Recent Trends in Human Resource Management

Friday, June 25, 2010

9 Deadly Interview Questions

9 Deadly Interview Questions

Question 1. Tell me about yourself.
This is the first question you could be asked in any interview. This may sound simple but if you are unprepared you could be in big problem. So just prepare yourself for this simple yet difficult question Start with one two lines about yourself, who you are ? a brief 1 line about your family [ this depends on what kind of interview you are going through] and lastly why are you the best suited person for this job. Tell about your achievements but never sound too proud of your achievements, highlight yourself but with decency. Remember the golden rule
“First Impression is the last impression.”

Question 2: What are your greatest strengths?
This question is to judge how you present yourself, are you the person who talks too much, are you arrogant or are you the one who just do what others say and thus never realized your strengths.

The answer to this question should be linked with facts and figures if possible. If you had any previous achievements say you lead a team which did wonderful and thus you are a team leader and all. Highlight yourself, tell your strengths but be sure it is well supported and you just don’t start sayings just to impress. Remember the HR person will grill you if he even finds an iota of doubt in what you are saying. Some points on which you could support your answer could be – honesty, leadership, tech savvy, confident, good communication skills, positive attitude, motivational and inspirational leader etc.

So just prepare yourself for this question, make a mental note of all your achievements.

Question 3: What are your greatest weaknesses?
Now this is the question which could either end your interview or could just get you the job. Don’t mince with words, at the same time just don’t be too blunt. Tell your weakness but also tell what you are doing to over come it. Never say I can not do this. Instead say, I have never done this but I am eager to learn and am sure if our company needs it I will do it.

Note – Never say your company or what would be my position in your company, use our company. Some HR people might ask you why you are saying our before selection then do say – its because I am confident that I am the best person for this vacancy.

Question 4: Tell me about something you did – or failed to do – that you now feel a little ashamed of.
This question is just to see how you react to embarrassing situations. Of course you just can not say “SKIP THIS PLEASE.” So better prepare yourself. Take your time to reply to this one, at first say I am really finding it very hard to find any such situation as I believe the best way to avoid shame is never do such things.

Most of the interviewers just will proceed to another question but if he or she insists to elaborate then give any appropriate reply but be sure it should not sound that you are so regretful that it still has a mental impact on you. Remember
”Life must go on….no matter what”

Question 5: Why are you leaving (or did you leave) this position?
By asking this question, the interviewer just wishes to see how much respect you give to your management, colleagues etc. So never say bad words about any of your earlier employers or management. Remember – Never talk bad about any one even if he or she has been the worst boss.

There can be two situation –
First is when you already have one job – In this situation tell truthfully that you see a bright future or this work profile suits you more than current one or so. Never say – I am joining you because you pay more. If you say so, 99% chances are you would be thrown out of interview.

Secondly when you are a fresher or you don’t have any job
If you have been fired, then tell them why you were fired, what you have learnt from that incident and what are you doing to make sure this would never happen again in life. Don’t hide the facts, companies do check each and every individual so even if you don’t tell them, they know it.

If you are a fresher then you just say I am fresher and you are done with this question

Question 6: Why should I hire you?
The most commonly asked question but the question which is most difficult to answer. Before you enter any interview make sure you have read about the company, job profile and all. As soon as this question is asked, start matching your personality traits with the job requirements. Show how you are the best suited person for this job.
For example – If you are going for a job which involves marketing, then convince the interview that you have a personality which is best suited for this job.

The bottom line is – Match yourself with what the job profile is and thus the interviewer should feel that you are the best person for the job.

Question 7 : Where do you see yourself five years from now?
This question is usually asked to see how much ambitious you are and what is your actual reason for joining the company. If you say I see myself as one of the richest manager in town – forget about the job and leave. You need to show that you are a person with focused aims and you are willing to work to fulfill your dreams. Don’t be over ambitious and say I want to be in board of directors in next 5 years. Of course that is not possible unless lady luck stays with you 24*7 for all 5 years.

During an interview I said – I want to see me at your post and you in top management and believe me, the interviewer had a very good laugh and said that was really clever. I don’t suggest you to say this every time but yes if you feel the person has a jolly nature you can say so

Question 8: Why do you want to work at our company?

This question is asked to check whether you know about the company and work profile or it was just that you got a call from your friend and you walked in the interview.
So do your homework and check annual reports of company, browse website or any relevant data. See the areas where company is growing and match your skills with it. Show the interviewer how you could add to the overall profit of company.

Question 9: What are your hobbies?
This question is asked to judge your personality. I have seen hundreds of resume which say –
Hobbies – reading books, listening songs, browsing internet , sleeping.

For god sake don’t copy it from other’s resume and use it. Write what you actually do. Don’t write I have a hobby of reading books when you could not even name 1 book if asked for. Never be fake, tell them truthfully what you do.

Mention some hobbies which are directly or indirectly linked with job. But make sure you have that hobby. If not then say what you actually do. Different people have different hobbies, so there is nothing to be ashamed off.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Can Money be the prime motivator for employee performance – Always?!?

Can Money be the prime motivator for employee performance – Always?!?

It’s all about money – honey…a thought that goes well within the great HR minds. When asked, how to be more employee centric, how to motivate them, how to cheer them up and have a healthy organization culture, bottom line – how to yield more valuable results out of the bunch of ‘employees’ one has, one answer which is given out easily by most of the Chief People Officers of large employee centric organization are – motivate them with Cash Prizes. Cash Cash Cash – make their life simple to earn some booty and they would be happy. Best employee award – Cash Prize of 50 dollar, best support – cash prize of 25 dollars, you refer someone for your own company – cash prize of 50 dollars and various assortments like this. The theory is Money Power and it is believed that money power drives everything.

That’s on contrary. Why don’t we look at it this way? When the HR managers would want to work less, do little less brainstorming, would feel lazy to be innovative, they would suggest something like a money motivation and organizations would boost about them being the most employee friendly organizations.

Appreciation has many more synonyms in case thought through.

Well one could be stupid enough to say that all. Money is ofcourse a motivation. But everyone cannot be treated the same way. We know that each human psychology would have different aspirations and when an organization is an assortment of many such varieties, a rather intelligent way of employee motivation should be curved out. Money is important for someone who has a need of survival however, there could be a need of knowledge, power, and larger aspirations, professional and linked up personal goals and money can surely not play any significant role there. It could rather backfire.

Every business would have a mission and a vision. When we engage a larger set of population to be a part of that mission and vision, we cannot be temporary rather we got to be firm and permanent in our values, and viewpoints. Money is temporary. With every increase in responsibility there is a money increase. Every additional portfolio there is a compensation attached. Once that compensation has been achieved some other figure is place before you. Isn’t it scenario that there’s no difference between a Man and a Machine. After every performance there’s a service with new oil.

Every HR person thus needs to be a student of psychology. Motivation is a human psychology. How does a man get motivated, feel energetic, feel kicked – the answer is not an easy one. It rather needs a lot of study and observation. From an academic point of view, motivation is a stimulating factor of one’s personal desire. Every human being wants to be taken care of. That is something which is an internal desire that cannot be openly shared. The world is changing, making the pace of business very very fast. Making people go places, learn new things; get exposed to many things around. Some are matured enough to handle things, some are not. Aspirations are always pushed by money and hence, many fall off-track, many stay put maturely and follow their goal in life. Again, every person would have set a different goal from the other one. It’s a complex world and a complex word that motivates your people, get them to be happy and work more. But how?

There are a lot of things, but one single desire or aspiration within every human heart is that ‘someone takes care of me nicely’; ‘someone treats me well’. This is a psychological desire. This desire is there professionally as well as personally. You cannot lure everyone with Money. Some people firmly believe that work is worship and money comes as a by-product. Some only work for money. Both cannot be treated the same. Too much money floating around works to disillusion people as well. One tends to put their own self interest in forefront than the organization mission and vision. They only work for money and get lured easily too by a competition.

So are we really motivating our employees rather de-motivating them is a standard question to be asked to the HR leaders who adopt this policy. This money making strategy could be picked up by a rival organization and could be seen as a talent acquisition technique. Money at times can kill the spirit also. It makes a person self centered, tends to break the thought process of team spirit, collective effort, collaborative approach and make each one for themselves. There remains no cooperation, no sharing of knowledge and there remains huge differences of opinion – all in all a huge instigation of an un-healthy atmosphere. Therefore, for motivating employees, and as a part of being employee friendly, lure them with money, is not a concept to fly long. Such organizations are very short term centric rather storing intellectual property, cherished leadership and organization essence as a part of their long term goal.

In this world of globalization, people tend to work harder than before, because they want recognition, fame, larger portfolio and status. So when they work hard, an organization is bound to give them more money. The market is bound to recognize them and try to pull them with good money. But when on job, the employee does not really care about the money too much. They do not calculate per hour, per day salary. They count those good words said about them. They feel proud when their team calls them the Best Boss!!, they feel good when they get pat on their back from their own bosses and clients. Money hits a roof-top, there’s a glass ceiling but psychological boosting has no end unless your health has given up.

It is frustrating to keep paying hefty monies to people all the time even for a management of a company. Trust me it pinches even if you are a highly profitable organization. Your finances cannot always be busy in paying variables and juggling with those numbers. Even a finance person needs a break!!
Some organizations give a larger than life campus as work environment – just to make you feel that you are attached with a large, gigantic brand.
Some organizations give free healthy food – just to let you enjoy and keep your taste buds lively and active.
Some people always need food rather good food for good thoughts.
Some organizations give free crèche facility – they don’t want you to be disturbed about your little one being away for nine hours of the day from you.
Some organizations sends you flowers and chocolates at home on your birthday and not just give you a leave on your birthday and anniversaries – just to make you feel that they feel even if you are not around.

Well! They cost money too but in a subtle or wiser way.

The CEO of Google Inc. said “The goal is to strip away everything that gets in our employees’ way. We provide a standard package of fringe benefits, but on top of that are first-class dining facilities, gyms, laundry rooms, massage rooms, haircuts, carwashes, dry cleaning, commuting buses – just about anything a hardworking employee might want. Let’s face it: programmers want to program, they don’t want to do their laundry. So we make it easy for them to do both.” He added, “Benefits Philosophy: We strive to be innovative and unique in all services we provide both to customers and employees, including our benefits and perks offerings. We realize and celebrate that our employees have diverse needs, and that this diversity requires flexible and individually directed support. Our priority is to offer a customizable program that can be tailored to the specific needs of each individual, whether they enjoy ice climbing in Alaska, want to retire by age 40, or plan to adopt 3 children”. He has written this in the official website of Google in 2009 and the employee benefits that he offers has proactively being described or listed down there. So if I go and visit that website and read the entire stuff, wouldn’t I be foolish to not apply for a job there. But an organization giving cash prizes away quarter by quarter is also spending time, effort and money, trying to motivate their employees at least, cannot write or publicize such benefits on their official website. Not that they do not want to disclose, but because of the fact that they are not sure whether their growth is guaranteed by this kind of benefits or not.

Google kind of organizations are also spending money giving all those benefits that they are declaring. Rather much more than those organizations that tend to give cash prizes to their employees when they think they should give them some award. But the retention policy of Google is well thought through and it is visible. They have not done a shoddy job of it. They tend to give benefits beyond the basic monotonous rules.

Motivating a human is not easy a task, more so when another human is trying to do so. One rather thinks through, study, observe, research well before they at least make an attempt. We tend to do things always the easy way, effortlessly, straight jacketed. It’s tough to continue such shortcuts for longer period and its difficult to do a thorough job, just like it is difficult to motivate employees only by money.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Building an Employer Brand

Building an Employer Brand

In the present job markets, where companies compete for attracting the best of the talent, employer brand, sometimes, becomes more relevant when compared to various critical factors like job profile and the compensation package.

Employer brand is the image of an organization as a great place to work in the minds of its current employees and key stakeholders. It is the development of such an organizational culture which fosters a sense of belongingness with the company and encourages the employees to share organization's goals for success. In short, it is the value of the company in external marketplace. The goal of employer branding is to create loyal customers; the customers here being the employees.

An employer brand represents the core values of an organization. Companies that are considered good employers have a strong identity and an image in the marketplace. Building such a brand requires a lot of introspection by the company, and answering the questions, "what kind of company we are, and want to become?" and "how do we live up to the expectations of our stakeholders?".

What makes an employer a brand?
Simon Barrow, who is president of a successful consulting firm in London that specializes in employer branding services describes four elements that work together to make an employer brand. The first element is the Employment Package which is the offer that an employee gets including job responsibilities, financial compensation, work/life balance, the employee's role in organization and professional development. Next comes the Culture and Environment which includes the physical working environment, the size of the organization, and the organization's approach to work. Then there is Integrity. Delivering what has been initially committed always counts. The consequence of a lack of integrity is seen in the form of high attrition rates. And finally Management Performance that plays as a vital role in the Employer Branding process.

Building a brand is typically a twofold process. One is for prospective employees and the other for the current set of employees. While building brand for prospective employees, initiatives are targeted at building a repute in potential recruits about the company as a preferred place to work. On the other hand, while building brand internally, the company has to live up to its standards and incorporate a culture of respect and trust for employees.

Growing Significance
It is said that an unsatisfied customer tells ten people about his experience while an unsatisfied employee tells a hundred. Employer branding reflects the work culture in an organization. It has become more critical in today's times, as most professionals are looking at a stable career and establishing a long-term relationship with the company. Research shows that employees of industrial brands feel a much greater sense of pride, attachment and trust towards their employer. They are also significantly more likely to recommend their company to others and claim it treats employees well. Through right branding, the company can recruit the best talent and reinforce its positioning amongst its employees. It helps build trust and reliability. A good employer brand makes it easy to attract good talent and curb attrition. The strength of an organization's brand has a significant impact on the performance of its employees. Working with one of the largest or most innovative companies in a specific industry acts as a motivator too.

But as one moves higher in his career, brand name becomes of little significance as job role takes over. Brand name is the most important factor but at entry level only. When one is a fresher and embarks on one's career, the brand of a company matters. It helps in reflecting a stronger resume. With career growth, one places importance on things that are more meaningful to one's sense of purpose. According to Gautam Sinha, CEO, TVA Infotech, for employees who have spent three-four years in the industry, brand is high on the list. It is easier to sell the company if it is a reputed brand. For those who have spent five years in any industry, it's the job role that's important and for those with 10 year behind them, the job role becomes the most critical factor.

It is also being argued that in most cases, companies treat employer branding as a mere short-cut for attracting the talent. Instead of self-analysis, the HR departments tie up with ad agencies to conjure up an image that may be attractive to their target market, even if not their own. While some argue that organizations like Google with strong employer brand hardly spend money in building the brand; instead they focus on living the brand. Sasken, for example, has a stated 'People First' policy to emphasize that employees are the focus. Fedex has a core philosophy of 'people - service - profit' to indicate what comes first. Bill Marriott of Marriott Hotels does not tire of repeating the founder's belief "Take care of the associates, and they'll take good care of the guests, and the guests will come back." These organizations reveal a high degree of trust in the management of the organization. Managements must understand that the core value offering of the organization is to engage employees towards being productive and responsive to customers. In the end, it is believed that if the company takes care of people, people will take care of the company.