Category: HR

Phone Interviews: You Called, I Can’t Hear a Thing

Hello, hello, baby. You called, I can’t hear a thing.
I have got no service in the club, you see, see
Wha-Wha-What did you say?
Oh, you’re breaking up on me
Sorry, I cannot hear you, I’m kinda busy.

– Lady Gaga

My first gig in HR was as a recruiter/staffing consultant/placement specialist (or whatever title they wanted us to use at any given day) for a smaller temporary staffing agency. There was no training. I don’t think I even shadowed anyone prior to jumping on the phone and doing my first phone interview. I started out just interviewing candidates to fill data entry or basic reception positions. I’d never done either, so it was really a trial by error situation. But then that was my gig, all day, every day.

In my world, here are the things that have helped me not only become successful when it comes to recruiting, making recommendations to hiring leaders and getting some pretty amazing people started in their career:

  1. KNOW YOUR HIRING MANAGER. Get to know them. If you think you’re going to get the hiring right for someone without having some really in depth conversations, you’re wrong and you’re just causing yourself more work. Even if you’ve hired for the manager one million times before, you still need to check in with them. You need to know what’s working and what’s not working for their team. It’ll help. I swear.
  2. LISTEN. Seems easy, right? But we have the distractions of open offices, emails coming in, to-do lists growing, etc. and that’s fine for you to deal with on your time. Not the candidate’s time.
  3. ENGAGE. That means don’t treat your standard list of questions like a checklist. I’m sure you’ve asked the same questions for the same position for years on end if you have that one role that you’re always recruiting for. I don’t care. That candidate has never interviewed with you, so don’t take it out on them. They’re talking to you with the idea that this could be an amazing opportunity for them. And it’s one for you, too – you could be getting the ball rolling for hiring someone fantastic.
  4. ASK. As much as the questions you’re asking are probably somewhat canned, so are the answers you’re going to get. Nobody’s fault! It’s your job to go past those canned questions with words like “why?”, “tell me more”, and “what did you learn from that?”.
  5. LEARN. You can learn SO much when interviewing someone for any position. It might be something you’ll never even need to think about again, I get that. But in your role as an HR person, that should be far from the truth. I like to make the candidate the expert in whatever work it is they do and I’ve learned so much. And really, the more I learn from a candidate, the more I want them to move on to the next round and the more I’ve increased my knowledge of something else, which is always a good thing.

This stuff is all Interviewing 102. Interviewing 101 should be where you learn all that legal stuff, okay? And we all need constant reminders of both of those when it comes to interviewing. If we don’t have them, we end up doing the same thing over and over and that’s rarely the right thing to do.

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

The Robots are Coming. And They Might Bring Dennis Rodman.

They are. And as soon as they get here, there won’t be a need for people to work in HR departments. The robots have it under control and it will be glorious. (I’ve mentioned I speak fluent sarcasm, right?) There was a pretty great discussion about the shift of Artificial Intelligence into the Human Resource arena last week via the #NextChat twitter stream. The recap is on the SHRM blog if you’re really into that kinda thing.

The ATM just celebrated it’s 50th anniversary and there are now zero banks left in the world, thanks to John Shepherd-Barron. (FYI: The first one was at Barclays, which is the same company that’s installing sensors to see how often their employees are at their desks.) Robots have taken control of all of our money and will distribute it as the data sees fit. Please do not make eye contract with Robot Cashman. His infrared eyeballs will blind you and then turn you into a robot, too, which is actually pretty beneficial because then you’ll have a job!

The self-checkout made it’s appearance into the world back in the 1980s by a dude named David Humble. And since then, retail stores haven’t hired anyone at all because the machines are ALL OVER IT. You see those robots at Target all the time asking me if I’m finding everything okay six times in 20 minutes, making sure I have a RedCard so I can save 5% and stocking those damn end caps in such a beautiful, beautiful way that I want to buy everything.

Listen. I say this in jest, but it’s a fear that I’m pretty sure everyone has either felt or heard someone talk about at some point in their life. Probably 10 or 11 years ago, my BFF chastised me for using a self checkout at a grocery story because it would take away the cashier’s job. My bestie is not a conspiracy theory wackadoodle. My point in sharing what might embarrass her is this: IT’S OKAY TO BE NERVOUS.

Humans still need humans. That’s why I married my wife and not my quesadilla maker. The only thing that’s going to change is how those interactions happen. If I’m at my credit union and I need cash, but notice there’s a giant line in front me, I’m probably going to opt for the ATM in the lobby. But if I’m at my credit union (side note: here’s why you should join a credit union and ditch your big bank) and I need to figure out if I can get a better rate on my car loan, I’m going to talk to someone about it and I’m cool if the line is a little longer. A person is going to understand my situation much better than something that relies solely on artificial intelligence.

That works for HR, too. We’ll use AI to make sure we’re continuing to improve an applicant’s process, provide quicker responses to employee questions about their benefits or payroll and all that predictive analysis stuff that sounds super duper cool and helpful. But we’ll still use humans to do things like celebrate an employee’s 25th anniversary in a meaningful way, send an email to someone that works miles and miles away with a link to an article that reminded you of them, and spend more time developing, and, most importantly, take all the information we get from AI to make the workplace even better. See? It’s a gonna be a win for all us HR practitioners out there and we can’t be scared of it.

Dennis Rodman joined the Chicago Bulls back in 1995. He wasn’t much different in the 90s than he is now, minus palling around with Kim Jong-un. He wore dresses. He had a lot of tattoos. He punched a lot of people. I would imagine some of those championship level NBA players and coaches, along with millions of bandwagon Bulls were pretty terrified of that dude. He very well could have clocked Michael Jordan right in the face the very first day he walked into practice. But he didn’t. He was amazing and he helped the Bulls win three more NBA championships in a row.

See? It’s a gonna be a win for all us HR practitioners out there and we can’t be scared of it. If the greatest NBA player of all time (that’s Michael Jordan for you people that were incorrectly thinking Lebron what’s his name) can adapt to something scary and win some championships, then we can adapt to an addition to our daily lives that’s going to make us better, too.

What if we didn’t wait around in the locker room for AI to show up and throw his stuff in the locker next to ours? What kind of value could we bring our entire organizations if we proactively brought a case to our executive teams surrounding the benefits AI could bring from a business standpoint?

And What Do You Do?

My wife and I are expecting are second child together sometime in late December/early January, so we’ve been to a multitude of different doctors in the last several months, both pre-pregnancy and normal prenatal stuff. Normal prenatal stuff for parents in their late 30s/early 40s is a lot more involved than parents that are below what medical professionals deem “geriatric maternal age”. Some doctors are nice and replace the word geriatric with advanced, which is something we don’t quite hate as much. “Advanced” in school meant you were smarter than people, didn’t it? With all these visits, they always ask my wife what she does, then ask me what I do. It’s happened twice so far.

The first time:

CNM: And what do you do, Wendy?

Me: I’m in Human Resources.

CNM, with a slightly tentative tone to her voice: Oh, here at (insert name of clinic)?

Me: Uh, no. For a credit union.

CNM: Well, somebody has to do it, right?

Yep, someone totally has to do it. And I do it every day and I really love doing it. Those are the things I wanted to say. And then I wanted to say, “Yeeeeeah, and someone has to do your job, which I would never want to do because health care? That’s a big ew for me, ma’am.”

The second time:

X-Ray Tech: And what do you do, Wendy?

Me: I’m in Human Resources.

X-Ray Tech: Ohhhh.

It’s funny/not funny really. I never thought I’d want to be in Human Resources up until I was actually in Human Resources, but here I am. And I’m not going anywhere, so I’m gonna have to work on making it sound a little more exciting to people that don’t quite get the same excitement towards HR that I do.