How to Maintain H/R Files Properly

Each employer has its own unique employment record maintenance practices. Employee records can be maintained in paper form, scanned or completed and maintained electronically. No matter what format is used, the maintenance, security and retention requirements are the same.

Employers must have at least three different “employee files” on each employee. The main personnel file that contains employee performance and job-related information; the medical/confidential file that contains protected, non-job-related or confidential medical information; and the payroll file that contains payroll, garnishment and other pay-related information.  I-9 files, Background Check reports including Credit Checks, and Workers’ Comp paperwork should always be maintained separately. Employers must give special consideration to where and how they maintain these files, limiting access to those with a need-to-know only and protecting applicants and employees from discrimination, identity theft, breach of privacy, and HIPAA violations. Normally, only the HR Manager and the CEO/President have access to these files.

Remember the following:

  • Access is highly restricted to employee files and should always be kept in locked cabinets which are locked throughout the day.
  • Managers and Supervisors should have access or can request access to personnel files only to assist them in making employment decisions.
  • Hiring records should not be in personnel files and that includes any job requisitions and job postings, interview notes, reference checks (however, hired employee’s application and resume should be stored in the personnel file).
  • If information is related to the employee’s performance, knowledge, skills, and abilities then it belongs in the personnel file.

What should be included in the personnel file?

  • Job descriptions.
  • Offer letters, promotion, demotion, transfer, layoff, and education and training records.
  • Records relating to other employment practices (including policy acknowledgments and agreements).
  • Letters of recognition.
  • Disciplinary notices or documents.
  • Performance evaluations and goal setting records.
  • Copies of certifications, licenses, degrees.
  • Termination records.

What should be included in the payroll file?

  • W-4s, state withholding forms.
  • Pay information.
  • Wage deduction acknowledgements.
  • Benefit enrollment forms.
  • Time keeping records.
  • Wage Theft Protection Act forms.
  • Disability, FMLA paperwork.
  • Leave paperwork; i.e. – Jury Duty, Military, etc.
  • Employment verifications.

What should be included in the medical/confidential file?

  • Medical information- doctor’s notes, employee’s physical exam information.
  • SSNs or other protected class information such as age, race, gender, national origin, disability, marital status, religious beliefs.
  • Harassment and other grievance complaints.
  • Investigation notes.
  • Reasonable accommodation documentation.
  • Arrest records.
  • Drug tests.
  • Motor Vehicle Records.
  • EEO and AAP information.
  • Hiring Records-pre-employment testing, background checks, etc.

By Ann Maynard. www.jkexec.com

As a senior HR executive, Ann Maynard leverages more than twenty years of progressive experience in all areas of human resources (at start-ups and Fortune 500 companies) bringing clear understanding and rational processes toward adaption, integration and compliance to her clients. Find out more at www.jkexec.com

FLSA Exemption Questionnaire – NYS

Note to employers: This questionnaire serves as a basic outline for an employer’s initial analysis of positions being considered for exemption under the FLSA and is meant to serve as one of several tools in such an analysis. Job titles are insufficient to determine exempt status. Additionally, state wage and hour laws may have different requirements.

Position Title: __________________________________

Employee: ____________________________________

Date: _________________________________________

Completed by: _________________________________

Completion of this questionnaire helps determine the exemption status of a position. Check the appropriate exemption (executive, administrative, professional, computer-related, outside sales or highly compensated), then check all boxes under the selected exemption that are applicable. To qualify for an exemption, all boxes must be checked for that exemption.

EXECUTIVE (examples: chief executive officer, controller, vice president, director)

  •  Regularly receives a predetermined amount of pay constituting all or part of the employee’s salary, which is not subject to reduction because of variations in the DOL’s quality or quantity of work performed.
  •  Is paid at least $885 weekly (effective Jan. 1, 2020).
  •  Primary duty consists of managing the enterprise or a customarily recognized department or subdivision of the enterprise.
  •  Customarily and regularly directs the work of two or more full-time employees or their equivalents (for example, one full-time employee and two half-time employees).
  •  Has the authority to hire or fire other employees OR makes recommendations that carry weight as to the hiring, firing, advancement, promotion or any other change in status of other employees.

ADMINISTRATIVE (examples: manager, supervisor, administrator)

  •  Regularly receives a predetermined amount of pay constituting all or part of the employee’s salary, which is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed.
  •  Is paid at least $885 weekly (effective Jan. 1, 2020).
  •  Primary duty consists of performing office or nonmanual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers.
  •  Work includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.

PROFESSIONAL: LEARNED AND CREATIVE (examples: accountant, nurse, engineer, composer, singer, graphic designer)

  •  Regularly receives a predetermined amount of pay constituting all or part of the employee’s salary, which is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed.
  •  Is paid at least $885 weekly (effective Jan. 1, 2020). Note: For teachers, licensed or certified practitioners of law and medicine, and medical interns and residents covered under this exemption, the salary basis and salary requirements do NOT apply.

Learned Professional

  •  Primary duty consists of the performance of work that requires advanced knowledge (beyond high school) and that is predominantly intellectual in character and consistently includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment.
  •  The advanced knowledge is in a field of science or learning.
  •  The advanced knowledge was acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction. (This knowledge may be demonstrated either by possessing the appropriate academic degree or by having substantially the same knowledge level and performing substantially the same work as degreed employees but possessing advanced knowledge only through a combination of work experience and intellectual instruction.)

Creative Professional

  •  Primary duty consists of the performance of work requiring invention, imagination, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor as opposed to routine mental, manual, mechanical or physical work.

COMPUTER-RELATED (examples: network or database analyst, developer, programmer, software engineer)

  •  Is paid at least $885 weekly (effective Jan. 1, 2020) OR $27.63 per hour. That is, this exemption does NOT have to meet the salary basis requirement to regularly receive a predetermined amount of pay constituting all or part of the employee’s salary, which is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed, IF paid at least $27.63 on an hourly basis.
  •  Primary duty consists of:
  • The application of system-analyst techniques and procedures, including consulting with users to determine hardware, software or systems functional specifications, OR
  • The design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing or modification of computer systems or programs, OR
  • The design, documentation, testing, creation or modification of computer programs related to machine-operating systems, OR
  • A combination of these duties which requires the same level of skills.

OUTSIDE SALES (examples: salespeople, contract negotiators)

  • The salary basis and salary requirements do NOT apply for this exemption. That is, this exemption does NOT have the salary basis requirement to regularly receive a predetermined amount of pay constituting all or part of the employee’s salary, AND this exemption does NOT require payment of a minimum salary. Commission-only pay is allowable under this exemption.
  •  Primary duty consists of making sales or obtaining orders for contracts for services, or for the use of facilities for which consideration will be paid by the client or customer.
  •  Customarily and regularly is engaged away from the employer’s place or places of business.

HIGHLY COMPENSATED EMPLOYEES PERFORMING EXECUTIVE,
PROFESSIONAL OR ADMINISTRATIVE DUTIES

  •  Is paid an annual total compensation of $107,432 or more, which includes at least $885 per week paid on a salary basis (effective January 1, 2020). The required total annual compensation of $107,432 or more may consist of commissions, nondiscretionary bonuses and other nondiscretionary compensation earned during a 52-week period, but does not include credit for board or lodging, payments for medical or life insurance, or contributions to retirement plans or other fringe benefits.
  •  Primary duty consists of performing nonmanual office work. Note: No matter how highly paid, manual workers or other blue-collar workers, including non-management construction workers, who perform work involving repetitive operations with their hands, physical skill and energy are not eligible for this exemption.
  •  Customarily and regularly performs at least one of the exempt duties or responsibilities of the executive, professional or administrative exemption.

 

By Ann Maynard. www.jkexec.com

As a senior HR executive, Ann Maynard leverages more than twenty years of progressive experience in all areas of human resources (at start-ups and Fortune 500 companies) bringing clear understanding and rational processes toward adaption, integration and compliance to her clients. Find out more at www.jkexec.com

HR Compliance 101

Companies of all sizes face increasing HR complexities as the number of employment laws and regulations are on the rise, and the risk of penalties for non-compliance has never been greater. When developing HR policies and procedures, HR leaders should know, for example, that:

  • An employer must follow employment laws, including applicable federal, state, and local regulations.
  • A business may be subject to an audit from an enforcing agency that may levy fines and penalties for non-compliance.
  • Not knowing or understanding your compliance obligations is not an acceptable legal defense.

 What is HR’s role in compliance?

One of the key roles of HR departments is bridging the gap between the company’s strategic growth and objectives — and compliance practices that influence activities such as hiring, employee development, and retention.

Understanding the company’s strategic priorities lays the foundation for a better understanding of how compliance concerns may impact decisions. HR goals should be designed to support company strategy, yet they must also consider compliance implications.

What are some examples of HR compliance issues?

HR related compliance centers around employee-related matters, including when and how to pay overtime, employee documentation that must be maintained, administering benefits, hiring procedures and separation policies. Some examples of issues you might face include the following:

Recruiting Strategies

If your goal is to increase diversity within your organization, what compliance factors come into play when reaching out to potential candidates? How does managing costs for benefits and compensation amid the federal, state, and local laws that regulate these areas impact what path your company will follow?

Form I-9

Form I-9 is used to verify both the identity of new employees and their authorization to work in the United States. Make sure you are up to date on the following items:

  • Document storage requirements
  • How to complete a Form I-9 and deadlines for completion, based on employee’s hire date
  • Understand that you cannot mandate what specific documents a new hire presents (they’re permitted to present any allowable document(s) listed on the form)
  • The impact of errors; if any part of the form is completed incorrectly, fines can be costly

You must ensure that Forms I-9 are completed in a timely manner and in compliance with the regulations and guidance provided, and that they are properly retained on file.

With immigration issues at the forefront of enforcement, complying with the most recent standards and requirements for employment verification should be on top of an HR leader’s compliance checklist.

Non-discriminatory hiring

Federal anti-discrimination laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, all of which prohibit discrimination in employment based on protected classes. It’s important to ensure a workplace free of discrimination in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local laws.

When it comes to compliance with these laws, employers should ask themselves:

  • Do I know which federal, state, and local employment laws prohibiting discrimination in recruitment and hiring apply to my business? Antibullying and/or sexual harassment prevention?
  • Have my managers been trained on these laws recently? Annually?
  • Do I have policies in place to communicate our efforts to comply with these laws? Policy sign-offs?
  • Have I analyzed company practices for making employment decisions including recruitment, hiring, promotion, and access to training? Metrics?

Exempt vs. non-exempt status 

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations regarding employee classifications for exempt versus non-exempt status are often confused with the designation of hourly versus salaried employee payment methods.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) aims to ensure employees are paid in compliance with the federal wage and hour law. Under the law, employees are classified as either exempt or non-exempt from some or all of the provisions of the FLSA. Non-exempt employees must be paid at least minimum wage for all hours worked up to 40 in a workweek and the applicable overtime rate for hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

Pay issues

Does your regular rate of pay include wages, commissions, shift or job differential, premium pay for hazardous work, non-discretionary bonuses, and other incentive payments? Include them in your calculations for overtime where applicable and avoid shortcuts, such as averaging hours over multiple workweeks.

Off-the-clock work

Employees must record all hours worked, including work performed outside of regular working hours or off work premises even if the work was not authorized or requested. It’s your responsibility to make sure time cards are correct.

However, employers should avoid adjusting the weekly salary of an exempt employee due to the quantity of hours worked. Such action could jeopardize the salary basis test and the individual’s exempt status.

Travel time

Traveling from home to work and back doesn’t generally count as paid travel time, but travel from one job site to another will likely be compensable and count as time worked for non-exempt employees.

For home-based workers, traveling to the office may be considered compensable and time worked. Other types of travel may also be considered compensable under federal and state wage and hour regulations.

Maintaining Employee Records

Each employer has its own unique employment record maintenance practices. Employee records can be maintained in paper form, scanned or completed and maintained electronically. No matter what format is used, the maintenance, security and retention requirements are the same.

Employers must have at least three different employment record files on each employee. The main personnel file that contains employee performance and job-related information; the medical/confidential file that contains protected, non-job-related or confidential medical information; and the payroll file that contains payroll, garnishment and other pay-related information.  I-9 files, Background Check reports including Credit Checks, and Workers’ Comp paperwork should always be maintained separately. Employers must give special consideration to where and how they maintain these files, limiting access to those with a need-to-know only and protecting applicants and employees from discrimination, identity theft, breach of privacy, and HIPAA violations

Effective ways to keep up with compliance issues

Ensuring compliance in HR can be a tall order, but here are two pointers to get you started:

  1. Conduct an internal human resource audit of strengths and weaknesses of existing compliance levels. If unsure about where to begin, seek a subject matter expert’s advice or research requirements on the enforcing government agency’s website.
  2. Ensure that anyone accountable for compliance in the organization is properly trained. Remember, supervisors and managers represent the business in day-to-day employment decisions.

Once you gain a thorough understanding of your current practices and identify any gaps that may lead to compliance issues, you can begin to set priorities and draw up a plan to strengthen your processes.

An HR compliance checklist for businesses

Ultimately, it is critical that today’s HR leaders balance HR strategy and compliance. By instilling an overarching strategy that lays out your company’s goals and objectives – and ties that to compliance planning — employers can make more informed decisions that may minimize risk and keep compliance as an achievable goal.

Many organizations find it useful to develop a checklist that functions as a reminder for areas that they must keep in mind at all times. Some key areas to monitor and ensure compliance at all times include:

  • Completion and compliant retention of Form I-9
  • Ensuring non-discriminatory hiring practices
  • Accurate classification of exempt vs. non-exempt employees

When compliance is part of the decision-making process, it’s immediately highlighted on how different outcomes could impact business performance.

 

By Ann Maynard. www.jkexec.com

As a senior HR executive, Ann Maynard leverages more than twenty years of progressive experience in all areas of human resources (at start-ups and Fortune 500 companies) bringing clear understanding and rational processes toward adaption, integration and compliance to her clients. Find out more at www.jkexec.com

Why is HR Vital for Small Businesses?

For small businesses, the Human Resources function can be helpful for much more than simply processing payroll or handling the annual open enrollment season. Human Resources plays an essential role in developing a company’s strategy as well as handling the employee-centered activities of an organization.

Human Resources curbs excessive spending through developing methods for trimming workforce management costs, which includes negotiating better rates for benefits such as health care coverage. In addition, Human Resources ensures competitive and realistic wage-setting based on studying the labor market, employment trends and salary analysis based on job functions. As some small businesses have budget constraints, this Human Resources function is especially helpful.

An effective HR audit looks into every discipline of the human resources function. The purpose of an HR audit is to determine if your organization’s policies are current and if they comply with federal and state laws governing the workplace.

Human Resource audits involve an organization’s strategic actions to take an intensely objective look at its HR policies, procedures and practices. This type of comprehensive review of the company’s current state can help identify whether specific practice areas or processes are adequate, legal and effective. The results obtained from this review can help identify gaps in HR practices, and HR can then prioritize these gaps in an effort to minimize lawsuits and regulatory violations, as well as to achieve and maintain world-class competitiveness in key HR practice areas.

Offering an employee bonus plan will motivate employees to improve their job performance and help the business achieve its goals. A company tends to be more attractive to prospective applicants or candidates for a job if they know that the business has employee bonus plans for its employees.

Creating incentive plans have the potential to raise morale and increase job satisfaction in a company. Additionally, staffers with high levels of job satisfaction often exhibit lower degrees of absenteeism, which can also help improve a company’s bottom line.

Employers also use the policies in an employee handbook to provide the roadmap to the ethical and legal treatment of employees. It allows the employer to know that employees are informed about actions and behaviors that will warrant disciplinary action up to and including employment termination in their workplace.

Finally, from hiring the right candidates, to improving company morale and ensuring high overall performance standards while resolving employee conflicts, these are some of the reasons why HR is so crucial for business success.

 

By Ann Maynard. www.jkexec.com

As a senior HR executive, Ann Maynard leverages more than twenty years of progressive experience in all areas of human resources (at start-ups and Fortune 500 companies) bringing clear understanding and rational processes toward adaption, integration and compliance to her clients. Find out more at www.jkexec.com

Most people become incredibly anxious at the thought of attending a networking event of any kind, whether it is a Chamber of Commerce event, professional organization or a group of fellow jobseekers. However, the thought of attending a social event or party at a friend’s home doesn’t elicit the same level of tension, though on a fundamental basis, the two events are very similar.

Networking is about making friends and getting to know other people well enough that there is a certain level of trust. Networking is not all about you and it’s not about collecting business cards from an event like charms for a bracelet.

It is about you making a connection with another person. Either by attending an event, or striking up a conversation with someone in a supermarket, or chatting up that fellow parent at an after school practice -it’s being truly “in the moment” and hearing what they have to say and figuring out how you can help them.

Here’s some easy tips to get the ball rolling toward making a new friend:

  • Your attitude should always be about potentially making a new friend, or looking for ways to help other people with nothing in return.
  • Ask questions that get the other person talking about themselves, and really listen to what they have to say.
  • If you’re uncomfortable approaching new people, think of some genuine ways to start a conversation. I usually pay someone a compliment or make an observation about the venue, food, activities or even call out how it can take me a while to loosen up at events where I don’t know anyone. Just something to break the ice and share what is likely a common feeling or impression.

Think of an exit strategy, and be considerate of allowing other people time to network at an event. “I had a great time chatting with you, I’m sure you would like to meet other people, I’ll catch up with you next week.” Read their body language. It’s better to walk away and make plans to meet them another day to continue the conversation than monopolize their time.

By Melanie Szlucha, Redinc, LLC. www.redincllc.com

Melanie Szlucha has been a hiring manager for over 10 years. She founded RedInc, LLC to help job seekers by writing effective resumes and coaching them through job interviews. She is available to teach classes as well as work with individual clients improve their results at any phase of the job search process. Find out more at www.redincllc.com

Your resume is the first impression a company has of you, action verbs help portray the energy associated with the work you did!

        A        

achieved

acted

adapted

addressed

adjusted

administered

advertised

advised

advocated

aided

allocated

analyzed

answered

appointed

appraised

approved

arbitrated

arranged

articulated

assembled

assessed

assigned

assisted

attained

audited

authored

authorized

        B        

balanced

based

began

bettered

built

        C        

calculated

cataloged

chaired

clarified

classified

coached

coded

collaborated

collected

compared

combined

communicated

compiled

completed

composed

computed

conceptualized

condensed

conducted

conferred

conserved

considered

consolidated

constructed

consulted

contracted

contributed

controlled

converted

conveyed

convinced

coordinated

corrected

corresponded

counseled

created

critiqued

customized

        D        

debated

debugged

decided

defined

delegated

demonstrated

described

designed

detected

determined

developed

diagnosed

directed

discussed

displayed

distributed

drafted

drew

        E        

edited

educated

elicited

eliminated

emphasized

enabled

encouraged

enforced

engineered

enhanced

enlisted

ensured

entertained

established

estimated

evaluated

examined

exceeded

executed

expanded

expedited

experimented

explained

explored

expressed

extracted

        F        

fabricated

facilitated

familiarize

fashioned

filed

focused

formulated

fortified

founded

furnished

furthered

        G        

gathered

generated

globalized

governed

guided

        H        

halved

handled

harmonized

harnessed

headed

helped

hired

hosted

        I        

identified

illustrated

implemented

improved

incorporated

increased

individualized

influenced

initiated

inspected

installed

instilled

instituted

instructed

insured

integrated

interacted

interpreted

intervened

interviewed

introduced

invented

investigated

involved

        J        

joined

judged

justified

        K        

kindled

        L        

lectured

led

listened

located

logged

        M        

maintained

managed

marketed

measured

mediated

merged

modeled

moderated

modified

monitored

motivated

        N        

narrated

narrowed

navigated

negotiated

normalized

        O        

observed

obtained

operated

ordered

organized

originated

outlined

overhauled

oversaw

 

        P        

participated

performed

persuaded

photographed

pioneered

planned

prepared

presented

presided

printed

prioritized

processed

produced

programmed

projected

promoted

proposed

provided

publicized

purchased

        Q        

qualified

questioned

quickened

        R        

recommended

reconciled

recorded

recruited

rectified

Reduced

referred

registered

regulated

rehabilitated

reinforced

remodeled

repaired

replaced

reported

researched

responded

restored

retrieved

reviewed

revised

revitalized

        S        

scheduled

streamlined

screened

searched

set goals

set up

shaped

simplified

simulated

solicited

solved

spearheaded

specialized

specified

spoke

standardized

stimulated

strengthened

studied

submitted

succeeded

suggested

summarized

supervised

supplied

supported

surveyed

synthesized

systematized

        T        

taught

terminated

tested

trained

translated

transmitted

tutored

        U        

uncovered

unified

updated

upgraded

utilized

        V        

validated

verified

volunteered

        W        

widened

won

wrote

        Y        

yielded

        Z        

zoned

Did you know that an interview with a company starts the MINUTE you apply for a position? Don’t let a question prevent you from sealing the deal, here is a list of 75 commonly asked behavioral questions to help you prepare for your next interview! 

Accomplishments and Challenges

  1. Tell us about a time when you received criticism, how did you handle it?
  2. Give an example of how you set goals and achieve them.
  3. Tell me about a time where you felt defeated.
  4. Describe a situation that required you to work under pressure and tell us how you managed the tasks at hand.
  5. Describe a time where you were given a task with little to no instruction. How did you learn to do the job?
  6. How do you define success?
  7. Can you tell me about a problem you solved in a unique way? What happened?
  8. Describe a situation where you found yourself outside your comfort zone.
  9. What was the most satisfying goal you accomplished?
  10. Describe a time when you set your sights too high.
  11. What are some obstacles that you have had to overcome to get where you are today?
  12. Describe a situation when you found yourself challenged. Were you successful? If not, why?
  13. How do you define stress? How do you cope with it?
  14. What do you see as you biggest challenge with this position? How will you handle it?
  15. Tell us about your most difficult decision. What was the outcome?
  16. Give us an example of an important goal you have set, and how you reached it.
  17. If you weren’t satisfied with the work you turned in, what would you do about it?
  18. Can you describe the process you use to set personal goals?
  19. Tell us about a time when you had to learn something brand new in a short time. What steps did you take?
  20. Talk about a time when you presented a new idea to your supervisor. How was it received?

Communication and Conflict

  1. Tell us about a job experience in which you had to speak up and tell other people what you thought or felt.
  2. Tell me about a time you worked on a team with individuals from different cultural backgrounds.
  3. Describe a time when you found it difficult to work with someone from a different background.
  4. Describe a situation that required you to consider a different perspective from your own.
  5. How have you maintained relationships with your co-workers? What skills do you use?
  6. How have you interacted with a difficult boss?
  7. Can you describe a time when you had to work with a remote co-worker? How did you stay in touch?
  8. What do you do if you disagree with a co-worker?
  9. Tell me about a time when you had to work with others who dropped the ball.
  10. Tell me how you were able to communicate successfully with another person in regard to a sensitive situation.
  11. Have you had to make a presentation? What was the goal? What was the outcome?
  12. Have you any experience in sales? Maybe even selling an idea to a supervisor or coworker?
  13. Describe an instance when you had to think on your feet to avoid a difficult situation.
  14. How do you typically deal with conflict? Give an example.
  15. Tell of a time you had to manage a conflict or dispute among direct supports or team members.
  16. Tell us about a time when you recently had to deal with a difficult team member.
  17. Have you worked with a person who did things differently from you? How did you resolve your conflicts?
  18. Think about a difficult boss or other person who has challenged you. What made him or her difficult?
  19. What do you do when your priorities don’t match the priorities of those around you?
  20. How would you handle working at a job where you knew your boss was wrong about something that was affecting the company?

Decision making and Prioritizing

  1. What is most important to you in a job?
  2. Can you describe a decision that you regretted? Why did you regret it?
  3. Tell me about the last time your workday ended before you were able to get everything done.
  4. If you had to undertake multiple projects with tight deadlines, how would you stay on track
  5. How have you motivated yourself to complete an assignment or task that you did not want to do?
  6. Provide an example of a time when you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.
  7. Describe a time where you had to make an unpopular decision. How did you handle it?
  8. Describe a time when you had to advocate for your decision. What was the outcome?
  9. How do you go about a problem?
  10. Have you ever been in a business situation that was ethically questionable? What did you do?
  11. Did you ever make a risky decision? Why? How did you handle it?
  12. How do you stay organized?
  13. If you suddenly were given a deadline assignment while you were busy finishing another urgent problem, how would you handle the conflict?
  14. How do you usually delegate/ Prioritize tasks?

Team Player and Leadership

  1. Describe a time when you showed strong initiative.
  2. Give an example of how you’ve worked on a team.
  3. Have you been in a situation where you didn’t have enough work to do?
  4. Give an example of a time you went above and beyond the call of duty to get a job done.
  5. Have you ever performed duties that were beyond the scope of your job description?
  6. How would you describe a leader? Team player?
  7. What personal qualities do you believe define you as a leader?
  8. Have you ever had difficulty getting others to accept your ideas? What was your approach?
  9. Describe a situation when you had to change your leadership style to accomplish the desired impact?
  10. How do you motivate people?
  11. Describe a time when you had to achieve consensus in a group disagreement. What was the outcome?
  12. How would your co-workers describe you?
  13. What do you think is the toughest aspect of being a supervisor?
  14. Can you describe a time when a co-worker made a mistake and you discovered it? What did you do?
  15. Pick three adjectives that best describe yourself and your leadership skills.

About You

  1. Talk about a time when you worked your hardest.
  2. Can you tell me how you handled your transition between different jobs or positions in the past?
  3. What would you do if you were expected to conform to a company policy with which you had a strong disagreement?
  4. Has there ever been a situation where you thought it was better to be dishonest? Why? What did you end up doing?
  5. What do you believe sets you apart from all other candidates?
  6. What question do you wish we had asked? What question would you like to ask us?

The “what are your weaknesses” question is universally the one that most interviewees are afraid of being asked, and the question that most interviewers are most likely to ask. Therefore there is no reason not to have an excellent answer.

No one likes to admit that they have a weakness, whether it be for chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate, or procrastinating until the very last minute before an important project is due.

The key to answering this question correctly is to provide a weakness, and discuss how you have overcome it, or are working to overcome it. An example I always use is that unless I’m constantly vigilant, my desk can turn into an absolute hovel of papers. I have a tendency to let things pile up even after I’ve completed a project, thinking that I’ll still need to refer to my notes in the future. It’s only after a few weeks have snuck by and I make a desperate attempt to find the desktop again, that I realize that I didn’t need to save as much paperwork as I did.

Because I know that this has the potential to be a big problem for me, I’ve changed my work habits to make sure that I set aside time when I come into the office every Friday morning to clear off my desk and prioritize my projects for next week. I have found that it makes me feel much more sane, and keeps me productive.

Note in the above example how I discussed my weakness: that it’s always been a problem, and how I work to overcome it on a weekly basis. Also note that admitting this specific weakness probably won’t keep me from getting the job-unless the hiring manager is a compulsive neat freak (in which case it’s probably best that I not work for them).

Avoid weaknesses that could seriously cast doubt on your work ethic or personality. Never discuss coming into work late, personality conflicts, or the quintessential “I work too hard” as a weakness. First, nobody wants to take a chance on you if you have the first two weaknesses, and nobody actually believes the third one. Acceptable weaknesses are a fear of public speaking, or the constant battle to stop a common bad habit, and others that are not typically job-threatening. Don’t forget to show how you are working to overcome these weaknesses.

 

By Melanie Szlucha, Redinc, LLC. www.redincllc.com

Melanie Szlucha has been a hiring manager for over 10 years. She founded RedInc, LLC to help job seekers by writing effective resumes and coaching them through job interviews. She is available to teach classes as well as work with individual clients improve their results at any phase of the job search process. Find out more at www.redincllc.com

Often at the end of a presentation to jobseekers, people will come up to me and ask me what I think of some piece of advice another coach has given them. I’m always taken aback by some of the things I’ve heard over the years.

A presenter advised jobseekers going for an interview to not bring anything with them.

Not a coat, not a purse, not a notebook/pen or a copy of their resume.

Huh?

I asked my client why the coach gave that advice, and they said that they felt that the applicant should look like they just walked down the hall for a meeting, I’m guessing implying that they already work there.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I was in the corporate world I always brought a notebook and pen to a meeting. I rarely took notes, but it made me look like I was prepared to swing into action should the opportunity arise. (I also could use it to write a HELP – THIS MEETING IS SUCKING THE LIFEBLOOD OUT OF ME! note and toss it out the open window…but that was just in my fantasies.)

So the advice to not bring anything makes no sense. I actually interviewed someone who did that, just walked into the interview with absolutely nothing, and my impression was that he didn’t really care and was completely unprepared.

And yet job seekers will hear the advice from that coach, and implement it because that person must be the “expert.”

Let me tell you this. There is no “gimmick” to getting a job. There aren’t tricks, secret knocks, hidden codes, special handshakes. Taking advice that flies in the face of common sense just because someone claiming authority told it to you isn’t doing you any favors.

I guarantee each and every one of you, at one point has been in the position to hire someone, whether it’s a contractor for your home, a mechanic, hairdresser, or person to sell you a car. You knew what you wanted them to do, and you hired the people that gave you the most confidence that they could do it. It was just that simple.

Chances are that the person you ended up hiring did something to differentiate themselves, and they were qualified for what you wanted them to do. Differentiated and qualified. Also, the way that they differentiated themselves was relevant to the position. If you were looking to hire a painter, one who came dressed as a clown “just to stand out” would seem a little odd. Another painter who came dressed neatly (rather than showing up in his speckled painting clothes), would subtly give you the impression that he would also be neat when he worked in your home. A good thing.

However, if the painter was dressed neatly (differentiated), yet didn’t have as much of or the type of experience that you were looking for, you wouldn’t hire him-because he wasn’t qualified for what you wanted him to do.

So being different just for the sake of being different won’t get you the job if you’re not qualified. Showing that you’re different from other candidates in a way that relates to the job, while also being qualified for the job, will work.

Before you adopt some truly creative approaches to your job search, always do a common sense test to evaluate someone’s advice. Hiring managers and recruiters don’t come from different planets with odd rituals that they’ve devised to trick job seekers. Every hiring manager and recruiter is a person, just like you, and they go through the same decision-making processes you do when looking to fill a position-regardless of what that position is. Put yourself in their shoes and look at how you would react to determine if someone’s advice is sound.

 

By Melanie Szlucha, Redinc, LLC. www.redincllc.com

Melanie Szlucha has been a hiring manager for over 10 years. She founded RedInc, LLC to help job seekers by writing effective resumes and coaching them through job interviews. She is available to teach classes as well as work with individual clients improve their results at any phase of the job search process. Find out more at www.redincllc.com

Every time I do presentations about how to be a more effective networker, the number one question on everyone’s mind is, how do you start a conversation with someone you don’t know?

As a veteran of many networking events, I feel everyone’s pain on this one.  I’m actually more of a “sit back and see what happens” kind of gal, and I really find it hard to talk to people I don’t know either.  But in order to grow my business, I had to learn how to get out there, and in order for you to get a job, you’re going to need to master this skill too.

The best opening line?  A compliment!  Who doesn’t love receiving a compliment, and who doesn’t instantly love the person giving the compliment?  It is a never fail conversation starter.

Here’s how it typically goes:  As a woman, I’ll usually compliment a guy on his tie (psst….I don’t always LIKE the tie, but I can say something like “I’ve never seen a tie quite like that one, there’s got to be a story behind it.” and it works just as well).  I have absolutely no idea why, but about 70% of the time they actually have some sort of story behind their tie.  Then because I just gave them a compliment, and listened to their tie story, they are much more open to talking to me.

For a man trying to network with a woman without coming across as a cheesy pickup line? Stick to comments about the venue, food, traffic or speaker. You can also ask how she heard about the event, and what she’s hoping to get out of it.

One other tip that always works, look for the other person at the event who isn’t talking to anyone else, but looks just as dazed/confused/lost as you probably do.  They will welcome your conversation.

The goal is to get the other person in a favorable state of mind to talk to you.  Once you’ve broken the ice, you can ask them more questions about their background, and then share your experiences that correlate with theirs.

Networking just takes practice.  The more attempts you make to create friends at these events, the better you’ll get at it.  Promise.

Now get off your couch and get goin’!

 

By Melanie Szlucha, Redinc, LLC. www.redincllc.com

Melanie Szlucha has been a hiring manager for over 10 years. She founded RedInc, LLC to help job seekers by writing effective resumes and coaching them through job interviews. She is available to teach classes as well as work with individual clients improve their results at any phase of the job search process. Find out more at www.redincllc.com