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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.

Set Up a Winter Weather Plan for Employees…Before a Big Storm Hits

November 15th, 2016

We live in the Northwest – and are therefore no stranger to bad winter weather. And when a big storm really hits, it can be more than just an annoyance for companies…it can be dangerous for employees. So how can you plan ahead so all your workers are safe, but productivity doesn’t take a hit during bad winter weather? Here are 5 tips to help you:

Tip #1: Create a deadline.

Let your employees know when they can expect to hear whether or not to come into work. For instance, will it be by 6 a.m.? Or before each shift? If you reach the deadline and you still aren’t sure what to do because of uncertain weather conditions, announce a two-hour delay.

Tip #2: Decide how to notify employees.

Will you send an email, notify them by text, or call each one individually? Or will you set up a log in page for employees on your website where you notify them? How you communicate with your team is up to you, just make sure everyone knows where to look.

Tip #3: Make it easy to telecommute.

Many employees can turn a snow day into a productive work day if they can telecommute from home. You just have to ensure they’re set up to do so before hand. So be aware of any incoming storms and let employees know when they should bring their laptops with them at the end of the day or plan to work from home.

Tip #4: Be flexible.

When it comes to bad weather, it’s important to be understanding and flexible with your employees. For instance, for those with children who have to deal with school closings, let them know they can work from home, or make up the work over the weekend. Be flexible and give options so employees don’t feel like they’re being punished for bad weather – which is out of their control.

Tip #5: Know the law surrounding snow days.

If an employee gets stranded at home due to bad weather, but your company is still open, you can dock their pay according to the U.S. Labor Department. That doesn’t mean you should; however, it is an option. But, if your office is closed due to bad weather, then you cannot deduct anything from their paycheck. You may be allowed to require them to use a vacation or sick day instead. So before you set a rule about this issue, check with your lawyer.

Need more help handling these and other HR-related issues? Call the employment experts at Provisional. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we use a consultative approach to learn about our customers staffing and HR needs and then develop a strategic plan to help them overcome challenges and roadblocks to success. 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.

Finding the Right Talent for Your Virtual Team

August 4th, 2015

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows that having a work environment in which employees can telecommute gives you a huge advantage over other companies that don’t offer one. That said, there are certain types of people – and positions – that are cut out for working virtually…and those that simply aren’t. If you have a virtual team in place that you need to hire for, how can you tell the difference? Here are 5 traits of those who work most successfully on a virtual team:

Trait #1: Good Communicators

The foundation of a strong virtual team is good communication. That’s why those who are naturally good communicators tend to perform better on a virtual team. They have an innate ability to collaborate, share progress and goals, and stay connected vs. those who are weaker in the communication department.

Beyond basic communication skills, it’s also important to hire those who are good writers, even if that’s not part of the job. Considering that much of their communications will be via email, those who can write clear, succinct emails will perform much better on the team.

Trait #2: Flexible & Independent

Employees who need a lot of structure, fixed schedules and hand holding won’t perform well on a virtual team. Instead, look for those who have a proven track record of being able to work independently and handle challenges without going into panic mode.

Trait #3: Focused

Employees who are hard to keep motivated and easily distracted shouldn’t be a part of a virtual team. They simply won’t get anything done. Rather, look for those people who are highly focused, driven, self reliant and who takes initiative. These are the employees who can get the job done whether they’re in the office or off-site.

Trait #4: Organized

Employees who work well as part of a virtual team need to be organized in order to be effective. On the other hand, those who need a lot of external reinforcement aren’t going to perform well virtually.

Trait #5: Willing to Take & Offer Feedback

An employee who’s touchy and doesn’t take criticism well will be difficult to manage remotely. On the flip side, someone who welcomes input and puts it to good use will be far more effective in a virtual environment.

Do you need more help hiring for your virtual team? Call the experts at Provisional. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we use a consultative approach to provide customized staffing solutions to our clients, whether for virtual teams or on-site staff. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

What Millenials Really Want From Your Company

May 6th, 2014

When thinking of a new college grad, your mind might conjure up a Millenial glued to Facebook and more concerned with pop culture than with finding a new job. But as one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows most new college grads are serious about their impending careers and want to find fulfilling work.

True, they are more tech savvy than previous generations, but if harnessed right, that’s a skill that will serve your company well. They’re also known to be more innovative and risk takers, again traits your company can certainly benefit from.

So when it comes to hiring this group of up-and-comers, how can you attract them to your company? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Millenials want the potential to develop their skills and learn from more experienced colleagues.

Despite the stereotype, most new grads don’t expect the corner office within a year, complete with a six-figure salary. In fact, many of them would be happy to have work in their field, rather than having multiple jobs just to make ends meet.

That said, they’re still highly ambitious, want room to grow, and are interested in development and mentorship opportunities. In fact, a 2012 study by MTV called “No Collar Workers” focusing on Gen Y’s perspectives about the workplace and careers found that 80% of millennials said they want regular feedback from their managers, and 75% yearn for mentors.

By pairing your young professionals with seasoned veterans, you can help both parties learn from each other. In the process, you’ll also help younger workers find out about the different aspects of the company and gain access to a trusted advisor who can show them the ropes.

The chance to advance their careers, not earn a high salary.

Salary seems less important to this group of young professionals. Perhaps it’s due to the high unemployment landscape among them, but having a job they like ranks more important than hefty pay and bonuses. They also want their creativity put to use, their ideas heard and to feel like valuable contributors on the job.

Millenials want a flexible work schedule.

They may not mind working 9 to 5; however, this generation more than any other wants to work more flexible hours from different locations. According to some reports, 81% of Millennials want to make their own work schedules, compared with just 69% of Baby Boomers. However, this desire for flexibility is a growing trend across all age groups. So when it comes to attracting top talent across all generations, it’s important to consider offering this benefit.

Need more help attracting top professionals to your company? Call Provisional. 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.

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.

Tips for Conducting an Effective Video Interview

April 8th, 2014

Video interviewing is on the rise. And it makes sense when you consider the cost of interviewing certain candidates, like those from out-of-town or when you’re hiring for a position that requires multiple rounds of interviews and key stakeholders are in various locations.

Another benefit of video interviewing? You have a recorded session of each candidate, allowing you to compare their answers back-to-back. This can help immensely when making a hiring decision.

That said, as one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows using video can actually derail an interview if not done right. To help you avoid any missteps, here are some tips to consider:

Take the process for a test drive. Preparing for a video interview is a little different than a face-to-face one. You still need to think through how you want the interview to go and develop a list of hard-hitting questions.

However, with video interviews, you also have to factor in technology, which can sometimes cause some stumbling blocks. That’s why it’s important to do a test run ahead of time and make sure everything is functioning as it should. If you don’t – and something goes wrong – it will end the interview and waste everyone’s time.

In addition, if you’re using Skype, for instance, make sure you can sign into your account well before the start of the interview. Don’t leave a candidate hanging on the other end wondering where you are or if the interview’s been cancelled.

Kill distractions. Don’t let a floor-to-ceiling glass window with a view of your staff be the backdrop of your interview. The action behind you will distract candidates. Instead, make sure the setting is quiet, professional, and offers minimal interruptions.

Make eye contact. Also, eye contact is critical to create and maintain a personal connection. So when speaking to the candidate, make sure you look into the camera on your computer screen to ask questions. It may feel awkward, but if you don’t, it will look like you’re not making eye contact, which can throw them off guard.

Be mindful of your image. And finally, avoid wearing anything too bold and colorful. In person, it might look great. Yet on camera, it’s going to be off-putting. Instead, dress professionally, but also in attire that reflects the company’s culture. Remember, the candidate isn’t going to have the benefit of being in the office and seeing it for themselves. So anything you can do to communicate about the company and its brand is helpful.

If you need more help finding and interviewing high quality candidates, call Provisional. As one of the leading 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.

Caught! How to Uncover Candidate Lies During the Hiring Process

September 10th, 2013

In today’s challenging employment landscape, it’s more important than ever to ensure the honesty of a candidate before hiring. Why? Because as one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows that more and more candidates lie on their resumes and in interviews in order to enhance their background and land a job.

To help you uncover lies during the hiring process – and ensure you only hire honest candidates – here are a few tips to consider:

Conduct an employment and educational background checks.

Some of the most common areas for candidates to lie about are the job titles they held, the dates they were employed, and the degrees they earned. And really, all it takes is a simple phone call to past employers and their alma mater to verify the truth. While you may not want to do this for every candidate that comes your way, be sure to conduct a background check on those top few you’re considering hiring.

Ask about gaps.

A candidate may have taken a year off of work in order to care for a sick parent; or they may have gotten fired from yet another job and unable to secure another. Really, when you see a big gap, you assume the worst. But don’t. Always ask about discrepancies and let the candidate explain the situation. If they can’t do so in an acceptable manner, then scratch them off your list.

Verify references.

Many employers ask for references, but then don’t spend the time checking them all. Sure, candidates will likely only offer references that will give a positive review; but you still need to check them to ensure they’re real references and that their “story” – i.e. about the candidate’s background and skill set – jives with what the candidate is telling you.

Be on the lookout for resume red flags.

These include things like vague information, many jobs with short tenures, and spelling and grammatical errors. Considering the number of resumes you’re likely getting, when you sees ones chock full of these red flags, you can quickly filter them out of the running.

Test candidates.

Yes, you should believe a candidate when they say they have a certain skill set; but you should also verify that they do in fact have it through testing. Before you make a full-time hiring decision, test those top few candidates for the critical skill sets you need.

And if you need more help with the hiring process, call Provisional. As one of the leading 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.

Blog Your Way to Great Candidates

September 3rd, 2013

Blogging is for those with IT or social media backgrounds, right? Wrong! As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows from experience that blogging is a great way for companies to communicate their employment brands to the world and attract great candidates in the process.

To help you launch a blog that gets results in the form of quality candidates, here are a few basics to keep in mind:

Determine Your Voice

For instance, if your company sells directly to consumers, the tone you use in your posts will be different than if you’re a law firm representing large corporations. So think about your audience and your company to help you strike the right tone in your blog posts.

Appeal to Your Audience

At the end of the day, you’re trying to attract great candidates. So you need to think of the content you create for your blog with that end goal in mind. In other words, what do candidates want to know about your company? For instance, you might tap employees to write day-in-the-life type posts or publish videos talking about what it’s like to work at the company.

Toot Your Own Horn

Great job candidates want to work for great companies. So promote any industry or local awards or recognition. If the company is actively involved in community activities, then promote those as well. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn a little; doing so will paint your company in a positive light and attract candidates who want to work for an employer that is so highly recognized and involved in giving back.

Create a Plan

Just like anything, you need to create a plan before you start to blog. Think about how many times a week you will post, who will be doing the posting, and what topics the team will be posting about. Create a quarterly content plan to spell out posts and who is responsible for what. Keep in mind too, it’s about quality, not quantity. It’s better to aim to publish one well-written and engaging post a week, then four or five weak ones.

Measure Results

Install a tool like Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness of the posts. Then use the information you learned to adjust your plan going forward. Perhaps there are certain topics you’re posting about that are garnering a lot of attention and others that are not. The more you know about what’s working – and what’s not – the more effective and impactful your blog can become.

Need More Help Recruiting Great Candidates?

If you do, let Provisional know. 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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