Tag Archives: Employment

Background Checks Can Be Dicey

If employers act unilaterally to exclude all job applicants who have criminal records from jobs, they run the risk of setting themselves up to charges of race discrimination and other allegations.

Employers can’t turn away potential employees simply because of a long-ago conviction that is unrelated to a job for which they are applying. i.e., DWI charges and the candidate is applying to be a store cashier. Employers cannot dismiss candidates based on criminal background checks, when they should have considered each applicant individually and evaluated whether his or her past arrest or crime had any bearing on the job for which they applied.

All leading and not so leading, employers conduct criminal background checks on all of their candidates who are advancing through the process. At the same time, the number of Americans with criminal records has escalated dramatically in recent years. It’s been reported that one in three Americans has some sort of criminal record, which often includes an arrest that didn’t lead to a conviction, a conviction that didn’t result in jail time or a conviction for a non-violent crime. Yet often these records are included in overall background checks that then exclude applicants from jobs.

When it comes to incarceration rates, black men are imprisoned at six times the rate of white men.

Employers need to revisit how they go about running background checks.  Employers must consider the nature of the crime, its relation to the potential job, and the time that has passed since the offense. Employers must give candidates the opportunity to explain the circumstances of their criminal records, including information about whether they already proved they could do the same sort of work for which they’re applying, and whether they had gotten rehabilitation or other training.

If someone was charged with a larceny but never brought to trial, he still has a criminal record. What if he is innocent? Is he a criminal who deserves to be barred from a job? To be sure, there are also people who were found guilty and served time for their crimes. But once they’ve paid their debt to society, do we want to keep them permanently unemployed, particularly if their prior offense has nothing to do with the job they want? Are we a society that does not believe in second chances?

Fortunately,  the government is beginning to  crack down on employers who use background checks without looking at whether the criminal record has any relevance to the job and without giving the applicant a chance to show that she or he is fit to do the work. Employers are going to have to start looking at more legal and fair ways to evaluate job applicants with criminal records.

Broad-brush practices that automatically exclude thousands of qualified applicants cannot be tolerated nor accepted.

Of course, candidates are becoming more and more savvy at figuring out how to “Beat” a criminal background check. We certainly do want to encourage that kind of behavior.

Just some food for thought.

Seven Great Questions to Ask at a Job Interview

It’s Now Your Turn. Fair Play!

After they drag you through the fire, here are 7 questions to pose to them.

Prior to the interview, do some research. Study the job description and requirements carefully. Search their web site to see how the organization presents itself. Look for news clips and comments about the company on blogs and news websites.

For the interview itself you should dress appropriately. Be Prepared.

Here are a few questions to ask that could really help you:

 1.     What exactly are my day-to-day duties? It is essential that you clearly understand your role and the tasks that you would be expected to perform. It is easy to make assumptions and get the wrong impression of what the work would be. There needs to be clarity in what is expected of you. If the interviewer cannot give a clear answer then this is a red flag, so politely follow up with more questions.

2.    What are the criteria that you are looking for in a successful new hire? The company may have listed what was wanted in a candidate, but it is very useful to hear the criteria directly from the interviewer and/or hiring manager. The more that you can learn about what they want and how they will make the decision the better placed you are to influence that decision.

3.    What are the opportunities for training and career advancement? This question serves two purposes. It helps you to understand where the job might lead and what skills you might acquire. It also signals that you are ambitious and thinking ahead.

4.    What is the biggest challenge facing the organization today? This sort of question takes the interview into a more strategic direction. It proves that you are interested in being with a company that has a good understanding of its “Needs.” It can lead to interesting discussions that can show you in a positive light – especially if you have done some smart preparation. If appropriate you can follow up this question with some questions about the objectives of the department and the manager who is considering you for employment.

5.    When did you join the company? After the interviewer has asked a number of questions about you it can make a good change to ask a polite question about them. People often like talking about themselves and if you can get them talking about their success in the company you can learn things that you wouldn’t have necessarily known.

6.    How do you feel that I measure up to your requirements for this position? This follows on naturally from the previous questions. It is a perfectly fair question to ask. This is a “trial close”. If they say that you are a good fit then you can ask whether there is any reason you might not be offered the job. If they say that you are lacking in some key skill or attribute then you can move into objection handling mode and point out some relevant experience or a countervailing strength.

7.    Would you like to hear what I could do to really advance your department and organization? Hold this question for the end of the interview. Most interviewers will reply, “Yes.” Expounding on what you already know, you can give a “brief sales pitch” on why you fit the criteria and why your strengths will significantly assist them to meet their objectives. Make it short, direct and clear with the emphasis on the benefits for them of having you on the team. At the end ask something like, “How does that sound to you?”

 Many candidates take a passive role at the interview. They competently answer the questions that are put to them but they never take the initiative by asking intelligent questions that steer the interview in a helpful direction and under your control.

If you are a proactive “Can-Do” candidate who asks the kinds of questions given above then you will be seen as more effective and you will greatly increase your chances of being offered the job.

How To Be a Successful Job Candidate

Lessons from the Campaign Trail

Think your job search is challenging? How would you like to go on 50 interviews a month as other candidates try to dismiss you and the media stands ready to report (and continually replay) any blunder or defeat to a curious and sneering public?

Next to running for elected office, a job search is easy. But, you can still learn something from the “Planet of Politics.” Here are a few lessons you can carry over to your own candidacy and job search:


Lesson # 1: Describe Yourself and Your Message

Just as every candidate needs to separate himself to survive the primaries, your resume needs to jump out to get you the interview. Design it toward the job description. Know the job description and research the company. Ask yourself, “If I were the hiring manager, what would I search for in a candidate?” Feature these skills and qualities in the top quarter of your resume.”


Lesson #2: Look the Part!
Image consultants give both Romney and Obama high grades on their overall look.

They dress slightly better than the norm and always wear well-fitted, high-end suits that are:

1.)   Authoritative, but not stuffy.
2.)  Stylish, but not faddish

As for fashionable, you may think that “Disco,” dress looks great, but only on Saturday evening.

Behavioral Interview Questions Part 2

Behavioral based interview questions are over rated among recruiters.

The purpose of behavioral questions is to identify how a potential new employee would act in future situations. Behavioral questions are always open ended, leaving the interviewee to fill in the blanks.

All questions have the same kind of beginning. Open ended questions requiring you to talk about a past experience like:

  1. Tell me about a time
  2. Describe a time
  3. Give me a specific example
  4. Tell me about…

Below is a list of behavioral questions to help you prepare for your interview. Get Ready!

1.) Tell me about a time  a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.

2.) Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult co-worker or manager on a project. How did you handle the situation? What were the outcomes?

3.) Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.

4.) Give me an example of a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.

5.) Give me an example when you had a list of things to do and your manager came to you and said “I need this product completed by 3pm.” How did you respond to the situation?

6.) Describe a time where you failed to meet a goal. What did you fail to do? What were the consequences? What was the outcome?

7.) Define a time when you were assigned a task, were provided little direction about how to complete it. What steps did you take to complete the task? What was the outcome?

8.) Describe a time when you had to persuade someone to see your side? What tactics did you use? What were the outcomes? What did you determine?

9.) Tell me about a time when you had to supervise someone.

10.)Explain how you keep yourself organized so to meet deadlines or goals.

11.) Provide me an example when  you were involved in a project with a group.

12.) Describe a time when you had to motivate others. What were the outcomes?

13.) Tell me about a time when you used creativity to complete a project or work with someone else?

14.) Tell me about a time when a co-worker criticized your work. How did you handle the situation? What was the result?

15.) Tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult decision that affected those with whom you worked. What was the outcome?

16.)  Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.

17.) Outline a time when you were a team leader. Who did the team consist of, and what did you do to help your team succeed.

18.) Describe a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone’s opinion.

Behavioral Interview Questions Part 1

Looking for a Job and getting hammered on Behavioral Based Interview Questions?

It happens often.

Behavioral based interviewing is interviewing based on determining how you performed in specific work situations. How you performed in the past will predict how you will perform in the future. The rule being:

“Past Performance Predicts Future Performance.”

How do you overcome it?

The quickest way is to get the job description and look for behaviors for which you anticipate the prospective employer is requiring.

There are no wrong or right answers.

The interviewer is trying to understand how you performed in a given situation. Your response determines if there is a fit between your skills and the position available.

So listen carefully, be clear and detailed when you respond, and most importantly, be honest.

What is Talent Acquisition?

Talent Acquisition refers to the process of identifying, interviewing, and selecting experienced people for a job.

For some parts of the process, mid- and large-size organizations often retain professional recruiters or outsource some of the process to Talent Acquisition agencies.

The Talent Acquisition industry has 4 main types of agencies: employment agencies, Talent Acquisition websites and job search engines, “headhunters” for executive Talent Acquisition, and niche agencies for specialized areas.

The Hardest Interview Question to Answer

There is nothing worse than being in an interview and getting questions you cannot answer.

Avoid the nightmare and be prepared in the interview. Identify what the questions may be and arm yourself with answers already prepared.
Review these tough interview questions and some recommended responses in order to avoid an interview disaster:

The Worst Question: “Tell me about yourself.”

This is always the opening question and it’s the ideal time for you to blow your own horn — not to tell your life history. Your answers should be a quick rundown of your qualifications and experience. Talk about your education, work history, recent career experience and future goals.

A Typical Answer: “I graduated from Yale and since then, I have been working in agency public relations where I have generated PR hits for our clients. While I liked working on the agency side, I’m looking to start doing PR for corporate companies like yours.”

My Absolute Favorite Response:  “Where Would You Like Me to Start?”

You now “Own” the Interview.

Congratulations, kiddo.