Interviewing: Motivation and Reason are Key Elements to Success

A colleague of mine recently asked me a few questions about my thoughts on interviewing and some ‘tips’ that may help candidates in their job search. There were four questions that were asked of me and I thought I would share the four statements I had about interviewing in today’s world. The information below I think really is just scratching the surface on interviewing and job searching but here is what I said back to my colleague.

I think before any candidate gets excited about an interview they really should work out what it is they are looking for in their next role. If you don’t have an end goal in mind and go where the wind takes you how will you know when you have found the right role/company for you?

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Every candidate is unique. Candidates may share similar experiences or work histories but often having the right work ethic and motivation is one of the common traits that I tend to look for in every candidate. A candidate who is not afraid to work hard and wants to do the work will often be more successful than a person who has all the required skills but has a sense of entitlement or does not have the motivation to embrace the role. I would look for someone who is energized and excited about an opportunity as I think that enthusiasm will help drive someone to succeed in their role.

Information is available with a bit of research: There are numerous companies in the world of all shapes, sizes and forms. As a Recruiter I am more interested in what research a person does about the role they are being considered for more so than their knowledge of a certain company that anyone can get in the news. In today’s day and age I would expect that the person would have at least researched the Recruiter they are talking to and also should have researched the Interviewer they are going to meet. Candidates really should look at sites like Glassdoor to get employee reviews and information on what the work culture at an organization may be like. This opens up the opportunity to ask some great questions during the interview to validate what you independently researched about the company and individual you are interviewing with.

Perception and expectations can be different: I think candidates and Recruiters can sometimes go into an interview with different perceptions of what the other person is looking for more so as opposed to what they think is or is not important. Recruiters and Hiring Managers are looking for people to join their company that can add value to a role and help them achieve great results. There are still a lot of stereotypes about interviewing that exist that are being broken down. The best interviews tend to be the ones where the interview is more of a discussion than a question/answer type of situation. Candidates may over emphasize developing a good rapport with their interviewer. While this is important a candidate cannot sacrifice other important elements of an interview such as being professional or being able to clearly communicate your successes and results in a clear, crisp manner. There is a balance between developing a good relationship with the interviewer and showing your A game when it comes to business capability.

Two candidates but only one job, who gets the role: Two candidates can have similar work experience but have very different motivations for considering a new opportunity. A person who has the right work ethic and motivation to do a role I think really sets them up to succeed. Candidates look for new opportunities for a variety of reasons. Some people want more money, want to climb the corporate ladder, want to relocate, want more responsibility, etc…. the list is long. A good Recruiter knows how to qualify what it is a candidate is looking for in their next opportunity and see how that fits into the role they are being hired for. We can always teach people about technical or business skills, the candidates that embrace the opportunity are the ones who I think will grab the role and run with it.

The Changing Workforce: A Bright Light For Future Generations?

One of the things that really intrigues me and I love to hear other people’s thoughts and opinion about is ‘The Changing Workforce’. We all know that the demographics of the workforce are changing. A large number of Baby Boomers are retiring in the next few years and there is just not as many of us Gen X’ers around to take on those roles left open. The size of the Gen Y and Millenials population will soon see them being the largest percentage of the workforce in x number of years.

Besides the changing demographics of the workforce, there are also a number of other factors at play. The shift to a services economy combined with technological advancements is seeing traditional work barriers such as location and hours of operation crumble. Now it is possible to perform your role in any location where you have a strong enough wifi signal. The days of having to commute into the city to be in the office at 9 and leave at 5 are remnants of a different view of the of employer/employee relationship.

Another change which I see happening on both the employer and employee side is the change in the views of work. We have seen union membership consistently decline as the work changes, but on a broader scale both companies and employees no longer want to be held to the constraints of an outdated workforce. It used to be that a person would work 20 years with one company or even spend their career with one company, this was common place and the goal of many people 1-2 generations ago – Find a company to work at, get a steady pay check and rinse and repeat. In today’s workforce, skilled employees are looking to associate themselves with roles and companies that help them achieve their own goals that are often not just monetary. For example some people want to continue to develop their skills and capabilities and may last 2-3 years at a company before moving on. Some people may be drawn to others who share the same workplace values as them. There no longer is one clear cut way to develop your career and this is accepted now, it is no longer seen as detrimental to move every 3 years as it once was as long as you make an impact in your role. Now more than ever employees are taking the opportunity to move their careers in a variety of directions. Employees will stay at a company when it aligns with their goals and needs, when that alignment disappears we see movement in the workforce.

The casualisation of the workforce creates more opportunities for those who seek those opportunities. The false sense of security that a ‘job for life’ once gave no longer prevails. I think this is a good thing. Staying fresh, staying challenged and continuing to grow (either skill based growth or your own personal growth) is a good thing. I think we will see many more people working for themselves in the future and see far more work assignments being project based assignments as opposed to on-going roles.

I look at my kids and wonder what their work world will look like in 10-20 years. I am actually quite excited at the prospects and opportunities I think they will have. The workforce will continue to change at a fast pace and I think that those who embrace change will be able to adapt and grow while those who try to deny any change is happening or do not accept change will struggle in the new work economy.

Managing My Work Life Balance And Being In a Very Cool Team

 

I have been with my current company (Oracle) for almost 10 years. In the Recruitment World this is an eternity – How many Recruiter Profiles do you see on LinkedIn where someone moves every 12-18 months, it is too common. Recruitment is an industry known for high attrition. I was thinking about this the other day and was wondering why then I am still here after 10 years, and it is not just me. If you look, many of our Recruiters here stay and those that leave often want to come back.

I can’t speak for anyone else but for me I have been given the opportunity here to work with great people. The sky is the limit for me in terms of work, if I want to try a new initiative or run a side project I always have the support of my management team. This doesn’t always mean I get the green light but I do get the support from them to make things happen. There is a long list of reasons why I am here after 10 years that would make this blog post very long but I wanted to focus on one of the reasons that is always a buzzword in corporate speak and that is ‘managing work/life balance’.

In my roles here I have had responsibility for regional recruitment across the Asia Pacific region. I am based in Australia and as a result my days are often anything but the typical 9-5 format. During a work day I can be on calls or video conferences anywhere between 6:00 am to 10:00 pm local time for me. I work from a home office. For those of you who still think working from home means I work from the couch or the kitchen table, this old stereotype could not be any further from reality. I have a dedicated office space that is physically separated from my house and it works very well. With all the expectations and commitments to work, I love being able manage my time for both work and my family. I love being able to wake up at 6:00 am go into the office for an hour check my emails, get my day organised and then go into the house and get the kids ready for school.

I feel very lucky to have the ability to walk them to school in the morning. As we all know many parents need to leave early to beat the commute to get into the office. There is a trade off here it is not all roses and sunshine. I work longer than I need to as work is always readily available and I don’t switch off when I leave my home office.

With the rapidly changing demographics of city life. I think the theory that many organisations follow that people work better together when they are in the same physical space has many flaws to it. I do understand many of the points but for me I would much rather work virtually with someone via video/phone/technology who is creative and innovative than have to go into an office and work with someone who is just going through the motions. I have worked with people in India, Europe, Latin America, etc…. where we have brainstormed and come up with great ideas as a group for the betterment of the work we do. Work does not have to be defined by our physical location. With the ever evolving suite of tools and technology we have access to the world is a much smaller place than it ever was.

Work/Life Balance, this is something I love. I love having the ability to give my time to my family and equally to my work over the course of 18 hours not just between set times between 9-5 that were created in a previous working day and age.

 

Recruiters Need to Keep Dreaming Big

Over the past number of years I have interviewed numerous Recruiters for a variety of positions. I have had the chance to talk to some very interesting Recruiters with a great outlook on life and recruitment and also a lot Recruiters who are just going through the motions. If you are a Hiring Manager which Recruiter would you prefer to work with – the one that is always looking for new ways to improve and source candidates or the person who sticks to what has worked in the past whether that is a Job Posting or sending 1000’s of LinkedIn messages to anyone with a keyword in their profile.

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Recruitment is an ever evolving activity I think Recruiters need to keep evolving and changing (and you can’t change just for the sake of it you need to want to) while also holding onto what works. Some of the best recruitment work practices that I have I developed happened before Google searches were available and resumes were still faxed to customers. I think a good Recruiter is a person who is always pushing themselves to not only know their market but also be involved in their space of hiring. As Recruiters we can provide a very valuable service but to do it correctly we need to be able to understand and really know our candidates. We also need to be able to effectively communicate what these candidates are looking for with our Hiring Managers. Poor communication can often be the cog in the machine that turns a hiring process from a positive experience to a not so positive one.

As a Recruiter are you always trying to learn? Before you say yes – think about all the things that Recruiters do. Have you improved your business level engagement with your Hiring Managers. Do you spend time with them to really understand their business plans and pain points or do you take a ‘job spec’ in 15 minutes without managing expectations from each other. Do you spend time talking to your candidates, finding out why people are interested in opportunities and really digging through the white noise to make sure the gems are identified. Do you figure out ways to create a great candidate experience, whether someone gets the job or not? Do you always try new ways to source, I don’t mean LinkedIn, FB or Twitter – these are not competitive advantages when everyone else uses them. What new sourcing technique have you brought to the table to your Hiring Manager to try.

It is not easy, there is a lot of work involved in a Recruiter’s day and it is tempting to take the easy approach that has been tried and tested (think Naukri in India, 51Jobs in China, etc….). I am at fault the same way that many of us are, I have ups and downs in terms of my activity and crazy ideas do not pop up out of the air every day but the best Recruiters I have met are always self driven to develop and grow their capabilities and service offerings. Keep an open mind, don’t be quick to say ‘that won’t work for me’, and try to take an honest self view of your work – is there any areas you can improve, if so think about ways to keep getting better, faster and stronger!

I think what I am trying to say is keep dreaming big and don’t worry about those who say you can’t do something, leave the haters behind and keep dreaming big. Recruitment is not a static activity, keep growing, dreaming and evolving – it will keep you ahead of your competition.

Good Recruiters Know How To Close Candidates (It’s the ABC’s of Recruitment)

Luck, good old fashioned luck. How many times as a Hiring Manager have you identified a great candidate, went out and got your approvals, sent out your Letter of Offer to the aforementioned great candidate thinking the job was done, only to have your great candidate let you know ‘thanks for the job offer, but I can’t accept the offer because……… (insert reason here: counteroffer, partner not happy, can’t relocate, other offer, etc…..). If you are a Hiring Manager and this happens to you regularly you need to sit down with your Recruiter now!

Bad Recruiters, will say it was an unforeseen circumstance and just bad luck, where as good Recruiters would have seen this coming a hundred miles away and either probed the candidate further before making an offer and closed any loose ends or realised that the job you had to hire for was never a top priority for the candidate.

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Yes Recruitment has many similar traits to a good sales model. One of the classic sales lines is to know your ABC’s and Always Be Closing and this holds true in recruitment as well. I have seen both good and bad Recruiters in my 16 years in Recruitment – good Recruiters know the job they are hiring for, know the Hiring Managers needs and know the candidates needs. They always find a way to balance all these needs into a smooth recruitment process for everyone involved. To create a smooth process the Recruiter needs to always be keeping their finger on the pulse of the candidates and Hiring Manager.

‘Always Be Closing’ is not a bad thing, and I think many Recruiters are afraid to ask closing questions to candidates for fear of being seen as unfriendly maybe or fear of what the candidate may actually say. In some Recruiters minds I suppose they take the approach of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and hope and pray that the candidate they have found takes the role they have, because deep down they know the candidate is probably not happy with some part of the role/salary/responsibilities. To me this makes no sense. It does not make sense to invest the Hiring Managers time, the Candidates time and your time as a Recruiter putting everyone through a process that will not have outcome everyone wants to achieve. If you don’t have the ‘what are your salary expectations’ conversation at the beginning of the process why put a candidate through multiple interviews and get to the end of the process when it turns out they want $20,000 more than what the role you are filling pays.

Good Recruiters, will take the time to understand the candidates they are working with, they will know what they think of the role, what their salary expectations are, if it is the next natural step in their career, if they need to relocate if they are open to that and if their family is supportive of a move. They will understand and be able to address any questions or concerns a candidate may have and the candidate may have new questions come up at different stage of the interview process. If you are not talking to your candidate to help them through the process and keep them educated about the role/company so they can make an informed choice you are doing your company and the candidate a disservice.

If the role is not right for the candidate – don’t try to fit a square into a circle, it means you must go find and screen candidates who not only fit the requirements of the role but also find people where the role fits their requirements for the candidates next career opportunity.

Student Engagement + Customer Engagement = Inspiration

I have been travelling to India for the past 4 years now at the end of November/early December to visit our India Campus Team, meet with internal customers and go to the IIT’s for Oracle’s IIT hiring. This trip while I am only half way into my itinerary has been such a productive, humbling and inspirational trip for me.

I am so proud of our India Campus Team, I always wanted our team to be known for providing outstanding customer service and for leading the way in campus recruitment. There are always challenges in a large corporate environment but our team has so much positivity about them it is contagious and I see this in the conversations I have with our customers who believe in what we do and the direction we are going. From so many conversations with our team and with our customers I am very excited for the future of Oracle Campus Recruiting in India (stay tuned for more 🙂 ).

 

Equally inspiring is getting the chance to talk to students and hear their stories and hear about their experiences here at Oracle. Earlier this week, I had the chance to meet about 50-60 of our graduates who started earlier in the year with us. In Asia-Pacific we hire a large volume of students. It was so great to be able to meet some of our recent graduate hires and hear from them the positive impact of getting the chance to work at Oracle has given the them. I also had the chance to meet a group of graduates who joined us earlier in the year, who give their time, effort and resources to help under privileged children locally in Bangalore. To see such generosity and maturity from students to give back to the community they way they do is really a humbling experience. We assisted and donated a number of Oracle backpacks that will be used and welcomed.

Our Campus Function in India has come a long way and I feel we have really matured our go to market strategy. After a few days with the team locally brainstorming we have further plans to make a bigger splash in the India Campus market next year and I am very confident we have the right people who can make this happen. Students, if you have any ideas, suggestions or comments please let me know how you would like to engage with Oracle – your inputs would be welcomed.

Any Team Members who come across this postread I just want to say – amazing job everyone, I am so lucky to have the chance to work with all of you, you all are campus rock stars!!!

Big Ideas Are Good, but Every Plan Needs Building Blocks

A few years ago I attended a training course which was designed to help participants understand how they think and behave to help them make better decisions both individually and as part of a team. In this training I completed an Emergenetics Profile which helps you understand the way you think. There are 4 Distinct Categories which are Analytical, Structural, Social and Conceptual which are fairly self explanatory. The training was really insightful and helped me better understand the way I tend to approach situations and also better understand how others approach situations as well.

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When I took the test my profile was heavily weighted to ‘Conceptual’ thinking which has thinking attributes and traits such as Imaginative, Learns by experimenting, Enjoys the creative process, etc…. Looking at my work I can see this reflected in the projects and work that I do. While it is great to have a conceptual approach to creating solutions that has to be counter balanced with activity from the other categories – any plan needs elements of the other traits involved as well to be successful. What good is having a big plan if you do not take care of the basics or learn how to translate your big ideas into bite size action items.  Everyone has an idea, the hard part is taking those ideas and turning them into reality.

 

Our campus team has implemented a number of changes over the years to improve the services we provide which has been a great challenge and very rewarding for all of us.   Looking back at my blog post from 2 weeks ago, helped me realize that for all the articles out there talking about being innovative, driving change, etc…. we must also stay level headed and make sure that we focus on the building blocks and basics of our work as well.

All the good ideas in the world will not be of much use if you cannot execute or maintain them. The challenge is in translating what is in your head to the real world and taking care of all the things involved in your work including the tasks that may not necessarily be fun. Once you have your big idea and you get the building blocks right then you have a much better chance of success then just going head first with an idea and a prayer.