In The Workplace

With five years of experience in hiring in the banking sector, I was pirated to become the recruitment manager of a newly-formed business process outsourcing (BPO) company. The chief executive officer (CEO) told me to start hiring more than 100 workers and listed down the qualities expected of the hires in a job description that he wrote. How do I proceed to hire the brightest prospects for us in less than 45 days? — Fire Power.

If you’re not new to recruitment, you may have already experienced what’s working or not, which could be different in the case of the BPO industry, which is experiencing employee turnover of as much as 40%, either forced or voluntary due to the stressful and toxic working environment. Comparatively, the banking industry averages in the single digits for turnover rate, for reasons that are not found in many BPO firms.

Assuming the high turnover rate comes with the territory, your best approach is to learn from your colleagues from the BPO industry. It could be difficult as you may not know people in the industry. If you don’t, talk to people from the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines.

Unless you ask for help, no one will come to your rescue. If no one can assist you, I can only provide generic advice, mainly focused on avoiding useless job interview questions which have been around since the 1970s. Formulate all questions based on potential work situations to make your search more efficient and meet your 45-day timetable.

What are those situational questions? They are imperative questions designed to elicit intelligent answers from applicants on a particular work situation. This includes — how would you manage an irate customer? How about a toxic boss? Therefore, imagine all possible stressful work scenarios possible in your company. And take it from there.

The main purpose of a job interview is to evaluate and forecast the knowledge, attitude, skills, and habits of your prospect. You do this by being conscious of how the applicants might perform the job. Therefore, avoid the following unrelated and time-wasting questions that could elicit seemingly smart responses from intelligent applicants:

One, tell me something about yourself. Applicant’s thought balloon: “How much time do I have? Of course, I’d love to talk about my childhood and how it molded me. Are you ready to hear all of it?”

Two, strengths and weaknesses. Applicant’s thought balloon: “Oh, that’s very easy. My answer would be the same thing that I’ve told other prospective employers. I’m such an incurable workaholic that I often work overtime.”

Three, career goals. Applicant’s thought balloon: “Are you serious? Frankly, I’d like to immediately assume your job so that I can ask a much better job interview questions.”

Four, imagine yourself in 10 years. Applicant’s thought balloon: “That’s too long. The truth of the matter is — I’m planning to migrate to another country in five years, where the job opportunities are much better.”

Five, have you thought of switching careers? Applicant’s thought balloon: “Where did you get that idea? But to answer your irrelevant question, I used to be a high school teacher. After college, I took a post-graduate degree in education to pursue a teaching career.”

Six, describe the perfect job. Applicant’s thought balloon: “The perfect job would be the one that allows me to challenge the status quo and other wasteful practices, like what we’re having now with this stupid job interview.”

Seven, what type of person would you hire for this job? Applicant’s thought balloon: “I’m a maverick at heart. I don’t want to talk to people with a traditional management style. That’s the kind of person I’d like to hire.”

Eight, have you ever been fired or asked to resign? Applicant’s thought balloon: “Are you doing a background check? Would you expect me to lie? Please get that information somewhere else. That’s because my answer could be self-incriminating.”

Nine, length of job search. Applicant’s thought balloon: “I’m not. My friendly headhunter forced me to take this chance with you. But really, I’m not interested because I know some friends who hate this company.”

Ten, salary expectations. Applicant’s thought balloon: “Do you mean you’re offering me the job? Why don’t you put it in writing so I can show it to my current employer?”

Interviews count the most in screening applicants. You should spend 90% of the time asking people how they would respond to a particular work situation that’s common in a BPO environment. You don’t need to read out the contents of CVs and repeat what’s in there.

Once again, don’t waste time asking old-fashioned and irrelevant job interview questions. Most applicants know how to ace them, particularly when with internet a readily available resource for job hunters. Instead, think of the best ways to uncover the signals applicants give off that might hint at how they will do their best in their jobs.

Learn from the applicants and not the other way around.


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