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12 Questions Experts Avoid Asking in Interviews

As hiring managers or recruiters we all want to hire the best people for our organizations.  After all, a hiring mistake is a costly mistake.  While it is difficult to fully assign a concrete number that everyone can agree on, you do need to think about lost productivity, additional recruitment costs, training costs, etc.  On top of these quantitive costs, there are some qualitative costs to consider.  For example, impacts to team morale, reputation impacts if mis-hires happen frequently, etc. For cost reasons alone, getting to know your candidates is important.  However, the experts agree that asking outdated and predictable questions won’t net the results that you need.  Skilled candidates can answer questions with the answers you want.  So, let’s explore the most outdated questions that don’t produce results:

Image Courtesy of Linkedin.com

Image Courtesy of Linkedin.com

  1. Tell us a little about yourself?
  2. Where do you want to be in five years?
  3. What are your greatest strengths?
  4. What are your greatest weaknesses?
  5. If you were an animal, what would you be?
  6. What would your employees say are your weaknesses?
  7. What is the last book you read?
  8. What is your dream job?
  9. If I were to call your former employer what would he or she say about you?
  10. Tell me about a project you worked on that didn’t succeed?
  11. How would you sell me this book, pen or iPhone?
  12. Why should we hire you?

Some of you might be asking why these are outdated, and quite frankly terrible questions since so many organizations still use them.  My answer is simple.

  1. First of all these questions are highly predictable.  You can google them and find some good suggestions on how to answer them to make you look good.  Therefore, the hiring manager and HR is not learning about you.  They are getting a canned answer that doesn’t reveal anything about the candidate as a person and what makes them different.
  2. Likewise, as the candidate, you are not really learning about the potential employer.  After all you should be using this time to interview the potential employer.  These useless questions are taking up precious time.  If you are hired, you will hopefully want to spend a few years with the employer and you want to make sure that there is a cultural fit both ways.

A lot of these questions don’t really give any insight into the candidate and how he or she will fit into the culture of the organization.  If you made it to the interview stage, you should have the credentials to do the job.  The skill set that will really set you apart from other candidates is whether or not there is a belief that you have the ability to fit in with the company culture.  This is quite frankly the area that is missed most in hiring. 

As outlined in Bloomburg Business Week article, cultural fit is trumping qualifications in many cases.  In this highly competitive fast paced environment, people can’t afford high turnover rates.  Asking outdated questions doesn’t net the results that organizations need. There is a real need to get to know the candidate.  So, hiring managers need to rethink the process and HR Recruiters need to step up their game.  As the economy improves, competition for skilled resources will increase.  Are you ready?

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10 Ways to Avoid Looking Silly on LinkedIn

LinkedIn continues to grow in popularity and is used by more recruiters than any other tool right now.  While you might not be looking for a job, you might want to use LinkedIn to enhance and maintain your personal brand.  But the question is:  where do I start?  Or, I have a profile, but don’t seem to be getting anywhere, what am I doing wrong?  Here are 10 ways to avoid looking silly on LinkedIn:

Image courtesy of swishdesign.com.au

Image courtesy of swishdesign.com.au

10.  Not Completing Your Bio

Be sure to put substance in your profile.  Don’t just list your employer.  Actually give context about “what” you do and “what” you are responsible for. Don’t be afraid to show  some of the professional interests that you have.

9. Talking about Yourself in the Third Person

I have to admit that practitioners find this odd when people do this.  This is your profile.  You own it and maintain it.  I don’t know many people who speak about themselves in the third person when having a normal conversation.  So, the question is, why in the world would you choose to do that with your LinkedIn Profile?  Advice: don’t.  It is that simple.

8.  Not Using Recommendations Correctly

Like connection requests, giving LinkedIn Recommendations should be carefully considered.  Remember, Recommendations are public and visible on your profile as well as the profile of the person for whom you have written the recommendation. Sure you can manage visibility, but why bother giving a recommendation if you aren’t willing for it to be public.   You have to manage and develop your personal brand.  That being said, not giving anyone a recommendation also sends a message and not a good one.

7.  Over Sharing

Depending on your contacts and your network, the level of sharing will vary.  It is important to remember that LinkedIn is not like Twitter or Facebook.  Sharing one or two really good pieces of content/advice a day would be more than appropriate.  I only share a couple of pieces of content per week, but tend to like or comment more on the content shared by others.

In addition, LinkedIn is not the place to share what you had for dinner, where you are going on holidays, etc.  Remember that this is a professional networking site. Keep it professional.

6.  Not Using  Groups Appropriately

Groups are a great source to make connections and learn from others.  It is important to join groups that you have some interest or connection with.  Be sure to contribute to the conversation when you have something to add.  Don’t use it as a source to spam people with your services and/or products.  It is also important to be professional.

5.  Don’t Show Your Birthday

Some practitioners might disagree with me on this one, but this is not Facebook.  Why in the world would you show your birthday on a professional network?  Are you looking for birthday wishes?  Do you really want that level of personal detail available to your entire network, the public and possibly recruiters?

4.  Connecting with People When There is No Obvious Connection

Choosing whom to connect with is something that people should give great consideration.  Different people have different criteria for who they accept when new people reach out to them.  Some for example, will only accept LinkedIn connections from people that they know well and are in their respective industry.

Others, including myself, will accept LinkedIn connections from people in my industry as long as they are connected to other people I know.  I do not connect with individuals whom I don’t know and there is no obvious connection.  I also don’t accept connection requests from people who either don’t have a photo of themselves and/or it is a logo or some other odd image.

3.  Spamming People

One of the greatest pet peeves that I have, and I know that others feel this way too, is having someone ask to connect with me and then when I do, they start spamming me with:

  • Vote for me to win or be recognized for X
  • Endorse me for X
  • Recommend me for X
  • Buy my product and/or service

I did not accept your connection to be bombarded with requests or sales pitches.  If you want to ask a question or have a conversation, that is one thing. The action or reaction you will likely get from me is a disconnection.

2.  Not Having a Professional Photo

Ensure that you actually have a photo for your profile.  You should even go one step further and have a professional photo.  The photo should only be of you and not you and  your significant other and/or a buddy.  This is YOUR professional profile.

1.  Not Being truthful

Remember that this is a public profile and someone will call you out for using a more important title and/or claiming that you had a team of 50 professionals reporting to you when you in fact had no direct reports.

Of course there are other things you should/should not do.  And, if you still have questions, let me know.