For start-ups: Best Interview technique

Eventually, almost every interview turns into a question-and-answer session. You ask a question. The candidate answers as you check a mental tick-box (good answer? bad answer?).

You quickly go to the next question and the next question and the next question, because you only have so much time and there’s a lot of ground to cover because you want to evaluate the candidate thoroughly. The more questions you ask, the more you will learn about the candidate.

Or not.

Sometimes, instead of asking questions, the best interviewing technique is to listen slowly.

In Change-Friendly Leadership, management coach Rodger Dean Duncan describes how he learned about listening slowly from PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer:

Duncan: He urged me to ask a good question, listen attentively to the answer, and then count silently to five before asking another question. At first that suggestion seemed silly. I argued that five seconds would seem like an eternity to wait after someone responds to a question. Then it occurred to me: Of course it would seem like an eternity, because our natural tendency is to fill a void with sound, usually that of our own voice.

Lehrer: If you resist the temptation to respond too quickly to the answer, you’ll discover something almost magical. The other person will either expand on what he’s already said or he’ll go in a different direction. Either way, he’s expanding his response, and you get a clear view into his head and heart.

Duncan: Giving other people sufficient psychological breathing room seemed to work wonders. When I bridled my natural impatience to get on with it, they seemed more willing to disclose, explore, and even be a bit vulnerable. When I treated the interview more as a conversation with a purpose than as a sterile interrogation, the tone of the exchange softened. It was now just two people talking…

Listening slowly can turn a Q&A session into more of a conversation. Try listening slowly in your next interviews. (Not after every question, of course: Pausing for five seconds after a strictly factual answer will leave you both feeling really awkward.)

Just pick a few questions that give candidates room for self-analysis or introspection, and after the initial answer, pause. They’ll fill the space: with an additional example, a more detailed explanation, a completely different perspective on the question.

Once you give candidates a silent hole to fill, they’ll fill it, often in unexpected and surprising ways. A shy candidate may fill the silence by sharing positive information she wouldn’t have otherwise shared. A candidate who came prepared with “perfect” answers to typical interview questions may fill the silence with not-so-positive information he never intended to disclose.

And all candidates will open up and speak more freely when they realize you’re not just asking questions–you’re listening.

 

source: Inc.com

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How do you know home based employees are actually working ?

With more business owners allowing employees to work from home or satellite offices, the need to make sure those workers stay on task and productive is growing. From the employee’s perspective everything seems rosy. According to a recent Harris Poll, 64 percent of telecommuters say working from home increases productivity and output.

But for employers, allowing workers to telecommute can be akin to working in the dark. If you can’t see Harry, how do you know he’s actually working?

If you’re suffering from remote worker separation anxiety, these three tools can help you monitor actual time on task. Remember, these tools only provide you with raw data. You need to interpret the results on a case-by-case basis. Also, it’s wise to let employees know they are being tracked and how.

Related: 3 Free Apps to Help You Network Like a Pro

1. Hivedesk 
If you’re juggling multiple remote workers on multiple projects, Hivedesk has a simple solution for keeping everyone on task. Workers check in by choosing their project from the central hub. Then Hivedesk tracks their time and adds each day’s information to the weekly time sheet.

During the work session, Hivedesk snaps random screenshots so you know your developer is on task and not, say, on Facebook. The system also sends a graphical productivity gauge for each worker so you can see at a glance who is performing and who isn’t.

Pricing starts at $14.99 a month for up to two workers and goes up to $100 a month for 20. It requires a desktop download and is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux.

2. Worksnaps 
If you need more detail, there’s Worksnaps. This tool takes screenshots every 10 minutes and logs keyboard strokes and mouse movement. In addition, it catalogs the applications that were used so you can tell if an employee spent 10 minutes reading a Word document or plugging numbers into an Excel spreadsheet.

The User Management panel gives project managers access to reports on their team members, creating multiple levels of accountability.

What’s more, Worksnaps has an optional webcam feature that allows you to see not just what’s on a worker’s screen but the worker as well. This can be a useful feature if your employees need to spend a lot of time on their phones, tablets or handling non-computer based desk work.
Plans start at $14 a month for up to four users and go to $60 a month for up to 30 users. Worksnaps requires a desktop download and is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux. Worksnaps also integrates with project management software Basecamp, invoicing software Freshbooks and time tracker Harvest.

Related: Mobile Apps to Make Business Travel Easier

3. MySammy 
For business owners who prefer a less heavy-handed approach, there’s MySammy. This application is all about balance. As long as an employee’s bar graph is mostly green (active) you can forgive the 10 percent that’s red (non-productive.)

In order to categorize activity, the manager must mark every desktop application and website in the system as either productive or not. Excel gets a thumbs up, Facebook gets a thumbs down. The system also allows for overrides so your social media manager isn’t penalized for time spent on Twitter.

MySammy’s reporting system allows you to filter the data in a variety of ways so it’s easy to see who is getting the job done and who needs some motivation.

The starter plan is free for up to four employees but has limits on long-term data storage. A small-business account is $7 per person per month for up to 50 users. For larger companies, the price is $17 per person per month and it includes five years of data storage.

The MySammy client must be installed on all work computers. It’s compatible with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 2003 and above. It is not compatible with Mac OS.

source: entrepreneur.com

Employees are Assets

Every good entrepreneur knows it’s true: besides having a brilliant business idea, employees are any firm’s most valuable asset. But once a business takes off, the romantic idea of founding a successful business in the proverbial garage quickly fades and reality settles in. Fact is, day-to-day issues of HR management can distract you from another key to success: growing your business.

Saving Hours by Outsourcing
The average small business owner spends more than 25 percent of his or her day handling employee-related paperwork. With additional tasks added for recruitment, hiring and training of new employees, this number quickly grows to 35 to 45 percent. In other words, rather than innovating and expanding the business, they spend almost half of any workday on administrative tasks that are a necessary evil.

While 401(k) plans or a premium benefits package keep current employees happy and attract high-caliber candidates, most entrepreneurs prefer to focus on their passion for the business, rather than on HR. They have very limited interest in federal and state regulations regarding everything from workers’ compensation to workplace health and safety, not to mention additional complexities related to employee benefits with the recent passage of the Affordable Care Act. HR outsourcing firms like TriNet, provide small, growing companies a proven way to scale, protect and streamline their business. What’s more — this approach allows entrepreneurs to focus on what matters most to them.

Power and Efficiency Through Integrated Technology Solution
Employees have come to expect anytime access to their HR information. But the cost of implementing and maintaining a state-of-the-art HR information system (HRIS) is simply out of reach for the average small and medium firm. But that’s precisely what TriNet has done — creating an affordable, cloud-based solution and mobile app to enable employees, managers and executives to access the information they need, when they need it.

Risk Mitigation: Share the Liability, Focus on Your Business
In this litigious climate, there is little room for administrative error. Some HR companies stay on top of all employment laws and regulations so they can help their clients remain compliant.

source: entrepreneur.com

How to scan if the candidate is a good fit

Interviewing job candidates is tough, especially because some candidates are a lot better at interviewing than they are at working.

To get the core info you need about the candidates you interview, here’s a simple but incredibly effective interview technique I learned from John Younger, the CEO ofAccolo, a cloud recruiting solutions provider. (If you think you’ve conducted a lot of interviews, think again: Younger has interviewed thousands of people.)

Here’s how it works. Just start from the beginning of the candidate’s work history and work your way through each subsequent job. Move quickly, and don’t ask for detail. And don’t ask follow-up questions, at least not yet.

Go through each job and ask the same three questions:

1. How did you find out about the job?

2. What did you like about the job before you started?

3. Why did you leave?

“What’s amazing,” Younger says, “is that after a few minutes, you will always have learned something about the candidate–whether positive or negative–that you would never have learned otherwise.”

Here’s why:

How did you find out about the job?

Job boards, general postings, online listings, job fairs–most people find their first few jobs that way, so that’s certainly not a red flag.

But a candidate who continues to find each successive job from general postings probably hasn’t figured out what he or she wants to do–and where he or she would like to do it.

He or she is just looking for a job; often, any job.

And that probably means he or she isn’t particularly eager to work for you. He or she just wants a job. Yours will do–until something else comes along.

“Plus, by the time you get to Job Three, Four, or Five in your career, and you haven’t been pulled into a job by someone you previously worked for, that’s a red flag,” Younger says. “That shows you didn’t build relationships, develop trust, and show a level of competence that made someone go out of their way to bring you into their organization.”

On the flip side, being pulled in is like a great reference–without the letter.

What did you like about the job before you started?

In time, interviewees should describe the reason they took a particular job for more specific reasons than “great opportunity,” “chance to learn about the industry,” or “next step in my career.”

Great employees don’t work hard because of lofty titles or huge salaries. They work hard because they appreciate their work environment and enjoy what they do. (Titles and salary are just icing on the fulfillment cake.)

That means they know the kind of environment they will thrive in, and they know the type of work that motivates and challenges them–and not only can they describe it, they actively seek it.

Why did you leave?

Sometimes people leave for a better opportunity. Sometimes they leave for more money.

Often, though, they leave because an employer is too demanding. Or the employee doesn’t get along with his or her boss. Or the employee doesn’t get along with co-workers.

When that is the case, don’t be judgmental. Resist the temptation to ask for detail. Hang on to follow-ups. Stick to the rhythm of the three questions. That makes it natural for candidates to be more open and candid.

In the process, many candidates will describe issues with management or disagreements with other employees or with taking responsibility–issues they otherwise would not have shared.

Then follow up on patterns that concern you.

“It’s a quick way to get to get to the heart of a candidate’s sense of teamwork and responsibility,” Younger says. “Some people never take ownership and always see problems as someone else’s problem. And some candidates have consistently had problems with their bosses–which means they’ll also have issues with you.”

And a bonus question:

How many people have you hired, and where did you find them?

Say you’re interviewing candidates for a leadership position. Want to know how their direct reports feel about them?

Don’t look only for candidates who were brought into an organization by someone else; look for candidates who brought employees into their organization.

“Great employees go out of their way to work with great leaders,” Younger says. “If you’re tough but fair, and you treat people well, they will go out of their way to work with you. The fact that employees changed jobs just so they could work for you speaks volumes to your leadership and people skills.”

 

Source: inc.com