Corrections or additions?
This article by Gina Zechiel was prepared for the November 14,
2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Tips for Finding The Best Employees
Part psychology, part sleuthing, interviewing job
takes great skill — and a measure of tact and restraint too. Oh
yes, and a knowledge of the law. September 11 showed us that an
can go on without desks, computers, or files if he has smart,
dedicated employees. How to find them? How to pull the stars out of
the constellations of job seekers?
On Thursday, November 15, at 9 a.m.
on "Selection Interviewing and the Selection Process" at the
Police Department Building in Flemington at a workshop for employers
sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Labor and the Employers
Association of New Jersey. Cost: $10. Call 609-777-1834.
Purcell is a senior occupational analyst at the Department of Labor
and works for the Employer Human Resources Support Service Unit. In
addition to conducting public seminars, she provides one-on-one
to employers. "Sometimes," says Purcell, "a company has
a bigger need, and we give the seminar on the company’s premises."
She works with employers on writing and revising policy manuals, and
provides advice to companies that are losing employees. "If a
company has problems with too much turnover," she gives as an
example, "we can track employees who have left, send them a
Answers are shared with employers, but employees’ identifies are kept
secret. Says Purcell: "We compile results, review, analyze, look
for trends, write a report, and then present it to the employer."
In selection seminars Purcell talks about a number of issues, and
even has employers draw up good interview questions. Many elements
to into a stellar job interview. Here are a few of the most important:
says Purcell. Here is where an employer may discover that all is not
as it should be. "Look at gaps in employment, vague answers, and
long pauses before answering questions," says Purcell. Very
answers to simple questions could be a bad sign too. Perhaps the
is just nervous, but maybe he has significant difficulty expressing
himself. Or maybe he is trying to hide something behind a rambling
Purcell emphasizes. Marital status is off limits too. Don’t ask about
children, or aged parents either. "Avoid anything really
says Purcell. "All questions should be job related.
If the employee brings up his religious requirements or child care
arrangements without being asked, "that’s hard to deal with,"
says Purcell. The best response, she suggests, is to end that line
of conversation, while assuring the candidate that the information
he has volunteered will have no bearing on the hiring process.
to ask about any convictions the applicant has had if the question
is job-related. However, asking about arrests is not allowed.
employer from disaster more than a full and honest report on an
But, says Purcell, it isn’t easy to get the information. "Previous
employers may not always be forthcoming with info," she says.
"They’re afraid of being sued. But always check." If all else
fails she suggests trying to give references questions they can answer
with just a `yes’ or a `no.’ Says Purcell: "Employers sometimes
have codes `would you consider hiring that this person again, and
yes or no." The way the game works, if an employer says nothing,
he is really saying no. "It’s using silence as a code," says
are using employment tests, evaluating past performance, and assessing
education and training.
"Some employers are nervous about employment testing," says
Purcell. "We try to advise them to make sure test is valid and
reliable." She also recommends that employers not create their
own tests. "Get as much information as possible from testing
she says. "Check on the Internet, talk to other employers."
"The key thing," says Purcell, "is for employers to ask
themselves why they are using this test." It can’t be used to
screen people out. The purpose of a pre-employment has to be a quest
for the best performer. Employers must give the test to everybody,
says Purcell. "You must be consistent."
are always savvy interviewees who get past the interviewing process,
and then the employer finds out that they are a disaster," says
Purcell. The closer the interviewer can stick with the facts, the
better chance he has of avoiding being snowed by a smooth — but
ultimately weak — employee, or of missing the star, who interviews
poorly, perhaps because he is shy.
"Some people — getting information from them is like pulling
teeth," says Purcell, "but they may be terrific. With others,
you can’t shut them up; you have to make sure that all the questions
you have prepared get answered."
— Gina Zechiel
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