you need on a seasonal basis. We can handle the sourcing, screening and reference checking, all so you get high-quality, hard-working temporary employees. Contact Provisional today to learn more.

4 Reasons You’re Not Getting the Job

June 5th, 2018

When it comes to the job search, there are many factors that are outside your control, from the strength of other candidates to the preferences of hiring managers. However, you do have a lot more influence over the process than you think. And if you’re making a few simple mistakes, they could be getting in the way of your efforts to land the position you want.

That’s where Provisional can help. As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, we’ve put together a few tips to help you learn about these errors and how to overcome each one:

You’re spreading your efforts too thin.

Applying for every job that sounds good isn’t a solid job search strategy. Instead, you should be applying only to those positions that are the right match for you and your background. That way, you can spend more time tailoring your resume and cover letter to the specific opportunity and raise your chances of getting called for an offer.

You’re not networking.

When it comes to finding a new job, one of the best ways is through networking. However, many candidates are hesitant to invest a lot of time in the process. But many positions on the market aren’t advertised and so you’ll never know about them unless you have an inside connection. That’s where networking can help and pay off in the form of more job leads and interviews.

You’re not following directions.

Hiring managers are particular about how they want resumes and cover letters submitted. And if you don’t follow their directions, you’re going to make a bad impression. They’ll automatically think that if you can’t follow instructions from a posting, you won’t be able to handle the challenges of the role.

You’re not preparing for interviews.

Before you go to an interview, there are a number of steps you need to take in order to prepare. If you don’t, you’ll come off as unprofessional and unqualified. These include researching the company and practicing your answers to common interview questions. It also includes preparing a list of examples of your past accomplishments and track record that you can weave into your responses.

These are all just a few examples of why you’re not getting offers for interviews or for jobs. While there are many others, there is one step you can take to increase your odds of finding the right-fit position, faster: call in the professionals at Provisional.

As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, we can work directly with you to craft a great resume, prepare you for job interviews, and match you with opportunities that are a great match for your background, skills, personality and career goals.

Contact us today if you’re ready to get started.

Screening Resumes? Get Tips on a More Effective Process

May 22nd, 2018

As the Northwest’s leader in specialized recruiting and staffing services, Provisional knows that screening resumes is no easy task. It can be hard to get a true sense of a candidate from a one-page document. On top of that, there are many variables that can affect the process, from your mood that day to how many resumes you have to screen. Add to that a tight timeline and a few moments only to devote to each resume and it can lead to hiring mistakes.

The good news is that when you have a solid process in place, you can screen resumes more effectively and improve the quality of your new hires. To help you in the process, here are some tips to consider:

Make sure your job posting is clear and concise.

Your job description has a huge impact on the quality of applicants you attract – and the amount of time you’ll have to spend reviewing resumes. That’s why it’s so important to invest the effort into creating accurate ones. Before you start the hiring process, review your description to ensure it clearly depicts the position and the skills and requirements necessary for success in it.

Wait a few days to start reviewing resumes.

Once you start receiving resumes, resist the urge to schedule interviews with the first ones that come in. Someone might seem like a good fit at first, until you get a dozen resumes from candidates over the next few days who are better suited.

In addition, when you screen resumes as they come in – one by one – your energy and attention could diminish, giving the first applicants an unfair advantage. Instead, wait a few days to start the screening process until you have a good number of resumes. Then set aside a chunk of time to start the screening process.

Schedule enough time to screen resumes.

Don’t cram in the task in between meetings and breaks. Instead, schedule in a block of time where you can truly devote adequate time to each one. Once you find a few applicants who are a good fit, don’t be tempted to rush through the remaining resumes. Give each one the same level of attention.

Look for the positive qualities in each candidate.

It’s easy to only focus on red flags and negatives. But when reviewing resumes, make sure you’re not picking each one apart in a hyper-sensitive way. Remember, you’re not making a hiring decision based on a resume, you’re simply deciding whom to interview. So be sure to also look for reasons to consider an applicant.

If you’re not sure about a particular candidate, then schedule a 15-minute phone screen with them. That way, you can learn more about their skills and background, all without a huge investment of time.

Need more help with the hiring process?

Call Provisional. Since 1994, we’ve been the Northwest’s leader in specialized recruiting and staffing services, placing over 6,000 direct-hire and temporary professionals with companies in Seattle, Spokane, and Coeur d’Alene. Contact us today. We’re ready to help you find the people you need, whether on a part-time, temporary or full-time basis.

How to Follow Up After Job Interview (Without Annoying the Hiring Manager)

May 15th, 2018

You interviewed for a job and thought you’d get an offer. But now it’s been weeks and you’ve heard nothing back. Are you supposed to follow up? Or should you just wait it out?

For candidates, it can always be a tough call. To help you handle the process with care, here are a few tips to keep in mind from Provisional – one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA – when it comes to interviews and following up:

Always ask next steps before leaving an interview.

While it’s too late for the current opportunity you’re waiting to hear back about, in the future, always ask about next steps before leaving an interview. Simply say:

“Can you tell me your timeline for next steps? When can I expect to hear back?”

That way, you’ll have a better sense of when the hiring manager plans to make a decision. If they said it would take a week and it’s been two, then you know it’s appropriate to follow up. You don’t need to sit around and wait.

Manage your expectations.

That said, when it comes to the hiring process, it can often take a lot longer than most candidates – and even hiring managers – expect. A manager might have every intention of making a decision in a week. But then delays happen, tripping up the process and adding days or even weeks to it.

So keep your expectations realistic. If a hiring manager says they’ll get back to you Monday and it’s now Tuesday, don’t start pestering them with emails asking about the status of the position. Instead, wait a week and then follow up. If they want to contact you before then, they will.

Be polite and professional.

If you don’t know when the hiring manager will make a decision, but it’s been well over a week since your interview and you haven’t heard anything, then go ahead and follow up. When it comes to sending your email, always be cordial and never pushy. Even if the hiring manager promised a call in two days and it’s now day eight, it’s important to be diplomatic. You can say something like:

“Hi Mike, I hope you’re doing well. I know you mentioned at our last interview you’d be finalizing a hiring decision soon. I’m eager to here if there’s been any progress made. If you need any additional information from me, don’t hesitate to let me know. Thanks so much for your time.”

Know when it’s time to move on.

If you’re being considered for the job, hopefully the hiring manager will be able to give you some information on next steps. If, however, you don’t hear back at all, then it’s time to move on. While silence isn’t the answer you want, it’s still an answer. And it’s best to invest your time and energy into finding the right opportunity rather than sitting around and waiting to hear back.

Ready for professional help finding your next job?

Call the experts at Provisional. As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, we can assist you with every step of the job search process, from resume and cover letter writing to job leads and interviews. Contact us today if you’re ready to get started.

4 Seasonal Staffing Tips for Spokane Companies

May 8th, 2018

Are you about to enter your busy time of year? If so, then you’ve likely been recruiting and hiring seasonal employees to handle the uptick in demand. But once they’re on board, how can you ensure you get the most of them for a summer of productivity and success? Here are 4 tips from Provisional – one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington – to help you:

Tip #1: Treat them like employees.
Even though they’re seasonal, temporary workers want to be treated like part of the team. When they’re welcomed and engaged, they’ll be more loyal to your company and work harder for it.

So make sure you extend invitations to your seasonal staff, not just your full-time people. Include them in meetings and other activities, so they become an integrated part of the team. Also, don’t give them the shifts or hours no one else wants, cutting a clear line between seasonal and full-time staff. Rather, respect them, recognize them, and treat them like you would any employee. They’ll be happier and more productive as a result.

Tip #2: Don’t skip out on training them.
You might need your seasonal staff members up and running quickly. But that doesn’t mean you should skimp out on training them.

In fact, when you invest some time and effort into the training and onboarding process, you’re going to get a stronger seasonal workforce. If you don’t, however, seasonal workers could slow the rest of your team down, not to mention impact customer retention due to mistakes. Teaching them a little now can help you avoid major headaches down the line.

Tip #3: Be clear about goals and expectations.
One of the main reasons seasonal employees fail on the job is due to unclear expectations. Don’t let that happen to you. Instead, talk to each employee about their goals, what you expect from them and when. Also discuss logistics, such as hours, shifts, pay and any other details they need to know about.

Tip #4: Communicate often with them.
You want to ensure seasonal employees are on track and that you uncover any issues with work quality quickly, rather than when a problem escalates. That’s why it’s important to communicate regularly with your workers.

Ask them if they have questions and let them know your door is always open if any issues come up. Help them to feel comfortable coming to you or other experienced co-workers to ensure the job gets done right. You can even pair them with a buddy or mentor so they have a dedicated go-to person to turn to for guidance and support.

Seasonal employees can offer a host of benefits. But they can also be a challenge to manage without the right approach. Simply follow the tips above, or give Provisional a call if you’d like professional help with the process. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we are your local source for high-quality, hard-working seasonal workers. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

Looking for a New Job? Don’t Make These Networking Mistakes

May 1st, 2018

You know that networking is an important part of your job search. In fact, it’s how most new positions are found. However, if you’re making a few common mistakes, then you’re not getting the most from your efforts. What are they – and how do you avoid them? As one of the top employment agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Provisional has the answers you need. Here’s a look:

Mistake #1: Not staying in touch.

You have a network of contacts, but how often do you stay in touch? If it’s not often, or not at all, then you’re not leveraging the power of networking. Networking does take time and effort, but it’s an activity that will pay off in the form of more job leads and connections to hiring managers. So it’s well worth the work you put into it. Some ways to stay in touch include sending out emails with articles of interest, inviting contacts to breakfast, lunch or happy hour, and connecting with them on social media and conversing with them there.

Mistake #2: Not networking in person.

When it comes to networking, it shouldn’t be all online. While it might be easier and more convenient, there’s still a lot of value in face-to-face contact. So don’t avoid those industry events, conferences and other opportunities to meet up with new people in person. When you make the effort, you can typically forge a stronger tie than when you simply communicate online or via email.

Mistake #3: Only networking in person.

On the flip side, you shouldn’t just be networking in person. If you are, you’re missing out on a whole world of potential contacts and interesting opportunities online. Your first place to start should be LinkedIn. Make sure you have a polished profile and begin making connections there. Also look for trade groups, industry organizations and professional groups you can join and connect with others in your field.

Mistake #4: Asking for favors and not offering help.

The last thing you should do when you make a new connection is ask for a favor. This is a big turn off. However, one way to facilitate stronger ties and a more valuable network is to offer to help. That way, when you do ask for job search help down the line, people will be more than happy to give it. So don’t look at networking only as a way to get what you want; it’s also an opportunity to help others in their careers too.

Ready to network your way into a new job?

Call the experts at Provisional. As one of the top employment agencies in Coeur d’Alene, we can offer you access to a variety of rewarding job opportunities in accounting, healthcare, legal, technical, and office fields. We’ll work to get to know your background, skills and experience, all so we can connect you with the best-fit job. Contact Provisional today to learn more.

Should You Hire a Former Employee? A Look at the Positives & Negatives

April 24th, 2018

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows that when you’re looking to fill an empty seat, it’s always nice to know as much as possible about the candidates you’re considering. If one of them is a past employee, you’ll certainly have a good sense about their personality, work ethic and how well they fit in with the team.

However, is it always a good idea to bring a former employee on board? And if you’re thinking about it, what are some of the positives and negatives? Here’s a look to help you make a smart hiring decision:

Benefits of hiring a former employee:

  • They can often get up to speed faster. They know the company, the culture, the policies and the key players. As a result, they’ll naturally feel more comfortable and won’t require as much training and onboarding, or as much time until they’re productive.
  • When it comes to hiring, cultural fit is vitally important. When you bring a former employee on board, you already know they’re a good match for the team. As a result, you won’t have to worry about extending an offer, only to have them leave after a short time due to a conflict with the culture.
  • Beyond personality and culture, you have an understanding of their skill set that you don’t have with other candidates you’re not as familiar with. While they may have gained new abilities during their time away, this is something that can offer you peace of mind that you’re hiring someone you know can do the job.

Negatives of hiring a former employee:

  • There’s a reason your former employee left and if you’re not really sure why, this might be something to dig into during the interview process. After all, you don’t want history to repeat itself after only a few short months. So it’s important to understand the reason they originally resigned and why they think that won’t become an issue again.
  • There could be a stigma among other staff members. If they see an old employee back on board, they could question their loyalty and commitment, impacting morale and productivity.

At the end of the day, whether or not you hire a former employee is a call only you can make. But before you make a decision either way, it’s important to consider the pros and cons above.

Have an opening you need to fill fast? Need help finding the best local talent?

Provisional has the people you need, whether on a temporary, temp-to-hire, or full-time basis. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we know where to look to source the best candidates for a wide variety of positions and fields. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.