Part Two: What Does Your ATS Say About Your Organization?

Posted by Natalie Pike on October 21, 2014

by Lizz Pellet, Culture Guru at The Good Jobs

My next experience asked me to include the “job category” for the position I was applying to. I was very confused. The posting said nothing about the category, so I tried to enter key words from the posting. That didn’t work. Every time I hit the enter key it bounced back to me with the error message to enter the job category. I entered a few of my own “key words” and those didn’t work either. So just for fun I entered the job posting number and YES, that was it! The job category I was applying for was HBJ209877FK2623. Somehow to me, that does not translate into a category. It’s a tracking number that populates in the ATS. Needless to say, this was not the greatest candidate experience. 16671611_l

The best was an auto generated email three minutes after hitting submit on the job posting. Really, I might be the 900th person to complete the application, but for me to know that no human being just viewed my resume which is really my resuME just made me feel bad, under qualified and over looked. The ATS is just that – automated. But we humans are not and even if you are using the keyword search functionality to weed out candidates that do not have all the required KSA’s (or maybe used other key words to describe them), it would be a much better communication to allow some time to pass before sending the auto generated email.

Along those lines, for those companies that rely on the ATS to be the gate keeper, it would elevate the candidate experience to autosend to a recruiter so a personal email can then be sent to the candidate. And that email should not say “do not reply to this email”! Please use the candidate’s name. They typed it into a data field so you do have it and your very expensive technology system is capable of doing this. Besides, addressing the email to “candidate” or “applicant” is tacky. Recruiters should also take note to use the same font when typing in either the job title or location or any other customized fields. It’s just as bad to get that email, which you know is canned but dressed up a bit to make you feel better.

*This is part two of a three-part series by The Good Jobs


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Topics: Recruiting, Sourcing Candidates, Hiring

New eBook: 15 Red Flags To Look For On Resumes

Posted by James Patrick Kahler on October 20, 2014

There are multiple signs that can help you separate qualified candidates from the unqualified ones. Sometimes these hints are right in front of you, whether you know it or not. If you’re a hiring manager, there’s a good chance you’ve seen at least one or two of the warning signs typically found on candidates’ resumes—but what about the many others? 15_red_flags_mini

15 Red Flags To Look For On Resumes is our new eBook that assists hiring managers with recognizing the signs of unqualified candidates via their resumes. Similar to magnifying glasses, resumes allow those making the hiring decisions to see applicants a bit closer, which also allows them to make quicker and better hiring decisions.

By reading this eBook, you’ll enjoy the following benefits:

  • An easy-to-reference guide for identifying red flags on candidates’ resume
  • Ample explanations for understanding what resumes should look like, and not look like
  • A quick and enjoyable read

Click on the free guide below to perfect your review skills!



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Topics: Fresh Perspectives New Ideas, Interviewing Help, Recruiting, HR & HR Technology, Hiring Tips, Science of Hiring

What Does Your ATS Say About Your Organization?

Posted by Natalie Pike on October 17, 2014

This is a guest blog by Lizz Pellet, Culture Guru at The Good Jobs

In the world of human resources, ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System(s). To an organization, the ATS tool represents the process of how candidates apply to a job posting on-line. Through the technology, they get to track all of the applications in an organized manner. Gone are the days of relying solely on Excel spread sheets and homegrown databases. ATS are being used as a way to manage our candidate and future talent pool.

Some ATS focus only on the tracking piece, but many have other components – usually bolted on due to the acquisition of another technology. Those seem to be the most cumbersome and disjointed. In an article by Kate Sensmeier Jan 23, 2013, she poignantly stated the recruiting buzzwords today that circle in our brains: candidate experience, employer of choice, culture, employment branding, talent pools, talent communities, candidate relationships, etc. Your expensive and time-consuming investments in all of these things won’t be worth it if the technology is used wrong. Candidates will sour on you or abandon the process. They’ll self-select out for reasons having nothing to do with aptitude or job-related qualifications. 10885712_l

I took this statement to heart and decided to apply for a few jobs. I started on a job board and linked to company websites to start the application process. WOW! I would like to suggest that anyone reading this piece stop. Really stop here and go and apply for an open position with your own organization. I was amazed at how difficult it was to take what should be a very simple process and reach a level of frustration only experienced after running into a wall and hitting the same spot three times in a row! ATS for me translated to Annoying Technical “Stuff” you have to do to apply for a job.

Registering was no easy process, and once you register with one particular ATS vendor it remembers your name and you have to data enter your user name and password for any position you are applying to at ANY company. I used unique information for each job I applied to, so this was a Herculean task and one that I could not master. My level of frustration caused me to opt out of four job postings for companies that used this ATS vendor. I was starting to feel like a mystery shopper who was not going to have much good news for the blind company that sent me in.

*This is part one of a three-part series by The Good Jobs

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Topics: Recruiting, Sourcing Candidates, Hiring

Office Politics & Commonly Asked Illegal Interview Questions

Posted by James Patrick Kahler on October 17, 2014

I love this time of year. Why you might ask? It’s not just the fine fall weather, the fact that all three major professional sports seasons are currently intertwining or the hilarious pumpkin flavor obsession every woman seems to have right now. No, it’s not all of that. I love this time of the year because of something I hold dear to my heart: political smear campaigns.


Election season is underway and along with the campaigns are very entertaining smear commercials, “approved by” the politicians running for their respective government positions. I know these commercials can be seen as distasteful, but I enjoy them…a lot. A—because I know better than to actually believe in them (makes me feel like I’m smarter than politicians). B—I love the banter between the two parties and C—the constant questioning and accusations are genuinely amusing to me.

The commercials always raise ridiculous accusations in the form of questions, such as:

Did Senator Joe Shmo really spend taxpayers’ money on a pizza party at Dave and Buster's? Do you want a Senator who spends your hard-earned money on endless cheesy bread, alcoholic drinks and tokens for the ski-ball machines? Vote no for Shmo! This message has been approved by State Representative Bill Somebody.


As humorous as these commercials are, they often cause trouble for candidates due to the accusations and questioning from rival candidates. The same goes for hiring managers during the interview process. Asking the wrong questions can get not only the hiring manager into trouble, but his or hers entire company as well.

In order to avoid trouble and unwanted office politics, here are some commonly asked illegal interview questions hiring managers should never ask during interviews:

Five Illegal Interview Questions hr-broad-5-illegal-interview-questions-whitepaper

  1. Have you ever been arrested?
  2. Do you have kids?
  3. Where are you from?
  4. Do you own a car?
  5. What year did you graduate from college? 

According to employment law, asking candidates questions unrelated to the open position is illegal. This means that any questions concerning things such as age, family, gender, marriage, nationality and religion (plus many more) are all out of the question. Million dollar lawsuits against companies have been filed and won by the complainants because of illegal interview questions, so it’s important to know what you’re asking before the interview begins. 

So the next time you’re watching TV and happen to see a splendid smear commercial, think about those ridiculous questions and how they can get you into serious trouble. Whether or not you’re a hiring manager, I’d like to think that’s pretty good advice.

This blog has been approved by Hireology.

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Topics: Interviewing Help, Hiring Tips, Hiring

The foosball table is killing your startup

Posted by Adam Robinson on October 16, 2014

When it comes to culture creation, there is no substitute for authenticity. startup_culture

Whenever I ask someone to describe “startup culture,” I typically get back a checklist of “cool stuff:” Video games in the office. Free catered lunches.  A cool, lofty workspace. Lots of Nerf® guns. Casual dress. Mascots.

In my experience, these things sometimes exist at well-run VC-backed startups, and they almost always exist at poorly-run VC-backed startups. Peel back the culture at funded but poorly-run companies, and you’ll discover what’s missing:


Authentic culture is really easy to spot: you can feel it.  It’s inescapable, invigorating and infectious to those who are a part of it.  Vendors arrive for meetings and leave feeling like they want to quit their job and come work there.  People absolutely love what they’re doing, and you get the sense that most people would do just about anything to help their teammate or their company achieve success.

Manufactured culture is easy to spot, too: You’ll see all the accouterments of a startup, but feel none of the energy.  There’s the de riguer open-layout office design, but nobody is talking to one another. No one is smiling, and you’ll watch people take their plate of catered food and go back to their desk and eat it while reading Buzzfeed with their headphones on.  There’s the foosball table nobody uses, because managers shoot dirty looks to the employees when they use it.  Emails are sent from leadership commenting how they can’t believe the office is empty at 5:15 every day.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlights the growing evidence that companies are trying to win the talent war with manufactured culture:

“Free catered lunches cost about $12 a person each day. A $2,000 custom-designed standing desk may seem unnecessary. But some investors and founders say that such intangibles can help startups nab the best talent, who may be considering several job offers."

“No one wants to lose a candidate over the last emotional mile,” says one VC partner quoted in the article.

True, but do I want someone to join our company based on ham sandwiches and exposed brick, or do I want a company full of die-hard evangelists who share our vision for transforming our industry?

The root cause of manufactured culture is, paradoxically, created by highly-focused and hard-working founders. Most entrepreneurs live on high-fives and coffee until they get the funding they need to scale the business. The first people who join them are True Believers.  They eat ramen and skip sleep, and they work their butts off.  When the company defies the odds and achieves liftoff – and gets a big slug of VC money to scale the business - the team must expand rapidly.

The problem is, the business might be ready for scale, but the culture is nowhere near ready.  Investors rightfully expect massive growth, but the entrepreneur can’t attract the talent they need to deliver it.  None of the new hires seem as passionate about the company as the True Believers. The founding team gets nervous. Predictably, they begin to spend a fortune constructing the façade of a great culture and overpaying for talent. “Hey, work here! We have Taco Tuesdays!” 

But when the going gets tough (and it always does), the team that was lured based on game rooms and launch parties are going to peace-out at their first available opportunity.  The cash gets tight, the perks stop, and there’s nothing left to hold people’s commitment.   The culture wasn’t authentic; nobody was there for the right reason.

Authentic culture starts with authentic core values. What’s a core value?  It’s a statement that declares something your company believes, one facet of the way your company chooses to conduct itself in this world.  A core value is non-negotiable, and it never changes.   It’s an invisible hand, guiding every decision that every person (yes, including you) makes in the organization.

Core values can lack authenticity, too. Does your management team let employees slide on delivering what they promised? If yes, don’t say that “accountability” is a core value.  Are you giving your customers a refund every time one is requested, regardless of the reason? If you’re not, don’t say that “the customer is always right,” because your decisions don’t reflect that value. Does your management team really trust employees to get the job done, no matter what, regardless of the time of day the work is being performed? If the real answer is no, don’t buy the foosball table.  Everyone will see that it makes you angry when people are playing it at 2:15pm on a Tuesday, and it will become a visible symbol of your inauthentic culture.

Most importantly - are you willing to fire a top-performer for violating a core value of your company?  If the answer is no, it’s not a core value; it’s a statement that someone thought sounded good but nobody really believes.   This dissonance will erode the esprit de corps of your organization, and it will lead to consistent under performance over time.

Entrepreneurs can’t buy an authentic culture, but they sure can burn a giant pile of money trying. From the WSJ article:

“I have one CEO who is building an octagonal, mixed-martial-arts cage-fighting ring because one of his employees asked for it.”

I mean, really? That’s the kind of stuff that happens when a company can’t get people to buy into a compelling vision, and is forced to bribe people to work there. I’ll pass on “Get Your Ass Kicked at Work” day, thanks.

Commenting on culture, Peter Thiel nails it:

“Anybody who would be more powerfully swayed by free laundry pickup or pet day care would be a bad addition to your team.  Just cover the basics like health insurance and then promise to what no others can: the opportunity to do irreplaceable work on a unique problem beside great people.”

Don’t get into an arms race with your competitors about whose catered lunch is better.  Don’t win with a foosball table. 

Win with authenticity.


Adam Robinson is the CEO and Chief Hireologist of Hireology. He co-founded Hireology to help companies make better hiring decisions through data and better technology.

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Topics: Fresh Perspectives New Ideas, Employee Engagement, Company Culture, Start Ups

3 Hiring Lessons Learned From "The Voice"

Posted by Natalie Pike on October 15, 2014

So, I have a guilty pleasure. It's a show called The Voice.  I'm sure you've all heard of the original singing competition show, American Idol. Four years ago, The Voice swooped in and stole the spotlight. Whether it's the panel of insanely famous and popular coaches or the pure talent of the contestants, this show has it all.

The coaches pick teams of singers to compete against each other, however what makes this show different is that they aren't allowed to physically see the participants before they're chosen. While watching the beginning episodes of Season 7 last night, I realized how much hiring managers could learn from the show. 

Here are 3 things The Voice can teach hiring managers: 


1. Hold a "blind audition" 

Like I said, this show chooses the participants without knowing what they look like. This is how you should be interviewing. By using an interview scorecard, you eliminate any bias in the hiring process. Selecting a candidate based on what they look like isn't going benefit your company. This is also why conducting a phone interview is a good first step in the process. Call them up and get a feel for their personality and experience before you meet them face-to-face. 

2. People want constructive criticism

The Voice also differs from other singing shows because the contestant can often select their own mentor. If they're good enough, more than one coach will turn and vie for the participant's pick. The coaches must "sell" themselves on why the singer should choose them. You can go one of two ways here. Maroon 5's Adam Levine has it down to a tee. Instead of schmoozing the singers with compliments on how good their performance was, he gives them critical feedback on how he can make them better. The singers pick Adam almost every time. Same goes with how you should treat your employees. We all want people to be truthful with us. If your employee makes a mistake, bring it to their attention and explain what they can do to fix it for the future. This will not only help and please them, but it will also benefit the company as a whole. 

3. Trust is mandatory

This goes hand in hand with giving constructive criticism. You can't do this without establishing trust and respect. HR pro, Tim Sackett said, "want your employees to 'select' you as their leader? Then make them a better version of who it is they want to be." Build a foundation and relationship with your employees that make them feel comfortable expressing their concerns and opinions. Just like the relationship between a coach and contestant on The Voice, the relationship between you and your employee should be an open and trustworthy one. 

If you're struggling with keeping your team together or hiring the right people, grab a bowl of popcorn and watch one episode of The Voice. Call me crazy, but just give it a shot. These four coaches can really teach you a thing or two about critical feedback, trust and employee engagement. 

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Topics: Interviewing Help, Employee Engagement, Hiring Tips, Hiring

Ban the Box!

Posted by Natalie Pike on October 14, 2014

This is a guest blog post by Gregory D. Stobbe SPHR JD, a Senior Human Resources Advisor for Creata USA.

Who is behind the Ban the Box movement, you ask? (Hint: it is not those anti-corrugated cardboard activists again). It is in fact, none other than Pat Quinn, the Governor of Illinois. To be fair, he is simply joining the growing ranks of governors and mayors across the country to follow suit in making this initiative the law.

The official name for this law is the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act, which becomes effective in Illinois on January 1, 2015. Commonly referred to as “Ban the Box” (BTB), as most employment application forms contain a question regarding the applicant’s criminal convictions, preceded by a small “check box”. At a summary level, this law prohibits "covered" private employers, including employment agencies, (one qualifier is that an employer must have 15 or more employees) from inquiring into a job applicant's criminal history until either: 1.) An applicant has been deemed qualified for the position and an interview has been scheduled with that applicant OR 2.) If no interview is scheduled, until a conditional offer of employment is made to that applicant. However, certain categories of employers are exempted, so this law should be carefully examined for its specific applicability. Minnesota-Rhode-Island-City-of-Buffalo-Ban-the-Box

One of the changes mandated by this law is that an employer may no longer, on an employment application (or any equivalent inquiry, whether written or verbal), ask about an applicant's criminal history until one of the two conditions outlined above is met. What the application specifically defines as "criminal history" varies depending upon the employer and the jurisdiction in which they are located.

The legislative intent behind BTB is to ensure that applicants, who may otherwise be qualified for a position, are not initially screened out from consideration because they "checked the box". They must first be judged based upon the merits of the qualifications they present for the position to which they are applying. The BTB proponents say it is only fair to give people with a criminal history a fair shot at a second chance.

Multi-jurisdictional employers should take special care to ensure that they understand and comply, where applicable, with the differing laws to which they may be subject. If there is any uncertainty, an employer should work closely with their employment law counsel. Laws coming into effect prospectively are not the only concern employers should have in this area. For example, in Illinois, the Illinois Human Rights Act has for some time, prohibited employers from asking applicants to divulge arrest record information, or expunged or sealed criminal convictions, when making employment related decisions.

Notwithstanding the changes required to comply with current and new laws affecting the application process, employers who work with background check vendors, should also determine if there will be a downstream effect on the timing of initiating such a check. It is wise to look at the entire hiring process holistically and to be prepared for these changes.

What’s a prudent employer to do? Well, according to those activists and the new law, as long as you “Ban the Box”, it’s “In the Bag”.

Stay tuned...

The information contained in this article is provided solely for the general interest of the readers and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. The author assumes no liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the content of this article.

The author, Gregory Stobbe SPHR JD, is an independent human resources consultant located in Chicago, IL. Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to him at

©2014 by Gregory Stobbe SPHR JD. All rights reserved. 

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Topics: Interviewing Help, Hiring

The Top 4 Takeaways from the 2014 HR Technology Conference

Posted by James Patrick Kahler on October 10, 2014

What do you call having a human resources conference in sin city? Ironic! (Maybe not, but it’s an interesting location for this industry if you think about it, right?) Anyways, the 2014 HR Technology Conference was everything but full of irony. In fact, it was a great few days for our team to network, collaborate and learn from others in an exciting environment. And just like everyone else, they enjoyed their time there. 


For those of you who weren’t able to make it to this year’s gathering in Las Vegas, don’t worry—we have you covered. Let us fill you in on what you missed. Here's what our Director of Marketing, Erin Borgerson, got out of the conference:


Everyone from the keynote to the sessions, to the vendors and their taglines were about data. Using data to predict outcomes, make better choices, optimize your HR spending, report on your success, etc. The opening keynote speaker had a nice quote that really connected with the audience. 

“Your tech is a referee if it only tells you what you have already done wrong.” – Rahaf Harfoush

2.) OVER/UNDER on how many times we heard the word integrate?

Can you integrate with my ATS HRIS and Payroll workflow system? Uh, sure. In Adam's (Hireology’s CEO) famous words...we can integrate with your toaster if you want.

Keeping friendly relations with fellow vendors and a good open API will help you get far in this space. Be open to integrations and bring your CTO to the conference next year. Ours spent the whole week talking integrations - and he loved it.


The HR Technology conference is crucial for catching up with your partners. Hireology partners with some great companies and it was extremely beneficial to get face time with each of them.


Attendees are looking for the "next big thing" and each year more and more vendors enter the space and promise successful hiring, interviewing, onboarding, recognition, etc. 

Vendors should start paying more attention to what outcomes they can deliver as opposed to what brand new shiny features they keep releasing.

So there ya have it! If you’re looking to gain new insights on the latest news and trends in the industry, then make sure you get to next year’s HR Technology Conference. Go and you’re bound to make some new friends.

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Topics: Fresh Perspectives New Ideas, HR & HR Technology

5 Creative Ways To Hire Millennials

Posted by Natalie Pike on October 9, 2014

Millennials, Gen Y'ers, the Internet generation...whatever you may call them, they're here to stay. This 1980's and 1990's born group has dealt with a slew of judgments over the past years. Some say they're lazy or too trapped in technology, but little do they know, this is the group who will make their company succeed. But first, how can we get ahold of this talented, sought-after bunch? 

By being creative. 

You're not going to post an ad for an open position in a newspaper because how many 20-something year olds really read the newspaper? You need to go where they are—don’t  expect them to come to you.

Here are 5 ways to creatively hire a millennial:

1. Use social media

I recently watched a video where HireVue founder, Mark Newman, said "you want to be engaging with millennials through the channels of what they're most comfortable with. Have social media channels for your organization. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever - invest in those and develop them." Millennials are on social media platforms constantly. They'll study your social media sites to learn more about the company and most importantly, about your company culture. This is a great way to show it off and make them want to work for you. 

2. Revamp your job description

Young job seekers will take one look at a long, wordy, bullet point-filled job description and click "next." A creative way to draw them in is to tell a story. Give them an overview of what the position entails, but keep it simple. Tell them about the ping-pong table in the conference room or the unlimited vacation days. Think about what will interest them about the position. Grabbing their attention is first and foremost; then you can worry about their qualifications. 

Screen_Shot_2014-10-09_at_2.37.59_PM3. Have a "why"

Millennials want to know why they should take the job and how it will help them achieve their career goals. Gawoop Inc. CEO, Justin Sheratt, said they "need a challenge, a sense of purpose and also a dash of vanity." He found his best employee by making it clear that the company helps people get jobs (social good). They would help the candidate network and move on if he outgrew them (advancement).  He also proved they work with cutting edge systems and software (training). "These three combined far outweighed salary and perks at that time," Sheratt said. 

4. Live the company brand 

This is probably the most critical factor for Generation Y. Whatever your company brand or culture is, stay true to it and be genuine about what you present to them.  If you have five core values that the candidate gravitated towards, but once they began the job only three of them were truly followed, I can't imagine them being too happy. You want to create loyalty with your employees and living by your brand is crucial to gaining their trust.  

5. Show them what it's like to work there

Stumped on how to execute #4? Try promoting your culture by showing what it's like to work in your office. Shoot a "day in the life" video. This will show candidates what you have to offer before they even come in to interview. Often times a candidate will then interview and say the video they watched enticed them to work there. 

Everyone, no matter what age they are, has the same goal in mind. And that is to be successful.  The same goes with millennials; they just prioritize it differently. Rather than resisting this group, embrace them. They'll bring new ideas to the table and work harder than most to help your company succeed. 


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Topics: Hiring Millennials, Company Culture, Job Description

Hiring Leaders: The 5 Must-Haves

Posted by James Patrick Kahler on October 8, 2014

Great leadership has always been crucial for success. Without George Washington, there may have never been an American victory in the Revolutionary War. Without Steve Jobs, there would have never been Apple. And without TMZ, we’d never be able to stick our noses into the personal lives of celebrities! happy-employee-200x233

Every business relies on leadership. Whether it comes from a single person or a group of people, having a clear path to follow allows a company’s employees to be inspired and thrive in a positive environment. However, contrary to paying taxes, leadership doesn’t always last forever.

Leadership comes and goes. If you’re looking to replace a management role or simply searching for someone to help lead your team and revitalize your business, it’s important to hire the right person. The following are five essential things to take into consideration before hiring a sound leader.

1.) Timing

Make sure it’s the right time to hire; and this can go both ways. First, think about the employers you already have—can anyone fill your leadership position? If not, then think about the people you are interviewing—is this the right time for them to step in and take over a management position? Are they ready to take on everything that’s required to succeed for this role? If both parties are on the same track, then you’re good to go!

2.) Proper Background

Carefully review each candidate’s resume to see where he or she is coming from, what they have accomplished and what kind of career path they’ve chosen. It only makes sense to hire someone who understands your industry and has proven that he or she has succeeded in similar environments.

3.) Right Qualities

This may seem like a no brainer, but one of the most important traits of any leader is personality. Think about what kind of qualities your looking for in this leadership position. There are dozens of traits that can define great leadership, however it’s up to you to decide what kind of leader you want working for your company. Think about which personality traits will be needed the most to help your business flourish and help the other employees to succeed as well. 8434934_s

4.) Work/Life Balance

Another thing to take into consideration while interviewing potential candidates is balance. Does the candidate believe in a good work/life balance? Sure, it’s great to employ people who work their tails off, but at the end of the day, it’s still a job. If your employee isn’t happy at home, how do you expect he or she to succeed in the office? Those who have a steady life, inside and outside of the office, usually perform well at work.

5.) Vision

Without a vision or goal in mind, it’s hard to lead others. Don’t forget to ask what your candidate’s vision for company success is, whether it’s for your own company or one from their former employer. Understanding your candidate’s vision can also help you gain a better sense of what may lie ahead for your company, as well as what kind of leader he or she may be. 

These are only five things to consider while hiring someone for a leadership position. There may be several other things that may affect a person’s way of managing a team. However, if he or she meets the qualifications formally mentioned, then you can assure yourself that this is likely someone who can help you manage a winning team.

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Topics: Personality Assessments, Hiring Tips, Hiring