Advance Hiring Interview Skills That Improve Your Batting Average Part 6


The remarks here are my own opinion. I made the opinions based on my many years of work experience as a HR practitioner. You are entitled to accept, reject or ignore them.


Parts 3 to 8 will cover the interview proper. This part will cover the organization and the job. As the employer, you should ask yourself whether you will appeal to prospective employees and if yes, who are the likely ones. Doing so will give you a sense of reality in your recruitment efforts.

There are 3 aspects that job candidates would consider:

  • The company’s industry.
  • The company’s management staff.
  • The job nature; reporting structure and with whom the job incumbent interacts with.

By better understanding why you are getting the number and quality of job candidates that you are getting, then you are in a better position to take any positive actions to help your business. Of course, these considerations can be overwritten by job candidate’s motivation to obtain a source of income to meet basic economic needs.


Reflect on Staff Turnover

The invisible costs from staff turnover includes:

  • Interruptions to daily operations, that sometimes may impact customer satisfaction and causes lost sales orders.
  • Costs of recruitment of the replacement headcount.
  • Broken processes and missing documentations.
  • Work being redistributed among the workers, increasing work load and pushing other staff to leave as well.

Leigh Branham wrote a book entitled The 7 Reasons Employee Leave but there are a lot more reasons.The 4 common reasons that I came across are:

  • People leave because of their direct report. The direct report may not be the manager but can be senior stakeholders or a matrix reporting structure. If you pay attention, you will find job advertsiements stating these that job applicants must have ability to work in a complex matrix structure or to deal with stakeholders. The company know they have internal problems but expect the job candidate to deal with them.
  • The company overwork people. Banks as well as food and beverage businesses are notorious for this; as in their split 12 hours shift work. In Japan, death due to overwork or “karoshi”.
  • The company is a poor pay master. The company claims that they pay salaries at market rate. It may be true that they have updated their pay structure but nobody is getting the pay adjustments. Sometimes when business is not doing as expected, they freeze pay increases and bonuses. Any pay increases is pathetic especially for low income earners.
  • There is no career progression opportunity.

Understanding the reasons staff leave your company will temper your hiring decision making. So, if you do not pay right, being choosy will lead to no hire. On the other hand, if the senior management do not take disciplinary actions against difficult management staff or counsel them, the human resource department will perpetually be dealing with new vacancies. So it is important to keep track of attrition figures; document staff grievances and perform exit interviews.

Employees with Salaries Below Poverty Line

In every society, there is a group of people that businesses employed that have income below the level of living costs. Usually, these are workers doing the “dirty” work such cleaning; or manual work such as factory workers. The staff turnover for this group tends to be higher.

Some industries, especially those employing many low skill staff would have staff that are in this group of people. These industries include the security; food and beverage; logistics; cleaning, early education. These are the employees that will leave the job because of a $25, $50 or $75 increase that they will get with a new employer.

Is Your Employer a “Cheapsake Employer”?

A lot of employers do not pay at the median market rate. Given that small and medium enterprises form seventy percent of the economy, that situation would be very common.

The first example is the not for profit and the non-profit industries do not pay well. The second example are service providers that employ many low skill staff.

In these industries, hiring managers are driven to keep operating costs down. Some interviewers even tries to negotiate down on the expected salary, treating it as a game. But when a employer does this, he or she risk losing the prospective staff over the long run.

Interviewers forgot that like themselves, the only reason why job applicants apply for the job is for the income required to take care of themselves and their family members. Interviewers, especially in the food and beverage sector, gets angry because staff leave because of $25 or $50 dollar difference. They forgot that they have themselves to blame if they short-changed the staff in the job offer.

Above: Job advertisement posted in JobsBank by anonymous company that manufactures and repair marine engines for a HR & Admin Manager.

Is the Job Title Correct?

Some employers tries to cheat prospective job applicants

They advertises for Assistant Manager or Deputy Manager but gives the job description of a full manager and job offer of a Assistant Manager.

They advertises for Business Partner but it is an Executive or Officer position. Similarly, the job title says Director but it is a mid-level management job.

These are some ways that the hiring manager can shortchange the job applicant, especially if the job applicant is unemployed and is desperate to find a job.

It could be a sign that the hiring manager is having problems managing his business unit’s budget.

How Many Bosses?

When you recruiting someone new, it is likely they have to report to somebody. In matrix organizational structure, they have to report to more than 1 boss.

You probably come across the joke of many supervisors standing around watching one lonely worker work. In matrix reporting structure; every boss would give work to the staff but could not be bother to think of the staff’s welfare. This is a flash point that can trigger a staff to quit.

Some of the staff that are prone to this are functional staff (HR, finance, legal, sales and so on) doing regional jobs. Things are worse when they do not have subordinates at their base or local assistants at the different geographical locations.

Is It a Regional Job?

A job that requires one to travel to many different countries may not be as fun as one imagine.

Frequent travelling is always epected of regional sales and marketing personnel. First, frequent travelling can be tiresome and take one away from the family. Second, unlike managing different locations in one country; the job of managing many locations spread over different countries is more complex. Some of these include:

  • Physical climate, for example floods, typhoons.
  • Political unrest:for example military coup; terrorist bombings.
  • War and riots: for example, union workers strike.
  • Legislations: for example, local employment regulations.

Marine service engineers that travel for servicing jobs on sea going vessels will find themselves more than sea sick. They may face the dangers of being held hostage or kidnapping at sea by pirates. Few employee would stay in the job and they would rather take on a land based job.

Above: has a vacancy for Regional HR Business Partner that travels 50 percent of the time.

How Many Internal Customers?

Nowaday, we frequently see job advertisments for Human Resource Partners. They can come at different job grades; from junior level (below mid-level) to senior level (above mid-level). They are seen more often in human resources than in finance, legal, sales and marketing.

It originates from this erroneous “internal customer” concept. The trouble with this concept is that it gives line managers the chance to off load their management problems to functional business partners.

Above: Credit Suisse advertises for a HR Advisor.

Above: Job advertisement for HR Manager, Asean posted by Autodesk Asia in JobsBank

Managers are paid a premium and given appropriate authority and the job description that they are to be able to manage. But some of them like shifting the responsibility of dealing with subordinate problems to the HR Department. This partnership model sometimes creates the false impression that the managers can do that. Perhaps a better alternative is manager training and HR call center.

Are Safety Measures Adequate?

In the marine, oil and gas, chemical and construction industries, workplace safety is top priority. It makes the difference between losing or retaining lives and limbs.

However, because of budget constraints, employers sometimes shortchange by not providing; not providing adequate (number, quality) or  replenishing worn-out personal protection equipment; not procuring proper equipment and tools for the job; or not doing proper safety reminders and inspections

Career that Grows with the Company?

An organization can have 4,000 employees spread all over the globe, with about 80 in each location. This mean that the organiation is rather flat for each location; so there is little opportunities for upwards career movement.

Do You Work in A Start Up?

Anyone that works in a start-up faces a downside risk of the business failing. Unless it is well funded, staff in start-ups do not get a competitive compensation and benefits package. Staff may be given company shares. The shares become valuable only when the company do well.

Do You Work in A Bureaucracy?

In both extremes, one is working in a organization run by volunteers, the other is working in a bureacractic organization, nothing gets done.

If the hiring manager is ambitious about his dreamy projects, the prospective staff will find frustrations in his job when implementing the project when hired.

Do Senior Managers Abuse Their Authorities?

When each of us started work, we carry with us this notion that the working world carry the same work ethics pounded into our heads by the school system. The realities of the real world’s workplaces.

At this level, with when so much corporate power rest on an individual and when an individual have so much freedom to act; they would be tardy in their self discipline; allowing their individual personality to take over; sometimes thinking that they are above the law or corporate policies. The senior rank is filled with such people.

When you hire a support staff for such people; there is a need to assess and understand the situation.

I recalled reading a case involving a senior management staff of an national airline who likes to hire young and pretty women to work for him; and later there would be reports of sexual harassment cases taken up against this senior manager. Eventually, the cases went to court and were published in the national papers, tarnishing the public image of the national airline.

“Lousy Boss”

“Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.” Peter Drucker

  • Is the boss is an Incompetent?
  • Does the boss Avoid Accountability?
  • Does the boss cares only about himself?
  • Does the boss have mood swings?
  • Is the boss a nasscrist?
  • Is the boss a lazy boss?

When the boss is bad one and his staff hates him, it is a situation for frequent staff turnover; unfair termination; management-staff conflicts. It is bad for business.

Workplace Civility and Respect Policy; Anti-Bullying Policy; Anti-Harassment Policy; Diversity and Inclusion Policy; Fair Employment Policy and the likes are merely deterrences.

How Complex is the Team Structure?

The span of control for Chief Executive Officer is 5 to 7 direct reports (Source: Span of Control Every Leaders Should Know written by Mike Myatt, Forbes 5 November 2012).

“The nearer we approach the supreme head of the whole organization, the more we ought to work towards groups of three; the closer we get to the foot of the whole organization, the more we work towards groups of six.” General Sir Ian Hamilton (Source: Span of Control: The Formulas of V. A. Graicunas written by Fred Nicholas)

When the span of control goes beyond these numbers, the ability of the job incumbent to cope with stress and job burn-out depends on:

  • Whether there is someone at each geographical locations doing work and how competent are they.
  • Whether there are adequate and up to date policies, processes and procedures to follow.
  • Whether exceptions and disruptive events that happen are minimal.

Above: Medtronic advertises for a HR Shared Service Operations Manager – APAC