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Provisional Blog

What to Ask When You’re Checking References

February 14th, 2017

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows one of the biggest missteps employers make when hiring is skipping the reference checking process. But considering just a few phone calls can verify – or refute – what a candidate told you, it’s well worth it. In fact, consider this statistic: According to Monster, almost 60% of employers claim that they have had to withdraw an offer of employment after receiving poor references about successful applicants.

Clearly, reference checks are a must. That said, what do you ask when you’re making those reference checking phone calls? Here are 7 questions to put on your list:

Can you confirm for me the candidate’s job title, employment dates, and responsibilities?

This question is a basic essential. It confirms that a candidate did, in fact, work at the company during a certain time period and the information they provided about their role was accurate.

What was the candidate’s performance like on the job?

A candidate may have told you they were a top performer. And that might be true. But you need to confirm these kinds of claims with the person who actually managed them. Not only that, asking this question gives you a sense of how they’ll perform in your job if hired.

Can you tell me about the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses?

Asking this question will give you some insight as to what you can expect if you hire the person for the job. It will also provide you with an indication as to how forthright a candidate was during the interview process when they talked about their own strengths and weaknesses.

What was the candidate like to work with?

Once you’ve asked about responsibilities, as well as skills and weaknesses, it’s important to also get a sense of the candidate’s personality. Asking this question will help you do that. You want to make sure you’re hiring someone who will mesh well with your culture. So if you find out they weren’t a team player, didn’t take feedback well, and a had a hard time getting along with co-workers, it’s certainly a red flag to take into account.

Why did the candidate leave?

When asking this question, you want to ensure the information the candidate told you aligns with what the reference says. In addition, asking this question can give you some insight into how long they might stay at your company, if hired, and what issues could provoke them to leave.

Would you hire them back if you could?

If there’s only one question you ask, this is the one. And if there’s any kind of pause or hesitation here, it’s an indication that the reference has some reservations. It may simply be due to conflicting personalities. So don’t put all your stock into this answer. However, if the reference does hesitate, ask why.

Is there anything else I should know about this candidate?

This is a good last question to ask to ensure you’ve covered your bases. It gives the reference a chance to offer any final input or details about the candidate you’re considering hiring.

You need to hire, but don’t have time to source, screen, and reference check candidates. Provisional can help. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we provide customized staffing solutions to our clients all over the Northwest. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

4 Quick Tips for Handling Holiday Vacation Requests Fairly

December 6th, 2016

The holiday season is here – and you’re likely barraged with vacation requests from employees. Many want the same days off and it’s impossible to accommodate everyone. You want to keep employees happy, but at the same time, you need to ensure the business runs smoothly and customers are taken care of.

What can you do to successfully navigate these tricky waters? Here are some tips to keep in mind now and for the future.

Tip #1: Create a policy and stick to it.

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows the easiest way to avoid vacation request hassles is to have a clear policy in place and consistently enforce it. So let your employees know well in advance which days they can take off and which days the business will be closed for the holidays, if any. You should also outline who is eligible for vacation days, how many days, and whether days rollover to the next year.

Tip #2: Issue a strict deadline.

When you have a hard deadline in place, you avoid the risk of employees asking for last-minute days off. In addition, when you have ample time to create a holiday vacation schedule, everyone will know whether or not their time off is approved, so they can plan accordingly. So give a deadline and let employees know that any requests submitted afterwards may not be approved.

Tip #3: Encourage compromise.

So, you have multiple employees asking for the same days off – and you can’t make everyone happy. What can you do? Some companies use seniority to make these tough decisions. But with seniority, you risk the same people getting approved for time off year after year, while other newer employees get their requests denied. This can breed resentment.

Instead, consider using a rotational system. That way, everyone has the chance to get the time off they requested, though maybe not for this year. If you have too many requests for the same days, you can also get employees involved in the process and ask them to work together to collaborate and compromise with each other to create a schedule that’s fair for everyone.

Tip #4: Bring in temporary workers.

If you have employees on vacation during the holidays, consider hiring temporary workers to fill the gap. It’s a win-win. You get the people you need to perform tasks and complete projects, while your full-time staff gets the time off they want.

Interested in learning more about how you can take advantage of temporary staffing? Call Provisional. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we can help you quickly source, screen, and hire temporary talent for a variety of positions. Just give us a call today to learn more.

How to Find Out Why a Top Pick Candidate Turned Down Your Offer

August 2nd, 2016

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows first-hand that hiring is hard work. So when you get to the end of the process, make an offer, and get rejected by your top choice candidate, it can certainly be discouraging. And if this keeps happening, it could be a sign of poor candidate experience or a weak employer brand.

But how do you go about finding the exact reason a candidate turned down your offer?

You simply have to ask. When you do, though, it’s critical you take the right approach.

For instance, when a candidate tells you they’re accepting another offer, rather then just asking “why,” say something along the lines of:

“I’m truly sorry to hear that. We were really looking forward to having you on board. Of course, I’m so happy you found an opportunity that’s a good fit for you. By the way, is there any chance you can tell me a little more about the reason you chose ABC company over us? You were such a great candidate and I’d just like to avoid losing candidates of your caliber in the future.”

When you’re asking a candidate about why they turned down their offer, it’s important to be friendly and conversational.

Don’t make them feel like you’re interrogating them. Remember, they’re doing you a favor by giving you details that can help you in a big way in future hiring endeavors.

Most candidates will be more than happy to help and give you further information about their experience during the hiring process and the logic behind their decision. Even better, when you’re friendly and professional – rather than aggressive or robotic about your questioning – you’ll make a positive impression on them, which can help if you try to recruit them again in the future.

Also, before you end the conversation, ask if it’s ok if you reach out to them via LinkedIn. That way, it’s easy for the two of you to stay connected should the job opportunity they did accept not work out.

Getting rejected by your top pick candidate is understandably frustrating. However, look at the situation as a learning experience – and try to solicit as much information as you can about their reason so you don’t lose out on top talent in the future.

Do you need more help with the hiring process at your company? Call the experts at Provisional. 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.

How to Politely Refuse a Former Employee’s Request for a Recommendation

October 20th, 2015

When a former employee who did a great job calls and asks for a recommendation, there are typically no problems. But what if an employee who wasn’t such a strong performer is the one making the request? Do you simply acquiesce or should you say “no” and explain why?

As one of the top staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Stewart Staffing knows if you’ve ever dealt with this uncomfortable situation, then you’re certainly not alone. However, don’t simply pass the buck onto the next employer by offering a positive recommendation even when the former employee doesn’t deserve one. What if that person turns out to be a major hiring mistake? You’re the one that’s going to look bad if you offered a glowing recommendation.

So how do you handle this sticky situation effectively, without coming off too harsh? Here are some tips to help you:

First, check your company’s policy about recommendations. There might be certain rules in place that will help you handle the situation. For instance, some companies have policies in place where they only offer the facts – the employee’s job title, salary and dates of employment. Managers are prohibited from offering recommendations beyond those details.

If that’s not the case for your company, another option is to tell the former employee that you have a personal policy in place where you don’t offer written recommendations. However, do offer to send a letter that confirms their former title, salary and dates of employment.

If, on the other hand, you didn’t work directly with the employee or it was so long ago that the details are fuzzy, just be honest with the person. Let them know that you don’t feel qualified or comfortable offering them a recommendation based on the fact that you two didn’t really work together or it was too long ago to remember. Underscore the fact that it’s not a reflection on them. You just don’t feel it’s appropriate to provide a recommendation based on fuzzy recollections.

Refusing to write a recommendation for a former employee isn’t easy. In fact, it can be downright awkward. However, don’t risk harming your reputation by offering a recommendation for someone who’s a poor performer.

For more information on recommendations and reference checking, read our blog post “Is a Candidate’s Reference a Phony?.” Or, if you need more staffing and HR help and expertise, call Provisional. As one of the top staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, 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.

What to Look for in Candidate Thank You Letters

May 14th, 2013

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows when it comes to hiring, you need to use every nugget of information you can in order to assess, evaluate, analyze – and ultimately make a smart hiring decision.

One often-overlooked piece is the thank you letter you get from a candidate after an interview. It’s easy to simply glance at it and toss it aside. Instead, view it as just another clue as to whether the job candidate is a good fit for you.

To help you, here are some things to watch for:

Look for a Letter

The candidate sent you a thank you letter. That’s a step in the right direction. Not all candidates do; so it’s important to note. It means that the candidate really cares about getting the position and will go the extra mile to make a positive impression.

While receiving a letter from one person shouldn’t necessarily result in you cutting another who didn’t send one, it serves as just another piece of the puzzle that slowly reveals the true candidate.

Look for Good Communication Skills

The letter should be well written. Just as is true for a cover letter and resume, it should also be error free. In addition, while cover letters and resumes are more formal, a thank you letter may give you an opportunity to see past the formalities and into the personality of the candidate.

Look for Enthusiasm

If the thank you letter sounds like a form letter from the Internet, then it probably is. The candidate is simply going through the motions of hiring process protocol. However, if a candidate’s enthusiasm for the job and for your company comes across loud and clear in the letter, then it could be the one distinguishing factor that makes them stand apart from other candidates…and makes your decision easier.

Look for the Right Focus

The letter should focus on you. In other words, it should either underscore or bring up how the candidate can help you. When reading a thank you letter, evaluate whether it seems like the candidate clearly understands what it is you need; the challenges your company is facing; and the unique value they could bring to the table. Even if it’s the best written letter in the world, if the candidate is unclear about your needs or about the position, then they’re not the right fit.

Don’t Have Time to Review Thank You Letters?

…or resumes, or to conduct interviews and testing? If you don’t, then give Provisional a call. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington – with more than 20 years of experience – we can help you recruit and screen high quality candidates, all so you gain access to today’s best talent. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.

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