Are You Using Data to Drive Your HR Strategy?

2014 is shaping up to be a year that will disrupt the way traditional HR functions operate. As technology, social media and data continue to become interwoven into the fabric of the workplace, HR must start to think and act like business functions by using data and insights to drive their strategy.

Business accountingNot that long ago, thought leaders called upon companies to treat HR as a strategic partner alongside the CEO, CFO, CIO, etc. to bring insights to human capital within the organization. HR, like business functions will need to rely on data, trending and analysis to assess and shape new initiatives.  Over the last few years, business functions (marketing, sales, legal, communications, products, operations, compliance; just to name a few) have expanded their data sources to include social media insights, internet analytics, search and traffic patterns. That coupled with “listening” to what people are saying about the company on social platforms provides key information on developing and/or tweaking strategies. This data is also extremely useful for HR to gage satisfaction, employee insights and dissatisfaction.

You may wonder how HR can use data for strategy when most of the data is based on operational transactions. To that I say, follow the lead of the business. HR can use a combination of operational, internet and social media metrics to analyze recruitment volume, sourcing effectiveness, candidate experience, retention and brand impact.

Here are a few ideas on how you can put data to work to help build your strategy:

1.      Recruitment (Talent Sourcing)- Building your workforce  is critical to achieving the organizations’ goals

a. Measures:  Source of Application, Source of Hire, Cost of Sourcing Channels

 Data Source: RMS/ATS

Strategy:  What channels have proven to be most effective for hires? Are there any shifts or trends that are emerging quarter over quarter or year over year? Invest your sourcing dollars wisely. Analyze data over time so you can see what sources are yielding and providing good ROI.  Your data will guide you to make sound, informed decisions.

 Cost per paid channel

 b. Measure:  Recruiter capacity

 Data Source: RMS/ATS

Strategy:  Do you have enough people to execute the work?  Analyze recruiter capacity against volume and complexity. Be prepared to dig deeper to speak to efficiency of work. Recruiter capacity impacts both service levels and the quality of output they can provide in a realistic time frame.

2.       Talent Sourcing Interactions- impacts brand and consumer opinions about the organization

a. Measure: Candidate experience

Data Sources: Glassdoor, Indeed, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Strategy: As social recruitment becomes more dominant, candidate experience is playing a more critical role impacting attraction. Like it or not candidates’ feedback about their employers are becoming more prevalent and visible online, whether the employer has a social media presence or not. It’s important to understand and assess chatter as more candidates rely on authentic feedback to make employment and product decisions about the organization. Organizations that embrace feedback and make improvements not only impact talent sourcing, but may also impact bottom line sales.

 6-british-entertainment-retailer-hmv-lost-complete-control-of-its-social-media-team-when-rogue-members-used-the-account-to-childishly-live-tweet-a-massive-firing-at-the-company

b. Measure: Manager experience, Recruiter Performance

 Data Source: Survey

 Strategy: How do businesses know if their products or services add value? Feedback about the service and its value is critical to fostering good working relations to achieve the organizations goals.  Use manager feedback to fine tune your service offering. Identify areas for improvement and acknowledge and reward great service.

 

3.       Talent Management – retention is critical to building and sustaining human capital in the organization

a. Measure: Retention

Data Sources: ERP, Performance Tools, Exit Interviews, LinkedIn

Strategy:  Why are employees leaving your organization? Where are they going?  Are certain departments or job functions prone to lower retention than others? Analyzing data will provide insight on which companies are attracting your talent and what jobs they are moving into. Social media has made it easy to get that information. Channels like LinkedIn can run talent analytics on employee changes (coming and going) to help you understand your competition.

 talent flows

b.      Measure: Employee experience

Data Sources: Glassdoor, Indeed, Facebook, Twitter, etc; Engagement Survey, Internal Crowdsourcing

Strategy: The ability to solicit feedback from employees has never been easier for HR Functions. With internal and external social media and collaboration tools available it’s quick and simple to get a sense of what’s working and what isn’t. Canned annual engagement surveys may feel like a corporate exercise rather than an employee centric forum to voice opinions or ideas.  Happy and engaged employees are more likely to stay and move within your organization than those who feel they have no voice.


I hope these few examples get you excited about the possibilities that are are at your fingertips.  Be cognizant that your metrics should be meaningful and actionable. Use your data to drive strategy, not file in your metrics folder!

I would love to hear about some metrics your company has used to help drive your strategy. Comment on my post or send me a tweet @annzaliebarrett

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How To Articulate Your Accomplishments for Your Performance Review

It’s hard to believe we’re nearing the end of the year. For me, it seems like just yesterday it was the end of summer and fall was in the air. Reality check; it’s December and that typically means annual performance review time.

writers-block-atlantic-webworks

For most of us, this time of year can be stressful as we try to document our performance by reflecting back on our contributions and accomplishments. In larger organizations it doesn’t just stop at individual performance assessments. Calibration sessions are held to compare you against others across departments to justify ratings. So it’s important to take time to clearly and succinctly illustrate how you delivered against your goals. One of the most important questions you, as an employee, need to be able to answer during your performance review is…Why should you get the rating you are asking for? If you are self-managed, a Telecommuter,  or didn’t have an “active” Manager work with you through the year, it’s even more important to use examples to build your case. Managers don’t always have insight into your accomplishments or remember feedback from others. It’s up to you to weave them into your performance assessment in a meaningful and appropriate way.

Here are a few suggestions to help you document your annual accomplishments and deliverables to position the rating you want:

  1. Build a habit of documenting your accomplishments throughout the year: As an employee it’s a good practice to keep email_folderstrack of the work and successes you’ve had throughout the year. If you wait until mid-year or year end to try and recall your deliverables you may forget important accomplishments. Here are few things you can do track throughout the year:
    1. Use Email Folders: If you get feedback via email take moment to create a performance folder in your email system. That way you can file your feedback through the year and pull it out to refresh your memory when you’re ready to start writing your assessment.
    2. Use your Performance system: If you have an ERP/performance system, book a 15 minute meeting in your calendar each month to update accomplishments against your goals. You can then pare down your contributions during your mid-year and annual review.

     

  2. Use specific examples to articulate how your work mapped back to your goals: Goals are formulated according to Create-Smart-Goals

S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely) principles. As such they are typically broad. Use specific examples of your deliverables (specific results) as evidence on how you met and/or exceeded your goals. Let’s look at an example:

Goal: Expand Managers knowledge of social media sourcing options

Documenting deliverable option 1: Through conversations with Managers I spoke with them about social media to help educate them on sourcing effectiveness. Many of the Managers I work with now use social media as a sourcing option for their vacancies.

Documenting deliverable option 2: During my intake conversations with Managers I took some time to speak to them about using social media as a viable sourcing option. I used a variety of approaches to help show them why social media was an important avenue to source. An example of how I achieved this was working with Manager X for the RequisitionTitle.

Manager X had traditionally used job boards and staffing agencies to attract candidates for their role. Through my partnership and advice I worked with Manager X to position how we could use social media as a sourcing option for their role. During my intake conversation I worked with Manager X to get a thorough understanding of the requirements of the candidate profile. Once we had agreement, I showed them how I could generate a list of potential candidates within minutes through a LinkedIn search based on those criteria. I showed Manager X how the targeted search brought back relevant, qualified individuals rather than waiting and relying on applicants which we would later have to screen into the candidate pool. I also supplemented this approach by sharing our job aides with Manager X on how they could use their LinkedIn, Facebook and/or Twitter accounts to cross share their job to their network. I also suggested ways they could identify people within their network as viable candidates we may want to contact.

As a result of our social media approach we ended up hiring a candidate from LinkedIn. At the end of the process I asked Manager X about their experience using social media as a viable sourcing channel. They were pleasantly surprised by the results and were appreciative to learn about newer ways to find ideal candidates. Manager X is now a convert, and will use social media as viable sourcing channels for upcoming vacancies. This was also reflected in the survey feedback I received from Manager X. Manager X also sent an email (see attachment) expressing their thanks for my guidance and time in utilizing new and innovative approaches to sourcing.

So, in two examples above, the first option speaks to how the goal was met. However it doesn’t provide any specific examples on how it was met. This makes your assessment subjective. The second option provides a more detailed approach to articulating how the deliverable was met. By outlining how you approached the situation, showing the before and after, then backing it up with some  metrics/feedback, it makes your assessment objective. The last sentence also wove in the email feedback relevant to the example provided.

good_job
3.      Demonstrate how you’ve taken feedback to improve: Always make a point of regularly asking your Manager for feedback. There two reasons for this. First, if there are areas for improvement you want an opportunity to have time to address it. Secondly, if there aren’t any areas for improvement it should serve as confirmation you are carrying out your goals and deliverables well. There shouldn’t be any surprises at year-end. In your annual assessment use some specific examples to show how you’ve incorporated constructive feedback and/or coaching to improve. Not only does it show a positive attitude, it also shows your wi


4.     
Showcase your star performance through your summary:  You are your best PR 

star_performer

person. You have to do a good job of  selling your own performance. Managers rely on this as they need good examples to take into calibration sessions. Each year should be seen as a journey of your learning, development and accomplishments. Use the summary section of your performance assessment as a reflection of  one key item against each of these buckets during the past year. Remember use specific exampl


I hope these few tips will help you build the confidence to document your deliverables, accomplishments and fantastic feedback in an appropriate way that is easy for both you and your Manager to use in your performance review

I wish you good luck and all the very best for the New Year ahead!

By Ann Barrett; Director, eRecruitment & Social Media Strategy

Has Your Company Embraced Crowdsourcing to Improve Your Employee Value Proposition?

Crowdsourcing is one of the hottest conversation topics on the web. I predict it will be the most “buzzed word” of 2013. Companies are starting to pay attention to crowdsourcing as viable, cost effective ways to develop new product lines, new technologies, solve problems and improve service. Crowdsourcing is also important to HR as it can provide a wealth of knowledge in understanding employee experiences with a company’s employee

crowdsourcing

value proposition (EVP) and employment brand.

So, what exactly is crowdsourcing? The term crowdsourcing is a mix of the word “crowd” and “sourcing” first coined by Jeff Howe in a 2008 Wired magazine article “The Rise of Crowdsourcing”[1]. In essence it’s an online database where people can contribute content (written, video, pictures) by posting it in a public forum which can be viewed and shared by others. Availability on the internet makes it easier to search and find information. Integration with social media sites such as Facebook means reviews can be cross-shared to friends. Apps let you search and review on the go through mobile platforms.

To demonstrate the power and value of crowdsourcing to the business and HR, I thought I would do a cross comparison from two strategic crowdsourcing sites; TripAdvisor and Glassdoor.

tripadvisor_logo

 

I am an avid and loyal TripAdvisor member. Over the years I have become dependent on TripAdvisor to help me make informed decisions on what hotels to stay at when I travel. I find the reviews invaluable and will not make a decision without consulting TripAdvisor first. I also pay it forward by writing my own reviews, thus sharing my experience with others.

glassdoor_logo_250I was first introduced to Glassdoor through Facebook. I got a few invitations from friends in my network requesting I join.  At first glace I didn’t understand its value. However once I saw there were anonymous reviews providing real insight into the culture, work, management and environment of an organization, i was hooked.

Sites like TripAdvisor and Glassdoor are powerful because of their reach. As the stats below reveal, the traffic, membership and visibility on these sites is enormous  More importantly…they are still growing.

  TripAdvisor (Business) Glassdoor (HR)
Reach
  • World’s largest travel site[2]
  • 50M visitors per month
  • 20M business visitors per month
  • 1.5 Reviews posted every second
  • 21M registered users[3]
  • 260K companies globally
  • 5 company reviews
  • A new member joins every 7 seconds
glassdoor_reviewEvery company has a vested interest in promoting how great they are. They want to you buy their product and/or attract top talent. Crowdsourced reviews are powerful because they are authentic. They are reflective of genuine experiences from a variety of people who have interacted with the company.

90% of consumers trust peer recommendations compared to only 14% from advertisements[4]. This has put pressure on companies to become more authentic in their brand promise and employment value proposition.

  TripAdvisor (Business) Glassdoor (HR)
Authentic
  • Reviewers have actually stayed at the hotel.
  • They have no vested interest in portraying the hotel as good or bad.

 

  • Reviewers are either current employees or former employees.
  • Reviewers write reviews based on their employment experience.
  • Anonymity allows for more genuine feedback without fear of reprisal.
tripadvisor_travllerphotosCrowdsourced reviews are powerful because they are transparent about the brand promise. They help to answer the question, Is the company/employer genuinely delivering what the promise?
  TripAdvisor (Business) Glassdoor (HR)
Transparent
  • Pictures and videos of hotel rooms, bathrooms, restaurants, etc. from reviewers provide real examples of what is delivered versus what is being advertised.
  • Potential travellers have more realistic expectations about the product they will receive.

 

  • Viewers have more realistic expectations about day to day operations, work environment and management styles.
  • Employees rate the employee value proposition (career progression, growth, development, compensation, benefits, etc.) against what they experienced. This helps set expectations for future prospects.
tripadvisor_reviewsIt’s my opinion that companies should be grateful for crowdsourcing through sites like TripAdvisor and Glassdoor. Think about it. Customers and employees at no cost; are providing companies with feedback on what they’re doing well and what they can improve on.

Actionable Feedback. It’s a goldmine of rich data.

  TripAdvisor (Business) Glassdoor (HR)
Actionable Feedback
  • Reviewers provide suggestions for improve.
  • Reviewers provide feedback on what’s working.

Companies that are focused on continuous improvements can create action plans to fix shortcoming.

Positive feedback can be woven into marketing and advertising to highlight positive attributes, making the brand promise more credible.

  • Reviewers provide suggestions to Management on areas they can improve.
  • Reviewers provide feedback on things that are working well.

Employers can cross reference engagement results with reviews. Retention strategies can be created based on feedback.

Positive feedback can be woven into employment branding and the employee value proposition messaging, making them more credible.

 

If you reviewed two hotels at the same price point and one had predominantly negative reviews and the other had predominantly positive reviews; which one would you choose? Crowdsourced reviews are powerful because they influence people’s opinion and ultimately impact their decision. That has a bottom line impact.

 

  TripAdvisor (Business) Glassdoor (HR)
Reviews Impact Decisions
  • Positive reviews may yield more sales.
  • Negative reviews may result in a loss of a sale opportunity.
  • Companies can assess referral ratings based on reviews.
  •  Positive reviews may attract better talent to your organization.
  • Negative reviews may turn off top talent.
  • Employers can assess referral ratings based on reviews.
reviewsCompanies cannot ignore crowdsourcing’s impact on the bottom line any longer. Smart companies will acknowledge suggestions and make improvements to demonstrate they are listening. This willingness to change also builds credibility as reviews validate changes.

HR Departments should be conscious that employee opinions not only have a direct impact on talent sourcing strategies, but may also carry over to net promoter scores (NPS), product sales and customer retention. Dissatisfied employees may not buy or recommend company products to a friend. That impacts the bottom line.

 

 

 

 

 

By Ann Barrett, Director eRecruitment & Social Media Strategy


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowdsourcing

[2] http://www.slideshare.net/eTourismAfrica/trip-advisor-2012

Gen X: What are you doing to retain them?

There are lots of articles, blog posts and studies centred on the millennial generation. Born between 1980-2000; Millennials comprise about 29% of the current workforce, just shy of Gen X at 33% (1965-1979) and Baby Boomers representing 38% (1946- 1964)1 . This has resulted in a more even distribution of multiple generations in the workforce. 

behold-a-millennial-in-its-elementEven though Millennials have been labelled as needy and narcissistic their entry into the workforce has had a significant impact in helping change the way organizations communicate and approach work. First, their reliance on technology, in particular mobile, has pushed the envelope to adopt more mobile friendly solutions at work. Things like approving transactions (e.g. registering for an on-line course) on mobile devices, IM’ing (texting) and adding apps on phones are all current technology interactions Millennials are accustomed to.

Second, the daily use of social networking channels to facilitate engagement and collaboration. Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, etc., are all various social platforms Millennials use to interact, convey information and build networks. Their ease of use and navigation on these channels has challenged their older counter parts to get with the times and use these as relevant ways to communicate and interact. Millennials assume employers use these tools as forums to engage with employees and customers, solicit feedback, build networks and work across functional teams.

Third, the erosion of traditional hierarchies. Unlike Baby Boomers who work within a disciplined hierarchical structure, Gen_xMillennials approach collaboration in a broad, encompassing manner.  They have no problem booking a meeting with a VP (bypassing the chain of command) to help them better understand issues or network. This approach is challenging traditional authoritative hierarchical structures in the workplace. For Gen Xers who have been molded to abide by current hierarchical protocol, they may feel liberated by this new approach and at the same time overshadowed by the Millennials ability to effect change so quickly. 

As much as Millennials have helped push the broad adoption of social media in the workplace, in my opinion I think Gen Xers were really the first generation to embrace technology and gamification on a mass scale. The consumption of technologies for personal use such as PC’s (personal computer), Sony Walkman’s, cell phones, Nintendo game consoles, CD players, etc. were all widely adopted and embraced by Gen X.  The development and availability of different forms of content such as videos’ and the internet laid the foundation for eCommerce and digital marketing. 

In the current landscape Gen Xers are now sandwiched between soon to be retiring Baby Boomers and the masses of Millennials continuing to enSandwich-Generationter the workforce.2  Gen Xers have been in the workplace for almost 20 years, accumulating a variety of experiences and building their skill set. For them retention is centered on flexibility, career and skill development and of course career progression.  They are focused on carving out a career and will work through a variety of different jobs to build skills to keep their career moving forward. The acquisition of new skills and experiences can be viewed as a form of “career security” where skills and experiences are portable from one job to another3. Gen Xers are described as a highly motivated and tenacious generation. Their general attitude is if we don’t like it, we’re out of here.

It is estimated by the year 2020 approximately 33 million jobs will open up in the US as Baby Boomers start to retire4 . In Canada that number is career-progressionapproximately 9.8 million5.  Organizations need to develop a holistic human capital plan to mitigate the risk of losing Gen Xers who may not feel like they have opportunities to progress or move in their careers.  Baby Boomers in positions of management will also need to adjust their approach to managing across generations to retain talent. Both Millennials and Gen Xers who find themselves working in a rigid hierarchical structure may seek out other environments that are more collaborative and empowering.  Here are few things organizations need to consider in human capital planning to retain Gen Xers:

      1. Don’t favour Millennials at the expense of Gen Xers– Your Gen Xers have 20+ years of experience under their belt. They have worked through different jobs to amass skills and gain experience. Consider what Gen Xers bring to the table. Forward thinking, technically savvy people who embrace new ideas coupled with solid experience will yield your company good leaders who can think strategically.
      2. Have serious conversations about career progression – I’ve had a number of friends leave organizations due to lack of career advancement opportunities.  Discussions about progression are important to Gen Xers at this stage of their career. They’ve put in the time and want to see there is some pay off for their hard work. Gen Xers expect to start having serious conversations about their next position and how management will help them get there. If they don’t feel there is a genuine commitment they’ll look for an employer who values them.
      3. Be inclusionary– Does your organization create an environment where your Gen Xers and Millennials are sitting at the table to provide input and strategic insight? Gen Xers want to feel they are valued in the organization and want be included in discussions where they can contribute their insights and expertise. Millennials want an opportunity to learn from their counterparts in a collaborative way. If your organization deems Baby Boomers as the only qualified group to be involved in strategic planning and decision making you will not only find yourself at a competitive disadvantage, but quickly find some of your talent (Gen Xers and Millennials) going to other companies who value their insight and observations.

      Untitled

      Gen X’ers are valuable assets to your organization. Don’t take them for granted!

      By Ann Barrett, Director eRecruitment & Social Media Strategy

      1. [http://brighterlife.ca/2012/07/19/bridging-the-gap-in-multi-generational-teams/]
      2. [http://www.destinationcrm.com/Articles/Editorial/Magazine-Features/Gen-X–Stuck-in-the-Middle-79865.aspx]
      3. [http://www.examiner.com/article/keys-to-the-retention-of-generation-x]
      4. [http://ebn.benefitnews.com/news/hispanic-jobs-baby-boomers-health-2721781-1.html]
      5. [http://beyondrewards.ca/Articles/Art10-05.html]

Working The MacGyver Way

Have you ever found yourself trying to come up with a strategy or meet a deliverable with no budget or resources? Many of us may be feeling the pressure to achieve our goals under these conditions. While this may seem impossible, many of us have taken on the challenge to do more with less. I’ve labeled this approach working the “MacGyver” way.

MacGyver was a T.V. show that ran in the late 80’s- early 90’s about a secret, highly resourceful agent (MacGyver), who had to solve complex problems with every day materials, duct tape and his Swiss army knife. Although I wasn’t an avid watcher of the show, when I did watch, I was always impressed with how MacGyver could makeshift solutions to problem solve his way out of dire situations using only what was available to him. For those of you who watched the show, you will know what I’m talking about!

In the workplace many of us are working the “MacGyver” way without even realizing it. We have found ourselves having to think outside the box to achieve our goals. The result is we are seeing people develop innovative, creative, solutions to business issues using resources and materials at hand. So what MacGyver tactics are people using that you may benefit from?

Be Collaborative. While MacGyver came up with some ingenious solutions, he did so by learning and taking in information from those around him. In an increasingly social world there are many avenues available for us to connect with others who may have expertise or experience in a subject area we need. LinkedIn groups are a great resource to connect with people in an industry or career stream to collaborate.  Working together will help you achieve your goals faster and more efficiently, for free!

Start internally. Many times we explore using third-party vendors to seek out resources or start new projects.  Tap into your internal resources first. You will be pleasantly surprised at the rich expertise and consultation your employees have across the organization.

Think outside the box. MacGyver had to use the materials around him in unconventional ways to develop solutions. Similarly, we may need think about a project or work task from a different perspective to achieve results. I recently had a project which was put on the shelf. I had to take a step back and think about it from a different perspective using only the tools and resources internally available. By doing so I came up with an even better approach which was easier to implement. By working collaboratively with internal resources we were able to launch the project, achieving the deliverable.

Challenge yourself to learn something new. Like MacGyver, we may have to create the solution. That may mean learning something new to get us there. I was asked a few months ago to edit some raw video footage to use for a career video. I had never edited video footage before and felt anxious I couldn’t deliver. I contacted an internal colleague and asked her if she could point me in the right direction. And she did. I found out our company already had a license for a software I could use to accomplish my task. After I got the license I went onto the web to research how to use the tool supplemented by some YouTube tutorials. After some trial and error I soon started to get the hang of it and was able to not only edit the video, but also add some of our branding in the intro as well. Not only did I build my own skill set, but by doing the work myself with the resources at hand, I avoided having to pay a vendor to do the work.

Research to find inexpensive options or alternative solutions. MacGyver didn’t have the benefit of social media or Google to find a solution. But we do. Social tools are a fantastic way to get information. Here are just a few ways you can use social media and the internet to assist with your research:

  • Use your social networking tools (Collaboration, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn, etc.) to post questions to your network for help, guidance and suggestions. You may be amazed at how many referrals and feedback you will get that can help you.
  • Research Blogs.  Blogs have become the new credible way to find information from people who want to share their own experiences. They often provide good detail and most Bloggers are happy to connect and talk to you. A great example of this is travel blogs. More people visit travel blogs to research and plan trips than visiting informational websites. They provide a genuine account of people’s experiences, tips and what to avoid.

Research the internet to find articles or papers about your topic. Has your project been done before? What were the insights? Sites like Wikipedia are a great place to start often providing additional resources and websites you can use for your research.

I am sure I’ve just scratched the tip of the iceberg of what can be done when we are motivated to get the task done. What are some of your MacGyver success stories?

by Ann Barrett, Director eRecruitment & Social Media Strategy

The 2012 US Presidential Debates- The most public interview process in the world.

One of the most strategic jobs in the world up for grabs is that of the President of the United States. The political debates can be viewed as a series of job interviews that give the final candidates an opportunity to sell themselves to voters (selectors) on why they should be chosen for the job. The outcome of these debates/interviews help those in the selection process form an opinion on who they think would be the best candidate for the role.

As with every, interview body language plays a role in influencing how we are perceived. Our body language provides insights into our true feelings. In some cases body language may even have a bigger influence on perceived outcome than what’s actually being said. These public interviews/debates are a great platform to gain insights on how body language influences opinions on perception of job fit. During the interviews/debates the incumbents were judged on their posture, how they sat, amount of eye contact and the way they engaged with the audience.

So let’s take a closer look at each interview/debate to understand the role body language played for each candidate on forming opinions of success or failure.

Public Interview #1 (Debate 1):

The two candidates conducted the interviews behind podiums answering questions by a single interviewer. Each candidate took a very different approach to the interview.

Governor Romney’s posture projected him a leader. He stood tall and appeared relaxed and comfortable when responding to questions. He made direct eye contact with the interviewer, camera and other candidate. If he disagreed with something he would shake his head and smile when the other candidate was responding to a question. This made him appear confident, trustworthy and genuine.

President Obama on the other hand seemed to take a more passive approach during the interview. His posture seemed tired, and listless. He avoided eye contact and looked down at the podium frequently as he struggled to answer some of the questions. This made him appear insecure, uncertain, and disengaged.

Based solely on body language many people were left with a positive and confident impression of Governor Romney. Various media sites deemed him to be the front runner and “winner” of this first interview. Those in the selection process (voters) also responded favorably as his net favorability rating shot up 5 points.  

Public Interview # 2 (Debate #2):

This interview gave both men the opportunity to demonstrate their presentation, public speaking and engagement skills by coming out from behind the podium and interacting with the interviewers and each other. The setting represented more of a panel approach to interviewing, where the moderator played the role of the lead interviewer, and the panel (audience) also had an opportunity to directly ask questions to each incumbent.

The interview appeared to be more engaged than the previous one, with each candidate trying to exert themselves. Both candidates walked comfortably around the stage, had direct eye with their interviewers, panel and each other. Both also smiled at the panel interviewers and responded to questions confidently and firmly.

Governor Romney’s body language was more animated than his competitor with grand hand gestures.  He would look directly at the President when answering or confronting him often turning his back to the audience in a closed manner. In instances where he was corrected by the moderator he tried to remain poised but his facial expressions saw him swallowing which showed uneasiness.

President Obama’s body language showed more confidence and ease during this interview round. He had smaller gestures and frequently smiled as he sat on his stool in a relaxed way listening to answers by his opponent. When questioned by the Governor he responded by facing the audience and answering the question instead of facing the Governor. This portrayed openness and transparency.

The general consensus was the interview seemed well matched with President Obama being much more engaged in this round. The media declared a slight advantage for President Obama. The change his in engagement resulted in an increase in the favorability polls equalizing the candidates.

Public Interview # 3 (Debate #3)

There was much anticipation about the final interview round. Both candidates had one last public opportunity to demonstrate to voters (selectors) who should be chosen as the successful incumbent for the position. The forum of the interview was much like the first interview where candidates were asked specific questions by a single interviewer.

Governor Romney took a more melancholy approach to the interview. He had a canned smile on his face which he wore throughout the entire interview. When listening to the President he seemed to blink quite frequently which conveyed he was overwhelmed or out of his depth. In some instances he licked his lips and swallowed uneasily demonstrating uncertainty. His overall disposition seemed calm and demure.

The President on the other hand appeared much more serious and focused. His facial expression offered very little smiling. When he disagreed with his opponent he would shake his head to show disapproval. In some instances he appeared stern knitting his brows and narrowing his eyes as he corrected answers or defended himself.  When his opponent would speak he would often stare directly at him in a direct manner.

The media was quick to focus on the two vastly different sets of behaviors the two candidates exhibited. Based on the body language analysis the results were unanimous that President Obama had won the third debate. His confident and authoritative approach seemed to resonate with those who would make the final selection decision. The popularity polls showed the President was able to gain a few more points over his competitor.

So what lessons can we take from these three extremely public interviews? Hopefully none of us will ever have to co-interview with the other finalist candidate in the same room! However, these interviews tell us how behavioral cues influence opinions which impact decision making in a selection process. Here are some body language lessons from the interviews above:

If you are on a panel interview, never turn your back on others to answer one person’s questions. Answer your questions to the panel, not just the person asking the question.

Make eye contact (don’t stare) when you answer a question. Averting your gaze makes you seem less certain and trustworthy.

Smile now and then to assure the interviewer that you understand what is being asked, as well as during your responses. This shows confidence.

Keep hand gestures small. Large hand gestures can be distracting.

Don’t speak over others

Ensure the interviewer has finished asking the question before you starting answering

Speak confidently and slowly, thinking through your answer.

Don’t fidget. It conveys nervousness and ultimately uncertainty.

 

  by Ann Barrett

Preparing for The Interview- An Employee Guide

The phone rings, you answer it. It’s the Recruiter calling about the job you phoned screened for. Good news, you’ve made it past the short list! Congratulations! Now it’s time to prepare for the interview. Prepare you say? What’s the need? I already work here all I have to do is meet the Hiring Manager.

Wrong.

Recruiting is still an inherently social process. The interviewer is qualifying your experience and skills, and assessingoverall “fit”. For the Interviewee, it’s your opportunity to sell yourself to the Hiring Manager by showcasing your professional portfolio and accomplishments. You may be competing with other employees and external candidates, so it’s important to spend some time preparing for the interview to create a good impression. Social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have made it easier for your competition to research and prepare for the interview.

Here are a few tips you should keep in mind to help gain a competitive edge:

  • Be on Time– Both you and the Hiring Manager are taking time out of your busy schedules to interview.  Tardiness conveys the other person’s time is not as important as yours. Show up 5-10 minutes early for your interview. It sets a professional tone and demonstrates you value the other persons time.
  • Dress for Success– Recruiter’s meet many external candidates who are eager to make a great first impression.  The way you carry yourself tells a lot about how you see yourself and how you want others to see you.  Take the time to dress to impress.  A neat and tidy appearance with professional ensemble goes a long way to help you stand out.
  • Treat this as a professional meeting– An interview is your chance to sell your professional portfolio and accomplishments. Block time off in your calendar where you are unavailable for meetings or phone calls. Checking your blackberry or answering a call during your interview signals you don’t take the meeting seriously. It also prevents you from concentrating on the questions being asked. Turn off your technology devices and give the Hiring Manager your full attention.
  • Find out about the business area and Hiring Manager– One of the most important things you can do prepare for an interview is learn about the Hiring Manager and business area. Many external candidates take the time to research   the company, business area and Manager before they arrive at the interview. As an employee you have a number of internal and external tools at your disposal to help you learn about the business and the Manager:
    • Your Intranet– Look up the business area to find out news items, organization structure, key initiatives, etc.
    • Collaboration Tools– Some business leaders have blogs. Research to see if the leadership team has a blog and see what they are writing about.
    • LinkedIn– Many people have LinkedIn profiles that showcase their professional persona. Take a few minutes to look up your Hiring Manager and learn about them.
    • Practice, Practice, Practice– An interview is a formal meeting. Even if you know the Hiring Manager, it is important to take some time and practice the interview. This can help alleviate nervousness and make the interview run smoothly. Candidates who answer questions with “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” may be construed as inexperienced. You want to exude confidence in your responses. A good resource to help you is the Global Learning Centre- Course: Preparing for an Internal Interview course.
    • Be prepared to answer the question: “Why should you be chosen for this position?” – It’s amazing how often people stumble when they are asked this question. Yet it’s a question that is almost sure to be asked by every Hiring Manager to every candidate who is in the interview process. So, put some thought into your answer. Remember, you are competing with other employees and external candidates. What really sets you apart from the rest?

What are some tips you want to share?

 

   by Ann Barrett