Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

GravityPeople on NPR Morning Edition – No Zuck for You!

Zoe Chace of NPR interviewed GravityPeople’s CEO Jeff Winter today on the Technology segment of NPR’s morning edition.  The story highlighted the lower than normal unemployment rate for Bay Area technology workers and the fact that the future is looking bright for new grads as technology companies look to scoop up fresh, young talent.

The story goes on to talk about what Gravity, a leading Bay Area technology recruiting firm, has been prognosticating about for the last twelve months: technology companies are competing fiercely for talent because there’s a massive shortage of qualified candidates with experience in mobile and application development.

Check out our current job openings and have a listen, maybe you’ll be the next Mark Zuckerberg!

Be a hiring machine – Part 3: Every Interview Must Include Marketing

Interviewing is certainly the process by which we make the determination to hire someone. However, there is also a critical component to this process—creating interest in potential employees. If we think back to the Four F’s (Find, Filter, Face and Finish) we will remember that Face is the process of interviewing. Just as bad filtration will lead to poor interview success, a lack of effective marketing will lead to poor acceptance ratios in the Finish cycle.

Every interviewer must understand that although the corporate goal is to reduce the risk of a bad hire, a candidate is trying to reduce the risk of a bad job. Therefore, companies must take care to provide information to the candidate that will reduce the perception of risk.

Marketing must be a component of all stages of the hiring lifecycle. At the “Face” stage, we can map marketing’s objectives to the interview triangle.

Ability: What will the candidate be doing? Why is this interesting?
Talent: What growth opportunities will the candidate have?
Character: Why should the candidate want to work for the company?

The later the stage in the hiring process when marketing actually begins the less effective it becomes. Save your marketing punch for the closing stage of a candidate’s offer, and its reception will be lukewarm. Inserting a corporate spokesperson (ideally a future co-worker) into the interview process is highly effective in increasing offer acceptance ratios.

The company that provides the most information to a candidate in the hiring process will almost always beat a competitive offer.

Next week – Part 4:  A hiring machine sample interview process

About GravityPeople
GravityPeople is a leading recruitment outsourcer providing direct-hire and hourly recruiting services. Established in 1998, GravityPeople has been serving the San Francisco Bay Area Technology community for over decade.  Now with a national focus, GravityPeople provides strategic technical recruiting services to clients across North America.


GravityPeople’s Jonathan Chenard talks technical recruiting with the San Francisco Chronicle

Jonathan Chenard, Vice President of Services

Jonathan Chenard, GravityPeople’s Vice President of Recruiting Services, was recently interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle for an article on hiring in Silicon Valley. The piece appeared on SFGate.com this weekend and focused on rumors of attrition at large Silicon Valley employers like Google.

Jonathan is quoted as saying, “We’ve actually seen people actively looking for jobs who are at Google. In the past, those people have tended to stay put.”

It’s true, our teams have seen attrition from nearly all of the major technology companies in the Valley but we can’t confirm any mass exoduses. As the economy continues to improve, technology workers are presented with more opportunities, many of which are at start-ups. Tech professionals are again frequently weighing all of their options both internally and now, more often, externally.  Large companies which are commonly thought of as “safe harbors” during tough economic times (often mistakenly) are once again being forced to take talent acquisition (and retention) seriously as the technology labor market has again become very competitive. In fact, in June, we reported the shift from an employer’s market to a candidate’s market in a blog post that you can read here.

About GravityPeople:

GravityPeople is a leading recruitment outsourcer providing direct-hire and hourly recruiting services. Established in 1998, GravityPeople has been serving the San Francisco Bay Area Technology community for over decade.  Now with a national focus, GravityPeople provides strategic technical recruiting services to clients across North America.  To learn more about GravityPeople’s services from employers click here.  To see a list of GravityPeople open positions, click here.

Be a hiring machine – Part 2: Making the Determination

Making the Determination: Interviewing For Ability, Talent and Character

Here’s part two of our series on how to be a hiring machine.   You can read part one here.

When we interview we are trying to create a hypothetical environment to mimic a real-world situation.  This simulation will hopefully enable us to reduce the risk of making a bad hire by giving us a fair estimation of the candidate’s performance in our real-world environment.  What measurements will give us the best prediction of performance? The three critical measurements are:

What is Ability?

Ability is the measure of a person’s skill and experience and correlates to a job description’s “must haves”.  When a company interviews for ability, they are trying to determine if the person can accomplish the minimum requirements of the position.  The simplest question to ask is, “Can the person do the job?” Another, perhaps more concise question is, “Can the person be effective in this role immediately?”

Ability determines the execution ability of a company.  To slightly oversimplify, the more ability a company’s workforce maintains the more it can get done.  Of course, ability is affected by things like work ethic and decision making.  But in theory, a company with three software developers can write three times more code than a company that has one software developer.

For some jobs ability level might be the only concern: “Can they cut down a tree?”  For others positions, and this depends on the job as well as the company, there are two other measurements—talent and character.  Knowledge workers require high degrees of skill, but also high quantities of talent and character.  For example, hiring someone to flip burgers may only require the ability to flip burgers; it does not require a great deal of talent nor character.  Hiring a Vice President of Marketing requires ability, but talent and character are probably just as important.

Since skill and experience is a largely objective measurement, ability is then the easiest and least expensive to identify.  “Is the person ethical” is a much more subjective and nuanced question than, “Can the person write HTML?”  Since the latter measurement is largely objective, we can use lower-cost resources (lower-level employees, outsource) to measure ability.  Once we have inexpensively confirmed that the person has the skill to accomplish the job responsibilities we can move to more subjective questions.

Ability First

Only after the interview process has determined the ability level of a candidate is adequate should we concern ourselves with the more costly measurements of talent and character.  If the person can not do the job there is no reason to confirm whether they can grow with the job or if they fit the corporate culture. Perhaps this sounds strong, but for both candidate and company alike, spending time in interviews that test for cultural fit and for growth potential before we know if they can do what is required of them day-one is a waste of everyone’s time.  Thus, the first step in the interview process should be to gauge ability level; it is the easiest and cheapest to identify and a “must-have” requirement.

What is Talent?

“How well does this person fit our long-term objectives?” This is an appropriate way to correlate talent’s importance to interviewing and hiring.  Every company has immediate needs, and those immediate needs, like tax preparation or Java coding, are what we look for in ability.  Talent optimizes these abilities and it should also map to long term corporate objectives, like managing teams or launching an office.

In older economies, talent had some importance, but perhaps not as much as skill (if you need someone to chop down a tree, do you need them to design a saw as well?).  In knowledge-worker organizations problem solving and decision making are often as important as skill.

If you map talent acquisition to corporate development objectives you can actually build the higher-value employees in your company instead of hiring them from outside.  Look why some companies hire college recruits—the ability requirement is low, but they hope to build ability through talent development.  For companies like consulting firms and investment banks it is more effective to build the talent for five years then to recruit someone with five years of experience.  In many industries, we simply do not have the luxury of a five-year training window, so we can not solely screen for talent.

Talent can be measured with behavioral and problem-solving questions.  Behavioral questions measure a person’s past performance in certain situations, which give us a measure of their decision-making abilities. It takes a skilled interviewer and appropriate content to drive this stage of the interview cycle.  If you ask someone to name a time they were given a project with little supervision or resources and how they dealt with it, you get a very subjective response.

Talent Second

Talent is more difficult to identify than ability.  Whereas ability measurements like skill-testing produce results that are easy to measure (it is easy to see that 2+2=5 is the wrong answer), talent measurements require more interactive open-ended questions.  Not only do we need to spend more time with the applicant to gauge talent, we need a more skilled resource to measure it.  Thus the measurement of talent becomes more expensive.  However, talent is more easily identified than character, so we should take care in identifying talent in the middle stages of the interview cycle.  If the person does not fit our development strategy, does not solve problems well or makes bad decisions it is likely a waste of resources to see if they augment corporate culture.

What is Character?

“Do I want to work with this person?”

“Will this person have a positive affect on our culture?”

Both of these questions are appropriate measures of character’s value to the interview process and hiring.  Like talent, character optimizes the output of ability.  Someone can be very skilled, but if they are difficult to manage—then the value of their skill is reduced.  Character also maps to broader human capital objectives in that it closely aligns with employee retention.  If you hire disagreeable people, your turnover is likely to be higher than average.

Character can be measured by behavioral interviewing questions.  It is often not the response that is important, but the way the response is given that is important.  An answer that says “yes” but has associated body language that is contrary to the answer is a character “red flag”.

Character Last

Of the three, ability, talent and character, the nebulous nature of character makes it by far the most difficult to quantify. Due to this problem, the last stage of interviewing requires the highest value employees to competently measure character.  In a well-run interview process we desire to reduce the risk of a bad hires as well as maximize the time and effort of employees.  No one will say in an interview that they are not a hard worker or that they have a bad temper.  In light of this, character should be measured near the end of the interview process by very adept interviewers whose opinion will be trusted.

In saying that character should be measured near the end of the interview process, we do not intend to say it should not be looked for earlier.  Care should be taken at all stages to identify risk associated with character.  Although we can tolerate some deficiencies in talent and skill, deficiencies in character are almost always a reason for a no-hire.

Next week – Part 3: Mix 2 parts marketing and shake

About GravityPeople

GravityPeople is a leading recruitment outsourcer providing direct-hire and hourly recruiting services. Established in 1998, GravityPeople has been serving the San Francisco Bay Area Technology community for over decade.  Now with a national focus, GravityPeople provides strategic technical recruiting services to clients across North America.

Be a hiring machine – Part 1: Overview

As a recruiting services company, our goal is to bring control to recruiting by building repeatable, robust and scalable talent-acquisition functions that will enable companies to accomplish their corporate objectives. In this post we’ll take look at the interview process in order to understand how hiring can increase retention, engender employee development and reduce hiring risk. The concepts in this post are intended to help companies build a consistent, repeatable recruiting program – to become a hiring machine!

Hiring is composed of four processes: Find, Filter, Face and Finish.

Find: Job Posting, Marketing, Direct Search, Job Bank Data-Mining and Research

Filter: Resume Filtering, Phone Screening and Candidate Marketing

Face: Interviewing and Candidate Marketing

Finish: Offer Generation, Candidate Marketing and Offer Close

Of course, the individual performance of each of Four F’s is tightly linked with the other processes. Since Gravity’s hiring solutions are designed to off-load the Find and Filter stages from our clients, it is the Face (Interviewing) process where we concern ourselves with client improvement.

Why do companies interview?

A company interviews because it desires to reduce the risk of a bad hire.

It can be said that a well-run interview program is the most critical of the Four F’s (in Modern Hiring). A poorly-run interview process wastes the performance of the other stages and leads to bad hires or no hires at all. Gravity develops interview programs for organizations that need to attract, retain and develop high quantities of complex ability—knowledge workers. Knowledge workers can be accountants, protein chemists, software engineers, product managers, salespeople or marketing communications managers, for example. Even though the skill requirements of these jobs are highly variable they all share something in common: the qualities that compose a successful hire are difficult to measure and bad hires are very costly. Gauging the risk associated with a hire of such complexity requires a systematic and repeatable interview process that is targeted at discerning the qualities that will make a candidate successful.

In order to mitigate the risk, and reduce the frequency, of bad hires (and increase the good hires) we need to look at how to improve interviewing and we need to understand what we are actually trying to measure by interviewing.

Next week – Part 2: Making the Determination: Interviewing for Ability, Talent, and Character

Interviewing without marketing is like cereal without milk

Interviewing is certainly the process by which we make the determination to hire someone.  However, there is another critical component to the process that too many businesses neglect—creating interest in potential employees.  Just as bad prescreening will lead to poor interview success (you’ll end up interviewing people that can’t do the job), a lack of effective marketing will lead to poor acceptance ratios during the offer stage. A critical part of every technical recruiter’s job is to market opportunities to potential applicants.  But marketing can’t just be a headhunter’s responsibility.  Companies (interviewers) must market to interviewees at every stage of the recruiting process.

When we refer to marketing, we’re not suggesting that businesses just share frivolous facts like how there’s a company pizza party every full moon.  Rather, companies must take care to provide information to the candidate that will reduce the perception of risk. After all,  candidates are interviewing companies and making assessments to reduce their risk of taking a bad job. So what makes for good interview marketing?  Naturally, it’s just good information about the job, project, environment, future, and prospects.

Here are some questions that must be answered during the interview process.

What will the candidate be doing?  Why is this interesting?

What growth opportunities will the candidate have?

Why should the candidate want to work for the company?

Effective marketing will answer these questions for the candidate as early in the process as possible and reinforce them at all stages.  The later the stage in the hiring process when marketing actually begins the less effective it becomes.  If you save your marketing punch for the closing stage of a candidate’s offer its reception will be lukewarm.  Inserting a corporate spokesperson (ideally a future co-worker) into the interview process is highly effective in increasing offer acceptance ratios.

Remember, the company that provides the most information to a candidate during the interview process will almost always beat a competitive offer.

3 Tips for Conducting Great Employment Interviews

Type the phrase “interview tips” into Google and there are plenty of sites that offer interviewing advice for job seekers.  But what about tips for conducting interviews? There aren’t nearly as many resources. Is it because everyone who works at a company is born a good interviewer?  Clearly not.

A well-run interview won’t just reduce the risk of a bad hire, it can also reduce the complexity and number of hires needed in the future. Unfortunately, too many companies treat interviewing like an art and assume that their employees naturally know how to interview. Conducting efficient, productive interviews is a science and just reviewing a resume prior to an interview isn’t enough.

Having been technical recruiters for over a decade, we’ve seen just about every type of interview process and every mistake too.  As a part of our Gravity On-Demand offering, a contract recruiting solution for growing technology companies, we offer interview training for both hiring managers and individual interviewers. Led by our recruiting industry experts, the training sessions are interactive and scenario driven and are delivered most effectively in small groups so individuals aren’t intimidated to ask questions.

To give you an idea of some of the takeaways from a typical interview training session, we’ve put together a quick list of tips that interviewers can start using today.  For more information about our interview training programs, contact our VP of Services, Jonathan Chenard.


1. Don’t wing it: Have a purpose

Before even reviewing applicants, it’s imperative to crystallize the requirements for the role and why. Without this understanding, your interview is like hiking a new trail without a map. Your feet may be moving but it’s unclear where you are heading. Once you’ve identified your purpose – the information you have to conduct the interview will provide a framework to ask meaningful, relevant questions. Why are we hiring this person and do they have what it takes to be successful from day one?

2. Interviews are bi-directional: Question and ANSWER

Every interview follows 2 agendas – yours and your applicant’s. Just as you come into the interview with a set of questions and goals, so, too, does the candidate you’re interviewing. He or she is interviewing at your company a reason; there is something specific he or she wants. Always leave time to allow applicants to ask you questions about the job and the company.  And, always be prepared to explain why you enjoy your job (there must be something).  In the end, the more information a candidate gleans during the interview process, the fewer risks they have when making a decision to join your company.

3. Avoid “Analysis Paralysis”: Collect your thoughts immediately

It’s not enough to take notes during an interview. It’s critical that you also collect your thoughts as soon as an interview is over. What was your first impression? Would you hire this person if it were completely up to you? Good interviewers are not afraid to have an opinion and time will only allow your convictions to fade.  Take a well formulated opinion to your next debriefing session and avoid painful, time- consuming “analysis paralysis”.