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What to Do When the Best Candidate Flounders in an Interview

November 4th, 2014

You’ve spent countless hours reading through resumes and conducting phone screens. You’ve focused on a few candidates you think could be real contenders for the job. But one in particular stands out among the rest – until you interview them in person and they fall apart.

Should you set their candidacy aside and move on? Or do they deserve another shot?

As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Provisional can tell you: It depends on the situation. If after interviewing the candidate, it’s clear that not only do their interviewing skills need work, but they’re also not the right fit for the job, then the solution is easy. Tell them “thanks, but no thanks.”

But what if things are a little more complicated – namely, the candidate’s background and skill set are the ideal fit? Some terrific candidates are terrible interviewers and it’s up to you to think about the job you’re hiring for and whether their weaknesses would hinder their ability to succeed in it. For instance, if the role requires giving presentations before a crowd on a regular basis, then that doesn’t bode well for a candidate who can’t interview effectively.

Keep in mind, too, there might be a reasonable explanation for the poor performance. If a candidate had to travel a great distance to get to the interview and is jet lagged, then their fatigue may have sabotaged the interview. Or there could be a personal crisis going on their lives that impacted their performance, but they didn’t want to cancel for fear of losing out on the opportunity.

Another factor to think about is your own performance. In other words, if the interview was badly structured, the candidate had to wait an excessively long time for you, or you were texting or answering calls during the interview, then it certainly could have thrown them off their game. Spend some time evaluating your interviewing approach – and whether you think it could have impacted the candidate’s performance.

Other factors to consider when deciding whether or not to give a candidate a second chance include:

  • Is their background a good match for the job?
  • Did they show in-depth knowledge about the company?
  • Did they ask insightful questions?
  • Does their personality seem like a fit for the culture?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, then give the candidate another chance. But if you’re not sure, or answered in the negative, then it’s time to consider other individuals.

And if you need more help uncovering quality candidates for your job openings, call Provisional. As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, we can help you through every step of hiring – from crafting effective job descriptions to sourcing, screening and hiring top candidates.

Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

Is a Candidate’s Reference a Phony?

August 5th, 2014

If you’re like most hiring managers, you assume the information a candidate supplies you with is accurate. Unfortunately, in today’s tough job market, that isn’t always the case.

As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Provisional knows candidates are increasingly fudging, exaggerating and outright lying on their application materials, including in the list of references they supply.

What’s even more distressing is that many employers make hiring decisions based on references. For instance, if two candidates are in the running for a position with equally strong skills and experience, positive reviews from a reference can be the boost to secure the position for one candidate over another. But beware. There are companies out there that will offer phony references…for a fee.

So how can you spot a fake reference and ensure you hire the right candidate?

Don’t make assumptions. Don’t simply assume because a candidate comes across as professional that they’re always going to be honest with you about their references. Thoroughly vet each candidate and verify their experience.

Ask the right questions. When calling a reference a candidate has listed, be as specific as possible with your questions. The more specific you are, the better the chance you have of catching a fake reference in a lie. You can use information directly from your interview with the candidate or from their resume. For example: “Mike told me part of his job was to respond to requests for proposals. About how often did he do that?”

Do your own research. If you’re suspicious that a company is a fake, then do some digging on your own. Google the company’s name and see what you find. If there are no results – or websites dedicated to warning you about the company – then that’s a sign the candidate is lying about their references.

• Outsource reference checks. One of the easiest ways to ensure references are always properly verified is to outsource the work to a company that conducts background checks. Such a company will not only be able to verify references, but other background information, as well, ensuring you hire the best person for the job.

Need more help screening job applicants? Give Provisional a call. As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, we can help you reduce your risk of making a hiring mistake, so you can access the top talent you need. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

Employee Breaks – and How They Can Boost Your Bottom Line

July 15th, 2014

Want to increase productivity at your company? Encourage your employees to take breaks.

In fact, according to a study from Staples, 85% of employees think taking regular breaks throughout the day would make them more productive. What’s more is that 59% of those surveyed said more breaks would improve their work happiness and 43% said it would boost their personal happiness. Additionally, 37% said regular breaks during the day would improve their health.

However, many employees don’t take breaks out of a sense of guilt, despite working longer hours. As a result, they wind up feeling more burnt out and less productive. And job-related stress is on the rise, costing companies hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

“It’s important that employees understand the value of taking a quality break,” said Tom Heisroth, Senior Vice President, Commercial and Enterprise Sales, Staples Advantage. “Disconnecting can increase their happiness, health and productivity. This survey indicates employers are encouraging employees to take a break, but they need to back that up by providing a well-stocked breakroom that encourages employees to step away and not feel tied to their work.”

To boost your business’s productivity – and encourage your employees to step away from their desks – consider these tips from Staples:

• Feed employees. Offer healthy snack options, such as fruit and granola bars, that employees can nosh on when they need an energy boost.

• Offer a comfortable place to rest. Create an employee break room with comfortable furniture where employees can relax and unwind with their snacks and socialize with co-workers.

• Encourage employees to disconnect completely. Thinking about work projects won’t let employees mentally recharge. So encourage them to leave their laptops and smart phones at their desks while taking a break so they won’t be tempted to check their email.

• Embrace breaks in your workplace culture. Reduce any guilt an employee might feel about taking a break by maintaining a break-encouraging culture. Don’t allow employees or managers to shame coworkers and direct reports into skipping breaks.

So while it may seem counterintuitive, encouraging breaks can actually help your staff be more productive and happier. And the happier they are, the harder they’ll work.

If you need more ideas on how to boost productivity at your company, contact Provisional. As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, we can help you create a staffing strategy and hire the right people to help you boost your bottom line.

Just give us a call today to learn more.

Are You Committing These 5 Hiring Offenses?

June 3rd, 2014

Don’t make hiring more difficult than it has to be. Start by avoiding these 5 hiring offenses and you’ll be well on your way to reducing the risk of a bad hire and finding the top performers you need:

Offense #1: Looking for the “Perfect” Candidate

As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Provisional knows there is no such thing. There are great fit candidates, solid candidates, strong, high performing candidates. But the perfect one? No, they just don’t exist.

So if you’re searching for him or her, you are wasting your time. You will not find the exact ideal person who checks every single box for you. Rather than perfection, look for someone with a proven track record and clear growth potential.

Offense #2: Hiring Too Quickly

You need to fill an opening fast. So you skip the reference checks, don’t perform the usual skills testing, and do a quickie phone interview. You may wind up with a great candidate. But chances are you’re going to make a hiring mistake.

Offense #3: Hiring Too Slowly

On the flip side is the hiring process that drags on for months, consists of seven interviews, multiple rounds of testing, and Secret Service level background checks.

When your hiring process looks like this, you will lose out on good candidates. They won’t wait around for you or for you to call the 15 different references you asked them to provide. The more time your hiring process takes, the more time there is for candidate to get other offers.

Offense #4: Not Having a Final Selection of Candidates

At the end of the hiring process, you should have at least two candidates to choose from. If you don’t, then you really don’t have a choice at all.

In addition, many companies get into trouble when their first pick winds up taking another offer and then they feel like they have to start the process again. This doesn’t happen when you have two strong candidates to select from.

Offense #5: Not Promoting the Job or the Company

When it comes to hiring, it’s not all about you. Candidates want to know “what’s in it for them” should they choose to work for you. So don’t make the mistake of only talking about your company during the interview. Candidates will lose interest.

But do talk about what your company can do for them. Do you offer training and room for advancement? A flexible schedule? Opportunities for giving back in the community? It’s up to you to get your candidates excited about the job and the company. You’ll attract the best ones that way.

If you’re guilty of these hiring offenses and need some help polishing your process, call Provisional. As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, we can help you through every step of hiring – from crafting effective job descriptions to sourcing, screening and hiring top candidates.

Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

Asked to Write a Reference Letter? Here’s How

March 18th, 2014

From time to time, you’re sure to get requests to write reference letters for former employees. Sometimes you’re happy to satisfy the request; others, not so much. To help you deal with both situations, consider the following:

The first question you should ask yourself is:
Should I be writing this letter?

As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Provisional can tell you if a former employee requests a reference letter, they should be a person that you know reasonably well and can provide solid examples of past work history. However, if you knew the employee at the company but never actually worked with them – and have no first-hand knowledge of their skills and experience – then you shouldn’t be writing a reference letter on their behalf, even if you’re friends. Keep in mind this is a formal document that companies will be basing hiring decisions on.

If you do decide to write a reference letter on behalf of a former employee, it should include these basic fundamentals:

• Introduce who you are and how you know the candidate.
• Confirm any facts you know the candidate needs to supply, including job title, dates of employment and any other pertinent information.
• Describe the candidate’s skills and experience while they worked with you.
• Give a couple of specific examples of the candidate’s positive performance and accomplishments.
• Close by summarizing why you would recommend this person for the position.
• Be sure to include your contact information in case employers want to follow up.

Some Don’ts:

• Don’t write in an informal language or use humor. Also, be sure to spell check the letter before you send it. Remember that your letter holds weight as to whether the candidate gets the offer.
• Don’t include any personal information you know about the candidate, such as whether they’re married or have kids. This kind of information is not relevant to the hiring process.

When You Don’t Have Anything Positive to Say

It’s always surprising when a former employee you didn’t get along with or that left on bad terms asks you to write a reference letter. However, it happens all the time. When it does, it’s wise – albeit a little awkward – to politely decline rather than writing a half-hearted endorsement.

If you write a letter that is less than accurate, an employer might actually hire that person based on it. If the tables were turned, you’d want only honest, accurate letters of reference from candidates.

Need help hiring for your company? Call Provisional. As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, we use a consultative approach to provide customized staffing solutions to our clients. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

Why Would a Candidate Want to Work for You?

March 11th, 2014

For many employers, the hiring process is an opportunity to find candidates that fit. But if you’re not looking at it from the candidate perspective – and what they want in a future employer – you’re missing out on an opportunity to attract top talent.

As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Provisional can tell you that even in a still uncertain economy, the best and brightest are in demand. And if you’re not working to sell your company and your job openings to them, you can bet that your competition is.

Not sure where to start?

Ask your employees.

Conduct a survey of your current team and ask them what they like most about working for the company. You may be surprised by some of their answers; while others – like flex time or telecommuting – are a given. But at least you’ll gain a sense of what’s important to them and the types of perks and attributes you can use to sell your company to potential new hires.

Also be sure to ask them about what they’d like to have, but don’t currently. You never know. It may be something simple and inexpensive that could improve employee retention and recruiting efforts.

Sell your culture.

What sets your organization apart from others? What makes working there desirable? Many times, employers will simply stick to talking about pay and benefits. But if most organizations say the same thing, how are you going to differentiate your’s from the competition? You need to tell a story about what makes your company unique.

Share your values.

Besides culture, another way to stand out in the minds’ of candidates is through your company’s values. These can’t be empty words and catch phrases used for the sake of hiring; they need to resonate with people and make them want to work for you and share in those values.

Be transparent.

One of the worst mistakes is making the hiring process a headache for candidates. You can say all the right things to a candidate about how great your company is, but if you promise a decision in one week and they haven’t heard from you in a month, you’re going to leave a bad taste in their mouth.

Instead, be transparent, keep your word, and make sure candidates are in the loop, even when it means letting them know they didn’t get the job. They could be the perfect hire for a different position in the future. But if they’re treated poorly during the hiring process, they won’t apply again or refer other candidates your way.

Remember, the best people have a choice in where they work. You need to do all you can to make them choose you.

Need more help hiring top candidates? Call Provisional. As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, we can help you through every step of the hiring process – from crafting effective job descriptions to sourcing, screening and hiring top candidates.

Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

How to Put Job Candidates at Ease

January 14th, 2014

No matter how skilled, experienced or confident a job candidate is, they are always going to be at least a little nervous before a job interview. And unfortunately, sometimes nerves can get the best of a candidate – even one who would be an ideal fit for you.

As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Provisional can tell you that finding ways to put your candidates at ease, so you can truly assess them, will ensure you don’t miss out on hiring the best candidate for your company.

To help you, here are some tips to consider:

Greet candidates.

Be sure that each candidate is greeted and escorted, if necessary, to the interview location. Start the interview off with low-key questions, such as how the candidate heard about the opening.

Pay attention.

Nothing frustrates, annoys or rattles a candidate more than a phone ringing every time they’re trying to answer one of your interview questions. So turn your cell phone off and give each candidate your undivided attention.

Avoid the wacky questions.

Unless you’re hiring for a position that requires a high degree of creativity, avoid the “if you were a car, what kind of car would you be” interview questions. These tend to stump a lot of candidates and don’t necessarily offer you as an employer insight into their professional strengths and weaknesses.

Instead, ask specific questions about their prior experience and accomplishments. Getting them on firm ground will not only put them at ease, but you will also garner the information necessary to help you make a solid hiring decision.

Also, if you want to get a clearer sense of a candidate’s personality, ask situational based questions, like how they would react in a certain situation.

End the interview on a positive note.

Even if you think the candidate isn’t right for the position, thank them for their time and let them know when you plan on making a hiring decision.

If you do decide that they definitely aren’t right for you, then don’t leave them hanging. Let the candidate know as soon as possible. They could be a perfect fit for a future position and promptly informing them of your decision in a professional way will help paint your employment brand in a positive light.

Need more help with the hiring process? Call Provisional. As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, we can help you through every step of it – from crafting effective job descriptions to sourcing, screening and hiring top candidates.

Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

What’s a Job Analysis? And Why Should You Perform One?

November 5th, 2013

A job analysis sounds a lot more intimidating than what it actually is. It’s simply a process of collecting details – think responsibilities, required skills, and desired outcomes – about a particular position. Still, it sounds like a fair bit of work, so why would you want to conduct them for jobs at your company?

Two reasons:

1) A job analysis is the basis for a strong job description. And we know that when you’re hiring, a precise job description can be the difference between attracting top talent and mediocre candidates.

2) A job analysis helps evaluate the fit of your current employees. In other words, by analyzing each position thoroughly, it helps you ensure that the right people are in the right positions. When employees are in jobs that are well suited for them, they are much more likely to stay motivated, happy and loyal to the company.

As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Provisional can also tell you that performing a job analysis isn’t as simple as writing down all you know about a particular position. Instead, it includes the following activities:

• Get each employee involved in the process by having them complete a job analysis form. They are the ones performing the work each day, so their input is vital in order to create an accurate analysis. Conduct a simple Google search for templates of forms and then customize them for your unique needs.

• Ask employees to log how long it takes them to perform regular tasks and duties for one week.

• Once forms and logs are completed, interview each employee to ask specific questions and discuss details of each job’s duties and responsibilities.

• Also interview each manager, other employees and clients that the employee may interact with on a regular basis to get a full snapshot of the position.

• Observe the employee at different times and on different days throughout a week and make a note of what they’re doing and how long they are performing certain tasks.

• If there are multiple people performing the same job, be sure to follow the steps above for each person to get a clear picture of the position.

• Once you’ve completed the leg work and written out a job analysis for each position, review them with employees and managers to ensure they are as accurate as possible.

Keep in mind that the more information you can gather, the easier it will be to compile precise job descriptions.

Need more help writing job descriptions?

Give Provisional a call. As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, we can help you through every step of the hiring process – from crafting effective job descriptions to sourcing, screening and hiring top candidates.

Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

Building Trust on a New Team

August 13th, 2013

You’re the new boss. And whether it’s through a job change or a promotion, the fact remains: you’ve inherited an entire team of people you may not know a lot about. As the saying goes, “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” And considering all that’s on the line as the new boss, you want to make a good one.

To support you in your efforts, here are a few tips to help you to win over and build trust among your new team:

Meet One-on-One With Each Player

Don’t walk into the job expecting to have all the answers. Instead, reap the collective knowledge that your team already has in place. Do so by getting to know each person on an individual basis.

So schedule an informal meeting or a lunch date with the members of your team. Don’t do all the talking; instead ask them about their background and experiences with the company. Also inquire about the challenges and opportunities they see.

These are the people in the trenches everyday and it would be a waste not to rely on their insight and understanding.

Thank Your Team for Their Ideas

Even if someone offers an idea that is unreasonable, don’t respond in a negative way. Instead, thank them for sharing; even if you don’t end up using an idea, your new team members will be more encouraged to speak up in the future.

Implement Ideas & Feedback Where You Can

Put forward your plan leveraging the knowledge and ideas that your team provided. Acknowledge those team members who contributed to it. When you do, you’ll create a sense of trust and camaraderie. They’ll know it’s not the boss vs. the staff; everyone is one the same team. Even better, employees will be more vested in a plan in which some of their ideas are used.

Don’t Trash the Old Boss

Even if you come to the realization that the old boss was totally incompetent, don’t speak negatively of him or her. You may need to ask your team questions as to why things were done a certain way, but keep your “are you kidding me?!” thoughts to yourself. Your employees may be glad their old boss is gone, but speaking negatively will erode the sense of trust and positivity you are trying to build.

And if you need some help hiring for your new team, let Provisional know. As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, we use a consultative approach to provide customized staffing solutions to our clients. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

Making the Offer: What to Include in Your Letter

July 9th, 2013

You’ve screened hundreds of resumes, interviewed a dozen candidates, and are now ready to make a job offer to one of them. But before you pull the trigger, make sure you put it all in writing in the form of an offer letter.

As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Provisional knows that doing so ensures both you and the candidate are the on the same page. It can also protect you in the case of related legal issues down the line (such as a dispute over salary or termination).

So what should you include in your cover letter? Here’s a look at a few key elements:

The basics of the position – Include the title of the position and the anticipated start date.

Status of position – Whether it’s full- or part-time.

Job details – Include their supervisor’s name and the primary tasks they will be responsible for. Be sure to note that these tasks may expand or change over time.

Compensation – Include the agreed upon salary or hourly pay, as well as whether or not the position includes benefits like health and dental insurance. If there are no benefits due to limited hours, then state that. Also include how often they will be paid.

Schedule – If the new hire will have an untraditional schedule, then note that in the offer letter as well.

Fine print – Note that the offer is contingent upon the candidate’s ability to meet any requirements, such as a background check or completing an I-9 form.

Also, if there is no contract associated with the position, note that they are an “at will” employee and can therefore leave or be terminated at any time without notice and for no cause at all.

Signature of acceptance – Leave room for the new hire to sign the letter indicating they read and understand it. Make a copy of it and include it in their employee file.

Contact – Include contact information should the candidate have any questions about the information presented in the offer letter.

When writing your offer letter, also be careful about the language you use. For instance, don’t talk about job security, or use phrases such as “in the future.” Doing so could imply certain guarantees of employment.

And if you’re having a hard time finding people that you want to make offers to, give Provisional a call. As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, we use a consultative approach to provide customized staffing solutions to our clients. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

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