Teleconference On Using Facebook, MySpace, and Other Websites to Scope Out New Hires

I would like to thank everyone who participated in the BLR teleconference this morning.  It was a pleasure speaking to everyone. 

Due to the great interest in this topic, we will be conducting the seminar again on at least one one occasion, maybe two.  We will also provide a seminar specifically addressing liability under California state law when using social networking sites and the Internet in conducting background checks.  Please check back within the next week or two for the dates on these teleconferences, or send me an email and I can notify you when we finalize the dates.

To download today's PowerPoint slides, click here

Also, I've had a lot of requests to repeat the five general guidelines employers should keep in mind to avoid liability when conducting background checks on applicants on the Internet.  Under Federal law, employers may utilize social networking sites to conduct background checks on employees if:
  1. The employer and/or its agents conduct the background check themselves (i.e., does not use a third party to conduct the search);
  2. The site is readily accessible to the public;
  3. The employer does not need to create a false alias to access the site;
  4. The employer does not have to provide any false information to gain access to the site; and
  5. The employer does not use the information learned from the site in a discriminatory manner or as otherwise prohibited by law.

Interviewing: Asking The Previously Unasked

Guest post by Joe Jotkowitz of the Executive Advisory:

When new hires fail, it costs the organization.  Some sources say at minimum it is salary and a half.  It costs time, recruitment efforts, salary, training, client relationships, morale, sales, productivity, and the list goes on and on.

In a recent Leadership IQ study, it found that the number one reason for new hires not working out wasn't a lack of competence... it wasn't a lack of knowledge... it wasn't even a lack of technical skill.  Rather, it was coachability.  Twenty six percent of new hires failed because they couldn't accept feedback.  Other top reasons included an inability to manage emotions, lacking the necessary motivation or initiative, and not possessing the right temperament for the position.

So, if we know that a wrong hire is costly and we know why new hires tend to fail, why don't we do something about it?  Because the areas where new hires are failing the test isn't an area that most hiring managers are used to testing.  How do you interview for coachability?  How do you assess someone's ability to take initiative?  How can you tell if someone possesses the right temperament for the position?

The answer: Behavior Interviewing.  Behavioral interviewing has been around for quite some time, and it's getting more and more use in the workplace.  The basic premise is that the best predictor of future performance (how effectively a candidate MIGHT meet the requirements for the position) is past performance (how effectively a candidate HAS met the requirements for the position).  This is not to say that a viable candidate can only have performed the exact job at another organization.  Rather, the goal is to focus on what's known as KSAs (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities).  These are transferable and assessable in an interview when asked effectively.

The strategy is to get away from asking hypothetical questions such as, "If you were in a conflict situation with another co-worker, how would you handle it?"  Rather, ask questions that are more direct, more depth-seeking, more "real" such as, "Can you give me a specific example of a time when you didn't get along with a co-worker of yours?  What was the conflict about?  How did it start?  What did you do?  How did he respond?  How did you manage through it?  What was the result?"  Get your interviewee to become a storyteller, and you'll learn so much more.  And, if she says that she's never had any conflict with another co-worker, then that should raise some red flags as well.

Joe - thanks for the great information.  Joe is a communications specialist that has provided executive and managerial training for companies of all sizes.

The Interview - What Questions Can Employers Ask?

Recruiting applicants and interviewing new applicants is critical to running a successful business and staying ahead of the competition.  I think this is one area that many companies do not spend enough time thinking about, training their managers about, and tracking how effective managers are in hiring good people.  As noted on Guy Kawasaki's blog, one of his readers provides a very detailed explanation of the interview process at Hewlett Packard.  This is a must read for any human resources manager establishing a protocol for interviewing new applicants.  It is obvious that HP knows how critical interviews are for determining fit within the company, and have given the process a lot of thought. 

Managers conducting the interviews should also be well trained in what is and what is not acceptable to ask during an interview.  Below is a short list of a few subjects and the acceptable and unacceptable questions for those subjects under the law.  A more complete chart "General List of Acceptable Interview Subject and Questions" can be downloaded here.

Subject Acceptable Unacceptable
Name Name Maiden Name
Residence Place of residence Questions regarding renting or owning.
Age Statements that hire is subject to verification that applicants meet legal age requirements. • Age
• Birth date
• Date of attendance/completion of
• Questions which tend to identify applicants over 40