Part Two: Are you Going to Interview A Quiet Candidate?

are you interviewing a qc

In part one, we talked how a candidate might appear quiet and passive owing to reasons like:

  • Their general nature. An introvert appears quiet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have nothing to say. In fact, they can have a lot to say if one talks about the right thing, here when one talks about the job.
  • Life situations
  • Recent tragedy

We saw how it is important to get over the general assumption that a talkative, enthusiastic candidate is a good candidate, and that being generally quiet is a bad quality.

We talked about the false assumption that a lack of confidence or self-esteem doesn’t necessarily amount to incompetency.

Dismissing someone because they are “too quiet” during their interview without giving them a chance can lend unfairness to the process.

Under Pressure: 

But interviews are tough to take. The interviewer has the pressure to make the right decision, with a limited amount of information and background about the candidate at hand. Sometimes, the interview is more than enough but sometimes, there is this inkling feeling: what if I pass over a really good and deserving candidate?

We bring you the final part of the Quiet Candidate series, this time for someone who is interviewing a person seemingly of few words.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while interviewing someone who just doesn’t seem to utter a word.

 

Interview, Not an Interrogation:

Many candidates, especially those on the anxious side may feel intimidated by the thought of having to go for an interview. In such cases, you can remember as an interviewer to convey them that they are here because your organisation is genuinely interested in their skills, accomplishments, and what they can offer, etc. Conveying that one is not going to be interrogated but actually being talked and listened to might help ease the nervousness a bit.

 

Minds Off the Interview:

It is a good idea as an interviewer to lay out the details of the job. When the details are laid out, the interviewee might get a more precise idea about what the job would involve, and whether they would be able to do it or not. You will thus help the candidate in taking their minds off the interview, loosen up a bit and actually begin talking.

 

Assume Out Loud:

If the job needs the person to be talkative, vivacious or at least socially adept, let the candidate know.

And if you feel like the candidate lacks social skills to handle the position, convey that feeling politely. The need to prove your assumption wrong may actually make the candidate talk about their past accomplishments and strengths.

But make sure you aren’t using an accusatory or condescending tone.

 

Walk to the Conclusion:

It is important to remember that the application went a step ahead onto the interview for a reason. Remember this before jumping to conclusions. While this is not saying to not rely on your skills to assess someone, don’t take just the “talking” factor into consideration while making the final decision.

 

Find Other Sources:

If you have a feeling a candidate can do much better than their interview, it is a good idea to talk to the references listed to get a more clear idea and convert the feeling into something more concrete.

One might also get more information about the life of the person, which often helps to make sense of certain oddities in behaviour. Word of God may have a certain weight to it, but words of former employers, former colleagues, professors, teachers are pretty helpful if you want a wider picture of the candidate.

 

Instincts, experience, attention to numerous details, not hanging on to just one aspect, are some key words to remember while interviewing someone who appears quiet and reserved. You better think twice before making any decision!

Part One: Are you A Quiet Candidate?

Are you a quiet candidate image

 

Interviews can be tough for those who are generally quiet, soft-spoken, anxious or are not sure about what to say. Introverts are people of few words, especially on occasions that may feel like mere formality to them. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they have nothing to say.

Furthermore, life situations, a recent tragedy, constant rejections etc,. could also make an otherwise vivacious person into someone who appears tired and awkward. Such people might come across as mediocre, passive candidates.

It is important to get over the general assumption that a talkative, enthusiastic candidate is a good candidate, and that being generally quiet is a bad quality.

Moreover, it is worth taking note that lack of confidence is not the same as a lack of self-esteem, and that a lack of both does not necessarily mean someone is bad at their job.

Tricky Business: 

But interviews are tricky, especially for someone who is not comfortable with the spoken word. There is a pressure to convey the right things, in the right words, in a limited space of time. That too, without sounding pushy or inauthentic.

What can you do if you fear you will come across as a quiet candidate?

We bring you part one of the bi-article series of the Quiet Candidate. Here are some psychological tips to remember which may be used as starting points for thinking about more practical solutions.

 

Listeners First, Interviewers Later:

Remembering that the interviewer is interested in what skills you can offer, in what ways you can contribute to the organisation/institution etc.,  is a good strategy to bring out the flow of words and getting rid of the anxiety surrounding the concept of interview itself. Remember, you are not going for an interrogation. A panel of people genuinely wants to listen and talk to you!

 

Job > Interview:

As a candidate, you can try your best to make yourself see beyond the interview: the job. As basic as it sounds, thinking about what the job may entail, the roles involved may keep you from dwelling on the interview. Thinking beyond the immediate short-term may help you to find better things to think and talk about. Over-thinking can drive you crazy but long-term thinking can give you perspective and a sense of calm.

 

Check:

Go through the job role. See if it falls within your comfort-zone, and if it doesn’t ask yourself how much prepared and willing are you to move out of your zone. And make sure you talk about that preparedness and willingness during the interview.

If you would not prefer a job which has a lot of talking to do, or a lot of social-interaction, then do not apply for it. Use your knowledge of self and see what else can work. Or apply only after thoroughly weighing the pros and cons. Sometimes, climbing a tree is not a great option when the ability lies in swimming through the waves! But if it is a case where you have to apply for the job, the next point can be useful.

 

Say it:

Some jobs require one to be talkative or at least socially adept. It is very easy for the external observer to misunderstand being quiet as being mediocre.

As a quiet candidate, if you  feel like the interview is not conveying your skills, you can say that you aren’t usually this quiet. Such a remark might be used as a cue, to begin talking about your past accomplishments or strengths, and thus give a sense of direction to the interview.

 

Remember the Why:

An application progressed to an interview for a reason. It was deemed good enough. Remembering the why’s would ensure there is not too much anxiety.

You may use this as an affirmation. Furthermore, recalling by a simple “why” the reason you thought the position appealed to you and why you felt you should apply, can help you find points to talk about.

 

References Are Important:

As a candidate it is necessary to list out reliable, relevant references. While many people often consider this section of their CV a mere formality, it is not so. Rather, what someone else has to say about you may become important when/if your words aren’t enough, and here is when hiring managers often get in touch with your references. Former colleagues, former employers, professors, friends, teachers are great sources of creating a detailed picture of you, which might not have been apparent in the interview.

While it is not possible to control what others assume, it is certainly possible to communicate clearly. And it is certainly, certainly possible to have conviction in your skills, and transmute that confidence in your bearing. So, if you are the quiet candidate, you can heave a sigh of relief that interviewers are indeed deliberating over you!

Part two coming soon!

Recruitment Story: Networking Skills That Pay

Rec story 3

 

We live in an unimaginably connected world. It truly feels like a small world at times. But how many of us are actually mindful about our connections? Of course, it is not possible to know how and to whom you are connected without some sort of communication and revelation. You cannot know your sister goes to a school where your friend’s cousin is her classmate, unless someone tells you about it. You cannot know a client of yours knows a candidate you placed in a different firm ten years ago, unless you see them as mutual connections on social media.

And sometimes, connections pay- literally and figuratively. The impetus networking skills have gained over the years is the proof. Networking, making connections is an important task. LinkedIn wouldn’t be so important otherwise.

Moreover, it is a greater skill to make use of that networking and connections, at the right time.

We are back with a recruitment story, this time, with the theme of the importance of making right and timely use of your networks.

One of our Team Leaders was in touch with a candidate who had been selected for a senior position at a particular company abroad. The candidate, let us call him Mr. X, was having a hard time getting his resignation accepted at his then current job. Seeing no other alternative, he ghosted that company. He left, just like that.

He not only ghosted the company he was then working at, but also the company he was supposed to join.

So now, the client company was left hanging. The candidate had also met the management once, and they were sure he would join once his notice period came to an end.

The client told our Team Leader about the issue.

The Team Leader’s calls, messages, emails went unanswered, unreachable too.

A classic case of ghosting had unfolded! What to do now, we wondered.

The Team Leader explored her networks. She browsed LinkedIn incessantly to find some common connection, some person, maybe who lived in the same country, city as Mr. X. She started looking for people who might be even remotely connected in any way to him.

She found out one connection, someone she knew, let us call him Mr. Y. Apparently, he and Mr. X  both were employees in one company at some point of time, but in different countries. The timings of their tenure matched, but could it be possible that Y would know X? Probably no, probably yes.

Besides, she had contacted a former colleague of Mr. X, and he had the same contact information. What are the odds that this Mr. Y would have anything new to say?

At such times, it becomes important to rely on your guesswork, and take chances.

Our Team Leader anyway contacted Mr. Y, and eventually asked him if he knew Mr. X.

Turns out, they were in fact, good friends. What’s more, Mr. Y said he had talked to Mr. X  just recently. They were in touch!

Our Team Leader talked about the issue to Mr. Y. He said he wouldn’t be able to give her Mr. X’s new contact information but he will communicate the issue to him, and will tell him to give a call.

There was no call for some time though. The Team Leader waited.

Finally, Mr. X called. The ghost had been found!

He communicated the problem he was facing with his resignation to our Team Leader. He also told her that there was a health emergency in his family, and he wouldn’t be able to join the client company at the date that had been decided. The Team Leader understood his predicament, and communicated this to the client company.

Eventually, the issues were sorted, he attended to the health emergency well. He attended the training sessions but as per his requirement, his joining date was extended.

What are the lessons to learn here?

Firstly, the Team Leader’s perseverance and resourcefulness.

She made full use of LinkedIn. Many of us ignore the tools we have at hand.

How many of us have that presence of mind? It is important to know where to look, and whom to ask. Knowledge-acquisition process would become haphazard if we didn’t know these basic questions.  And she kept looking despite failure at the first connection.

The Team Leader also took a chance. She didn’t dismiss any trace of a link. It is truly necessary to be open to possibilities. We should know that one really never knows.

These qualities, and the commitment helped her retain a long-term client, a very important thing in the recruitment industry. And most importantly, communication played a major role. To find solution(s) to any problem, one needs to know that there is a problem in the first place.

This is one recruitment story where making the right use of technological resources, networking, and communication skills made a difference. Kudos to Mrs. Rina Arun, the Team Leader in the story!

Narrowing the Generation Gap: Succeeding in a Multi-generational Workforce

Multi-generational workplace image

It is a remarkable time that we are living in. Literally, generations of people, who have grown up in drastically different times, are working together.

The Traditionalists born in the early 1940s and before, the Baby Boomers  of 1946-1964, the Generation X of 1965-1983 and the infamous Millennial generation of 1984-2002, which is entering the workforce and supposedly changing the ways an office has been functioning for long.

Now, these “boxes” are certainly debatable. Do we need such a compartmentalisation? Does such a categorization mean the same in the Indian context? Should people born after 1995 be included in the Millennial category or be termed as Generation Z? What about the differences of life experiences within a generation?

Whatever said and done, there are different generations working together. Or at least, they are trying to.

How do we make the best of such a unique phenomenon?

 

  • No Negativity Please!

It is important to not resort to negative stereotypes.

The Harvard Business Review found that every generation wants meaningful work, that they like to work to the contentment of their intrinsic motivation. The wider definition of what is meaningful is similar at the core.

It is more a question of perception, i.e. negative stereotyping, which gives rise to conflict. Interactions-with prejudices, biases based on a few experiences and what one has heard others say-as their basis could be detrimental to communication and actual appraisal of the person. This leads us to the next point.

 

  • Awareness Vs. Assumption:

Every generation is “known” for certain standout qualities, and encouraging the good ones is important. But it’s a bad idea to generalise and label someone just because they belong to that generation. Potentials may remain under-utilised this way.

There are young people who are not techno savvy. There are people in their seventies who have a firmer grasp of how social media works. It is a tight-rope balancing act between being aware and assuming.

 

  • Everyone Matters:

This point can come handy to those in managerial positions.

Many modern workplaces are making it a point to please the Millennial generation, for example, by making the work-hours flexible, making majority processes online, ditching the dress-codes, making structural changes in the workplace etc.

While it is not a bad thing to keep up with times, it is not a great idea to be completely insensitive to the needs of other generations, or even to the differences within a generation for that matter.

It is thus important to do a basic thing before implementing structural and administrative changes in the workplace: ask everyone.

Imagine someone who is more comfortable working “offline” in a nine-to-five time-slot, finding the office locked at those times because things are being done online. This not only takes us back to the previous point of assuming, but it also tells us about how blanket rules could hamper productivity.

We don’t want a workplace which pleases someone in their twenties but makes someone in their fifties uncomfortable. Or vice versa.

 

  • Complement and Compliment

Rather than focusing on the differences to a chaotic end, it is a good idea to work as complements. And it is equally important to appreciate the skills which the “other” generation has, especially if one lacks it.

For example, the Millennial might learn from someone of Generation X some tips about composing a formal email/letter, how to approach a client on call or face to face. The Generation X person can learn about some shortcuts about copying and pasting text from one document to another, thus increasing speed and efficiency.

And everyone could learn from the Traditionalists and the Baby Boomers the art of remembering hundreds of phone numbers by heart! Or the art of maintaining long term client-relations.

This is learning-from-everyone approach is also known as reverse mentoring, and technology is just one aspect from a whole lot of areas to learn. Communicating, networking, conducting meetings, how assignments are handled etc., are done differently by different generations, and learning from everyone can give valuable insights.

Sharing and valuing of experience is important.

A multi-generational team where everyone gets a task which caters to their strengths is definitely unbeatable.

While it is necessary to step out of one’s comfort zone, it is also important to cash in on the strong points of each individual. Open communication which guarantees an inflow of a variety of ideas, and then defining a common goal, with everyone doing what they are good at can go a long way in a successful completion of tasks, overall productivity and workplace harmony.

 

 

 

Recruitment Story: The Sweet Rewards of Professional Excellencies

recruitment story 2 design

A gesture that has a personal touch, for a professional feat goes a long way in boosting levels of motivation, confidence, and work-satisfaction in the employee. Acknowledging and being grateful for any such gesture, and articulating it to the person who gave the “reward” strengthens the professional bond.

How would you like receiving a huge cake on your wedding anniversary from a prestigious client?
Pretty overwhelming, joyful, valued, surprised?

This is probably one of the best feedback someone might receive for their professionalism.

It is time for another recruitment story giving lessons, both personal and professional.

This team leader got a call from a lady in Singapore, who had found out about United HR through a reference.
The lady from Singapore eventually became a regular client.
And the team leader helped her get a lot of candidates for several management and directorial positions. The lady from Singapore phoned the team leader regularly to express her happiness whenever someone got recruited. The team leader too, always answered the calls warmly, and made sure the quality of work was maintained.
Now one day, the team leader received another such call from this lady.
It happened to be the team leader’s thirtieth wedding anniversary. As the client lady from Singapore expressed her happiness about the latest recruitment, the team leader thanked her for giving such a happy news on a day like that. More pleasant words were exchanged and the call was over.
The team leader got another phone call from a different person asking for her home address, and assuming it was for a professional reason, gave it.

Fast forward to when she was at home. The doorbell rang, and lo and behold, there was a cake delivered to her from the client lady in Singapore, for her “ wedding anniversary”! That person asking for the team leader’s address was calling from Hyderabad (he was a successfully placed candidate), and was directed by the lady from Singapore to do so. He had selected a huge cake with wonderful icing.

This client lady had also emailed praising the landmark number of thirty years.

The team leader had received felicitations from distant places! Both, the client and the candidate had gone an extra mile.

One talks about the sweet returns of a great job. But rarely one thinks of receiving such a literal sweet return!

 Efficiency, and consistency are two factors that contributed to establishing a sense of reliability.

This reliability goes a long way in retaining clients and maintaining client-relations.

It is hard to imagine something similar happening if the team leader wasn’t consistently delivering results. She clearly didn’t stop making efforts after just one successful assignment. What’s more, there was always cordial, warm communication taking place. This goes a long way in making sure the client feels valued.

The personal touch in a gesture is truly a marker of the client-satisfaction.
And sure enough, in this case ,professional excellence leads to a figurative cake and the sweet taste of job satisfaction, which are way beyond the monetary rewards.

Kudos to Mrs. Ansuya Satish, who is the team leader in the story and we thank her for sharing pearls of wisdom, and take things to learn from her.
She has been one of the Great Pillars, on whom the Glorious History of United HR rests.

Mrs. Ansuya Satish
Mrs. Ansuya Satish