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INTERVIEW PREPARATION BLOG

Employers Add 200,000+ Jobs 15 out of last 16 months: Open-ended Interview Questions Can Help!

July 2nd, 2015

The Labor Department reported Thursday morning that U.S. employers added 223,000 new employees to their payrolls in June. This was the 15th out of the last 16 months that they have added at least 200,000 net new jobs. As a result, the unemployment rate fell to 5.3%, which is its lowest level since April 2008.

Accordingly, certain professions have become very scarce due to tremendously high demand and extremely short supply. These include research and development (R&D), scientific, engineering, information technology (IT), technical and manufacturing talent from staff levels (e.g. food scientists, robotics engineers and artificial intelligence experts) up and including C-levels such as CTO (Chief Technology Officer) and CIO (Chief Information Officer) positions that our technical recruiting firm specializes in. Please go to https://strategicsearch.com/qualification-technical-recruiting.php for a more complete picture of our 6 niche areas.

open-ended interview questions

Therefore, it is ever more important to be very thorough in your engineering recruiting, scientific recruiting, R&D recruiting, IT recruiting, technical recruiting and manufacturing recruiting processes to ensure that you secure the optimum talent for your recruiting needs. This is the case because your firm is currently facing a war for talent for these key technical positions. This is confirmed by recent research that I outlined in last week’s article Jobs Open Longer: Hire Only One Executive Recruiter! that there are currently 5,400,000 vacant job openings according to the Labor Department. This is an all-time high. Therefore, you need to have a differential advantage versus your competition in order to secure the key technical talent you are seeking. To that end, one useful tool I can share is the magical interview question, What do you do?”

Recruitment research shows that open-ended interview questions tend to elicit more detailed and useful job candidate information. One of the best open-ended interview questions is, “what do you do?” Please use this question in conjunction with other interviewing questions including the ones I have shared at https://strategicsearch.com/technical-recruiting-tips/technical-recruiting-tips.php

The benefit of open-ended interview questions like this is they will help you gain more useful employment information from your job candidates during the interview recruitment process. So remember to periodically ask, “what do you do?” to every job candidate during your interviews.

What are your thoughts?

Jobs Open Longer: Hire Only One Executive Recruiter!

June 26th, 2015

Recent statistics from the Labor Department show a record number of job openings by U.S. employers. The reported 5,400,000 current jobs are the most since they started tracking them in 2000. Combined with two other recent studies, this explains why positions are taking longer to fill not only in the U.S., but also worldwide. This is particularly true for R&D, engineering, scientific, technical, IT and manufacturing positions that our technical recruiting firm specializes in. As a result, many companies have reported substantial decreases in productivity due to key positions being unfilled for longer periods of time.

STEVEN J. DAVISStephen Davis, an economist at the University of Chicago, reported recently that jobs are staying open 27.3 days. This is nearly double the 15.3 days it took companies to fill jobs in mid-2009! Furthermore, his research demonstrates that this increase is wide spread across many industries, regions and various sized companies!

Many R&D recruiters, engineering recruiters, scientific recruiters, technical recruiters, IT recruiters and manufacturing recruiters we have polled over the past six months confirm Dr. Davis’ findings. They have found that due to simple “supply and demand” there are more jobs and fewer candidates. For example, several industries, such as tech and financial services currently have about 2% unemployment rates.

A second report released on Thursday, June 18th by Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at career-research firm Glassdoor, found that the average interview process in the U.S. took 22.9 days in 2014 due to an exponential increase in background investigations currently done by employers. That is up from just 12.6 days in 2010.

Screenings and background checks in particular have grown to 42% of all U.S. job candidates. That is up from just 25% in 2010. For example, 23% of all job candidates in 2014 received some sort of skills evaluation compared with only 16% five years ago. Furthermore, 23% of received a drug test last year versus only 13% in 2010.

What can an employer do to combat this longer hiring process?

executive recruitmentMany of the executive recruiters that we polled suggested that hiring companies should adopt a process of “less is more.” Often when employers hire an engineering recruitment agency or a technical recruitment agency or IT jobs recruiter or executive search firm they falsely believe that the more management recruiters that they have working on their jobs, the faster they will fill their positions. Unfortunately, when you have a limited sampling frame of key technical talent for a given opening (e.g. nanotechnology or AI scientists) and you have multitudes of executive recruiting firms trying to recruit the same, small pool of talent, this will often alienate an otherwise eager scientist willing to make a jobs change.

Instead, especially with current job market conditions, 87% of those same executive recruitment firms we polled suggested it is much better to retain only one executive recruitment firm that you trust. This will lead to them providing you a lot more service, effort and perseverance in meeting your needs. This can go a long way towards more thoroughness, quality and efficiency with jobs staying vacant longer.

What are your findings?

Wages Increasing: 1 to 10 Rating Scale Interview Question Can Help!

June 18th, 2015

Many signs point to a surge in hiring. One of the best metrics confirming this trend is the number of U.S. job openings, which rose to their highest level ever in April (most recent figures) at 5,400,000 according to the Labor Department’s latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, which was released on Tuesday, June 9th. This was up 300,000 from the 5.1 million job openings reported in March and was the highest since they began conducting this survey in 2000.

As a result, many executive recruiters are anecdotally noticing a scarcity of key talent. For example, our technical recruiting firm has observed many clients scrambling to fill numerous R&D, scientific, engineering, IT, manufacturing and technical positions; the six areas we specialize in. Unfortunately, most employers are ill equipped to handle this major hiring expansion.

For example, U.S. builders now say they cannot find enough carpenters, electricians, plumbers and other craftsmen to handle their increase in work. This coincides with my January article and TV appearance where I made hiring predictions for 2015.


These labor shortages are forcing many companies to significantly raise compensation. Wages grew 2.3% in May from the previous year. This is the fastest wage growth since the summer of 2013. On the lower end of the wage scale, restaurants have been handing out raises. Also, legal services have posted solid wage gains. Additionally, weekly earnings were up 3.3% in commercial construction in April from a year earlier.

One tool that can help you during this recruiting surge is the 1 to 10 rating scale interview question. It will save you time and money during your technical recruiting process by allowing you to gain more information from your candidates during the interview. This will help you to more precisely pinpoint who is a better fit for your needs.

What you want to do is ask your job candidates to rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 10 on your key job attributes. This interview scale starts at 1, which means no job experience in that attribute, 5 means average job experience in that attribute and 10 means job mastery of that attribute. For example, “on a scale of 1 to 10 how strong of a Java programmer are you?”

The benefit of the 1 to 10 rating scale interview question is it forces your job candidates to more precisely identify for you what their actual job skills are. This will help to streamline your technical recruiting process. It will also help you to make better hiring decisions. So remember to employ the 1 to 10 rating scale interview question during your technical recruiting process.

Please go to https://strategicsearch.com/technical-recruiting-tips/technical-recruiting-tips.php and click on #2 below for a video explanation of this technique.

What are some tips you have to gain more information from your candidates?

Tenants of Optimum App Development

June 12th, 2015
Apps Development

Almost daily in the news we hear about new apps and their creators. For example, a recent article “15 US Cities with the Most Startup Activity” which detailed the 15 U.S. cities with the most startup activity.

It is now the norm for young entrepreneurs like Yana Egorova, Aaron Landy, Marco Change, Dave Fontenot, Conrad Kramer, Dani Grant, Ari Weinstein and Jeremy Cai to drop out of school early and start a company. Contrast this with a few decades ago when it was rare and very risky for technical, scientific, engineering and R&D wizards like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg to leave school early to start their companies.

Instead, this new crop of entrepreneurs has a lot more technical armaments at their disposal including: a) growing up mastering the Internet and smartphones b) having many more available development tools to create new technical applications c) plummeting company startup costs and d) possessing a lot more financial options. This has prompted many more to take the plunge and try to develop a new company centered upon a novel app.

Our technical recruiting firm is particularly interested in the field of app development because we are regularly inundated with requests for key application developers possessing Java, Objective-C, Swift and HTML5 and the higher level technical executives to run the operations.

Unfortunately, most apps fail. Furthermore, even a good app does not guarantee financial success unless it is properly marketed. Fortunately, Adweek hosted a webinar on Wednesday, June 10, 2015 entitled, “The State of App Discovery in 2015: Find and Target Your Ideal Mobile User.” The two main presenters were Jennifer Wong, VP of Marketing at Tune, and Christian Calderon, Head of Marketing at Dots.

The key points discussed were:

  1. 67.55% of all apps are found via app stores.
  2. You need to take into account the special needs of those using Android versus iOS smartphones. For example, Android users tend to: a) click on ads more often b) use social sharing more often and c) are more apt to do search.
  3. The main reason most users use apps is to solve a particular problem. Therefore, you need to ask yourself, “What problem can my app solve?”
  4. There a great disparity in the demographics of app users depending upon their age group.
  5. Icons have a big impact upon downloads of apps. For example, lighter colors work better and the icon needs to match the ad creative to better bring the user in contact with your ad.

Furthermore, Ms. Wong’s company also recently completed a major research study on how to optimally market an app. Please go to http://in.tune.com/app-discovery-2015-thank-you for a copy of this report.

Also, please contact me if you would like a copy of the PowerPoint presentation from this webinar.

What are your findings on the state of app development?

280,000 Jobs Created Last Month: TIME FOR A TECHNICAL RECRUITING AUDIT!

June 5th, 2015

Though today’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report showed the unemployment rate rising .1% to 5.5%, 280,000 new jobs were created last month! This was the 14th out of the last 15 months that the economy added 200,000 or more net new jobs!

Jobs creation was broad-based including: a) the Professional and Business Services sector adding 63,000 jobs b) the Leisure and Hospitality sector growing by 57,000 jobs and c) the Health-care, Retail Trade and Construction sectors all adding positions. The only negative was the Mining sector, covering energy industries, which fell by 17,000 jobs.

This information parallels a Commerce Department report last week saying that business investment is increasing. Especially orders for non-defense capital goods, which increased 1% in their latest reporting month! This is a key measure because it suggests that companies are slowly starting to boost investment. It is also a strong indicator of an increase in technical recruiting.

The BLS and Commerce Department findings confirm what I have noticed anecdotally from many of our technical recruiting firm’s clients who have significantly ramped up technical recruiting in the last few months (especially engineers, scientists, R&D, IT and other technical employees). Unfortunately, few are prepared for this momentous technical recruiting surge.

Technical Recruiting Audit

As a result, we recommend a 360-degree audit of a company’s technical recruiting needs including:

  1. Full assessments of all scientific, engineering, R&D, IT and technical departments’ requirements for the next 18 months.
  2. Thorough evaluations of technical recruiting talent needs and comparisons to the current technical recruiting marketplace landscape including manpower availabilities versus their competitors’ needs and current efforts.
  3. Researching new methods for securing technical talent within the organization.
  4. Increasing the technical recruiting prowess of hiring managers.
  5. Brainstorming sessions to discuss actual and projected regulations and how they will affect abilities to secure key scientific, engineering, R&D, IT and technical talent in the future.

To assist hiring companies, we have prepared a list of 12 key tips we recommend for recruiting. Please go to http://www.strategicsearch.com/technical-recruiting-tips/technical-recruiting-tips.php to learn more.

What are your findings on the state of technical recruiting?

Tool To Improve Your Technical Recruiting: Pie Chart Question

May 29th, 2015

Pie Chart QuestionMost of the Commerce Department news on Friday morning sounded bleak for jobs creation including:

  1. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the broadest sum of goods and services produced across the economy, falling by 0.7% in the first quarter.
  2. S. exports falling by 7.6%, including exports of goods tumbling 14%, the most in six years!
  3. Business investment (reflecting spending on construction, machinery, and research and development) falling by 2.8%. That was the biggest decline since late 2009.
  4. Consumer spending, which represents more than two-thirds of economic output, growing by only 1.8% in the first quarter. That was far slower than the fourth quarter’s 4.4% growth. Additionally, household spending on long-lasting manufactured items was the weakest in nearly four years in the first quarter.

However, the Commerce Department also shared that the jobs market continues to grow as evidenced by exceptionally low levels of layoffs and increased recruiting by many companies. This has also been confirmed anecdotally by both:

a) Our technical recruiting clients, who continue to hire engineers, scientists, R&D, IT, technical and manufacturing professionals at an accelerated rate.

b) Many engineering recruiting, R&D recruiting, scientific recruiting, IT recruiting and manufacturing recruiting firms that we have surveyed over the last few months.

For example, there has been a major uptick in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) recruiting as demonstrated by the recently opened exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago entitled “Robot Revolution.” Additionally:

Robot Revolution

a) My article: Are Robots The Death Nail For Many Future Jobs?
b) Last year’s TV appearance (Please go to https://strategicsearch.com/media.php and scroll down to First Business on June 17, 2014 entitled, “The Rise of the Machines”)
c) Several recent media articles (e.g. bookkeeping, bartending and fruit picking robots) all point to an explosion in robotics and AI recruiting.

As a result, there is currently a technical recruiting war among hiring companies for key software, AI and robotics experts. That is why I recommend employing my First Commandment of Recruiting The Pie Chart Question during your interview process to obtain more information from your robotics and AI candidates.

What you want to do is ask your candidates, “please break down for me by a pie chart what you do on a daily basis.” For example, an AI engineer 60% of their time may be spent on C++ programming, 20% on AI architecture and algorithms and 20% on 3D programming techniques. The key is to really push your candidates to focus on what they have done on a regular basis. Also, prod them (e.g. what percentage of the time are you doing C++ coding?) with skills relevant to your job opening. This will force your technical recruiting candidates (especially in robotics and AI) to provide you a more precise estimate of what their actually duties are and simplify your technical recruiting decisions.

What is your opinion?

 

AI creating A lot of New, High Paying Jobs!

May 16th, 2015

Artificial Intelligence JobsAs you probably know from my past articles including Entrepreneurs, NOT GOVERNMENT MANDATES, Are The Key To Higher Wages! I am a huge proponent of the free market being unshackled and allowed to create new jobs and increased wages. Though no system is perfect, historically, the free market has yielded the most Pareto Efficient mix of jobs and wages creation. One current example is the war for talent now going on in artificial intelligence (AI).

Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Intel and other tech companies are trying to push the limits of AI. As a result, they have an insatiable appetite for AI experts. This has led them to pour huge funds into universities with AI expertise, including the University of Washington (UW), which has long been a center for AI excellence. Oren Etzioni, on leave from UW’s computer science faculty to head up Seattle-based Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, confirms this by saying, There’s a massive battle under way for talent.”

Companies in AI are not only looking for experienced AI experts, but also recent PhD graduates. For example, Amazon recently advertised more than 50 AI positions in the U.S. and Europe hunting for PhD’s with specialties such as machine learning, information science and statistics.

McDonald & WalMart

Other current, less esoteric examples of the free market working to increase wages include the recent, voluntary wage increases at both McDonald’s and Wal-Mart. Starting July 1st, McDonald’s will increase local minimum wages by at least $1 per hour at their roughly 1,500 company owned restaurants across the U.S. Additionally, Wal-Mart will boost pay to at least $10 per hour by next year. Neither move was done out of the goodness of their hearts. Instead, the free market was working to tighten the labor market, which increased the competition for lower-paid workers. This made it a necessity for both companies to raise wages.

I realize that union, social and political activists will disagree with allowing the free market to fully work its magic. They will counter by saying that a government-mandated minimum wage is necessary to produce livable wages for lower skilled workers. What they fail to realize or share with their constituents is there are a finite number of resources that the government can offer. It is a zero sum game and if the government accentuates one area, then another area will suffer. Furthermore, many of government efforts are better offered by the private sector including jobs creation and wage growth.

However, one area all should agree upon is that when workers have more skills, such as AI, they will be more productive and in higher demand for higher paying jobs. Therefore, instead of wasting efforts on such job-contracting measures as the fight for a minimum wage, there should be more focus on those areas where the government can be useful. As I recently wrote at Better Education Needed To Improve Job Skills And Increase Wages! better education, especially in the STEM areas, will yield more skilled workers, who are in higher demand by tech companies, such as those currently ramping up in AI, which in turn will lead to a lot higher wages for those workers.

What are your thoughts?

Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.4%; Special Recruiting Training Needed!

May 8th, 2015

Recruiting Training Needed!The Labor Department reported this morning that U.S. companies started hiring again last month. This prompted the jobless rate to fall as the economy snapped back from a brutal winter. Nonfarm payrolls grew a seasonally adjusted 223,000 in April after a weak March in which only 85,000 jobs were added. As a result, the unemployment rate dropped .1% to 5.4% in April. The decline mirrored several positive events including: a) the labor force grew as more Americans entered the job search and b) the number of Americans finding work increased. As a result, the jobless rate is moving closer to the Federal Reserve’s expectation of “full” employment, which it pegs between 5% and 5.2%.

A more comprehensive measure of unemployment, which includes both Americans involuntarily working part-time jobs and those who have given up looking for work, fell from 10.9% to 10.8% in April.

Moreover, jobs creation was broad based across several industries. Professional and business services added 62,000 jobs. Health-care payrolls grew by 45,000. Construction also added 45,000. Manufacturing and retail jobs changed little. The mining sector, covering energy industries, fell by 15,000.

Many of our executive recruitment firm’s clients also believe that the first quarter downturn was only temporary and the economy will rebound this spring, as it did last year after a first-quarter contraction. Anecdotally, over the last few months, most of my technical recruiting colleagues have shared that top-notch technical talent is becoming more and more scarce. This is due to a lot more demand than supply among the Research & Development (R&D), engineering, scientific, Information Technology (IT), technical and manufacturing areas that we concentrate on as an executive recruitment firm. This has resulted in many R&D, engineering and scientific job positions going unfilled for longer periods of time and in turn reducing the productivity of many departments!

As a result, we recommend that companies greatly improve their recruiting prowess. Unfortunately, most human resource departments have been cut back during the recession. Furthermore, those remaining personnel professionals have been required to handle a lot more tasks. This has brutally hampered many companies’ recruiting efforts. As a result, many R&D, engineering, scientific, technical, IT and manufacturing positions have gone unfilled for longer periods of time. In turn, this has severely reduced many firms’ productivity.

That is why we have recently launched our training division. The primary focus of our new practice is teaching hiring managers the Best Worldwide Practices To Attract And Retain Talent. One aspect of this is training internal hiring managers to be better recruiters, which in turn lowers your Cost Per Hire! One of the tools we use for this training is our 12 Commandments of Recruiting outlined which are some of our best practices learned since opening our doors over 25 years ago on July 14, 1989.

During this process we follow 4 steps:

a) Dividing hiring managers into small work groups of 7-8

b) Sequentially discussing each of the 12 Commandments, including customizing them to the particular needs of the group and overseeing each group member as they attempt to actuate the commandment within the group setting.

c) Progressing to the next commandment and following the same procedure.

d) Ending with a general question and answer session to ensure that each attendee has mastered all 12 Commandments.

At the end of the process most of our clients have exponentially increased their technical recruiting abilities!

What are your findings?

Better Education Needed To Improve Job Skills And Increase Wages!

May 1st, 2015

Better EducationThough our executive search firm is based in Chicago, we regularly provide executive recruitment worldwide. As a result, many executive recruitment teams, such as Houston’s Chevron Phillips Chemical (a joint venture between energy giants Chevron Corp. and Phillips 66) call us to provide both technical recruitment and technical recruiting advice on best practices to attract key talent.

Such companies are eager to fill thousands of jobs with starting salaries up to $100,000. Unfortunately, they cannot find enough qualified candidates with the depth and breath of skills they seek. This is an ongoing problem that I shared previously 464 Scare Jobs whereby there continues to be many high paying jobs available across the nation. Unfortunately, countless workers are not prepared for these jobs due to the shortcomings of their previous educational training.

This problem is particularly acute in Houston, which is the 5th largest metro area in the U.S. As I also wrote previously a) MAJOR ROLE FOR GOVERNMENT: IMPROVING STEM Education, Training and Retraining! and b) Comedic Education Increases Future R&D many workers lack key STEM skills necessary to succeed. As a result, they cannot easily perform essential R&D, engineering, scientific, technical, IT and manufacturing tasks needed in today’s job market.

As a result, many companies across the nation in general and in the Houston area in specific are developing their own internal training programs to fill in the skill gaps left by local high schools and colleges. This was prompted by the lack of skills of available job candidates. For example, Chevron Phillips is taking an active role in workforce training and development. Rather than standing still and accepting the current educational malaise, they are engaging in a wide range of training programs to fill these skills gaps. This includes a scholarship program that covers community college tuition and pays interns around $18 per hour to work at their facilities while pursuing their degrees.

Such efforts are needed, especially in the Houston area where about 60,000 middle-skilled jobs will be created in the petrochemical and construction fields over the next 3 years as plants expand and older workers retire, according to a study by the Greater Houston Partnership. This should be something local schools should be providing, but two of the problems are:

  1. Many local high schools are channeling students towards four-year university degrees instead of technical trade schools.
  2. Many schools are not effective in teaching key STEM skills needed in technical careers.

Therefore, in the mean time, progressive companies like Chevron Phillips are taking the initiative and developing training programs that target skill gaps.

Do you know of any similar companies providing such job training to improve skills gaps?

10 Tips To Improve Your LinkedIn Recruiting

April 17th, 2015

LinkedIn RecruitingOur executive recruitment agency highly recommends and regularly uses LinkedIn for recruiting top-notch passive candidates (i.e. those candidates most valued by executive recruiters because they are not actively looking for a job and tend to be the top producers at their respective companies). With over 347 million current LinkedIn users and two new users being added every second, LinkedIn has become the go-to destination for both external executive recruiting firms and in-house management recruiters searching for key candidates to meet many recruiting needs. This applies to not only Chicago executive recruiters like Strategic Search Corporation, but also executive recruitment agencies across the globe!

To improve our recruiting prowess, I instructed our entire technical recruitment staff to signup for a recent LinkedIn webinar focused on improving InMail (LinkedIn’s e-mail system) recruiting. This webinar was lead by both Joanna Kucek and Tara Hartnett of LinkedIn. They shared many best and worst practices for recruiting passive candidates. Please watch this video to enjoy that entire presentation.

Here is a top ten summary how to improve your LinkedIn recruiting:

  1. Include a strong subject line. This is the first thing someone will read, so you need to immediately catch one’s attention.
  2. Start a conversation. Think of LinkedIn as a networking event, but NOT a job fair. Remember that your goal is to build a dialogue.
  3. Keep your conversations brief and to the point. The caveat is 49% of LinkedIn users are accessing their account using mobile devices (g. iPhone or Apple Watch). Therefore, do not provide too much information. As a rule of thumb, keep your content to around 240 characters or less.
  4. Mention shared groups and connections. This will help you to build rapport and develop more trust with the candidate you are recruiting.
  5. Focus on your candidate’s career goals and needs; NOT just your own. The caveat is 75% of LinkedIn candidates are passive candidates who are not actively pursuing a job change. So don’t just assume that your recruiting opportunity will immediately entice them. Instead, compliment them on outstanding achievements and mention ways that your recruiting assignment will benefit them including meeting their career goals. This requires you to thoroughly read, uncover and include key information from their profile in InMail’s you are sending. This will greatly personalize your correspondence and increase your chances of having a real dialogue.
  6. Remember that your recruiting response rates can improve over time. This means both: a) applying the best practices for recruiting and b) trial and error. This is exemplified by one of the speakers, Tara Hartnett, who initially had poor response rates using InMail, but increased to an astronomical 39% response rate over time!
  7. Do not list your entire job description in the InMail. That will overwhelm the candidate you are recruiting.
  8. Do not list your job title or the job requisition id in either the subject line or body of the InMail. That means nothing to the candidate you are recruiting.
  9. Avoid any jargon or business speak. Once again, that does not mean anything to the candidate you are recruiting.
  10. Avoid asking for a resume right away. Remember you need to develop a dialogue first.

Whether you are a scientific recruiter, engineering recruiter, technical recruiter or just part of the internal executive recruitment staff at your company, you can always improve your recruiting prowess. Following these ten rules will help our executive search firm in Chicago. Hopefully, they will help you as well.

What are your thoughts?