This week we are attending the annual conference of the Society of Human Resources – the Lollapalooza of HR, if you will. We’re hitting the sessions to learn the inside scoop about the employer side of recruitment and employee engagement and pass them on to you, the job seeker. If you’re on Twitter, you can see the latest if you follow #shrm10 or #cbshrm10. Here are some of the things we learned today.
What can Kennedy and Gore teach us about work?
First up this morning, I hit the keynote speech with Al Gore. Before the former Veep came out, we were treated to a surprise guest, Edward Kennedy Jr. The son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy addressed an issue particularly special to him – employing people with disabilities. Kennedy, who lost his leg as a child to bone cancer, shared a startling stat: 2/3 of people with disabilities can’t get jobs. He also said the most important lesson his father taught him was that if you can find common ground with someone, you can solve anything – a lesson that can be applied in any workplace.
Next up, Al Gore, who called himself “the former future President of the United States” and a recovering politician, discussed the importance of diversity in the workplace. It’s not too often that one goes to a conference keynote session and the speaker actually ties in the audience to his or her topic. I thought that would be the case yet again but was pleasantly surprised when the Grammy- and Oscar-winner/ Nobel Prize recipient seamlessly tied his expertise in global warming with trends in HR. His overall lesson: Sustainability and diversity can make a workplace thrive.
Insider interview secrets
As a job seeker, it’s always useful to understand where the hiring manager is coming from. I sat in on a great session moderated by Nancy L. Newell, SPHR with nth degree consulting in from Albuquerque, N.M. Here are some of the things she talked about:
- Interviewing is hard for hiring managers, too. These folks are responsible for determining in a very short amount of time if a virtual stranger is going to be a good fit for the job, company culture and co-workers.
- What’s more, employers think job seekers are pretty dang smart. They know job seekers are more savvy than ever before and know how to look good to hiring managers … the caveat, Newell said, is that there’s a difference between giving a textbook answer and showing that you’re the best candidate. The stakes are higher for employers and recruiting is more crucial than ever. Companies need their workers to do more with less in this economy and are expecting more from these smarter candidates.
- Search for a company’s interview questions online. If you have an interview with a large company, there’s a good chance you can find some of their favorite interview questions online and the types of answers they’re expecting. I’m not suggesting you completely lift the answers, but use them as a guide for crafting your own responses.
- Be prepared for: “Tell me about a time when…” vs. “What would you do?” Newell told recruiters that past performance is predictor of future behavior. They should be looking at what the candidate did instead of what they would do. Be able to tell employers about your successes.