March 5th, 2013
If you’re like most hiring managers, when evaluating a job candidate, you look at hard skills. In other words, specific and teachable skills that can be measured.
But what about soft skills?
You know, those skills that enhance a person’s job performance – like a strong work ethic, a good attitude, and an aptitude for organization – but are much harder to see, evaluate and measure. If you’re not analyzing these because it’s simply too hard, then you’re missing out on an important opportunity to find the best candidate for your job opening.
The good news, though, is that you can test for these skills; you just have to know what you’re looking for, use the right techniques, and ask smart questions. Here are some tips to help you:
#1: Communication skills.
As one of the leading staffing firms in the Northwest, Provisional knows that most jobs, across the board, require strong communication skills. That’s why it’s so important to evaluate them.
When it comes to written skills, use each candidate’s cover letter and resume as your guide. Were the documents well written? Were they error free? Was the candidate articulate in explaining why they’d be a good fit for the position?
For verbal skills, simply ask candidates questions beyond the “yes” and “no” that encourage a more detailed explanation. For instance, “Tell me about your most challenging project,” “Tell me about a time you made a mistake on the job,” or “Tell me about your biggest professional accomplishment.”
#2: Interpersonal skills.
If you ask a candidate “Are you a people person?,” or “Do you like working with people?,” most candidates will respond in the affirmative, regardless of the truth. That’s why you need to dig a little deeper and ask questions that will help you uncover a candidate’s true nature; for instance “How would your co-workers describe you?” or “What was your relationship like with your last boss?”
Clearly, integrity is an important personality attribute for any candidate you want to hire, whether entry level or executive. To evaluate a candidate’s level of integrity, ask questions like “What would you do if someone asked you to do something unethical on the job?” or “Are there any types of business situations in which you think honesty would be inappropriate?”
Conducting personality tests, also known as behavioral assessments or predictive tests, are a good way to measure whether a candidate will be a fit for the job and for the company’s culture. The results of these tests can help you tell whether a particular candidate is easy to manage, driven, a team player, and good at building relationships.
Need More Help Evaluating Soft Skills?
If you do, let Provisional know. As one of the leading staffing firms in the Northwest, we partner with several strategic companies to offer a full range of employment screening solutions to ensure the highest quality employees. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you make smart hiring decisions.
January 22nd, 2013
Not that long ago, the hiring process consisted of applying for a job, going to an interview, and getting a “yay” or “nay” as to whether you were hired.
Fast forward to more recent times – and the hiring process has gotten a little (ok, a lot) more complicated. From mandatory phone screens to multiple rounds of interviews with entire committees, the process is longer and more stressful.
On top of all that, employers are no longer simply evaluating skill set and work history. They also want to assess personality, as well.
Enter the personality test.
While you might not think your personality plays that big a role in your job, more and more employers are realizing how important it is to evaluate each candidate’s personality. They’ve been burned in the past by a candidate that looked great on paper, sounded brilliant in the interview, and then didn’t fit in with the culture or didn’t fit well with the job once hired.
And in fact, as one of the leading staffing firms in the Northwest, Provisional knows the majority of hiring mismatches come from a lack of cultural fit, not a lack of skills.
Sound like a big hassle?
Well, there’s a benefit for you too.
By administering personality tests, such as Myers-Briggs, employers can better assess whether you’re a good fit for the job and the company culture. That means if you don’t get offered the position, you might want to count your lucky stars. The position or the company culture may not have been well suited for you.
So despite what you think, personality tests aren’t meant to create stress and headaches for job candidates; they’re simply meant as a tool to enable employers to hire the right fit candidates.
With all that said, is there anything you can do to perform well on these kinds of tests? Here are some thoughts:
1. Don’t try to game the system. It might be tempting to be less-than-honest on a personality test in order to get hired, but you’re really short-changing yourself in the end. If you do get hired and the position or culture isn’t right for you, then you’re going to wind up miserable. Instead, answer each question candidly.
2. Take a sample test. The questions won’t be the same as on the real test an employer gives you; however, familiarizing yourself with the process will make you more comfortable with it.
3. Focus on what you can control. You can’t change your personality. What you can change are things like your resume, your interviewing skills, and whom you offer as a reference. So focus your energy on making those as strong as possible.
Are You a Talented Pro Looking for a New Opportunity?
If you are, give Provisional a call. As one of the leading staffing firms in the Northwest,, we can work with you to assess your background and personality, and then match you with Northwest jobs that are a great fit for you. Contact us today to get started or search our Northwest jobs now.
October 23rd, 2012
As one of the leading staffing firms in the Northwest, Provisional knows that changing jobs is certainly stressful…but changing careers is a whole different ball game.
First, you’re taking a giant, uncertain leap of faith. Second, you’ve likely built a reputation for yourself that took years to cultivate – and that’s hard to walk away from.
In addition to all that is the fact that you’re going to have to convince employers to hire you…even with little or no experience. That’s a tall order to place, especially when you’re competing in a tight job market with candidates who may have extensive experience.
So how can you “wow” employers and demonstrate why you’re the best fit…even if you have the least experience? Here are some tips to help you:
Tip #1: Promote your transferable skills.
Yes, you may be changing career fields. But that doesn’t mean every skill you learned, developed and honed over the years is completely irrelevant in your new job search. So think about and focus on the skills you do have that are highly relevant for each position you’re applying to.
Tip #2: Promote your past accomplishments.
Think about your past accomplishments and how they’re relevant to the position and employer…then promote them during the interview. Give examples of how you’ve learned on the job in the past and quickly developed expertise in other areas. Then explain that you’re eager to do the same if hired.
Tip #3: Promote what you know.
This means do your homework for every employer and position you’re applying for. Research the company, their products and services, their biggest challenges, and their competitors. Then explain how your background and skill set can help you contribute in a positive way to the organization. If an employer feels like you’re a good fit for the job and the culture, then they certainly may be willing to look past your lack of experience in a particular field.
Tip #4: Promote your passion.
One thing that could set you apart from other job candidates in a positive way is your level of passion. Let employers know why you want to join their industry and their company; why you’re passionate about it and what you can bring to the table if hired.
Thinking of Changing Careers or Switching Fields?
If you’re looking to launch a career in a new field – and want some expert job search help – let us know. As one of the leading staffing firms in the Northwest, we can work with you to find job opportunities that are the right fit for your new career goals. Contact Provisional today to learn more.
October 9th, 2012
It’s true that in large part motivation is up to an individual employee. After all, if an employee has no drive and doesn’t care about their job, then there’s not much you can do to motivate that person.
However, as one of the top staffing firms in the Northwest, Provisional knows there are things managers do that actually kill motivation…even among highly driven employees.
So what are they – and how can you avoid them? Here are five signs to look out for in your behavior:
Sign #1: You micro-manage your employees.
Your employees aren’t children and they likely don’t need you constantly looking over their shoulders, watching everything they do. And if they do need that level of supervision, then perhaps you need to re-consider some of your hiring decisions. It’s important to set clear goals and expectations for your team…but it’s just as important to give them some freedom in which to achieve the desired results.
Sign #2: You call employees out in public.
Employees are human and therefore, they are bound to make a mistake or two. It’s your job to deal with it. However, doing so in public will only cause animosity and embarrassment. So if an employee makes a mistake or an error in judgment, pull him or her aside privately to resolve the matter. Whatever you do, don’t make a public spectacle of it.
Sign #3: You have favorites…and it shows.
Like your employees, you too are human, which means there are probably some people on your team you like more than others. They may be more consistent in their work or you simply may have more in common with them. But don’t apply work policies and procedures unfairly and inequitably because you like one employee better than another. You’ll only create tension among your team if you do…and it could even result in a legal claim.
Sign #4: You put your employees’ ideas down.
Your company thrives on new ideas and innovation. So why in the world would you ever make an employee feel stupid for offering their opinion? Even if an idea is a bit out there, perhaps it will inspire another person on your team and lead to a terrific idea. But you’ll never know if your employees keep their mouths shut because they don’t want to be constantly shot down.
Sign #5: You regularly set unattainable goals.
Sure, there will be times when your team is under pressure. But if you’re constantly setting goals you know they can’t meet – and then penalizing them for falling short – you’re going to wind up with a group of disengaged employees.
One easy way to avoid this is to enable your employees to offer their own insight and feedback about goal setting. After all, if they’re the ones who are going to have to do the work to achieve the goal, then their opinion on whether what you have in mind is attainable is certainly worth consideration.
The more motivated your employees are, the more driven they will be to achieve positive results. That’s why it’s so important to keep employee motivation in mind when making decisions – so you can harness its power, rather than killing it.
Need Help Hiring Motivated People?
You’ve come to the right place. As one of the top staffing firms in the Northwest, Provisional knows how to identify, attract, and recruit top-tier professionals…all so you can improve your business performance. Contact Provisional today to learn more about how our staffing services can help you.
September 4th, 2012
As one of the leading staffing firms in the Northwest, Provisional knows it may seem silly to monitor your employees Internet use. But then you hear horror stories about employees watching pornography at work, harassing other employees via email, or posting discriminatory comments in public forms.
As a result, more and more companies are investing in spyware that enables them to monitor Internet use. The last thing they want is their reputation tarnished because an employee made a sexist comment on Facebook….on company time!
So if you decide to monitor your employees’ Internet use, how can you go about it without coming across as intrusive and sneaky?
First, be open about it. Employees will be more accepting of it if they know ahead of time that certain websites will no longer be available, or their email usage will be monitored. Not that they’ll love it, but most will understand it.
And don’t simply notify your employees about it…educate them about why it’s important. They may not realize that your monitoring policy is meant to protect the company (and its employees) from situations that could be embarrassing or result in an expensive lawsuit.
Next, explain the ground rules for Internet use. For instance, the Internet may not be completely off limits for personal use, but certain websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, might be.
Finally, be respectful of your employees. In other words, don’t make them feel like you’re looking over their shoulders every second. If employees are working late every night on a big project, for instance, give them some latitude to conduct personal business during work hours.
And remember, your Internet use policy isn’t meant to micro-manage your employees; it’s meant to protect your company. So it’s important to take both privacy and security into account.
In addition to creating an Internet use policy, another way to protect your company is to hire trustworthy people…and Provisional can help. As one of the leading staffing firms in the Northwest, we can take the hassle and the guesswork out of hiring. Contact Provisional today to learn more.
August 14th, 2012
Ever had any of these situations happen to you?
You’re running a meeting when all of a sudden you look over, and one of your employees is on their cell phone, texting.
You check-in on an employee only to see them chatting away on their cell phone during an extremely busy period at work or when they’re on a tight deadline.
You have to wait five minutes while an employee wraps up a phone conversation with their spouse about where to go to dinner.
If you have, then you’re in good company. So what’s the best way to combat these new challenges presented by cell phone use in the workplace, without treating your employees like children?
As one of the leading staffing firms in the Northwest, Provisional can tell you that the easiest answer is to have a clear cell phone use policy and strictly enforce it. Here are some critical issues yours should cover:
- Be sure to discuss basic rules of etiquette in your policy. For instance, some rules might include that employees must keep their phones on vibrate during working hours; phones are prohibited at meetings; and they must talk quietly when they are engaged in a phone conversation.
- Describe when employees are allowed to use their cell phones. For example, do you only want to permit cell phone use on breaks and during lunch time? Or do you feel comfortable leaving use up to employee discretion? Whatever you decide, it needs to be clearly defined so there is no room for interpretation.
- Since most cell phones come with cameras today, you need to explain where and how they can be used. For instance, you may want to forbid cell phone use when employees are engaged in activities related to company finances, or research and development.
- Ensure that you ban texting while driving when the employee is on the job or in a company car. Should they get into an accident, your company could be held liable.
- Since technology has made it easier for employees to harass each other, it’s important to include guidelines about sexual harassment. In other words, let employees know what to do in case they feel they’ve received inappropriate texts or emails sent via the cell phone of a co-worker or manager.
In addition, once you’ve created your policy, schedule a mandatory training session to review it with your employees. Discuss the rationale behind the key points and explain the consequences for non-compliance.
As one of the leading staffing firms in the Northwest, Provisional enforces a strict cell phone use policy for all of our temporary associates. So if you’re interested in bringing one on board, you can rest easy knowing they will respect the rules and reserve their phone use to emergency situations only. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more about our temporary staffing services.
July 10th, 2012
You’ll never find him. That’s right. You’ll never find the absolute 100% perfect job candidate. As one of the Northwest’s leading staffing firms, Provisional can tell you he does not exist. He is a figment of your imagination.
Here’s what you will find – highly talented and professional candidates that come from a range of backgrounds and that can offer diverse value to your organization. That said, none of them will be perfect. So it’s time to give that pipe dream up.
And if you don’t, then you could really be sabotaging the hiring process and hurting your company’s bottom line to boot. In fact, the quest for perfectionism can cause procrastination and result in an inability to make a hiring decision…even when you desperately need to hire.
So how can you avoid the drawbacks of perfectionism, while still sourcing and hiring a quality job candidate? Here’s a look:
1. Take a Look at Past Successes & Failures.
Think about who has held the position before and what strengths helped them to succeed in it – and in the company, as well. For those who didn’t fare so well, evaluate “why” so you can avoid making the same mistake again in the future.
2. Make a List of “Must Haves.”
Make a list of the top four or five “must have” qualities or skills you require in a candidate. These can include anything from strong computer skills, to excellent interpersonal skills, to several years of experience under their belt. These are the traits and/or qualifications you are not willing to compromise on.
3. Make a List of “Nice to Haves.”
Next, list a few of the “nice to have” skills and traits that you’d like to see, but that aren’t absolutely essential.
4. Ask for a Second Opinion.
When in doubt, it’s always best to get a second opinion on a candidate. Put together a small team of trusted employees or colleagues to help during the interview process. These should be people who are qualified to evaluate a candidate’s skill level or who would be working alongside the candidate.
The benefit of having more than one person involved is that they may ask questions you didn’t think of and unearth valuable information, as a result. That said, don’t employ an entire hiring committee and take six months to make a decision.
At the end of the day, hiring a new employee is a major investment. There’s a lot riding on making the right decision, so you want to take the time to make sure you hire well. But don’t let a perfectionist mentality hinder you and leave you unable to hire because you can’t find the perfect candidate. Remember: he doesn’t exist.
Want More Help Hiring Quality Candidates?
You’ve come to the right place. As one of the Northwest’s leading staffing firms, Provisional has placed more than 6,000 direct hire professionals with the region’s top employers since 1994. Let us help you too. Contact Provisional today to get started.
May 15th, 2012
When you run a small business, you wear a lot of hats. It’s inevitable. But sometimes, rather than doing it yourself, it’s best to outsource certain hats, like your staffing one, for instance.
In fact, more and more small and mid-size businesses are streamlining their staffing & HR functions by outsourcing hiring, firing, and/or benefits administration tasks to staffing firms, like Provisional.
Because they’re hoping to save money in the process. According to a recent poll by the Society of Human Resource Management, 26% of companies cited saving money as the main reason for outsourcing.
So besides cost savings, what are some other benefits outsourcing your staffing and HR responsibilities can offer you?
Get More Bang for Your Buck.
When you outsource staffing and HR, you get more value. Instead of paying one internal person to handle these tasks, you pay a firm that can offer you access to a whole team of staffing and HR experts.
Reduce Your Liability.
A Northwest staffing firm is going to be up to date on the latest legislation and regulations, along with what’s coming down the pike, so you don’t have to be. When it comes to hiring, they can make sure you’re in compliance with employment laws, healthcare laws, and other HR-related government regulations that can impact your business. This is a particularly valuable benefit considering the staggering number of laws businesses must comply with.
Increase Your Productivity.
It’s hard to handle your daily priorities when you have to spend a lot of time on recruiting and hiring. But when you work with a Northwest staffing firm, they can handle all the recruiting and hiring work, so you can get more done.
Ready to Say Good-Bye to Your Staffing Hat?
If you are, let Provisional know. As one of the leading Northwest staffing agencies, we can handle all your recruiting and staffing challenges, so you can focus on running your business. Contact Provisional today to learn more.
November 1st, 2011
From 2000 through 2009, the number of employees that worked remotely tripled in size – and that number is expected to continue to grow rapidly. In addition, in 2011, 10% of workers reported telecommuting at least once a week, up from 8% in 2007.
But despite this increase, the challenge remains: How can supervisors properly manage virtual workers to deliver positive results?
The answer is simpler – and more complicated – than you might think. It’s all about trust.
As one of the Northwest’s top staffing firms, we know that virtual teams aren’t unlike on-site teams in that trust is a key component of success and productivity. Many workplace experts agree that trust is perhaps the most important element of a harmonious and efficient work environment – and that attitude holds true for employees working remotely, as well.
In fact, in the book, Virtual Team Success, authors Darleen DeRosa and Richard Lepsinger shared findings from a global study, which concluded that top performing virtual teams reported higher levels of trust than teams that were less successful. According to the authors, trust is an essential ingredient for virtual team success.
While it might only take seconds to destroy, building trust can take a while, especially in a virtual environment, where there isn’t nearly as much personal interaction. But it’s definitely possible and will ultimately contribute to the team’s overall success. To help you get started, here are some tips to keep in mind.
- Establish clear and open communication from the beginning. Make sure that all team members have each others’ contact information and preferred means of contact.
- Set the ground rules. This is critically important before the start of the project so that everyone is clear on expectations. For instance, let each member know you expect a progress report via email by the end of the day Friday.
- Use online tools, like video conferencing and Facebook, or similar sites, so that team members can actually see each other, and learn about backgrounds and experiences of each member.
- Meet face to face whenever possible. This is especially important in the very beginning of the team’s formation in order to build relationships.
- Recognize positive results and accomplishments openly and regularly with all the team members, even if it’s simply an employee offering to work extra hours to complete a project.
- Empower team members to make decisions and act on them. People who are successful at working virtually are disciplined and self-motivated. They don’t want to be micro-managed or have to consult with you on every minor decision.
Also, if you don’t currently employ virtual team members, but are thinking about letting employees telecommute, read this post for a look at the pros and cons.
And finally, while building trust is a critical component of any successful virtual team, it’s also important that your team is staffed with qualified and dependable people who can get the job done. That’s where Provisional comes in. For more than 15 years, we’ve been one of the Northwest’s most trusted staffing firms thanks to our ability to source, screen, and deliver top talent. Contact us today to learn more.
August 9th, 2011
As one of the top Northwest staffing firms, we know that conducting performance reviews is a difficult – yet critical – task for managers. When done well, they can serve to motivate employees, strengthen relationships, provide opportunities for training and development, and improve accountability, as well as get under-performing employees back on track.
However, when it comes to conducting these reviews, many managers make the same mistakes over and over, undermining the review’s effectiveness in the process. To help you avoid mistakes in the future, here’s a look at 6 of them:
Mistake #1: The Halo/Horn Effect
This mistake occurs when you allow a favorable (halo) or unfavorable (horn) trait of an employee to impact your entire judgment of that employee. As a result, you ignore either weaknesses or strengths and aren’t able to offer accurate and comprehensive feedback. For instance, if you have an employee who is friendly and easy going, you may have a tendency to overlook some of their less-than-favorable traits or results because you like the person.
Mistake #2: Bias
We all have personal biases for whatever reason. But when it comes to evaluating an employee’s performance, it can be easy to let those biases cloud your judgment, making the evaluation process unfair and inconsistent. So know your biases and work hard not to let them impact your overall assessment of an employee.
Mistake #3: Leniency
Rules and standards are only as effective as the people who enforce them. And if you’re being too lenient in rating employees or offering inflated appraisals, then you’re not giving the employee an opportunity to correct mediocre or poor performance. Furthermore, if you need to terminate that employee down the line, it will be more difficult to do so if their appraisals are always undeservedly good.
Mistake #4: Being Ill-Prepared
Being busy isn’t an excuse for not preparing for performance reviews. If your people are your most important asset, then managing them effectively through feedback should be a priority. What’s more is that being unprepared for a performance review sends the message to your employees that the reviews aren’t really all that important.
Mistake #5: Avoiding Tough Decisions
This non-committal attitude occurs when you rate an employee as “satisfactory” because you want to avoid having an awkward conversation or making tough decisions. But the fact of the matter is that problems rarely, if ever, correct themselves. So by not confronting the issue head on, you are simply prolonging a painful process that you will eventually have to dealt with.
Mistake #6: Not Following Up
If you set goals and expectations, but don’t follow up with your employees on progress, all that work will be for nothing. Performance management shouldn’t be viewed as an annual activity; it should be a daily activity.
The bottom line is that the mistakes above can compromise the trust and value of your appraisal process. Therefore it’s important to be aware of them and go out of your way to avoid them.
And if you need help implementing a performance review process, please contact Provisional. With more than 16 years of experience as one of the top Northwest staffing firms, we have the knowledge and expertise to help you recruit, hire, retain and manage star performers.