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Is The Key to Improved Recruiting ROI!


In this challenging economy, it's important to evaluate your recruiting programs in light of tightened budgets.

Many Recruiters and HR Professionals are finding it difficult to fill jobs because there are so many unqualified people applying for the few jobs that are open. They get lots of resumes but only a few really good candidates.

Shift your recruiting dollars to more targeted types of job boards like
San Diego HR Roundtable.

The key to improving your recruiting ROI is to post your jobs to a recruiting site that targets your hiring audience.

Make the most of your recruiting dollars by targeting your efforts for
maximum exposure and improved performance.

Post your job today at
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Spring is here! This season feels like a new beginning, and many people will do some spring cleaning on their careers by seeking new jobs. Are you ready to dazzle them with your stellar onboarding process?

Onboarding is a crucial piece of both talent acquisition and employee retention, yet is often overlooked. An employee’s first 6-12 months in a new role is a critical time, when that employee assesses whether or not to stay with the organization and how fully to engage in the work. Research indicates that employees who participate in structured orientation programs are 69% more likely to be with the organization three years later than employees who do not.i]

No matter where you’re starting from today, you can make small changes that will improve the onboarding experience for your new hires. I’ll never forget when IT informed me they didn’t have a computer for my new hire starting in 3 days. I hadn’t given them enough notice, and they didn’t have any extra machines. That was the day I decided to ensure nothing would ever fall through the cracks again.

There are all kinds of sophisticated tools out there to help you manage the onboarding process, but most of us have limited resources. Fortunately, we can get pretty far with a good checklist. Let’s start with the simple stuff. 

Be prepared 

Organize yourself: First and foremost, you can’t manage an effective onboarding process without being organized. A comprehensive checklist is a great way to ensure that you never miss a step. All you need is a word processing program, like Microsoft Word, with a table function. Once you set up the checklist, you can add to it each time you think of something else you don’t want to forget. 

The next step is to establish the systems and procedures that make the checklist work. What is the trigger that prompts you to use the checklist? Do you create a separate checklist for hiring managers—and put an item on your own checklist reminding you to send that to them? You need both the checklist and the reminders to use the checklist. 

Appear prepared: The purpose of being organized is to ensure a consistent, positive experience for all new hires. As an employee, nothing is worse than showing up for your first day on a new job, all excited and nervous, only to feel like no one knows—or cares—who you are. 

Avoid major sins like not having the new hire’s work space set up, not having a computer for them (oops!), having them start on a day their supervisor is out, or not making plans for their first lunch. Try to put yourself in their shoes: what would be a turn-off? Come up with that list, and make sure you don’t make those mistakes. 

Cover the basics – immediately 

As quickly as possible, show the new hire how to navigate the physical, social, and cultural spaces of your organization. This crucial orientation will give the new hire a solid base from which to understand the job-specific tasks they will learn over the following months and years. 

Physical space: You’ll want to make sure the new hire knows basic information about how to navigate the workspace, such as where they sit, how to get to the restrooms and kitchen, and where to park. They also need to know where the first aid kit and fire extinguisher are, and what to do in case of an emergency. Don’t forget to point out other important locations such as meeting rooms, office supplies, HR, and the hiring manager’s office. 

Social space: It’s critical to ensure the new hire feels comfortable navigating the social space. Introduce the new hire to their colleagues and workspace neighbors as soon as possible. If feasible, arrange to take out the new hire for lunch on their first day; at minimum, the hiring manager can eat with them in the kitchen. Do what you can to make them feel welcome, and avoid them feeling out-of-place or forgotten. 

Cultural space: To be effective in their new role, the new hire must know how things are done in your organization. This is an area that often gets overlooked because organizational culture is like water to the fish—so obvious that you don’t think to point it out. 

How information is shared, how work gets done, how people address one another, how meetings are handled, how people dress—these are all subtle elements of culture. This area also includes items such as organizational mission, vision, and values; team goals, challenges, and timelines; and individual goals and performance expectations. The hiring manager should be clear about their expectations, including how they like to communicate. 

It’s worth noting that the cultural information takes a long time to fully convey, and should be spread out over a longer period of time so as not to overwhelm the new hire. Information on how to navigate the physical and social spaces should be immediate, but for the cultural space it should be gradual. Think of it as a slow drip rather than a deluge. 

Look past the first few weeks 

Most people think of “onboarding” as the first week or two, but it takes months for someone to become oriented and comfortable in their new role. A common gap is planning a structured onboarding program for the first few weeks but having nothing planned after that. 

A simple way to extend the onboarding experience is to schedule check-ins for later in the year. These conversations could be conducted by HR, the hiring manager, or even the department VP; the important thing is that someone cares enough to ask how things are going and listen to the responses. You could also include check-ins as part of your performance management process. 

Once the new employee has been there a few months, the challenge is no longer to orient them to the basics of working there—it’s to engage their energies as fully as possible, motivate them to do their best work, and retain them. The challenge shifts from effective onboarding to effective employee engagement. 


To properly onboard a new hire and lay the groundwork for an engaged employee: 

  1. Use simple tools such as a checklist in order to be organized and prepared for the new hire’s arrival, and to ensure a consistent experience for all employees.
  2. Once they arrive, provide critical information as quickly as possible. Include information on navigating the physical, social, and cultural spaces.
  3. Finally, plan ways to engage them beyond the first weeks

Follow these guidelines to make sure your new employees know that not only are you prepared for their arrival, but the whole organization is super excited to have them there.

Elisabeth G. Waltz is an employee engagement expert who specializes in creating win-win HR solutions: building company cultures where employees are empowered to do their best work, while developing employees who produce amazing results for the organization. Still a New Englander at heart, you can find her sampling all the cheese and cider available in her new home, San Diego. Say hi on LinkedIn at

[i] Robinson, Amy Hirsh, “New Hire Onboarding: Guidelines for Boosting Employee Performance & Retention,” 2012.

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As a professional in the talent space today, you’ve no doubt run across some facts and figures from the likes of McKinsey, Gallup, Deloitte…the list goes on…showing that companies with more female employees, particularly in management roles, yield stronger organizational and financial performance.

As a result, the focus on recruiting female employees continues to grow, and companies are pulling out all the stops. Fertility benefits, shipping breast milk home from work trips, in-office massages and manicures, on-site OB/GYNs, and feminine products in the restrooms are just a few of the ways companies are getting creative with trying to appeal to women.

While these things may be appreciated by female employees, they’re not what’s driving their decision to come on board with your company—or to stick around. We must realize that recruiting female talent is about more than just flashy perks.

At InHerSight, a new platform in the online recruiting space, we’re striving to propel this perspective. Through our site, we enable women to rate their current employers on 15 fixed metrics such as management opportunities, maternity leave, and salary satisfaction, and we use this data to match women with new job opportunities based on what they’re looking for in an employer. And from the company’s point-of-view, we help organizations be more successful at recruiting female talent and building more female-friendly workplaces using our data and insights.

Recently, we analyzed responses from 15,000 women looking for great workplaces on our site, across a broad range of ages, industries, and geographies. Women were able to select multiple options from our metrics. The results may surprise you—what women said they wanted most from their employers was not ample maternity leave or mentorship programs or other fancy incentives.

So, before you update your career website, write your next job description, craft your latest job offer, or even decide how you’re going to allocate funds to certain benefits and perks, read on to learn what women really value most from their employers and then use this information to appeal to them to come work at your company. Here are the top five items, in order of importance:  

1.  Paid time off (90% of respondents)

Our top answer, paid time off, demonstrates that women want the ability to manage their own work-life balance. This comment from an employee at non-profit DonorsChoose highlights the positive impact of being able to take time off when you need it: “As a junior leader…I feel extremely supported and empowered to take risks, take time for myself, and prioritize my workload to meet business needs without burning myself out. We work extremely hard, but we also get lots of vacation time and flex(ible) work opportunities.” If your company isn’t providing a reasonable amount of paid time off, it may be time to rethink the value that this could bring your workforce.

2.  Salary satisfaction (89% of respondents)

This is an obvious one—women want to be paid fairly for the work they do. While there is certainly more strides to be made regarding equal pay in this country and elsewhere, women at the very least want to be compensated competitively for the amount of effort they put in, the experience they bring, and the scope of their responsibilities.

Our research revealed that computer technology company Dell appears to be getting this right as one employee commented: “…it seems that salaries are based on hard work, perform(ance), and seniority, not gender.” And an employee from tech giant Amazon commented, “(There are) long hours and high expectations but (it’s) manageable with the right boss, and salary is commensurate with effort, in my opinion, which makes it worthwhile.” Beyond making sure your salaries are competitive in the market in general, companies should conduct an annual salary review to ensure that men and women who have the same level of responsibility and experience are paid in parallel. And wherever discrepancies are found, you should work with your CFO or Financial Planner to make the necessary adjustments.

3.  Outstanding co-workers (89% of respondents)

Our research shows that women seek co-workers who are respectful, professional, unbiased, and generally easy to work with. This comment from an employee at enterprise software company Asana highlights the positive benefits that women feel when they get to work with great people: “I feel encouraged to speak my mind, supported to soundboard my thoughts, and in very good company.” Clearly, interactions with colleagues and the social environments cultivated by companies have a huge impact on how women feel about their employers, with women citing specifically that strong male-dominated “old boys” and “bro” cultures were off-putting, and that instead, they sought a culture that took gender out of the equation. By implementing a structured interview process in your company, you can be sure to hire for the qualities, personalities, and culture fit that fuel an environment that women are attracted to—and thrive in.

4.  Equal opportunities for men and women (85% of respondents)

There’s no hidden message here; it’s exactly how it sounds—if men have access to an opportunity, a women should as well. Opportunities should be based solely on merit. So, follow suit and provide equal access to promotions, leadership roles, salary increases, and incentive programs. One employee at mobile games platform Chartboost describes it well: “(This is) the first time in my career that I’ve felt my gender truly had no bearing on how I’m treated as an employee. I see men and women equally represented in management positions and being given equal opportunities to move up within the company.”

5.  Flexible work hours (81% of respondents)

Women strongly seek employers who are flexible with working hours, allowing them to set their own schedules and successfully attend to both the demands of life and work. An employee at best practice insights company CEB stated: “As an employee who has both a senior job and a lot of outside commitments, my manager and I work together to create the right schedule for me—and communicate (it) to others within CEB—in order to fulfill my personal AND professional ambitions.” Employers seeking more female talent should thus become amenable to the idea that it’s about your employees’ ability to do their jobs and do them well—and not as much about when and where they do it.

What women want

As a whole, our data indicate that women are not looking for employers to answer their specific needs, whether for family-raising, socializing, or creating work-life balance. Nor do companies need to offer a bunch of fancy perks and incentives. Rather, women seek employers that treat them fairly and provide them with the choice, the flexibility, and the financial means to fashion their own lives as they see fit.

A version of this post was first published on

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You may have noticed the buzz about employer branding over the last several years. As the digital information age continues to flourish, there is a growing awareness among top executives that managing their company’s public, consumer-facing brand isn’t enough. They must also manage their reputation as employers.

The global economy is rapidly changing, leaving 73 percent of CEOs worried about having the right people to meet challenging growth goals. According to Manpower, 38 percent of companies are struggling to fill open positions, which eventually impacts their ability to provide products and services to customers.

As a leader, how can you attract great talent, inspire loyalty, and optimize employee performance? It starts with strengthening your employer brand.

Early on, employer branding focused on how companies could apply marketing principles to hiring employees—typically through employment advertising and later, social recruiting. Today, employer branding has evolved to become an inside-out, strategic process companies use to become an employer of choice and to drive employee engagement. Executives now realize the impact of employer branding on talent acquisition, corporate culture, internal communication and marketing.

Everyone owns the employment brand. Managing your company’s employer brand isn’t the responsibility of a single department—HR, marketing or corporate communications. HR will need to understand how the consumer brand aligns with the employer brand. Marketing teams will need to know how market developments affect workforce planning and employee retention. Everyone will need to become better, stronger internal communicators.

5 Steps to Attracting, Engaging and Retaining Your Best People

The competition for talent, especially in technical, highly-skilled professions, is expected to increase. Here are ways your company can position itself as an employer of choice:

  1. Evaluate your existing employer brand. Marketing can support HR in developing an internal audit of employee perceptions and beliefs to assess existing employer brand awareness and reputation.
  2. Define your employer brand. Why should someone work for your company? And, why should they stay? Your answers become the basis of your employee value proposition (EVP), which describes how you want to be perceived in a clear, compelling way.
  3. Map your employer brand throughout the employee life-cycle. There are four distinct phases of an employee life-cycle that you must consider: attracting new talent, on-boarding new hires, engaging employees, and bidding farewell.
  4. Manage your employer brand. Similar to your company’s consumer brand, your employer brand must constantly be monitored and managed. Many companies leverage social media to highlight key employer strengths, but also to listen to “the word on the street.”
  5. Educate and communicate well internally. It’s one thing to design a strategy for employer branding, but success is in execution. It’s important for managers and employers to know how to deliver on the employer brand experience—through their actions and their words.

Companies can no longer afford to be passive about employer branding. The competition for talent is too high. Plus, the well-known branding advice holds true here: if you don’t define your brand, someone else will. Don’t leave your employer brand to chance.

About Michele Richardson

Michele Richardson is an internal communication consultant and speaker on a mission to build workplaces where people are led by passion and purpose. She advises executives and organizations on how to attract, engage and retain top talent through the art of communication and the science of organizational behavior. Her clients include Boeing, Toyota, CareerBuilder, Sodexo and KPMG. Learn more about how to work with her here or catch up with her on Twitter.

To learn more about Michele’s approach to employer branding, register to attend the next San Diego HR Roundtable Lunch & Learn on March 15 at 11:45 am.

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In 2015, the United States capped its best year for hiring in 15 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is great news for job seekers; but it also means it is a competitive job market out there and to nab your ideal role, it’s all about making an impression.  Ideally, your first impression is made face-to-face or at least by word of mouth through a mutual acquaintance or networking opportunity. In reality, not everyone is that lucky, leaving your resume to do the talking for you. With the abundance of resume templates, tips, webinars, and paid services available, there should be nothing but strong resumes flooding the inboxes of hiring managers everywhere. As an executive recruiting firm we can tell you that is definitely not the case. We continue to see poor resumes on a daily basis; and nothing will take you out of the running for your ideal job quite like a subpar resume.

As a job seeker, you want your resume to stand out among the crowd… but for the right reasons. Poor grammar, spelling mistakes, excessive use of industry related jargon, and too many words are common mistakes. Another common resume pitfall we encounter is that many professionals simply “update” their resumes with their recent work experience, rather than editing the entire document.According to Amanda Augustine of TheLadders, “As your career progresses, the emphasis of your resume should change… Employers are no longer focusing on your education, relevant internships, and extracurricular activities. Now they’re more interested in the skill sets you’ve developed and the accomplishments you’ve achieved in your professional career. Your resume needs to tell your story.”

Misspelled words and choppy professional histories are not the only resume fails we see.

10 Reasons Your Resume Sucks and You’re Only Getting 6 Seconds 

1. You included your address.

Obviously, hiring managers want to get to know potential candidates. However, the chances of them coming to your house to speak with you are slim to none. If you are looking at a local position, it is appropriate to include your city and state so the employer knows you are a local candidate. But I’d leave off the street address. Photos and hobbies are another resume no-no. If you want the hiring manager to get to know you, why not take them to the place they can get to know you best… your LinkedIn Profile page. Including a direct link to your LI page allows a hiring manager or recruiter to learn more about your professional experience quickly and easily.

2. You’re still using an Objective while everyone else has written a Professional Summary.

In the 50+ years of combined experience here at TurningPoint Executive Search, we have yet to find a candidate who is not looking to apply their experience and their talent with a company that will provide him or her the opportunity to grow.We all know the stats: Hiring managers spend approximately six seconds looking at your resume before deciding whether you’re a viable candidate or not. Therefore, you need come out of the gate with a BANG! Replace your old Objectives with a well-developed, conciseProfessional Summary that provides a clear overview of who you are as a professional.

3. You did not include a Summary of Qualifications.

We like to think of this as your highlight reel. Developing a bulleted list of skills and experience and inserting it at the top of your resume will allow the hiring manager to see your best moves during the six seconds he or she is going to initially invest in getting to know you.

4. You’re still relying on your Education to get you in the door.

Unless you are a recent graduate, your practical experience will far outweigh your classroom experience in both time and relevance. While including any relevant and important degrees may still be needed to show you meet the job requirements, it shouldnot be at the top of your resume.  Exceptions: A doctorate degree, masters, or relevant certification should highlighted by simply including the post-nominal initials.  This is especially true for certain types of positions, especially technical positions. Some companies prefer to hire professional with an advanced degree or specialty certification such as PHR (Professional in Human Resources).  Secondly, if the hiring manager graduated from the same college or was a member of the same fraternity, sorority or other campus organization, it is not considered unprofessional to make that connection by including your education background.

5. You’ve included unnecessary information.

You only get 6 seconds, remember? Hiring managers do not want to know what you minored in or your graduating GPA. They want the highlights only.

6. Your titles are too vague.

Director, Manager, Assistant Manager, Vice President, Senior, Managing Director. There are a myriad of professional titles used today. Hiring managers want to see what roles you have had in the past and what roles you are targeting in your current search. If you are looking for a senior level position, provide evidence of your experience with that type of role. “Manager” does not adequately define your seniority.

7. Your job description is boring.

Although most job descriptions are typically bulleted lists, this is your time to shine and sell your experience and impact in previous organization. “Managed” and “responsible for” is using passive language. Add life to your experience by using dynamic word choices such as: Drove, Developed, Instituted, Designed, Created, Implemented, or Built.

8. Your resume isn’t unique. It’s just hard to read. 

Unless you are looking for a job in the creative sector – design, graphics, advertising – using multiple font styles and sizes is distracting for a hiring manager who is quickly scanning your resume for key words. Varying the color of topics or sections make your resume appear unprofessional and can unintentionally take away from the value of the content you’ve included. If you want your resume to stand out visually, try avoiding common fonts such as Times New Roman and use clean-looking fonts such as Helvetica or Calibri.

9. Your companies have no descriptions.

Not everyone has worked for Nike or Google. Most job seekers have worked for less well-known organizations that might need some clarification. Including a one sentence company description allows hiring managers to get a feel for the types of industries you have experience in.  In addition “this description will also help the reader put your title into perspective… For instance, if you’re currently a director at a small company, including this description will help the reader understand why you may be targeting a manager-level role at a much larger organization,” Augustine says.

10. You don’t show your value by highlighting what you’ve achieved.

The last thing you want is for your resume to read as a job description. While there will certainly be tasks and duties included, your resume should show the reader what you bring to the table, why you will be an asset to the company. This can only be done by highlighting your successes. Numbers and percentages are excellent ways to show what you’ve achieved. Include money saved, sales projections exceeded, increases in ROI, new business, or revenue that you are responsible for or had a hand in. Emphasizing your achievements demonstrate the value you added to your previous company and what can your potential new company can expect from you.

If you’re only going to get six seconds, you’d better make them count. As cliché as it sounds, you will never get a second chance to make a first impression. In an ideal world, candidates would be able to make that first impression on a hiring manager face to face or on the telephone. With an average of 250 resumes for every corporate position, facetime in the initial phase of a job search is almost an impossibility. This is why it is essential that professionals develop a concise, dynamic, easy to read, error-free resume that highlights their successes, skill set, and experience and leaves a recruiter wanting more… in six seconds or less.

For a few more Resume Myths & Must Haves visit our Resume Toolkit.


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So you’ve managed to get through your interview and you are not quite sure how you did. The hiring manager, a stoic architect with the world’s best poker face, has given you no indication whether you passed the test with flying colors or you failed worse than the fanny pack fad in the 90’s. You want the job but all you can m­uster is a “Thank you for your time, I am very impressed with the company and the job. I look forward to hearing from you” and you go on your merry way, fingers crossed hoping that it all went well. Now you are up awake at 1am, staring at the ceiling, reliving the interview in your head. Every answer given is now second-guessed, and you are wondering to yourself why telling the interviewer that your favorite part of the Olympics is Synchronized Swimming was even relevant at all.

That’s the nature of interviewing right? Well, for a lot candidates that seems to be the case, but for those who understand the process, things are a bit different. They know that in order to impress in an interview, YOU HAVE TO FINISH STRONG AND CLOSE THE INTERVIEW.

A search on the web will yield you dozens of pages with interview tips on how to close a job. The usual suspects as far as tips go like this:

  • “Do you see my background being a fit for this job?”
  • “Where do I go from here? Can you tell me about the rest of the interviewing process?”
  • “Are there any concerns in my background as they relate to the job?”
  • “I feel I am a great fit for the job because I have XYZ, and can get to work as soon as you need me. When can I start?”

In theory, these seem to be wonderful questions that can put you in a position to receive honest feedback from a manager. Unfortunately, theories have the danger of failing miserably in the real world. The problem is, candidates just like yourself are reading the same tips online and using them on tired ears. Hiring managers have heard these exact questions over and over again. You asking these questions can be akin to writing “I am a hard worker, I am driven/motivated, and I am a team player” on your resume. In essence, they become meaningless exercises in a played out-interview ceremony.

Let me break down why these questions won’t work with a tenured manager conducting an interview. First of all, it is too aggressive. Although the interview is very much a sales process where you are selling yourself, it is rarely the type of sale that is impulsive. What I mean by that is that no manager is going to go outright and say “you know what? You are right! You have XYZ, you can start tomorrow morning!”

 Second, it puts the manager in an awkward spot. While some hiring managers have no qualms explaining to you why you are not a fit for the job, some rarely do. It can be awkward to meet a stranger, listen to their pitch, and then tell them where they fell short. Additionally, you do not want the person interviewing to rehash their objections in their head. You want to end on a positive note – why would you make the interviewer focus on why she didn’t like you!?!

Lastly, any manager with a bit of sense would be hesitant to express their real interest on the spot. It removes the negotiation leverage from the company once that process starts. When I worked as a corporate recruiter, I preached this to hiring managers as gospel. A candidate that knows he has the job is a lot more difficult to negotiate with than one that doesn’t.

So hopefully by now I have convinced you to stop using these tired old questions. You may be asking yourself how you’ll manage without them. So this is where I tell you “Closing an interview is not easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it.” In my 13 years of recruiting, I can count the amount of people with one hand that have done it flawlessly. Closing an interview, like any high-end sale, is an art form. Like any art form, preparation and practice are a must. I will not give you any sound bites or word tracks to follow. If you want the job, you are going to have to earn it!

The key to a successful close is paying attention. If at the end of an interview you are asking if your background is a fit for the job, you should have done your research and you have bigger problems to worry about than closing the interview correctly. You need to isolate key components of the conversation and identify what is important versus what is trivial. A great way to find this out is to ask open ended questions that are not aggressive and put the interviewer on the spot, but rather give you some insight into their needs. These are some examples:

  • What are the most important things this person will be doing on daily basis?
  • What issues are you having right now that this person will solve if hired?
  • What separates your most successful person performing this job to the rest of her colleagues?

Questions such as these will yield you all the answers you need. Forget the fluff in the job description, you now know what is important to a manager. Armed with this info, this is your time to shine. As the interview nears its end, summarize to the interviewer these points. Since they are the ones that stated them, they are very likely to agree with them. Once you summarize them, this is the place where you tell them why you are a fit for the job. Know your personal facts, know your successes, and speak to them confidently. Countless times, I have seen candidates undersell their past achievements because they are not able to speak about them with confidence. Avoid using abstract descriptions and stick to facts. Saying you are driven sounds like fluff, but telling me you worked overtime for 6 weeks straight in order to deliver a project no one expected you to tells me a lot. Here is an example:

From our conversation, it looks like your main needs are a resource that has experience managing enterprise level software development projects, managing projects with global resources, and someone familiar Agile/SCRUM methodology”

This is where your energy will carry you. Once again, confidence is key and your body language should show it (for tips on body language click this).

“In my last role, I managed a project with 8 developers, 4 QA Engineers, and 4 DevOps Engineers building an application that delivered video on demand content for the biggest cable provider in the United States. The application was used monthly by millions and allowed our company to retain and grow our business with this client as the project was delivered on time and under budget by $60k.”

“In a previous role, I managed a global team with resources in Argentina, UK, New York, and San Diego. Because of time differences, things were challenging. I was able delegate managing duties to local leads who then worked together with me to bring the project together. This allowed us to use the company’s available resources on a global scale rather than hire new people in order to have all the work done in one office.”

“Lastly, I am a certified SCRUM master and have been managing Agile projects for over 8 years now. I am a member of the local Agile User Group and I have been asked to speak at various Agile conferences such as Agile Alliance and SCRUM Alliance. My presentation this year was ‘Globally Distributed Teams and Agile’ where I was able to share my success with colleagues in the aforementioned job.”

The key to your success in closing an interview in that manner will be to convince the interviewer that regardless of how the overall interview went, you are not only able to do the job they need you to do, but that you have done it in the past and you have succeeded at it. If you delivered, you may just flip the tables and have them ask you “Are there any concerns in the job as they relate to your search?

Diego Aguillon is the Sr. Corporate Recruiter at BBSI (NASDAQ: BBSI), a leading provider of business management solutions, combining traits from the human resource outsourcing and professional management consulting industries to create an operational platform that differentiates it from competitors. You can follow him on twitter @DiegoITJobs or connect onLinkedIn . You can check out BBSI at 

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Resume? Check. Interview? Check. Degree Verification? Check.  Reference Check? Is it really necessary? All I’m going to get is verification of previous employment dates, right?

Minus the push for more creative resumes and lengthier interview processes, there have been few significant changes in the hiring protocol used by most companies… save for one: the reference check. Confusing legal guidelines have resulted in many larger companies refusing to provide anything other than the verification of employment, dates, and rehire eligibility. In fact, surveys indicate that while 80%+ of companies actually conduct a reference check before making a hire, many complain about the lack of information gathered from the reference. 

In fact, a significant portion of our own clients tell us not to worry about completing a reference check. Needless to say, we do them anyway. Why? Because the value that can be derived from a quality reference check is significant. Given the constraints that often surround completing a reference check, how is it possible to gain true insight into a potential new hire?


  1. Leverage your network. Reaching out to a candidate’s previous boss is not the only tool at your fingertips. Chances are, your potential new hire worked with a variety of people- many of whom are in your professional network. Connecting with these people will provide insight beyond verification of employment. Questions about a candidate’s ability to collaborate, his leadership qualities, and areas of growth can all be answered by connecting with the people you know who also know the candidate.
  2. Engage with the reference. The key to a quality reference check is engaging with the reference, building rapport and never accepting the first answer as gospel. True, a reference is likely to provide a positive reference (or she wouldn’t be on the reference list in the first place). However, with the right questions, even a candidate’s best friend can provide useful and candid feedback.
  3. Do NOT ask open-ended questions. “Is Bob Smith eligible for rehire?” and “Can you verify the dates Sally worked for you, along with her title.” Do not qualify as a quality reference check. Even the standard “Tell me about Sally” is worthless because there is no context for the type of role and culture the candidate will be immersed in. Instead, ask specific, situationally and behavioral questions. Example: “Tom will be working as a Marketing Director for a 6 year old software company that just hit $10m in revenues. The environment is very similar to a start-up, where everyone wears multiple hates, and is expected to work 50-60 hours/week while embracing the fluid and constantly changing priorities.  How do you think he will fare in this type of situation?”
  4. Call a reference that is NOT on the candidate’s list. Want to gain a completely unbiased and unrehearsed opinion about your potential hire? Ask someone who has not been given a heads up. Keep in mind that in order to paint a reliable picture of a candidate there must be multiple sources to provide information. Therefore, contacting several of the provided references in addition to a few that were not provided can give a broader, and possibly more accurate, view. Just be careful about who you call to ensure that you don’t break confidentiality or jeopardize the candidate’s position before they have given notice.

It is important to peel back the onion to uncover the true make up of a candidate.  While both resumes and in-person interviews provide insight into many of the skills she brings to a new role, the only way to obtain a clear picture of how those skills play-out in the work environment is by communicating with the people who have worked closest with him/her. Leveraging your network to ask specific, situational and behavioral questions about a potential new hire will allow you to engage in a quality reference check.

About the Authors

Ken Schmitt is the President and Founder of TurningPoint Executive Search and the Sales Leadership Alliance. Specializing in placing sales, marketing and operations professionals across the country, Ken’s 16 years of recruiting experience have equipped him with the knowledge to serve as a thought partner to his clients for all recruiting, hiring and human capital-related initiatives. Ken sits on the board of Junior Achievement, the American Marketing Association, the San Diego HR Roundtable and is an Advisory Board Member for San Diego Sports Innovators (SDSI).

Vicky Willenberg has served as the Social Media Manager for TurningPoint since 2011. In 2014, she was elevated to Digital Marketing Manager, broadening her participation across all things digital for the firm. A former teacher with a Masters in Education, Vicky is an active and published blogger at The Pursuit of Normal and a marketing professional. She has her finger on the pulse of the latest trends in the recruiting, hiring and leadership sectors.

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