Listening Skills.

Do you have good listening skills?

"Of course!" You reply. "It is one of my strengths."

In an interview we are all ears and anxious to demonstrate our listening skills. But the screening process happens not just in the interview but during all points of contact with the candidate and the recruiter or client company.

For example I am currently working on a fairly senior search at the VP level. I contacted a potential candidate who told that she wouldn't be interested in the position unless it was a minimum of $150,000.00. I told her that was no problem the client was willing to be very competitive in order to attract the right person.

I sen't her a position description.

She replied with an email asking questions about the benefits and some other details including potential for growth. I emailed her back with answers to those questions.

A week to 10 days went by and I heard nothing from her. So I picked up the phone and left her a voice mail asking her if she was still interested.

Minutes later an email (not a phone call) appeared saying she would need more information, in particular benefits and growth opportunities AND "we haven't talked about compensation yet".

Even though this person is working directly for a competitor she isn't impressing me with her listening skills.

For me I already have some reservations about her even if she becomes a candidate.

Remember the screening process is as much about how you act outside the interview as opposed to during the interview. Consider the whole process an audition. The interview is just the final act.
World of the Day: Mondegreen

My first misheard lyric came at the age of six, when I learned to sing "Row, Row Your Boat." I was convinced that the line after "merrily merrily merrily" was "life's a butter dream". I wasn't sure what dairy products had to do with a boat trip, but I didn't have the courage to ask.

The term "mondegreen" was coined by Sylvia Wright in a 1954 Atlantic article. As a child, young Sylvia had listened to a folk song that included the lines "They had slain the Earl of Moray/And Lady Mondegreen."

As is customary with misheard lyrics, she didn't realize her mistake for years. The song was not about the tragic fate of Lady Mondegreen, but the continuing plight of the earl: "They had slain the Earl of Moray/And laid him on the green."

Mondegreens can be found in every area of the spoken word.
Find more here. And see Pompatus of Love for a great story.
Joel On Interviewing 14: Ending the Interview

Finally, ask the candidate if she has any questions. Some people like to see if the candidate will ask intelligent questions, which is a standard technique in the interviewing books.

Personally, I don't care what questions they ask; by this point I've already made my decision. The trouble is, candidates have to see about 5-6 people in one day, and it's hard for them to ask 5-6 people different, brilliant questions, so if they don't have any questions, fine.

I always leave about 5 minutes at the end of the interview to sell my company. This is very important even if you are not going to hire the candidate.

If you've been lucky enough to find a really good candidate, you want to do everything to make sure that she wants to come aboard.

Even if they are bad candidates, you still want to get them excited about your firm. Think of it this way: these people are not just potential hires; they are also customers. They are also salesmen for our recruiting effort: if they think that this is a great place to work, they will encourage their friends to apply.
Represent, Yo!

Regular reader and commenter Gautam asked the following question in the comments section recently:

Do headhunters represent job seekers or job-fillers?

In other words do we represent the candidate or the hiring company?

Simply put the client companies pay our bills while the candidates get our services (such as they are) for free.

Gautam also asks:

That is, do you start the process after you get a good CV or after you get an opening from an organization?

This is a good segue to illustrate the types of recruiting firms you will encounter in your career.

Basically recruiting companies are divided into two main types: contingency and retained.

Contingency firms work on contingency (natch) which means that they don’t get paid unless they actually fill a position. Typically they don’t have exclusives on a particular assignment but will try to juggle as many openings as possible in order to increase their chances of filling a position and getting paid a fee.

Client companies rarely use contingency firms for senior positions and are more apt to use their services in areas where they have multiple openings in areas that they need to get fast turnaround (information technology for example).

Those who work in contingency firms are often paid on 100% commission and are usually very motivated to fill a position. The upside to this from your perspective is that they will work very hard to get you in to see their clients.

Often if they have a candidate that they feel has a skill or experience profile that is in high demand they will pick up the phone and start making what are called “marketing calls” or “MPC calls” (MPC means Most Place able Candidate) if you fall into that category the recruiter will be working on your behalf to try to get you as many interviews as possible.

The downside to this is that because they are purely focused on making deals happen they often will be so focused on getting interviews that they will send you out on positions that aren’t even remotely a fit.

Remember because they are on contingency the client has no allegiance to them and has no risk in receiving resumes or candidates from them. Often a contingency recruiter has called a hiring manager because the company was advertising and had maybe a 10-minute (or less) conversation about the job. Their understanding of the company and the position may not be that deep.

This is why when you are working with a contingency firm you should ask a lot of questions and don’t go out on interviews if they don’t seem to be a fit.

Retained Search firms are often known as Executive Search firms because they are usually focused on more senior positions. They are hired by the client to perform a specific search and are paid a “retainer” up front to start the search. They are paid regardless of whether the search is successful or not.

You are more likely to encounter these firms once you move into management roles and you will notice a difference in their style and approach.

Typically the type of consultant who is employed by an Executive Search firm is one who has worked in industry in some sort of management capacity and has fairly strong expertise in general business concepts. This enables them to have a greater understanding of the client’s requirements and of the candidate’s skills. They will have spent a fair amount of time face to face with the client discussing the needs and often will help the client develop a position description. When I worked in contingency we rarely met the clients.

Also Executive Search firms because they are on retainer will have exclusivity on a particular assignment. So they will go to market and perform a thorough search, interview as many candidates as possible and then recommend a short list to the client.

The client has a certain loyalty to the process because they are paying money up front. If the search is a retained search you know that the client is serious about filling this position.

Generally if you are dealing with a retainer firm you wont be sent on interviews that you aren’t qualified for. And you will find the process to be more professional.

The downside is that some retainer firms are often unwilling to look at candidates who are “outside the box” as it relates to the job description or “spec”. Some of them will even disqualify candidates who are lacking in something that is very minor.

Also the process can take much longer. But often this is the case with more senior roles – the hiring process is a bit more involved.

Both types of firms ultimately have to adhere to what the client wants and both types also have to represent you in a positive light to the clients if they want to get you in for an interview.

Ultimately the demarcation between which types of firm you deal with more often is going to be where your own career is progressing. The more senior you are the more often you will be dealing with retainer based search firms. The more junior you are the greater the chance you will be working through contingency firms.
Joel On Interviewing 13: The Challenge

This is fun. Throughout the interview, you look for the candidate to say something that is absolutely, positively, unarguably correct. Then you say, "wait a minute, wait a minute," and spend about 2 minutes playing devil's advocate. Argue with her when you are sure she is right.

Weak candidates will give in. No Hire. Strong candidates will find a way to persuade you. They will have a whole laundry list of Dale Carnegie techniques to win you over. "Perhaps I'm misunderstanding you," they will say. But they will stand their ground. Hire.

Admittedly, in an interview situation, you are not equal parties. Thus there is a risk that the candidate will be afraid to argue with you because you are in a position of power over him. BUT, good candidates will tend to get fairly passionate about the argument, and they may momentarily forget that they are in an interview, and they will get very involved in trying to convince you. These are the people we want to hire.
Describe your job.

I interview a lot of people by phone and in person. Most of them are very poor at describing what it is they do.

I think most of them assume that I know what their job is all about since I am supposed to be a “specialist” in whatever field they work in.

Most headhunters have never actually worked in your field before so we only have a rudimentary knowledge of what your job is all about. This also applies to HR professionals as well. They have a little more info on the internal workings of a company but don’t expect them to understand what a cost accountant or engineer really does.

For example let’s say you are a materials manager. Your resume states that your position requires you to “ensure integrity of material flow”. Ok but what does that mean?

How is integrity defined? Where is the material flowing? What are the steps you take to ensure this miraculous “integrity”?

Before you go to your next interview ask yourself this question: How would I describe my job to a complete stranger who had no experience in my field. Let’s say you are visiting your parents and the next-door neighbor asks you what your job is all about. Now let’s say he is a retired bus driver who has no business experience. Can you make him understand your job? You should be able to.

I’ve met a quite a few managers and senior executives who seem to get annoyed if you don’t immediately understand on an intuitive level what they are talking about. This doesn’t help the process because if I feel uncomfortable asking you to clarify things then I will assume this is how you deal with subordinates who ask questions that annoy you or who don’t “get it” as fast as you would like.

My co-blogger Mike will not let you away with this. He will ask you for examples repeatedly (and I will also). Be prepared with examples from your daily work that illustrate what it is you do.

This may seem onerous but remember as headhunters we have to be able to go to our client and represent you as best we can. We are your agent. The more you help us with details the better we can sell you to our client.

And we can’t sell the product if we don’t know anything about it.

France says 35-hour week is failing

The French government described the 35-hour working week as a financial disaster that was costing the state billions of dollars and promised to reform the system despite fierce union opposition.

The finance minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, said that the 35-hour week had burdened the state with additional social charges and that it had demoralized millions of workers.

The 35-hour week came into effect in 1997 as an idea for reducing unemployment. Unemployment now is just under 10%.

Source via
Special Characters

Sometimes, when I read about people doing extraordinary things in the news, I wonder what they would be like on the job. What kind of workers would the traits displayed in the stories enable them to be? Usually, the thing I am considering is the level of dedication. And this idea popped into my mind again while I was reading this article by John Derbyshire on people who withstand torture.

Here is an example:

Mainland-Chinese dissident Liu Qing, jailed for having published transcripts of the "trial" of his friend Wei Jingsheng, was forced to spend four years sitting absolutely still on a tiny stool made of hard rope that cut into his skin. No books, no exercise, no conversation. Criminal inmates were stationed around him in shifts, to beat him if he moved.
Arthur Koestler offered the following sketch of his friend, Alexander Weissberg, another one of those personalities whom nothing can break.

What enabled him to hold out where others broke down was a special mixture of just those character traits which survival in such a situation requires.

A great physical and mental resilience — that jack-in-the-box quality which allows quick recuperation and apparently endless comebacks, both physical and mental.

An extraordinary presence of mind... A certain thick-skinnedness and good-natured insensitivity, coupled with an almost entirely extroverted disposition — notice the absence in Dr. Weissberg's book of any contemplative passage, of any trace of religious or mystic experience which is otherwise almost inevitably present in solitary confinement.

An irresponsible optimism and smug complacency in hair-raising situations; that "it can't happen to me" attitude, which is the most reliable source of courage; and an inexhaustible sense of humor.

Finally, that relentless manner of persisting in an argument and continuing it for hours, days or weeks... It drove his inquisitors nuts, as it sometimes had his friends.
What I love about this description is the way Koestler links all of Weissberg's strengths to traits we might, in other circumstances, consider shallow or vulgar!

True or not, I don't know but, as presented here, it's Weissberg's insensitivity that makes him such a happy-go-lucky, irrepressible guy.
Only Suckers Wait

Have you ever heard the saying: "When the student is ready the teacher will appear"? It points to a true and common experience but does so in a stupid and mystifying way.

It seems to be saying that when you are truly ready to learn some person will magically appear in your life and teach you. Anything magical is exciting but what this idea really does is put your life out of your control. How, for instance, do you know when you are ready to learn? When someone else, whom you don't even know, decides to show.

In reality, the teacher does appear when you are ready to learn, but only because you look for him. Most likely he was there all the time, you just had no interest so you didn't pay any attention.

The proof: imagine you buy a book on time management. You glance at it and then it sits on your shelf for a couple of years. Finally, you become so dissatisfied with the way you manage your time that you look for the book. Or, perhaps, you become so dissatisfied that when you happen upon the book again, you take it much more seriously. Did it magically "appear"?

Or, let's say that you want to learn auto maintenance. You look in the yellow pages for a school and discover that there is one right around the corner from your home. It wasn't of interest to you before so you didn't notice it.

According to the saying, the auto mechanic would somehow seek you out because he knew intuitively that you were spiritually ready to take what he could give.

Naturally, no one could run a business with this passive attitude but, in fact, I recently had a tussle with a successful, 50-year-old businessman about this saying.
Naturally, he just thought I was a contrary kind of crank.

Of course, I could say that I was just being spiritual. Because isn't it zen-like to cut through the bullshit and face the matter-of-fact truth?
The Psychology of Time Control

Free spirits think of time management as a prison, the chains being cancelled freedoms. Ironically, the aim of time management is to give us the freedom to do the things we want. But it is based on the recognition that in order to be happy we must restrict our activities to what we want most because we don't have enough time for anything else.

This is an enormous block for many people because they don't want to accept limitations. They don't want to make the decision to give up chocolate for vanilla. They want to have two desserts even when there is only time for one. And despite all of the negative results their approach brings, they cannot force themselves to change their foundational belief.

Again, ironically, while time management is based on the acceptance of a limitation to your power to get everything you want, it does require that you have the power to control what you do. And, that means making decisions. And you can't make decisions if you insist on having all of the options. Inotherwords, if you insist on having complete power, you have no power at all.

Psychologically, people can be divided into Internals and Externals. Internals believe that they have a lot of control over their lives. Externals believe that their lives are largely controlled by forces external to themselves. Based on what was just said about decision-making, it's clear that what externals lack is the power to give things up. We can control some things but not everything but they believe that they cannot be satisfied unless they have it all.

Have you ever started a meal with the feeling that you can eat forever only to be completely satiated a short time later? That's the key to power. Realizing that you don't need everything to be happy. It frees you to let go of what you don't need. And that frees you to make a decision to do something else.

The moral of this story? Don't focus on ends to the exclusion of means. Or, in simpler terms, don't bite off more than you can chew.
Joel On Interviewing 12: The Design Question

Ask the candidate to design something. Jabe Blumenthal, the original designer of Excel, liked to ask candidates to design a house. According to Jabe, he's had candidates who would go up to the whiteboard and immediately draw a square. A square! These were immediate No Hires. In design questions, what are you looking for?

Good candidates will try to get more information out of you about the problem. Who is the house for? I will not hire someone who leaps into the design without asking more about who it's for. Often I am so annoyed that I will give them a hard time by interrupting them in the middle and saying, "actually, you forgot to ask this, but this is a house for a family of 48-foot tall blind giraffes."

Not-so-smart candidates think that design is like painting: you get a blank slate, and you can do whatever you want. Smart candidates understand that design is a difficult series of trade-offs. A great design question: design a trash can for a city street corner. Think of all the trade offs! It has to be easy to empty, but impossible to steal; it has to be easy to put things into, but hard for things to fly out of on a windy day; it has to be solid, yet inexpensive; in some cities, it has to be specially designed so that terrorists can't hide a bomb in it.

Creative candidates will often surprise you with an interesting, non-obvious answer. One of my favorite questions is Design a Spice Rack for Blind People. Inevitably, candidates will put Braille somewhere on the spice bottles, and it usually winds up being on top of the lid for various reasons which you'll discover after you've asked this question 100 times.

I had one candidate who decided that it would be better to put the spices in a drawer, because it is more comfortable to scan Braille with your fingertips horizontal than vertical. This was so creative it surprised me -- in dozens of interviews, I had never heard that answer. And it really took a major creative leap outside of the bounds of the problem. On the strength of that answer alone, and no negatives, I hired the candidate, who went on to be one of the best program managers on the Excel team.

Look for closure. This is part of Get Things Done. Sometimes candidates will drift back and forth, unable to make a decision, or they will try to avoid hard questions. Sometimes they will leave difficult decisions unanswered and try to move on. Not good.

Good candidates have a tendency to try to naturally keep things moving forward, even when you try to hold them back. If the conversation ever starts going around in circles, and the candidate says something like "well, we can talk about this all day, but we've got to do something, so let's go with decision X" that's a really good sign.
Success Equals Pain

Only a minority of people achieve success. Why? Because success is unnatural. We cannot achieve it by following our instincts or preferences. In fact, the secret of success lies in forming the habit of doing things that most people do not like to do.

Most people don't like to clarify objectives, record and analyze their time, or plan their work week. Successful people don't like doing it either but they know that doing these things will help them achieve their goals.

In terms of ends and means, unsuccessful people are motivated by pleasing methods and will accept whatever results they can obtain by trying to do only what they like.

They find it easier to adjust to the hardships of poor results than to face the hardships of improving results and will tolerate all kinds of discomfort in order to avoid initiating activities they find distasteful.

Based on Manage Your Time, Manage Your Work, Manage Yourself by Merrill E. Douglass and Donna N. Douglass (AMACOM, 1980).)
Maxim For The Day
A gracious Ralph Agostino said last night that he tried
his best to honour his brother's memory.

he told Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty who paid
a surprise visit to Agostino's campaign headquarters.

Source: Ontario Liberals lose Hamilton by-election
Here are five best practices for keeping your adrenaline levels from getting out of control on the job.

1: Look out the window.
People who sit near a window have 23% fewer complaints
If you're stuck in a cubicle, make frequent trips past the lobby.

2: Exercise outside. People who buy Nordic Tracks rarely keep it up, because indoor settings don't
generate the positive effects on mood that outdoor settings do.

3: When working out, it's okay to go slow.
Exercise at 80% or 40% of capacity. The effect on stress is still the same as long as you work out for at least 20 to 30 minutes.

4: After your workout, relax.
After an aerobic workout, find a place to lie down; close your eyes and enjoy the floating, narcotic effect of the endorphins you just released. It lasts for 20 minutes.

5: Change your mindset.
We become stressed when we dwell on the problem instead of on finding a solution. The trick is to look for ways to take control.

Example: A 15-minute commute takes an hour each day because of traffic. Instead of getting mad a) come in an hour earlier and leave an hour earlier. b) Listen to cassettes in gridlock. c) make phone calls from the car. d) etc

Once you gain control over the situation, you've taken a big step toward reducing stress. (Maybe)

Five Times Tips.
1) Close your hands in a tight fist for 10 seconds and slowly open them. Five times.
2) Roll your head from side to side. Five times.
3) Tighten your toes, hold them for 10 seconds, and release. Five times.

Source here
WE are not amused.

As the lyrics of a quasi-popular song go:

“I’ve said it once before but it bears repeating….”

And I believe I have said this somewhere before on the blog but it does bear repeating.

I was interviewing someone via the telephone last night and every question I asked was answered in the plural form.

By that I mean that the person never once used the personal pronoun “I” to answer any questions about accomplishments or duties or projects.

At one point the questioning went like this:

Q:"What was the biggest dollar saving you achieved in your role?"
A:"Well we saved $500,000.00 on parts by (I wont trouble you with the whole answer)"

Q:"How did you do that?"
A:"Well we…"

At that point I had to interrupt

Q:"Wait a minute who is WE?"
A:"Myself and the supplier."

So in essence this person had achieved this all on his/her own. He/she wasn’t a part of some large project team but a single player from the company side of things.

Yet the answers I was getting kept me wondering how much of a factor this person actually was.

If you are being interviewed for job remember I am not interviewing your whole company. I am interviewing you.

My clients are interested in hiring you.

So we (the client and I) would like to know what YOU have done.

If you were a part of a team that achieved something significant be specific about your role on the team. It is not doing you any good to say that “we did this and we did that”. It just makes you look like you are hiding behind a group because you really didn’t do anything of significance.
I have worked on group projects before but when asked in an interview I give clear outlines as to the structure of the group and what the roles were.

Remember Headhunters and HR professionals are not experts in your field so don’t assume we understand how your project team was structured or what the roles were.

Which brings me to another point that I will elaborate on in another post.

Learn how to describe your job to a layperson.

I will let you think about that one but in the meantime remember there is no We in I.
Interviews Lower IQ

Test #1: Subjects met a group of strangers and were asked whom they might like to work with in the future. Later, researchers told some of the subjects that no one wanted to work with them and told others that everyone wanted to work with them.

Test #2: Scientists gave subjects a personality test. Afterwards, they told one group of subjects that they were destined to go through life alone while another group was told they would have plenty of friends.

After both scenarios, the researchers tested subjects on their moods and intelligent thought including IQ, reading comprehension, and logic problems. In both cases, the rejected students' IQs dropped 25%. This suggests that ego, self-esteem, and social rejection are closely connected to intelligence.

Roy Baumeister, the professor behind the study says: "The need to belong is the most powerful of human impulses. We want to know what happens when we block that." A lot of the structures inside our minds are there to help us get along with others. When people are faced with rejection, some of those connections in the brain begin to fail.

One might think that mental processes aimed at creating useful relationships would go into high-gear when initially unsuccessful. But, as usual, most minds seem to collapse when they meet with a lack of immediate success.

What can happen then in an interview situation when rejection is known to be a real possibility? Most likely the awareness of potential rejection leads to a lower level of performance due to a readiness to abandon the project. But this obviously isn't true of everybody.

Find more here
Mistakes, I’ve made a few…….

What mistakes have you made? Have you ever encountered this question in an interview?
I like to ask it because the answer tells me a lot about the person. If you have worked in a job for 4 years then I would assume you are better at your position now then you were when you started.

Hopefully you have learned something, become more efficient, learned how to prioritize things, etc.

Think back to the first six months of the job. If you were to go back and start over again would you do things differently?

Surprisingly some people don’t have an answer for this. Why?

The possibility exists that they are perfect people but perfect people are rare so I tend to discount this. The other possibility is that they aren’t very good at their job and there are too many mistakes to mention. Alternatively they just might be scared to answer for fear of disqualifying themselves.

This is why I ask this question in favor of “what are your weaknesses” which can lead to a whole passel of canned crappy answers.

At the same time I do tend to see patterns – but they are good patterns.

I will ask a manager what mistakes they made in their first management position. Quite a few of them will tell me that their biggest mistake was to treat their employees as friends. This doesn’t work because you have to eventually fire some of these people or at least tell them when they are performing poorly. So a lot of managers will tell me that they learned to keep a professional distance from their employees.

This is a good answer.

Can’t think of a “mistake”? Well look at it this way, if you were to meet someone who was going to take over this role what advice would you give that person? Chances are you have learned this through trial and error.

Mistakes aren’t negatives; we all make them if you are a mature professional you understand that and are willing to openly discuss them.

A good answer here really can help you stand out from those who are competing with you for the position. Not having a good answer could in fact be your biggest mistake.
Relationship recruiting

Companies can avoid the need to rely on quick judgements made during interviews by stretching the assessment process out over time. Relationship recruiting turns strangers into people we know well and who know us well.

Because these candidates are pre-assessed and pre-sold over a long period of time, their offer acceptance rate is high and their job failure rate low.

It begins with the continuous collection of names of top performers. The initial name collection can be done through Google Internet searches or employee referrals, or by identifying people at conferences and events.

Contact these people. Invite them to company events. Look them up at conferences. Send them a monthly newsletter. After three to six months, approach them about any interest they might have in jobs at your firm sometime in their careers.

Hire them as consultants for few evenings or a weekend and have them work with your team. Both sides know quickly whether there is a fit. And, once they get to know your organization, selling them becomes much easier.

Find more here
Commerical Holidays Are Good

Have you ever heard people dismiss Mother's Day as a holiday invented by card companies to bilk consumers our of money? What about people who dismiss the popular image of Santy Claus as a mere invention of the Coca Cola company?

Businesses have a complicated relationship with the marketplace. On the one hand they want to find ways to serve you so that you will be willing to pay them. On the other hand, the human beings involved in business have a natural inclination to serve themselves before they serve other people.

So, you can't always trust someone who wants to sell you something. But that doesn't mean that everything created by a business in order to make money is a mere scam either. And, I think that Mother's Day falls into the latter category.

Most adults appreciate their mother's commitment to their well-being and there's nothing wrong with having a
day set aside to give her a special nod. Even if it was created by a cabal of greeting card makers in order to make money, that doesn't mean it was a bad idea.
Service Fee Comparisons for Canadians

The Toronto Star compares rates from a number of suppliers of common services. Here are the headings.

Internet Fees
Bank Charges
What a Bounced Cheque Costs
Stop Payment on a Cheque
Certifying Cheques
Safety Deposit Box Charges
Travel Insurance
Drug Dispensing Fees
Long Distance Phone Calls
Life Insurance Rates
Mortgage Discharge Fees
Credit Card Fees "

Find it here
Crazy Candidates part…. whatever.

Ok whenever I go out of town to conduct interviews each candidate will get a detailed email from me with the following instructions:

Location and time of interviews
Phone number of my hotel
My cell phone number

I will tell all candidates: "on the day of the interview if there is a problem call either my cell phone or the hotel do not call my regular number.

What happens 100% of the time without fail?

A candidate will not show up. I will get no message on the cell phone. There will be no message at the hotel. When I check my messages at home at the end of the day what will I find?

A "gee I’m awfully sorry I’ve decided to take a pass on the opportunity" message on my home office voice mail.

Thanks buddy. You are a true professional.
Maxims for Today

The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies."
- Sheryl Crow

The best way not to have enemies is to get rid of them.
- Mark Steyn
Tough Choices Weaken Willpower

Self-control requires a measurable expenditure of mental energy, reserves of which are not inexhaustible.

Test-subjects were asked to stifle or exaggerate their emotions while watching a disturbing video. Their physical stamina was tested before and after with a handgrip.

In another study, hungry participants were asked to resist chocolate and freshly baked cookies before working on difficult puzzles.

In all cases, participants who exercised self-control were less effective on the second task. Resisting temptation consumed an important resource, which was then less available to help the person persist in the face of failure.

Sleep may be one way that individuals can replenish self-control. Most forms of self-regulation failure escalate over the course of the day, becoming more likely and more frequent the longer the person has been deprived of sleep. Positive emotional experience may also help replace self-control energy.

For more.
The Easiest Placement in the World

The famous recruitment trainer Steve Finkel tells a story of how he bid on the search for the position of City Manager for the city of Dallas Texas. He didn’t get the search but the firm that did after what he presumed was months and months of search and research and interviews recommended as its finalist candidate – the assistant City Manager of Dallas Texas.

Heidrick and Struggles seems to have taken a page out of that very same book in it’s most recent high profile search for the new head of Coca Cola. It was announced yesterday that Coke will now be run by Neville Isdell who was lured out of retirement to take the role.

Mr. Isdell’s former position? CEO of Coca Cola HBC the world’s second largest Coca Cola bottler.

Don Keough, the Coca-Cola board member in charge of the search [said] that Mr. Isdell had been the first choice from the beginning.

Wow I wish my searches were that easy. Just in case you don’t know the typical fee on a search like that is 30% of the total compensation.
Director ISO Implementation

Location: Toronto
Money: Open
Staff: You make a business case for it
Mission: Lead ISO implementation in a large, growing IT outsourcing operation
Requirements: Experience in a similar project
Start Date: "Yesterday"
Maxim of the Day

The first rule of a coward, when caught, is to play stupid.
The second is to blame someone else.
Staff Sergeant Chip Frederick is charged with mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners. What's his defense? "We had no support, no training whatsoever. And I kept asking my chain of command for certain rules and regulations. And it just wasn't happening."
Is there a Chip Frederick in your company?
How did he get there?

via Sgt Stryker
LEWD: Goal-Setting For The Information Age

Some people think that our attention spans have been reduced by TV, videos and computer games. So, we need a new way of goal-setting that suits our limited focal range. And here it is.

L: Little
E: Easy
W: Well-Defined
D: Day-to-week time

Don't set big goals you won't reach. Small is reasonable. Reasonable goals are simple to do. (eg. practice typing for ten minutes). Use a span of time in which you can easily envision all the steps (day or week). The big goals? Call them dreams.

Alternate formulations:
E-Dubya-D: EZ, Well-Defined, Day-2-week time
EBC: Easy, Brief and Clear

See Ensight
Why are you leaving?

Why do you want to change jobs? Is it important to give the “true” answer or a politically correct one?

Politically correct answers are the ones around challenges and new opportunity. Sometimes they are legitimately the reasons for a move. Plenty of people realize that they can move no further in their current role and their boss is going to be there for a while. So it makes sense in order to advance your career that you move on.

But what if that isn’t the reason. What if you don’t get along with your boss? Or the owner of the company? Should you tell the recruiter? Should you tell your future employer?

The answer is yes however watch how you phrase things.

Some people stick by the axiom that you should never speak ill of the company you work for in an interview. To a degree that is true. However you certainly can speak in diplomatic terms about the situation without sounding like you have a personal vendetta or are unable to deal with difficult situations.

The challenge here is the latter part of that statement. Most companies look for managers that can work in situations where they may have to work with people who don’t agree with a particular direction that the company is going. In short your ability to “influence” others to your point of view is particularly valued these days.

However if you are going leaving an environment that really didn’t fit your personality you want to make sure that you don’t go into the exact same environment.

For example a lot of people don’t like working for family run companies. I think it is fair to let the recruiter know that you would prefer not to work in a family run company. At the same time some people like to work in a smaller more intimate organization as opposed to the bigger bureaucratic environs of a large publicly traded company. There is nothing wrong with either.

You don’t have to give away a lot of information about your situation to learn if the environment of your target company is better or worse than your current one.

Think of the situations that you don’t like at your current organization and develop questions to ask the interviewer that will highlight those situations.

Don’t like bureaucracy?
How are decisions made in the company? Who would I have to get sign-off from?

Worried about personality clashes?
Ask who will be the key stakeholders you will have to deal with in your new job. Then ask to have a brief informal meeting with them. You can make this part of your conditions of acceptance if they have made you an offer. Of course it wont be brief and informal from your perspective. You are going to try to find out if you can work with this person.

A good barometer of company culture is how they feel about the previous person who held the job you are applying for. Was the departure amicable? If so they shouldn’t feel badly about letting you speak to this person to get his/her impression of the job and the company. If they don’t feel comfortable about it you can relay your discomfort back to them either directly or through the recruiter.

In many cases you will have to listen carefully to people’s responses to your questions to get a true feeling of whether the company you are interviewing is better or worse than your current situation. This may take some practice but the key is to craft good questions.

Asking good questions will yield good answers – sounds obvious right? What I mean is that no matter what the answer is it is a good answer. The information you here may be good or bad depending on your point of view but the answer is invaluable because it tells you whether you should be concerned or not.

Her is a good question:

What did the previous person do well in this job? This one is innocuous but they will give you some of that person’s strengths and you can match them against your own.

Example: Jeannie was really tough dealing with suppliers she had very good negotiation skills and got us the best price we could hope for.

So are you a good negotiator? Are you tough with suppliers – remember you will have to live up to that when you join this company.

The follow up to this question is even more important:

What skills would you have liked to see in the previous person? This is a roundabout way of asking, “what were their weaknesses”

Sample answer: Jeannie wasn’t that strong on administrative skills. Paperwork wasn’t her forte.

Now there are two possible reasons for this – one is that Jeannie was lousy with paperwork. The other is that maybe the job is so hectic that it doesn’t allow for the person to get his/her paperwork done.

Either way you now have a basis to ask more questions to find out which is the case.

Remember while you are being interviewed you should be evaluating the position as well. If you have concerns bring them up immediately with the recruiter. He/she may have some information that is helpful. Also if the recruiter is honest and ethical he/she will let you know if the position is not a fit.

I have recently done a search where one of the candidates described her environment as not supportive to her position. However the position that I was recruiting for demanded someone who could work in that very type of environment. Of course I didn’t move that person to the next step. I want my client to hire someone who will be a fit.

Do Hiring Authorities Prefer Blondes?

Is it true blondes get more jobs?
You can be a blonde and see!
A Lady Clairol blonde,
A blooming shining blonde
Admit it, friends, the world has gone blonde crazy. At least, women have gone blonde crazy. Yo, yo, yo, even Li'l Kim is a blonde - sort of. Is it a response to market demands from men or something that women themselves prefer, like the ugly shoulder pads that blemished the 1980s?

Either way, if blonde is so good you might expect that it would be reflected in hiring preferences. I doubt it though and here's why. We always hear that tall people get offered more and better jobs than short people. And, while it's undeniable that there is a cultural or instinctual bias in favour of tall people, I don't think it has an impact in the employment market.

Looks might have an affect on some jobs that are in the public eye and very much oriented toward pleasing people - like restaurant hostesses -but take a look at Fortune Magazine. Do the people featured there look particularly imposing? (The people in the articles, not the ads).

And so it goes with blonde. Many people like it but I don't think it figures in hiring decisions at all. (Or most romantic ones either).