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What should you look for when hiring someone in your virtual team?


Virtual InterviewVirtual Teams are slightly different from your normal teams, and hence, they require slightly different skill-sets from your team members. Working in a virtual team is not for everyone, only certain types of individual can perform well in a totally remote team. They should be highly motivated, enthusiastic, and flexible. Thus, it becomes very important to hire someone who can work effectively with minimal supervision than hiring someone who is familiar with a particular toolset. And hence, I would like to provide you with some tips through which you can assess the personal qualities and the tools experience of a candidate during his/her interview.

Technology competence: If you are hiring someone who can work remotely, then you need to make sure that she is comfortable with technology. You can perform a simple test during the interview itself to gauge the competence of the candidate with technology. Just set up the interview using the technologies that you would use when working with the team, such as VoIP, web cams, email, instant messaging, and so on. It will quickly become apparent how comfortable the candidates are with working with the technology and how they handle it when things go wrong.

Self-accountability: Here is where the behavioral and scenario-based questions come into play. You should ask very specific questions which can help you understand how the candidate reacts to a big problem and how she holds herself accountable for the work that she does. You can ask questions such as… How do you organize your workspace? How do you plan your day? How do you keep up with the office when you are traveling for work? How do you manage distractions when working from home/office? What types of distractions are the most difficult for you to overcome? Etc. With these questions, you are trying to find out if the candidate can work on their own, or will they require hand holding to perform their basic tasks. After all, working in remote team is no joke.

Ability to work remotely: Once the candidate answers your questions, ask more detailed questions that examine the candidate’s motivations and behaviors. It is very important to find out how comfortable is the candidate with working remotely. Ask specific examples about the time when the candidate has worked remotely. Tell them to elaborate on their experience. For example: How was your experience working remotely? Was it positive or negative? What did you not like about that experience? What organization techniques have you implemented to identify your priorities? When working virtually, how do you establish a rapport with teammates you have never met? By asking these questions, you are trying to figure out if the candidate is comfortable working remotely, and how she will fit in your remote work culture.

Synergy with your team: As with any hiring decision, skills alone are not enough to ensure that a candidate will be successful on your team. The candidates must also possess personality and character traits that fit with the other team members. If you have a choice between someone who is knowledgeable but obviously difficult and someone who is less experienced but enthusiastic, consider choosing the less-experienced-but-enthusiastic person. You will likely have far fewer personnel issues, and may get someone who will build team synergy.

I hope, my blog can help you find the right candidate for your virtual team. If you know any other ways through which we can improve the hiring process for a virtual team member, then please feel free to share it here. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

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Improve your hiring techniques by learning from fundamentals of arrange marriages (Part 2)


ArrangeMarriage2In my last blog, I have provided you with a couple of similarities between the hiring process and Indian arrange marriages. Let me continue this conversation by providing you with a few similarities and a few learning lessons.

Take a communal decision: Unlike other types of marriages, arrange marriages are between two families, instead of two people (bride and groom). Unlike a normal first date, most of the first arrange marriage meetings are held at someone’s place, where there is hardly any privacy for “soon to be” bride and groom. At that point, bride and groom are not only vetted by each other, but they are also vetted by their parents and other relatives. So, if there were any compatibility issues to occur in the future, these relatives can chip-in and help them through these tough times. As an employer, we should implement a similar technique while hiring someone. We should try to involve most of the stakeholders during our interviews, so if there were any issues to occur in the future, these stakeholders can help that candidate collectively, instead of saying – “My manager hired him, let him deal with it”.

Have realistic expectations: Most Indian people don’t like to admit it, but it is true. In an arrange marriage, people are settling for love instead of finding an ideal suitor for themselves that matches all of their criteria (or check boxes). Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that love doesn’t exist between the bride and groom after their marriage. It actually develops over time, at least that is what I have seen through my personal experiences. But the idea that they HAVE TO compromise in the future tends to make their relationships successful. Similarly, if you are thinking of hiring someone, and you are set on hiring the ideal candidate for that particular opportunity, who meets all of your requirements 100% of the time, then you won’t be able to hire anyone. Thus, you need to be realistic when you are hiring someone. Just compare the quality of candidates who have applied for that job, and adjust your expectations accordingly. I am not saying that you should settle for an unqualified candidate, but make sure to hire the right person instead of being set on that ideal candidate who might not exist, or who might exist but doesn’t want to work for you. Focus on hiring an intelligent individual with an attitude to learn, and you will be pleasantly surprised to see their quality of work over time.

Look at sample of work: Have you ever been a part of the first meeting between the bride and groom, in an arrange marriage? I have, and that too, many times. And let me tell you, it is not a pleasant scene. I still remember the day, when I went with my cousin to see his “to be” bride with his family. And the first question that bride’s Dad asked to my cousin was – “So, how much do you make at XYZ company?” It was a complete cultural shock for me, being in the US for years, where people don’t dare to ask anyone’s personal income, even if they are going to marry their daughter to that guy. To my surprise, my uncle even started asking weird questions to the bride to be – “So, what do you normally cook? What clothes do you like to wear at home?” And I was like, what? Really? Is this really happening? Even though these questions were kind of personal, they uncovered very intricate details about both the parties. And later on I realized the importance of these intrusive questions. Similarly, if you are thinking of hiring someone, then you should not be shy of asking them for their work samples. For example, don’t be shy of asking for coding samples of his/her past work, when you are thinking of hiring a software engineer. These samples can give you very helpful information, such as, if the candidate has the habit of following coding standards, how does he/she organize her code, is he/she organized and disciplined in his/her work, etc.

Do you agree? Do you find any commonalities between arrange marriages and the hiring process? If so, please share it with me here. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2015 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Reduce your employee turnover rate by hiring fresh graduates


In my last blog, I have discussed about how you can save some money and re-training costs by hiring a fresh graduate instead of an experienced professional. In this blog, I will provide you with few other reasons why you should prefer fresh graduates over an experienced person.

Flexibility: In my experience, I have found less experienced people more flexible as compared to very experienced professional. For example: I had this one intern, let’s call him Mr. X, who was very self-motivated to learn. Thus, Mr. X will come early every morning, and read all the required process documents and training documents before he started his work. He would still work his core hours with some of my other experienced team members, but he was always willing to put in some extra time to learn new things. His hunger for learning new things helped me a lot, as he would come on weekends sometime and finish some of the important tasks of my projects.

Happier workforce: I am not saying that fresh graduates are always happier at work. I am saying that……….. Since they don’t have any past experience to compare their existing job with, they wouldn’t complain as much as few experienced professionals would, who might have worked in different companies and have seen different company cultures and practices. For a fresh graduate, your culture and practices will become his primary bench mark, since he will grow with your company, and learn all the practices and procedures established by your company. Also, smaller incentives like free bagels, donuts or lunch will go a long way for him as compared to other people, who might have seen different (better) days.

More growth opportunities: Obviously, you can have various growth opportunities for your experienced professionals depending on your company’s policies. But trust me, you will have way more opportunities for your employee’s growth, if you hire a fresh graduate. For example: I work in a Software Industry. In my company, we have various job ranks for our engineers. Ranks go from 1 to 6 depending on their experience and capability. Let’s say, if I hire an experienced professional on “Engineer Level 5”. Unfortunately, after his promotion to the next level, “Engineer Level 6”, I might not have clear defined path for his growth. And that employee will feel stagnant in my company, and might try to leave for another job. Imagine, if I hire an “Engineer Level 1”, a fresh graduate, for the same position . I will have more opportunity to grow him within the company in a given hierarchical structure of the company. Thus, I would recommend you to hire a fresh graduate, if you already have few experienced people in your team to provide a direction.

I hope these tips will help understand the importance of hiring a fresh graduate in comparison of an experienced professional. Let me know, if you have any other reasons why you would prefer hiring a fresh graduate instead of an experienced professional. Please feel free to share your opinion here. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Why should you hire fresh graduates instead of experienced professionals? (Part 1)


I have seen many companies investing their millions of dollars in hiring experienced professionals for their company. Though I understand the need for hiring experienced professionals, I think that companies should invest more dollars in hiring fresh graduates. For example: if you already have few senior engineers in your team, you should not look for more senior engineers. You should instead think of hiring fresh talents. Following are few reasons, why I would hire fresh graduates over experienced professionals.

Lowering costs: This is one of the primary reasons why most of the companies hire fresh graduates. On an average, fresh graduates cost 20-40% less than an experienced individual. I am not saying to hire them just because they are cheap, there are various other cost benefits for hiring graduates. For example: You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars in the talent search program. You can partner with some of the local universities in your areas, and take benefit of their career center, which will be more than happy to find out a talent match for you. Or you can participate in Career Fairs of few schools and interview people right there and then. This will also reduce all the traveling and lodging costs, which you might end up paying for inviting an experienced person for an interview.

Easy to train: Imagine, if you hire an experienced professional, who seems to provide you all the answers that you require. But have you ever considered the cost of re-teaching him your culture? Since the person is experienced, he would be familiar with the culture of the last company that he worked for. So, before even teaching him your culture, you need to make sure that he forgets some of the aspects of his old culture, and dwells in with your existing culture. On the other hand, if you hire a fresh graduate then you don’t have to reteach him anything. He will basically learn everything from the beginning, and grow with your company. It’s like writing something on an empty white board, you can write anything without rubbing off any previous prints. Thus, unless you are looking for someone from a different culture/company to come and change your existing team dynamics and your existing work practices, I would recommend you to hire someone fresh and new.

I hope these tips will help understand the importance of hiring a fresh graduate in comparison of an experienced professional. Let me know, if you have any other reasons why you would prefer hiring a fresh graduate instead of an experienced professional. Please feel free to share your opinion here. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to design an internship program that works for you and not for the intern?


InternshipHave you ever been in a situation, where you have invested so much time and money in hiring the cream interns, but they never chose to work for you after graduation? This is not true in today’s economy, where students are thankful to have any job. But still……..I am sure, most of you must have seen a situation where your intern accepted a job offer somewhere else, and your time invested in him/her didn’t pay off for you. Through this blog post, I will provide you some high level ideas through which you can design your internship program to help YOU.

Summer Interns: Don’t get me wrong, but I am a huge fan of pay offs when it comes to business. I understand that you want to help your interns to grow his skillsets. But at the end of the day, you should also be benefited from this relationship. After all, you are investing your time and money to train this intern. Thus, to take the best work out of a summer intern, I would advise you to provide him with few smaller standalone projects. For example: projects related to testing, nice to have projects, bug fixes, etc. This practice will ensure that your work gets done, while giving you an idea of work ethics, self-sustainability, and leadership skills of your intern. I would also go further by saying…..you should hire only those students, who have only one semester to go. This will give you an opportunity to hire that candidate without disrupting your work flow too much.

Full time Interns: Most of the companies don’t offer this program. But I would highly recommend to include this program in your internship. This kind of internship means…..hiring someone part-time, probably 20 hours a week, while he goes to school. I would prefer to hire a local candidates over out-of-state candidates for this kind of internship. This will not only improve your relationships with local Universities and help you to get better full time candidates in the future, but this will also give you an opportunity to get out of paying unnecessary relocation costs. For this kind of internship, I would hire anyone from senior to about to graduate. Since, their working hours need to flexible due to their school schedule, I would assign them projects which require minimal supervision and are of lower priority.

CO-Ops: This kind of program is neither famous nor talked about. But this is my favorite internship program. CO-OP, formally known as cooperative education program, gives an opportunity to the employee to hire someone for an entire year to work for full time. In short, this is like hiring an inexperienced contractor for an entire year. I would mostly hire this kind of interns for a specific projects, which requires medium supervision, and which can be done within a year, OR some manual effort like testing, data entry, etc. I would recommend you to target those schools, where they offer online classes. Thus, if you really like this person during his contract period, you can then keep him as your full time resource, while he simultaneously finishes his school. Try to hire a Master level candidate who is about to finish his school in the next semester. In this way, you will get a resource who is mature but flexible.

I hope these tips will help you in making your internship program work for you instead of working just for your interns. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can improve your internship program, so that you have a reasonable pay-back on your investments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 

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How to catch fake resume/profile during your hiring process?


CatchFakeResumeRecently, I am in the process of hiring someone in my team. As I move along with that process, I keep on encountering various fake resume. Times are tough, maybe that’s why genuine people are becoming desperate to compete with these fake profiles, and they are also including false information on their resume. While I might not have a complete solution to avoid these fake people, I have few tips through which you can prescreen these candidates before taking their interview, and save your precious time.

Avoid the perfect match: Have you ever seen a resume which exactly replicates  your job requirements as it is posted on the job portal? I have seen many resumes, which contains exactly same wordings as  they appear in the job requirements, and that too in the same order. This should give you a strong signal that this person has directly copy pasted the job description in his job profile. So, don’t even bother interviewing these kind of people.

Avoid out of context keywords: If you get a resume that has all the keywords that you are looking for, but if they are out of context, then chances are….. it has some falsified information. For example: Java, C#, Windows 7, Linux, etc. Someone who has the knowledge of these keywords would easily classify these keywords properly, and they won’t seem out of context. In our example, they would say…… they know programming languages like Java and C#, while they have administrative knowledge of OS like Linux and Windows 7.

Avoid resume without contact information: If you received a good resume which doesn’t have any other contact information other than just an e-mail ID, chances are….this might be a resume of a fake person or a person with fake information. I would not even consider a resume that doesn’t have a contact phone number and a proper residential information.

Google their names: This practice has helped me a lot. Before I decide to give a call to someone, I always go online and Google their name. In today’s day and age, you can find out lot of information about your job applicant by just googling their name. One time, I was going to call someone for an in-person interview and I happened to google his name, and I found out that he was convicted for two different theft charges from his past two jobs. Thus, I highly recommend you to check their online footprints before you call them for an interview.

Call them before an official interview: Technology has made everything possible in past few years. If you work for a company, which has their own video conferencing tools then please make use of those tools before you invite someone for an in-person interview. If you are working on a budget, then use free conferencing tools like Skype or Meebo for a prescreening interview. You should always prescreen out-of-town people using these tools, so that you can save some valuable hiring money, which you might otherwise spend on scheduling their travel arrangements.

I hope these tips will help you to catch any fake resume during your hiring process, and hence avoiding any hiring mistakes. If you have any other ideas through which you can improve your hiring process then please feel free to share it with me through your comments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Few tips to keep your Resume current while working


I have seen many people in my career, who only updates their resume when they are in the process of finding a new job. I would definitely recommend against this practice. With the current market place, one should keep his/her resume updated at all times. If an unfortunate thing happen to you, then you will be ready with your latest resume in no time. In order to keep your resume up-to-date, following are few things that I would recommend you to do………

Keep your recommendations updated: Do not just wait for someone to write you a recommendation. If someone (for example a friend, colleague, professor, customer, or client) praises you for your recent work or assignment, you might ask this person: “Would you write me a short note restating that so I can include it in my resume or LinkedIn Profile?” The chances are….. they will be happy to do so and they might even like your initiative to keep your profile updated. If they reply that they’d like to write you a note but are very busy right now, you can offer to do a draft of the note, which they can edit, put on their stationery, and sign. In this way, you are not becoming a burden on them and still getting your things done.

Update your resume as you go: In addition to asking for recommendations, you can also add to the items in your Resume by creating them. Let’s say, you are in the same job from last 2-3 years, but your responsibilities keep on changing. In this case, you want to make sure that you keep a note of all of your job responsibilities somewhere. I would recommend you to keep your resume located somewhere on the cloud using something like ‘Windows Live’ or ‘Google Docs’. In this way, when your job responsibilities changes or you take on more tasks, you can go ahead and update your resume right away.

Create work artifacts as you go: I would recommend you to keep a personal folder in which you can keep all of your documents or artifacts. By artifacts, I mean…..something that you created during your coursework at school or during your employment at your current company. Few examples would be….. Scanned copy of your performance review, project plan that you might have created, any framework diagram, or any documented e-mail showing your accomplishments. These documents will prove very handy during your job interview. Imagine if you were interviewing a candidate for one open position in your team, and he comes to an interview well prepared with all of his achievements documented. I am sure, you are more likely to hire that person as compared to any other person without documented proof of success.

I hope these tips will help you to keep your portfolio up-to-date with the current artifacts. If you have any other ideas through which you can keep your portfolio current, then please feel free to share it on my blog through your comments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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