Even It Up!

Shifting the balance for jobseekers

Posts Tagged ‘job interviews

ANU study finds anglo names get job interviews

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We at Even It Up! always have a sense of validity when a credible university releases research – based on hard data – that there is discrimination out there in Recruiter Land.

The Australian National University (based in Canberra) sent out 4000 fake resumes to employers who were looking to recruit staff at entry level i.e. data entry, customer service and sales.   The results (from our perspective) were not surprising:

Researchers found Chinese jobseekers also had less chance of being called back than Middle Eastern and Italian contenders.

The fictitious employment seekers went to high school in Australia.

The research found that overall, Chinese jobseekers were called back 21 per cent of the time they applied for a job, compared with 22 per cent for Middle Eastern people and 26 per cent for indigenous applicants.

By comparison, Anglo-Saxon job seekers were called back 35 per cent of the time, only slightly ahead of Italians on 32 per cent.

The implications?  When it comes to getting that job interview, anglicising your name may help you get your foot in the door. You can read the full article from The Australian here.

And Even It Up! would take it one step further and contend that jobseekers are being discriminated against based on their address.  Those who live in areas that are perceived to be “lower socio-economic” may well be advised to rent a PO Box in a wealthier suburb, because rightly or wrongly, judgements are made about a person’s ability, education, talent, work ethic etc. based on where they come from.

And posting photos on your online CV may also be one way to knock yourself out of the race… but that’s a post for another day.


Written by evenitup

June 24, 2009 at 10:24 pm

Guest blogger: Bek Schapel

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Five Things Recruiters Hate About Jobseekers

The challenge for any jobseeker is moving from being a candidate to becoming an employee, and there are many ways candidates can boost their chances of being selected.  On the flip side there are  things that candidates do that equal interview suicide.  Here’s the list of the 5 Things We Hate About Jobseekers from a recruiter/HR perspective.

1.  Not showing up for the interview.

Whether you’re being interviewed for a role in a big business, or a position in a small business, this is the by far the biggest issue, and tops the chart as the one thing employers hate the most about jobseekers. No matter if it’s a chat in a café, a traditional interview or an assessment centre, all interviews cost a businesses money. Failing to show up for an interview (or calling at the last minute to say you won’t make it) is disrespectful to both the interviewer and the business, and will be remembered by an employer if they ever happen to come across your resume again – even if it is at a different company.

2.  Showing up late.

Why oh why, with all the interview experts promoting the necessity for candidates to show up on time this is still a problem?  Show up on time, jobseekers!  Simple.  If you’re caught in traffic or the bus is late, call your interviewer – we will understand.

3.  Inappropriate dress.

If I had a dollar for every time I interviewed a candidate and they were dressed down, or presented with rings all over their faces or tattoos showing on their arms, I’d be able to stop work a fair while. Unless you’re going for an interview for a heavy metal band or in a grungy bar, lose the nose rings, excessive earrings, visible tattoos, and dress up.

4.  Talking dirty.

Yes it happens…whether telling a story littered with profanities or sexually propositioning the interviewer (believe me this does happen) talking dirty is instant interview suicide and a sure fire way to ensure your interview remains the running joke in the office for quite some time.

5. Getting the job and then not showing up.

Employers get really excited about the first day a new employee commences. However,  we get really upset about employees not showing up on their first day (or second day!) If you’ve found a different job, show us some respect and let us know as soon as possible. Employers don’t hire employees for the fun of it, so we need to know as soon as possible so that we can refill the position.

Bek Schapel has been an Executive HR Manager for a number of multi-national corporations.  She has recently bitten the bullet and has gone into business for herself.  Bek is now the proud owner of Adelaide Informer.

Written by evenitup

May 6, 2009 at 10:40 am

Posted in Guest blogger

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A jobseeker fantasy – Part 1

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At Even It Up! we are often asked what our idea of an ideal hiring situation is.   Well, we’ve put our thinking caps on and come up with the perfect scenario (we acknowledge that the perfect scenario is that someone who knows you are looking for a job has a vacancy right up your alley, taps you on the shoulder and voila! you’re hired!  But we know that isn’t always possible, so we’ve chosen the more likely route).  We’d love to hear your comments!

Jane (or Joe – names are interchangeable) saw an advertisement (doesn’t really matter whether it’s internet or paper) and was very attracted to the vacancy.  The ad had heaps of information about the role and a link to the company’s website, which had more information including staff testimonials, virtual tours of the workplace, benefits of working there (very generous).  Jane was very impressed.  The organisation certainly seemed to value their staff (and Jane was aware that they all say that, but very few actually mean it!).  The fact that it was a direct employer rather than a recruitment company made applying all that more attractive.  Jane knew she could cut out the middle man and had more chance of being selected into an interview rather than out.

There was a contact person listed, and even though there was lots of information about the role in the ad, Jane decided to call him (let’s call him Mike).  She wanted to find out a bit more about the role and what she needed to do to apply.  Mike couldn’t have been more nice.   He told her about the role, why the person was vacating (internal promotion), why it was being advertised externally (the workplace wanted to bring in fresh people), and more about the culture of the organisation, the reporting structure and the leadership.  He then asked her about her experience and qualifications, and was very excited to hear that she had a higher research degree.  “We love people with that sort of commitment to their personal and professional development,” he said “It shows tenacity, the ability to think analytically, and we know we are getting someone who can write great reports, as well as present to different audiences in different environments.”  Just before the conversation ended, Mike took down Jane’s name, phone number and email.  “Just send in your c.v. with a brief cover letter.  No need for War and Peace. ” Jane told him that she would have her application in by the end of the week, even though there was a two-week period.

Jane was even more keen to apply after she spoke to the contact person.  But the week got away from her and she didn’t get her application in.  On Monday Mike called to ask if she had decided not to apply for the role. “Not at all,” said Jane ” I just haven’t been able to get my application in.”  No problem, he said, we were worried that you had second thoughts and if you need more time, that’s fine.

Now Jane was even more interested, so she sent her application off the very day.  The next day Mike called her to let he know that he received her application, and would love to interview her if she was free next week.  He then went on to explain the next step in the process.  “There are two interviews, ” he said. “The first is with me, and the next is with the CEO.  There a re no shortlists.  All applicants who are screened in are taken through the same process.  We don’t have panel interviews here. They are for businesses who are scared to make a wrong decision, and recruiters who want to cover their butts.”  Jane was surprised, but relieved. Mike went onto say that in the the second interview, Jane would be required to make a presentation, but she would be remunerated for her time.  She was also advised that the business would pay for her carpark. “We know that that job hunting is a time consuming, and sometimes expensive exercise, so we like to make it as easy as possible for candidates.  It’s very much about us making a great first impression on you.”

Now Jane was really keen!

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Written by evenitup

March 23, 2009 at 9:08 pm

Aero-care doesn’t care at all!

with 23 comments

We had a supporter email Even It Up! with his recruitment experience at Aero-Care.  He submitted his less-than-glowing-experience to The Lowdown on the Even It Up! website and then emailed the Business Manager of the company.  Unimpressed with the response, he sent the BM’s response to us:

Dear Mr W,

It is unfortunate to hear of your experience with your application process and I have passed on your email to G R. Your experience exemplifies that no person can suit every business.

After reading your letter you have certainly described our application and interview process perfectly – a progressive interview process, with one-on-ones following the group session that I liken to speed dating. First impressions are what counts in aviation and this is where we start – a standard check-in transaction takes less than a minute and is the time it takes to impress a passenger. Thus, the process and briefness used is not one that should offend and is what all applicants go through following a group session. Dealing with passengers from all walks of life, and working in an environment where no day is the same, we require someone who can thrive through adversity, and come out of negative experiences with a positive mindset. Reading your letter and email I can’t help but wonder how you would deal with difficult passengers, or how you would cope when the day is turned upside down with delays and cancellations.

Much as you have expressed below your desire to work for Aero-Care, such is the interest and belief in Aero-Care that we receive hundreds of applications each month, and a large amount of them without advertising. Adelaidians have such a passion for the airport environment and seem to know where to seek their opportunities. Given this high volume of applicants we would only degrade our value of efficiency if we were to spend unnecessary time with applicants. As such we have a robust application and interview process, and whilst it is very different to ‘normal’ experiences or what the text books and web sites may state regarding the ideal interview or application, it is a tried and tested process Aero-Care have used nationally and for some years that results in great employees.

Aero-Care is one big family and the employment relationship must be one that is collaborative, not vindictive, and where values align. If not, once the honeymoon period is over it will fester and result in negativity and the team will suffer until the point of conflict is removed from the business – not everyone is made to fit every business. Whilst you have a passion for aviation, your letter demonstrates that your values are not aligned with that of Aero-Care and supports that the right decision was made regarding your application.

I thank you for the feedback and I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

Kind Regards,

Business Manager
Aero-Care Pty Ltd

Our supporter felt that he was being bamboozled with corporate speak, and wanted to check if Even It Up! agreed with him.  We did, so we sent our own email to the BM, with Disappointed Jobseeker in the subject line:
Dear Business Manager,

I received a notification from Mr W regarding your recruitment processes, an assessment of which is loaded on the Even It Up! website.  Mr W also sent me a copy of your email response to his feedback of your process.

I take my hat off to Mr W for having the courage to confront you about your practices because, unfortunately, most people feel quite powerless in this situation. They feel that if they speak up, it may harm their future job prospects. He was diplomatic and respectful, which is to be admired in the circumstances.

Your response is typical, I’m afraid, of a business who just doesn’t get the importance of putting an positive employer brand out there, and managing it well.  I would go further and say that your recruitment practices have not been interrogated from the point of view of the jobseeker, which could be severely damaging your brand.

Businesses always talk about “values” and use this term as a defence as to why people are either hired or fired.  Most of the time, and research has shown this, hiring decisions are quite arbitrary despite the assurances otherwise.  I believe that if your company had acted with integrity, and in line with your “values”, you would have copped the criticism on the chin, and instead of being defensive, promised to undertake a review of your recruitment procedures.

You may be interested in reading a blog entry where I explain why employers cannot afford to treat jobseekers badly at https://evenitup.wordpress.com/2009/01/15/what-employers-forget/

If you would like some help improving your jobseeker experience, and enhancing your employer brand, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Diane Lee
Even It Up!

The Business Manager did not bother to get back to either me or Mr W.  Clearly he just doesn’t get the power of positive employer brand, reputation… or the internet!  Even It Up! will now post this entry on Digg, and send it to the BW, and copy in the CEO.  We’ll keep you posted…

Read the General Manager’s response (a day or so later) here.

Written by evenitup

March 21, 2009 at 4:48 pm

10 Things Jobseekers Hate About You

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To anyone who is thinking about employing someone in the New Year.

We thought it might be really handy to give you a checklist that tells you exactly what jobseekers hate in the whole looking-for-a-job process.  If you take note of these things,  and do something about them, you will end up on the Even It Up! website as a wonderful recruiter instead of a poor one.  (If you don’t know why this is important, read our post on employer branding)

10 Things Jobseekers Hate About You:

1.   Advertising (online or otherwise) contains little  information about the role.

The more information the job ad contains, the better it is for the jobseeker (and the employer brand).  Minimum information required is salary (don’t just put salary grades – it doesn’t mean anything to outsiders!); description of the organisation culture (or values statement); description of the leadership; overview of the role and how it links to mission, vision and goals; reporting lines; contact person’s full details; application process and timeline.  This should all be in plain English!  We love this advice from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission to employers here.

2.   Answering huge amounts of selection criteria.

Even It Up! thinks that answering anything over and above 8-10 criteria is overkill.  You, the recruiting organisation, need to think carefully about the skills and competencies needed to do the job well, and that should be the basis of your job information description.  Ask yourself: are you looking to see how well people responds to the criteria, or how well they will be able to do the job?  And these are not necessarily the same thing!  Check out what the Australian National Audit Office has to say about this issue here.

3.   Having to submit more documents than a passport application.

Many applications require a resume; a cover letter; response to selection criteria; signed declaration of some sort; academic qualifications; police check, portfolio pieces… the list goes on.  From the jobseeker’s perspective, this is quite a bit of information to get together (and can be quite expensive to photocopy, or time-consuming if needed to be signed by a JP).  Even It Up! recommends that only the bare essentials be required before interview (i.e. first three documents listed).  Surely the rest can be garnered at interview stage?

4.   Having to complete tasks that could easily be verified via a portfolio, track record and/or qualifications.

This is a pet hate of Even It Up!  If a jobseeker has excellent qualifications, decent academic transcript and a proven track record, why do recruiters insist on making them “prove” they can do the job?  Surely the aforementioned is sufficient?  What is going on in those organisations that they don’t trust jobseekers?  Which leads to our next point.

5.   A panel interview that contains no one who has expertise in the area of the position being sought.

There is nothing worse than being interviewed for a position by someone who has no idea about what it means to actually do the job.  It happens more often than not, and means the hiring process is not efficient.  It means that the jobseeker’s claims of competence can not be effectively ascertained, and the jobseeker may be put in the position of being asked to explain aspects of the role (and their approach to it) that should need no explanation.  Highly ineffective approach.   Actually,  we’d like to see is the panel interview gotten rid of altogether – make one (properly trained) person responsible for the hire.  

6.  If interview tasks are required (see Point 4 above), not being reimbursed for the time taken to complete them.

Another  Even It Up! pet hate!  We feel that recruiting organisations would be much less likely to ask jobseekers to do interview tasks if they had to reimburse them for the amount of time take to put them together.  We are not averse to a small presentation where a jobseeker gets to showcase their skills and suitability for the role, but when it’s two or three items, well that’s a different story.  It’s more about power than performance.

7.  Trick, stupid or irrelevant questions in interviews.

These prove nothing except that the recruiting organisation is anything but good at recruiting.   We’ve heard all the rhetoric about behavioural questions being the best indicator of a jobseeker’s future actions.  And yes, that’s probably true to a certain extent.  But everyone knows that people antcipate these types of questions and practise responses.  At Even It Up! , we are firm believers in a quaint, old-fashioned method called Getting to know people by making them feel comfortable.  That’s when you are more likely to get an indication of what they are really like.  And if you are that unsure, get them to do a personlity test… something along the lines of Myers Briggs… although remember that this is an indicator only!

8.   ”Formal” interviews that are more about the interviewer than the jobseeker.

Formal interviews that “level the playing field” are really only in place to manage the risk of a bad hire for the organisation.  It is thought that having a controlled environment (same questions, same interviewers, same position) will allow interviewers to make an objective decision about a hire.  Logic dictates that this is not the case, because what can’t be controlled is the candidate!  And often those who make the hiring decision are not trained (see post [and comments] Foolproof Recruting).  In Winter 2006, The Journal for Quality & Participation released some very interesting statistics about the hiring failure rate:

How often do organizations experience bad hires? A recentlypublished, three-year study of new hire success rates demonstrated that it happens frequently. Conducted by Leadership IQ, a Washington-based research firm, this study surveyed more than 5,000 hiring managers from 312 organizations involved in more than 20,000 new hire events. Some 46% of those 20,000 new hires failed within the first 18 months. Root cause analysis revealed that a mere 11% of those failures were due to a lack of technical or professional competence. The lion’s share of failed hires were linked to softer issues, such as a lack of coachability (26%), low levels of emotional intelligence (23%), motivation problems (15%), and temperament issues (17%). With success rates not far better than a coin flip, there are clearly
areas of competency that have not been successfully investigated through the interview process,
“But coachability; emotional intelligence, motivation, and temperament are much more predictive of a new hires’ success or failure. Do technical skills really matter if the employee isn’t open to improving alienates their co-workers, lacks drive, and has the wrong personality for the job?”
-Mark Murphy, CEO Leadership IQ

We particularly like the reminder from the Australian National Audit Office (on a review of Public Service Recruitment) t0:

4. Dispel unhelpful beliefs and assumptions.

Panel members continue to hold questionable beliefs that are not based on evidence, are unfair to applicants, and prejudice the assessment. Examples of such beliefs are: treating people fairly means treating them the same; applicants who don’t write to selection criteria shouldn’t get short listed; interviews are a memory test and no help should be given to applicants even if the questions asked are incomprehensible; applicants who don’t call the contact officer demonstrate lack of initiative.

Well said, we say!

9.  Checking references, then not being offered the role.

There is nothing more embarassing than  explaining to referees that the third degree they were given about you didn’t pay off, and you weren’t offered the position.  One interviewer told Even It Up! that reference checking “was all part of the process”.  We disagree and think that if this is the case, there is something wrong with the process, and the interviewer has completely lost sight of what reference checking is actually for.  We strongly believe that recruiters should only check references if they are 100% convinced that they are going to be hiring that particular person.  It’s just a waste of time (and quite humiliating for the applicant) otherwise.  Not to mention disrespectful of the person providing the reference, who often has to take time out of their busy day to “go through the process”.  The University of Wollongong has an interesting policy paper on reference checking, which states on P12 (among other things) that:

Of the 10 or so studies reporting validity data, their findings generally show that the relationships between reference ratings and measures of employee success (performance ratings and turnover) are low to moderate at best.

10.  Being advised by email if unsuccessful.

While we are not saying that email correspondence in and of itself is bad, what we are saying is that if a candidate actually meets with you in an interview, particularly if they get to second interview stage, then you owe it to them to personalise any communication you have with them.  Don’t send them an email telling them they were unsuccessful.  This is gutless and disrespectful and will not do your brand any good.   Jobseekers value feedback, so when you call (second preference: write a letter) let them know why they were unsuccessful.  And don’t say that you don’t really have a reason.  That’s just not good enough.

And here’s a bonus couple of Things:

11.  Having to go through a recruitment company.

While featuring at No. 11, overwhelming feedback shows that this is one of the Things that jobseekers hate the most. And it seems most people – employers and employees alike –  just don’t like dealing with recruitment companies.  It adds an extra layer to a process that is already fraught with uncertainty.  People would much rather deal direct with the company who is recruiting.   We did find some empirical evidence backing us up – a 2004 report by the Victorian Human Rights Commission into EO practices and recruitment companies.  Here are just some of the comments (P 12):

“We try and avoid the recruitment agencies simply because of we’ve had our fingers burnt by a number of them on a number of occasions, and (are) just getting sick and tired of what we see as basically a half baked service. I mean you used to get CV’s dropped on your lap and they’d say, ‘Here’s a CV, what do you think, give us 15% of this person’s salary’, (the) greatest rip offs inAustralian industry.”

“They (management) prefer that we do all the recruitment ourselves, and to be honest we get a better result when we do.”

So our question is: if most jobseekers hate dealing with them, and employers don’t feel they get a good return on investment, why are they still around?

12.  Silence

A couple of scenarios.  You’ve sent in your letter of application and resume.  No response.  Or, you did get a response and were called in for an interview… weeks go past and nothing, nada, zip in the way of an update – either one way or another.  This is the height of rudeness and disrespect!  While we said that we didn’t like emails, on this occasion, we think it is perfectly ok to send out something to let jobseekers know what’s going on.  Communication, people, it’s the essence of maintaining a strong employer branding!

Interviewing the boss

with 4 comments

Even It Up! is concerned that job interviews are generally a one-way conversation, with the workplace tending to control the process. Candidates have little, if any, opportunity to find out what the workplace they are seeking to work in is really like. Sure, candidates can download an annual report from the internet, or visit the workplace before the interview, but none of these will give any real indication about the workplace culture.   Generally, jobseekers don’t really find out about what a place is like until they work there.  The interview process is, however, usually quite telling.

At Even It Up! we think it’s time to shift the balance and urge candidates to interview their bosses, and check their references and credentials before accepting a position. It may save heartache for everyone concerned, and save time, money and effort in the long term.

But how do you go about interviewing the boss? Clearly, you ask for the interview either in your own interview, or when the position is offered to you. If the boss is not keen, consider that they have something to hide. If they don’t want to set up another interview time, clearly they are not flexible, or forward-thinking in their approach. Would you really want to work for that sort of workplace anyway?

When the boss has agreed to the interview, come prepared with questions covering the areas you would like more information about. For example, you may be interested in:

  •  how the boss deals with conflict; 
  • what workforce planning takes place and how often; 
  • what the expectations are regarding hours worked; 
  • whether the boss is a people person; 
  • how flexible the workplace really is; 
  • how organised the workplace is; 
  • how often strategic planning occurs and who is involved; 
  • what management and leadership development programs are in place;
  • how initiative is rewarded; 
  • how team work is supported; 
  • what your operational budget 
  • whether communication follows an open or closed model.

Ask for references and actually check them. Find out whether the referee enjoys working the in business, and if they have left, if they would work for the boss again. It’s crucial to also find out why they left.

It may be confronting for the boss because of the perceived shift in power, but with more and more people unhappy with the management in Australian enterprises, it may just be the shake up our business leaders need.

Written by evenitup

December 30, 2008 at 11:30 am

Foolproof recruiting: Challenger learnings

with 10 comments

Even It Up!  watched with interest Foolproof Equations for a Perfect Life on SBS last night.  It was while we were watching that we made the connection between hiring  and

[the] extent…our decision-making process [is] manipulated by how choices are presented.

…from SBS program blurb

It is our contention that in the recruiting process, no one really questions what and how hiring decisions are made.  What can seem like an objective, transparent process, may very well not be, particularly when we consider human thought processes:

1. Priming

Research has consistently shown that people make decisions and choices depending on their environment (and circumstances).  People can be susceptible to manipulation and may not even know it.

In one study on priming,  individuals were given a hot drink to hold by the research leader prior to the study, and others a cold one.  Each person was then asked to have a one-on-one conversation with a member of the research team they were introduced to (it was the same man in each conversation).

After the conversation, each person was asked a number of questions about the person they had met, including whether they would give him a job or not.  And this is where it get interesting.  Every person who held the hot drink consistently said they would hire him.  Every person who had held a cold drink said they would not.  
Apparently, the warmth makes one feel more kindly disposed toward another person, and the cold lessens these feelings.

So, the question becomes: what goes on before your job interview that could be influencing the decision about whether you are hired or not?  

2. Rationalisation

In another study, participants were dealt two cards at a time, each with similar faces and they had to choose the one they liked.  The participants were then handed the cards they didn’t choose, and asked to justify their choice!

Interestingly, most people in the study did not challenge the fact that they had received the wrong card.  Instead, they justified their choice! It seems, as humans, it is easier to go along with an incorrect choice (or decision) and then rationalise it. 

Which leads us to the next point which, when taken with rationalisation, makes us question the objectivity of job interviews.

3. Groupthink

People are easily persuaded when they are in a group… they just tend to “go along” with one person, even if they know the decision or choice is incorrect.  This is because – psychologically speaking – the cohesiveness of the group becomes much more important than individual opinions, and consensus, particularly of the dominant view is maintained at all costs.

4. Job interviews are not objective

A job interview in front of a panel is, in some ways, no different to the flawed thinking (or not) behind the Challenger explosion.  What if the best and brightest candidate was interviewed after the panel chair had a cold drink?  What if the panel chair had the balance of power, or was the dominant personality?   What if the panel chair makes a bad decision and rationalises it?  How can one person who doesn’t agree with the panel’s decision ensure their opinion is heard and acted upon?

Don’t for one minute be fooled into believing that job interviews are an objective process.

Written by evenitup

December 29, 2008 at 3:24 pm