10 Reasons Your Top Talent Will Leave You

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Have you ever noticed leaders spend a lot of time talking about talent, only to make the same mistakes over and over again? Few things in business are as costly and disruptive as unexpected talent departures. With all the emphasis on leadership development, I always find it interesting so many companies seem to struggle with being able to retain their top talent. In today’s column, I’ll share some research, observations, and insights on how to stop the talent door from revolving.

Ask any CEO if they have a process for retaining and developing talent and they’ll quickly answer in the affirmative. They immediately launch into a series of soundbites about the quality of their talent initiatives, the number of high-potentials in the nine box, blah, blah, blah. As with most things in the corporate world, there is too much process built upon theory and not nearly enough practice built on experience.

When examining the talent at any organization look at the culture, not the rhetoric – look at the results, not the commentary about potential. Despite some of the delusional perspective in the corner office, when we interview their employees, here’s what they tell us:

  • More than 30% believe they’ll be working someplace else inside of 12 months.
  • More than 40% don’t respect the person they report to.
  • More than 50% say they have different values than their employer.
  • More than 60% don’t feel their career goals are aligned with the plans their employers have for them.
  • More than 70% don’t feel appreciated or valued by their employer.

So, for all those employers who have everything under control, you better start re-evaluating. There is an old saying that goes; “Employees don’t quit working for companies, they quit working for their bosses.” Regardless of tenure, position, title, etc., employees who voluntarily leave, generally do so out of some type of perceived disconnect with leadership.

Bottom line, if leaders spent less time trying to retain people, and more time trying to understand them, care for them, invest in them, and lead them well, the retention thing would take care of itself.

Here’s the thing – employees who are challenged, engaged, valued, and rewarded (emotionally, intellectually & financially) rarely leave, and more importantly, they perform at very high levels. However if you miss any of these critical areas, it’s only a matter of time until they head for the elevator. Following are 10 reasons your talent will leave you – smart leaders don’t make these mistakes:

1. You Failed To Unleash Their Passions: Smart companies align employee passions with corporate pursuits. Human nature makes it very difficult to walk away from areas of passion. Fail to understand this and you’ll unknowingly be encouraging employees to seek their passions elsewhere.

2. You Failed To Challenge Their Intellect: Smart people don’t like to live in a dimly lit world of boredom. If you don’t challenge people’s minds, they’ll leave you for someone/someplace that will.

3. You Failed To Engage Their Creativity: Great talent is wired to improve, enhance, and add value. They are built to change and innovate. They NEED to contribute by putting their fingerprints on design. Smart leaders don’t place people in boxes – they free them from boxes. What’s the use in having a racehorse if you don’t let them run?

4. You Failed To Develop Their Skills: Leadership isn’t a destination – it’s a continuum. No matter how smart or talented a person is, there’s always room for growth, development, and continued maturation. If you place restrictions on a person’s ability to grow, they’ll leave you for someone who won’t.

5. You Failed To Give Them A Voice: Talented people have good thoughts, ideas, insights, and observations. If you don’t listen to them, I can guarantee you someone else will.

6. You Failed To Care: Sure, people come to work for a paycheck, but that’s not the only reason. In fact, many studies show it’s not even the most important reason. If you fail to care about people at a human level, at an emotional level, they’ll eventually leave you regardless of how much you pay them.

7. You Failed to Lead: Businesses don’t fail, products don’t fail, projects don’t fail, and teams don’t fail – leaders fail. The best testament to the value of leadership is what happens in its absence – very little. If you fail to lead, your talent will seek leadership elsewhere.

8. You Failed To Recognize Their Contributions: The best leaders don’t take credit – they give it. Failing to recognize the contributions of others is not only arrogant and disingenuous, but it’s as also just as good as asking them to leave.

9. You Failed To Increase Their Responsibility: You cannot confine talent – try to do so and you’ll either devolve into mediocrity, or force your talent seek more fertile ground. People will gladly accept a huge workload as long as an increase in responsibility comes along with the performance and execution of said workload.

10. You Failed To Keep Your Commitments: Promises made are worthless, but promises kept are invaluable. If you break trust with those you lead you will pay a very steep price. Leaders not accountable to their people, will eventually be held accountable by their people.

Bottom line, if leaders spent less time trying to retain people, and more time trying to understand them, care for them, invest in them, and lead them well, the retention thing would take care of itself.

 

How to Tell if a Candidate’s Lying Straight to Your Face During an Interview

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Research shows that our ability to detect when someone is lying is just as good as an estimate or a guess. Perhaps, this is why lies get past us so often because our guess is that the person is not lying.

For most people, the act of lying elicits several reactions because it takes the brain some time to pause and not tell the truth.

Some of these reactions include an increased stress response (think Brian Williams), a stance of defiance and dominance (think Lance Armstrong), and a covering of true emotions, otherwise known as the truth (think Anthony Weiner).

Wouldn’t it be great to know when you are being lied to? Or better yet, that you could get a heads-up before someone starts lying to you?

Lying is no more evident in public life as it is in everyday job interviews. While we may not be able to immediately detect if someone is lying, there are signs we can look for.

The key is to put our eyes and our ears into play to differentiate fiction from reality.

Baseline

When detectives are interrogating a suspect, they start with a set of non-threatening questions and observe the suspect’s baseline behavior when answering. Then, they move to a difficult set of questions and observe changes in behavior that are indicative of deception.

For those in human resources management, this could look something like this:

  • Where did you grow up?
  • What are your favorite hobbies?
  • What are your strengths?

Simple enough. No reason to lie.

Next, the manager could ask questions like:

  • What would your last employer say about you?
  • What is the reason you didn’t finish college?
  • What are your weaknesses?

A little bit more difficult and a little bit more of a reason to lie especially if the resume doesn’t match up.

In the first set of questions, the potential employee will more than likely tell the truth. Then comes the hard part.

Does he pause, avoid eye contact, blink too much, move his feet, touch his face, or act like he’s thinking with the latter set of questions?

Breaking Eye Contact

Most people know that lying is wrong. When a liar is lying, he or she will break eye contact to reduce the guilt.

Holding eye contact can be overwhelming for a liar. Lying takes more energy than telling the truth because our brain has to pause and think about a lie to tell.

Conflicting Gestures

Let’s say Jack is interviewing for the chief financial officer position of your company. You ask him if he has ever gone bankrupt. He gives you an affirmative “no” while at the same time shaking his head “yes.”

Words may be lies, but the internal reactions within the body and brain force our gestures to be more truthful.

Duping Delight

Dr. Paul Eckman coined the phrase “duping delight” to refer to the glee that some people get when they feel they are being successful in manipulating someone else. Lying is a form of manipulation.

With a lie, you may see a micro-expression called duping delight which is a smile that comes across one’s face when they feel they are getting away with something (think O.J. Simpson). When you feel someone is lying, look for a slightly suppressed smile.

Overcompensating Language

If you ask a question and the interviewee replies with a short story, then you are in for a few lies. Using too many words can be a sign that the person is hiding something.

Liars are good at trying to come across as truthful. It is their attempt that gives them away.

Turn Away, Turn Back

Following an answer or response that is less than truthful, liars will look away from you or pretend to be looking for something in a stack of papers or on their phones before returning the glance.

This is a tactic to see if you believe the lie and will move on to the next topic, or if you doubt the lie and will rephrase the question.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-tell-if-a-candidates-lying-straight-to-your-face-during-an-interview

ARE YOU IN NEED OF TOP TALENT NOW? Don’t have the time to spend nor available bandwidth to look for your company’s perfect match? Does this leave you with projects undone, unable to launch new initiatives or deliver desired output, let alone to grow your profits? Is your hiring process stalled and limping along with unfilled requisitions? Discover the ease and satisfaction of partnering with experts whose ONLY mission is to accomplish laser-focused search and to acquire top-tier skill on your behalf, each and every day! Contact us at 415-234-0707 ext. 5 or email at connect@superiansources.com Find out what a customized service SAVES you in TIME, MONEY and RESOURCES!

 

ARE YOU TODAY’S TOP TALENT LOOKING FOR A NEW ROLE? Do you want assurance that you are represented by the best and have opportunities open to you within exceptional workplaces? Have you heard that being presented by a boutique search firm is the edge you need to get in the door and have your opportunity to shine? Contact us at 415-234-0707 or email at connect@superiansources.com – http://www.SuperianSources.com

New Company or New Career? 4 Questions to Ask Yourself if You Can’t Decide

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Your job is making you absolutely miserable. But, wait just one minute. Is it actually your job—or is it your employer?

There’s no doubt about it—the two can be easily confused. However, before you become convinced that you’re in need of a total career 180, you’ll want to press the pause button and take some time to evaluate. Is it what you’re doing that you dislike so strongly, or is it who you’re doing it for?

Believe me, I know that figuring that out isn’t always easy. So, ask yourself these four questions and you’re sure to gain some clarity and determine your best course of action.

1. What’s My Favorite Part of My Current Job? What’s My Absolute Least Favorite Part?

First, let’s take a magnifying glass to your existing gig. This is crucial for determining what’s working for you, as well as what isn’t.

Sit down, think through your day-to-day, and zone on the thing you love the absolute most about what you’re doing right now. Perhaps it’s a key responsibility you have or a big project you’ve been working on. Whatever it is, find that one thing that you adore the most about your current job.

On the flipside, you’ll also want to take some time to identify the thing you undeniably loathe. What part of your position makes you groan uncontrollably and heave endless exasperated sighs? Thinking that through definitely isn’t as much fun, but it’s still important.

So, where exactly is this question getting you? Let’s break it down. If you have no trouble thinking of an aspect of your position that really makes you feel fulfilled, that’s probably a good indicator that you’re on the right path in your career. And, on the other side of that coin? If you’re really racking your brain only to eventually land on your decent dental plan as the very best part of your job? It might be time to make some changes.

The question about your least favorite aspect works the same way. Are those dreadful parts of your job more employer-based—such as too few vacation days or gossipy, rude co-workers? Or, is it something specifically tied to your position? That too can shine some light on what you need to do next.

2. What Three Words Would I Use to Describe My Boss? What About My Co-workers?

I know what it’s like to have your brain feel so clouded that you have no idea which way is up. And, needless to say, that confused state of mind can only make your situation that much tougher.

So, now, instead of focusing solely on what you’re doing, it’s time to turn the spotlight on who you’re doing it with. Grab a notepad and jot down the first three words that spring to mind when you think of your supervisor, and then do the exact same thing for your colleagues.

Take a look at what you wrote down. Do you see mostly positive words, like “supportive” or “motivating?” Or, did you mainly list things like “overbearing” or “untrustworthy?”

The environment you work in can have a huge impact on how you feel about your career overall. So, taking the time to evaluate what you truly think about the people you work with will help you to focus in on what’s actually bothering you about your current position.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/new-company-or-new-career-4-questions-to-ask-yourself-if-you-cant-decide

 

ARE YOU IN NEED OF TOP TALENT NOW? Don’t have the time to spend nor available bandwidth to look for your company’s perfect match? Does this leave you with projects undone, unable to launch new initiatives or deliver desired output, let alone to grow your profits? Is your hiring process stalled and limping along with unfilled requisitions? Discover the ease and satisfaction of partnering with experts whose ONLY mission is to accomplish laser-focused search and to acquire top-tier skill on your behalf, each and every day! Contact us at 415-234-0707 ext. 5 or email at connect@superiansources.com Find out what a customized service SAVES you in TIME, MONEY and RESOURCES!

 

ARE YOU TODAY’S TOP TALENT LOOKING FOR A NEW ROLE? Do you want assurance that you are represented by the best and have opportunities open to you within exceptional workplaces? Have you heard that being presented by a boutique search firm is the edge you need to get in the door and have your opportunity to shine? Contact us at 415-234-0707 or email at connect@superiansources.com – http://www.SuperianSources.com

 

7 Career Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid By Just Reading This

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1. I Never Officially Asked Someone to Be My Mentor

I’ve worked with a lot of incredible writers and editors in my career who know I look up to them and who I’ve gone to for advice numerous times over the years. But I never sat down any of them and said, “I really admire the career path you’re on, and it’s very similar to the plan I envision for myself—will you take me under your wing?” You know that old adage, “Ask and you shall receive?” There really is a switch that flips when you tell someone what you want from them and explain how they can help you.

Case in point, when I was a young entertainment editor at CosmoGIRL!, I was all set to interview John Mayer for a feature. At the time, he was my favorite singer and I felt like the lyrics from his first album were ripped out of my own diary. But a high school student who had asked our editor-in-chief to be her mentor was a fan, too—and wanted to develop her interview skills—so, my John Mayer interview was given to her.

Now, this is an extreme case, and not every mentee is going to get such a major opportunity handed to them from a mentor. But there is a huge lesson to be learned here: If you don’t ask someone to be your mentor, you’ll never know what doors it could have opened for you.

2. I Didn’t Keep in Touch With My Interns

It never ceases to amaze me how many of my former interns have gone on to basically rule the world. Often on their last day, I’d simply thank them for all of their hard work and send them out into the world, only to maybe hear from them for a job reference when they graduated.

Now that I’m a freelance writer who pitches a wide variety of publications and editors, I very often end up pitching former interns. It makes my heart happy to see them succeeding, but it would have been even better if I’d made an effort to keep in touch with them. It would make those “Hi, please assign me a story” conversations a lot less awkward.

And on that note—be nice to your interns. I always did try to treat mine with respect, but things get busy and it can be easy to take out your stress on them. Don’t do that—because if they’re going to be in a position of power one day and you were mean to them, they might just take pleasure in rejecting you.

3. I Spoke Back to My Superiors Sometimes

As a junior editor, there was one senior editor who edited a majority of the features I wrote. Our interaction went something like this:

Senior editor: “Do you think our readers care, like really care, about Britney Spears anymore? Should we change that reference?

Me: [Eye roll]

Senior editor: “So—what do you think?”

Me: [Long, drawn out sigh] “You really don’t know anything about entertainment or what I do as an entertainment editor if you’re asking me a question like that. Everyone loves Britney Spears.”

Senior editor: [Draws in breath and throws copy back to me, effectively ending conversation]

So here’s what happens when you’re blatantly disrespectful—you’re essentially hanging a sign around your neck that screams “Difficult.” The person you disrespected will always remember that when asked by another colleague about you or—and this is a biggie—when your professional paths cross again. And trust me, they always do. It’s very tough to redeem yourself (even if your excuse really was being an insolent 20-something who didn’t know better).

4. I Didn’t Negotiate

I was at my first job for five years before I finally decided it was time to move on. I was apprehensive about breaking out of my comfort zone and going somewhere new, but I was recruited for a job that seemed like the perfect next step in my career. The executive editor who interviewed me was very persuasive. That was great—but the job paid less money than I wanted, came with a title that was technically a step down, required that I sit in a cubicle instead of an office (I was coming from an oversized private space) and didn’t include any of the new responsibilities I wanted, such as managing a team or top-editing junior writers.

It had been so long since I’d interviewed for a job—and gotten an offer—that I was afraid to accept anything other than what was offered to me. So I got the offer and took it, no questions asked. I didn’t even try to get more money or find out if an office would be possible down the line. I left everything on the table and showed up for my first day of work with a massive pit in my stomach. I only stayed at that job for nine months, and every single day I wondered what would have been if I even tried to negotiate a little bit.
Here’s the thing—the very worst that can happen during negotiations is you’re told “No.” And if you’re told “No” to the things that you consider deal breakers, then you have the power to decline and wait for a better opportunity to present itself.

5. I Should Have Asked for Feedback Before My Reviews

After a few years at my first job, some changes took place and I had a brand-new boss. I thought I was doing great before she came on board and that I was on track for a promotion. And then, it was time for our annual reviews, and she told me how very presumptuous I was for thinking I was ready for more responsibility—that I had very specific things to work on before she would even consider it. Yes, my boss should have sat down with me before the review if she was that concerned about my performance—but I should have been checking in with her, too.

Let me empower you: It’s OK to check in with your boss every six weeks or so. It doesn’t even have to be a formal meeting. Just find a free minute to ask if you can review your latest projects or get feedback on how you’ve interacted with recent clients. Find out what your boss was impressed by and where you need to improve. Be bold enough to ask where she sees you in the next year and how she suggests you get there.

6. I Was Terrible About Managing My Contacts

Get in the habit of creating a Google spreadsheet with the contact info of everyone you meet. Update it with every business card you receive or contact information in the signature of every email. Store it in your Google drive, email it to yourself as a backup, and be diligent about updating it when someone’s information changes.

Please just trust me on this one—there’s nothing worse than having to dig for the contact information of someone you met five years ago. It may take five years until you need to reach out to people on that list again. That’s OK—it will save you a lot of time and energy if you can quickly pull it up on your computer rather than racking your brain trying to remember where you met that contact or how you think their last name might be spelled as you desperately search your email.

7. I Didn’t Always Speak Up After I Made a Mistake

Many times in the early part of my career, I made mistakes and I did not speak up. Luckily, I was never fired and none of my mistakes were so detrimental that they couldn’t be fixed. But there were a lot of close calls that created more work and unnecessary late nights for my colleagues and myself.

We are human. We all make mistakes. And if you have a boss who makes you feel like mistakes aren’t tolerated, then perhaps you need to find someone else to work for. However, what is unacceptable is not taking responsibility for your mistakes. Hiding from mistakes, lying about mistakes or throwing others under the bus because of your mistakes will catch up with you—and it won’t be pretty. Admitting something went wrong as soon as it goes wrong will suck, but the mess will be a lot easier to clean up and your reputation should come out unscathed.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/7-career-mistakes-you-can-easily-avoid-by-just-reading-this

ARE YOU IN NEED OF TOP TALENT NOW? Don’t have the time to spend nor available bandwidth to look for your company’s perfect match? Does this leave you with projects undone, unable to launch new initiatives or deliver desired output, let alone to grow your profits? Is your hiring process stalled and limping along with unfilled requisitions? Discover the ease and satisfaction of partnering with experts whose ONLY mission is to accomplish laser-focused search and to acquire top-tier skill on your behalf, each and every day! Contact us at 415-234-0707 ext. 5 or email at connect@superiansources.com Find out what a customized service SAVES you in TIME, MONEY and RESOURCES!

 

ARE YOU TODAY’S TOP TALENT LOOKING FOR A NEW ROLE? Do you want assurance that you are represented by the best and have opportunities open to you within exceptional workplaces? Have you heard that being presented by a boutique search firm is the edge you need to get in the door and have your opportunity to shine? Contact us at 415-234-0707 or email at connect@superiansources.com – http://www.SuperianSources.com

 

4 Avoidable Traps Career Changers Fall Into When They’re Job Hunting

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If you’re thinking about making a big career change, you’re not alone. More and more people are making at least one big shift during their professional life, and they’re doing it successfully. Chances are, you already know that you need to tailor your resume, learn how to tell your career story, and explain your transition in a compelling way. So you’re good to go, right?

Not necessarily. Although there are plenty of resources out there to help you make the shift, there are still some not-so-obvious, yet common mistakes that can trap you if you aren’t aware of them. Beyond the challenge of telling your story, individuals making this move often fumble in unexpected ways that can stall progress and leave them feeling like the whole transition was a terrible idea.

Here’s what not to do.

1. Going it Alone

It’s scary to change careers, partly because fear of failure is real. This fear can make it nerve-wracking to tell your friends, family, and network about your plans. You figure you’ll announce it when you succeed. Part of this instinct is a result of how social media shapes our perceptions. Seeing the best of everyone’s lives online can make it hard to admit when something in your own life isn’t going how you anticipated. It’s easier to tell a story of success rather than ask for help in the process.

But if you want to break into a new industry, the people you already know are where you need to start. They’re very often your best possible assets. Evidence suggests that even those long-lost Facebook acquaintances that you aren’t close with might just be your ticket to a new path. Social media is not just for vacation selfies and political rants; it’s a powerful tool that you can use to get a head start on your search. Tell your friends—IRL and digital—about the change you want to make, and you may be surprised with a connection you never thought about. If you have connections from college, mentors from a past job, a distant cousin, reach out. Don’t wait until you get frustrated by the process—connect early to avoid feeling helpless or lost.

2. Avoiding Big Questions

Major life decisions deserve introspection, but if you can believe it, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about this seemingly straightforward exercise. I’ve seen too many career changers think about what they want to leave behind, rather than what they want to move toward—and why. If you’re in a job that you hate, and you want to get out as fast as possible, you might not be asking yourself the necessary questions about your career move. Are you trying to use a different skill set? Make a bigger impact in your community? Feel more challenged?

Think hard about why you want to shift from marketing to finance, or from sales to product management. Understand why you want to get your MBA. If you want to be successful in a new career, you need to know why you want to be there. It’s OK if you can’t think 10 years into the future, but try to think about the next three to five. How will this career transition help you grow, better your life, or set you up for your future goals? Until you can answer these kinds of questions, any satisfaction you get from escaping your current job will likely be temporary.

3. Getting Impatient

The job search takes time, and if you’ve done your introspective work and finally made the decision to switch careers, you may begin to feel frustrated by all that you still have to do. You want that new track ASAP, but the reality of a career change is that it’s rarely a speedy process. Unlike moving to a new role in the industry you have experience in, the transitional move is often complicated. In fact, you may have to consider a side gig to get your foot in the door. An internship is another possibility. If you’re not ready and aware of the commitment involved, you may feel like giving up before you even really get started.

One of the best ways to avoid burnout is to start with a realistic step-by-step plan for your career change. Working with a friend, on your own, or with career coach, give yourself a minimum of six months (be prepared for it to take twice as long though) to research, polish, and tweak your documents and narrative, network, get industry practice, and apply to jobs. If you find something sooner, great! But do yourself a favor and take the pressure off of making the transition with speed.

4. Applying to the Wrong Jobs

So you’ve informed your network (and continually worked to build and strengthen it), sought and gained introspection, and planned out the next several months. There’s still one more common yet not quite obvious mistake I’ve seen time and time again: choosing the wrong roles. Either you become so narrowly focused on the one title/job/role you want and only apply to the (very few) jobs that fit your preconceived notion without exploring new opportunities, or you start applying for everything in the new field with little attention paid to whether or not it’s even a right fit for you. Both usually result in a lot of anxiety.

As with most things, striking a balance is key here. No job is a perfect reflection of its description, and you may pass up a really interesting opportunity if you’re only focusing on a few keywords. Career changing is a journey, and you should be ready to take on some unexpected challenges in whatever new role you find. Don’t automatically pass up that marketing role at the boutique firm just because it also involves some customer service or budget management.

You may find that you have a knack for wearing multiple hats and like the variety. But if you find a marketing role at a sporting goods company when you’re an indoorsy bookworm, you might want to think twice before just hitting send on the application. So before you hit “pass” or “apply” on any job, take the time to really read the description, learn about the company, and see if you can picture yourself there. Then you’ll be able to make an informed decision.

Whether you’re changing your track after only a few years, or after 25, keep in mind that you have the skills and the savvy to be successful in your new field. Avoiding career-changing mistakes will save you from burnout and help you get to where you want to be.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-avoidable-traps-career-changers-fall-into-when-theyre-job-hunting

ARE YOU IN NEED OF TOP TALENT NOW? Don’t have the time to spend nor available bandwidth to look for your company’s perfect match? Does this leave you with projects undone, unable to launch new initiatives or deliver desired output, let alone to grow your profits? Is your hiring process stalled and limping along with unfilled requisitions? Discover the ease and satisfaction of partnering with experts whose ONLY mission is to accomplish laser-focused search and to acquire top-tier skill on your behalf, each and every day! Contact us at 415-234-0707 ext. 5 or email at connect@superiansources.com Find out what a customized service SAVES you in TIME, MONEY and RESOURCES!

 

ARE YOU TODAY’S TOP TALENT LOOKING FOR A NEW ROLE? Do you want assurance that you are represented by the best and have opportunities open to you within exceptional workplaces? Have you heard that being presented by a boutique search firm is the edge you need to get in the door and have your opportunity to shine? Contact us at 415-234-0707 or email at connect@superiansources.com – http://www.SuperianSources.com

The 2 Traits All Hiring Managers Look for During Interviews (Without Even Realizing It)

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How cool would it be to have an X-ray into the head of the person who controls your career fate? To understand exactly what a hiring manager at your dream company is thinking when she’s picking which lucky candidate she’ll bring on full-time?

Well, until CAT scans start to pick up hiring decisions, that day may still be far away. But in the meantime, let me at least give you a glimpse into the typical interviewing process so you can get a sense of the main criteria hiring managers use to make those decisions.

How Humans Evaluate Each Other

Even though your potential boss has the fancy title of “Hiring Manager,” at the end of the day, she’s just a human being. Which means that contrary to all that time you’ve spent obsessing about brainteasers, she doesn’t actually care how many tennis balls could fit in a 747.

Instead, she’s going to size you up the same way that all humans size each other up: By getting to know you for a few minutes and then making a snap judgment. It’s really not that different from meeting someone at a party, making some chit-chat, and then getting a gut feeling that either says: “Mm…I like talking to you. Tell me more!” or “Umm…I think I need to go to the bathroom. Will you excuse me for a second (a.k.a., the rest of your life)?”

But where does that gut feeling come from?

One Psychology theory suggests that these flash judgments are really based on two data points:

  1. Warmth: Do I like you?
  2. Competence: Are you good at what you do?

In other words, we ultimately reduce everyone we meet into four buckets:

  1. Warm + Competent
  2. Warm + Incompetent
  3. Cold + Competent
  4. Cold + Incompetent

Any guesses which of these buckets your hiring manager is more likely to pick?

Let’s look at her inner monologue for each:

How to Get Picked

So clearly, your goal is to get into that top-left quadrant: warm and competent. But how do you do that?

The trick is to not only focus on coming up with specific answers to questions that may be asked. But to also focus hard on how you answer those questions. Because, as you’ll see, warmth and competence judgments aren’t definitive evaluations but mere perceptions. And while you can’t change who you are, you absolutely can change people’s perceptions of you.

As an example, let’s take that old interview chestnut: “Tell me about a time you influenced a team.”

A standard answer might go like this:

“OK, so there was this time that I had to work with a bunch of people on a project. Some of them weren’t that easy to work with, so I really had to influence them to do a better job. Which was super tough because they weren’t that motivated. But after I talked with them, they started doing way better. So that’s how I influenced my team.”

The person listening would most likely think the following: This person is both cold (it feels like she’s throwing her teammates under the bus) and incompetent (wait a second, what did she actually do here—does she even know how to work with other people?).

While there’s a lot more to this person’s story, this snap judgment from a hiring managers
makes it clear just how quickly interviewers can rush to evaluate a candidate.

But it also illuminates the importance of how we tell our stories. Because now consider this same story told a second way:

“OK, so there was this time that I got to work with a bunch of people on a big project—the launch of a new website. I was nervous about it because we all came from different departments—sales, marketing, and engineering. So the first thing I did is I got to know my engineering colleagues better by setting up coffees with each person and learning about their backgrounds and goals. And then, when we ran into a situation where the engineers weren’t making as much progress as we had planned, I was able to reframe the new website around their own goals. Seeing the connection between their personal ambitions and our team mission really seemed to light a fire under them. And the result was that we not only hit our deadline, but we actually launched two weeks early.”

Again, same exact high-level story. But notice how the telling of it changes the candidate from cold to warm (“Nice—I’d want to grab coffee with her too!”) and incompetent to competent (“Wow—she knew exactly what to do and got the results to prove it”). All through subtle techniques like:

  • Using specifics: Instead of focusing on the boring abstract, the candidate brings her story to life through details: a new website, falling behind, coffee chats, a clear result
  • Being self-aware: Instead of needing to stroke her own ego, the candidate shows she’s human and likable by admitting to her nerves
  • Going step-by-step: Instead of glossing over the meat of the story, the candidate draws a clear connection from the challenge to her response to a specific outcome

 

https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-2-traits-all-hiring-managers-look-for-during-interviews-without-even-realizing-it

 

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