“Tell Me About Yourself:” What An Employer REALLY Wants To Know

April 13th, 2012

In nearly any setting, the question, “tell me about yourself,” is the perfect icebreaker. But when you’re in a situation that can make or break your career, it becomes much more significant.

For the person on the hiring end of a job interview, this question serves to open a conversation about the central topic under consideration: what you, an unknown entity, have to offer the employer. For the job seeker in the hot seat, a powerful, fact-filled summary sets the tone for the entire interview, and makes an impression that will last throughout the hiring process.

As a job seeker, you should anticipate that you will hear this question. It appears frequently on “top ten” interview questions lists from web sites like Monster.com and TheLadders.com. Hiring managers use it to gauge your comfort with a topic that should be the easiest thing in the world upon which to wax poetic: you. And that means that as a potential new hire, you need to have an answer that goes beyond the traditional 30-second elevator speech and into a detailed, concise and meaningful sketch of your experience and notable achievements. Do not walk into an interview situation unless you have rehearsed and practiced your answer.

Craft each element of your answer to describe your skills and knowledge in a way that gives a complete, but not exhaustive, outline of your professional history as it relates to the job opening. Throw in a brief anecdote or two that relate to your most significant achievements—be boastful, but don’t be vain. This is your chance to shine in front of people who could be your future co-workers, and it’s also your chance to be specific. “I like to work with people” is much less interesting than, “Throughout my career, I’ve sought out opportunities, such as three years ago at XYZ Company, where my ability to relate to people of all ages was an asset, especially in developing our business among elderly clients.”

You have the entire remainder of the interview to persuade, cajole and otherwise convince this cast of interviewers that you are the best man or woman for the job. Ultimately, an employer wants to learn what you have to offer their company, but with this question, do your best to limit yourself to a descriptive summary. Take the rest of the interview to go into more depth about yourself in ways that tie back to how your experience fits with this position.

Don’t fear the “tell me about yourself” question – embrace it. Telling a potential employer what you think they want to hear won’t do anyone any favors. You were selected for an interview for a reason. This is your chance to shine.

As you search for your next position, keep in mind that Olympic Staffing has connected job seekers with Southern California’s top employers for over 30 years. Contact us today.

Is It Less Costly To Hire Additional Employees, Or Pay Overtime?

April 5th, 2012

For any industry with overtime as part of the wage structure, managers and schedulers have to maintain a delicate balance between the available workload and the available staff. But when a company’s workload exceeds the manpower at a scheduler’s disposal, two options emerge: hire more employees, or pay overtime to current employees.

In the short-term, overtime is less costly, assuming you have qualified and willing staff willing to shoulder the extra work. Offering overtime to existing employees will add a marginal cost to operating expenses, offering a tradeoff that is outstripped by the increase in production, sales or outputs. But again, this is a short-term solution.

That overtime, though the extra income is appreciated by overtime workers, has a limit. At a certain point, employees lose their edge and you don’t see gains in productivity. In fact, research from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2011 found an array of negative effects resulting from overtime and extended work shifts related to worker illnesses, injuries and overall health. Sick workers don’t help your business meet its yearly goals. Beyond that, extended periods of overtime can make workers feel overworked and underappreciated, raising questions of why management won’t bring in more employees to handle an increased workload.

That leads to what employers can do for longer-term planning. The added expense for a new hire – from the hiring process, to training, to additional benefits and insurances – is not one to be taken lightly. But ideally, your business is growing at a rate that will support new hires over a period of time. Your personnel costs will increase, but you will also see a proportionate growth in your business.

With the cost of a new employee also comes the value of a new employee. It means you are introducing someone with a new perspective on your business and its operations. These hires can offer new ideas from within and beyond your industry. They are able to be cross-trained, adding in a layer of redundancy for times when employees are ill, on vacation or involved in a new project. And, they’re a visible reminder that your company is succeeding.

If you are in the market for new employees to support your growing business, Olympic Staffing works as your partner to outline your staffing needs and to find the right people to fill those positions. Call our office today!


Should You Be Afraid Of Overqualified Candidates?

March 29th, 2012

Employers and employees alike point to the economic downturn and consequent slow recovery as the reasons for a flood of overqualified candidates in the open job market. The truth is that overqualified candidates have always been available for hire, waiting for the right opportunity. They seek positions that are “beneath them” for reasons that smart employers would be well-served to discover.

Emotions of fear or reluctance from an employer about bringing an overqualified candidate onto a team should not knock that candidate out of the running for a job. Consider the reasons why someone would apply for a job that, on paper, is one that he would have been better suited for ten years ago. Does he need a shorter commute? More flexible hours? Did his current employer pile on unrelated job responsibilities, and he’s looking to get back to his roots in a specific field?

The primary reason that fear comes into the equation stems from the thought that an overqualified candidate will leap to a new job at the first opportunity. That is an inherent risk of any new hire. Companies can take advantage of this by recognizing, instead, the inherent value of an overqualified hire, and taking steps to make their experience challenging and rewarding.

As a benefit to a company, the time it takes for these employees to get acclimated is greatly reduced, thus eliminating some of the expense of training and maximizing the amount of time they have to start being productive. Also, overqualified candidates bring a wisdom that only comes from experience—that is, having made some mistakes, and having learned from them. They are more likely to identify ways to be more efficient, to spot new opportunities for business development and to solve problems as they crop up.

For all the talk of a work/life balance that we see in popular media, when someone takes steps to embrace that healthier balance, experience, skills and achievements can work against him or her. Smart employers will evaluate candidates whose experience exceeds a job’s requirements in the same way that they look at job seekers who meet the minimum standards. One type of hire requires a steep climb up a learning curve, while the other brings knowledge that will make other employees step up their game.

Rather than writing a candidate off after a cursory resume review, forward-thinking hiring managers will consider one’s “overqualifications” as one element of the whole mix, not the deciding factor. The competitive spirit that has consumed today’s job market will not fade away. As an employer, turn these candidates into your competitive advantage.

Olympic Staffing can help you to tailor your job postings and find quality new hires. Find out how by contacting our offices in Southern California today.