Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at www.thevertexfighter.blogspot.com.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

“What not to ask at a job interview”/ “What motivates employees?”

Feb. 16 “What not to ask at a job interview”: I cut out this article by Eileen Dooley on Feb. 4, 2015.  This is an average article, because I go to a lot of interviews with my questions prepare.  I always ask: “What are the duties?  What kind of computer programs will I be using?”  However, there are still some good questions in the article, so here it is:

After waiting and hoping, you finally get the call – for a job interview.

It is for the job you really want and you immediately pore over potential interview questions and review your research on the company. You get to the interview and sail through it confidently, knowing you were made for this role. The grilling now over, you begin to relax – until the interviewer springs one last quickie: “What questions do you have for us?”

Your confidence is now shot because that is the one question you did not prepare for.
This scenario is more common than you might imagine. Either the candidate has not prepared any questions and replies “No,” or scrambles to ask such meaningless questions such as “Are you a macro- or a micromanager?” (As if anyone has ever admitted to being a micromanager). Most people just want to get out of the room.

Unfortunately for those who have not prepared, questions for the interview panel may be the door opener, or door closer, to the next or final interview. These questions demonstrate to the panel that you are prepared to determine whether this employer is the right fit for you. This is a critical time, and perhaps the only time, where you will have an opportunity in advance to find out key information about the people you would be working with, and the company you will be working for. So take advantage of that. To that end, there are two subjects you should cover – and one you should definitely avoid.

Ask about the job

Some key questions to pose to the interview panel are: “What is the priority for this role?”, “How did this role come about?” and “What would success look like in the first 90 days of the role?”
 
These questions are geared to get the panel to think carefully about what they expect from the person in the role, outside of the job title or job description. It is also a good indicator, depending on their answer, if the company is committed to the value of the role. This is especially important if the role is new.

Ask about the people

You’ll want to know about the people with whom you’ll be working most closely, and what benefit you could expect to gain from working with them. The question posed to your supervisor – if he or she is part of the interview panel – could be phrased: “As my supervisor, what is the most valuable thing I could learn from you over the course of the year?”
 
This question tends to get people thinking about something they likely were not prepared for. You can also ask, “How would you describe the culture in this department?” – again, to give you an idea of what type of workplace you would be joining.

Do not ask about pay

The biggest mistake at this point of the interview would be asking questions related to salary and compensation. Do not do this. Once you are offered the job, you can ask as many questions as you like about your employment package.

In addition, refrain from “obvious” questions such as “Describe a typical workday,” or “What is the best thing about working here?” Ask intelligent, thought-provoking questions that will leave the panel knowing that you were prepared and honestly interested in learning about the job and company.

Have three or four key questions ready before any interview and write down the answers provided by the panel. The tables are now turned, and it is your opportunity to interview them. And remember, the panel made you work for an hour. Now it is your turn to make the panel work for you.

“What motivates employees?”: I cut out this article in the Globe and Mail by Harvey Schachter on Jul. 15, 2013.  This is a bit more of a fun article.  What type do you fall into and then you can see what motivates you:
 
Many managers believe they can motivate most of their employees with money. Others counter that appreciation and recognition is the driving force. But Ilona Jerabek, a Montreal-based psychological researcher, says it’s much more complicated. She has tested 23 tangible and intangible incentives, and says motivating employees is multidimensional.

“What we discovered is that we can’t single out one or two motivators and say: ‘These are the Holy Grail of motivation and inspiration; these are the keys that will unlock your team’s potential.’ The idea that motivation is not a one-size-fits-all solution is a concept that many managers fail to grasp, says the president of Psychtests Aim Inc.

Ms. Jerabek’s testing found these top 10 motivators: achievement; learning; inspiration (the chance to inspire others); creativity; fun and enjoyment; improvement; financial reward; change and variety; identity and purpose; and stability.

So financial rewards fall seventh on the list. (It’s actually fifth for men, but 12th for women.) If employees feel underpaid and used, that will drag down motivation in a work force. But offer financial carrots and many people aren’t particularly revved up (although some definitely are). But many people aren’t particularly revved up by financial carrots.

Appreciation and recognition fared even more miserably, landing 14th on the list. Fun and enjoyment does not necessarily mean parties, and it will vary depending on the person. Ms. Jerabek says she finds looking at results from her testing to be highly enjoyable. Somebody else may get excited by the chance to brainstorm. An accountant may relish working with numbers. The key is understanding how employees define their own fun and enjoyment.
 
“If you motivate people properly, their job satisfaction and engagement improves. And when they are engaged and happy, they are more productive,” she says.

She feels it’s helpful to categorize employees into five clusters, according to how they prefer to be motivated, while not forgetting that everyone remains an individual with their own particular dynamics:

Trailblazers: This is the most common group, with 35 per cent of respondents falling into this category. They want to make an impact on others and leave their mark on the world in general. They have an altruistic streak, they are forward-looking, and they love social contact. They are not extremely ambitious for themselves; they want to be promoted, but they won’t step on other people’s toes. Their top motivators are altruism, customer orientation (the desire to truly satisfy customers), inspiration, achievement, social contact, identity and purpose, learning, creativity, contribution or legacy, and fun and enjoyment.

Workhorses: This was the second most common grouping, 23 per cent of the sample. They are the worker bees of your organization, liking structure and wanting to get the job done well. “They are people you can rely on to show up on time and do the job to the best of their ability. Work is really, really important to them,” she says. Ask for 100 per cent and they will give you 150 per cent. Their top motivators are achievement, stability, financial reward, structure and order, recognition and appreciation, power, and status.

Heavyweights: This was the third most common type, at 12 per cent. They like a fast-paced, pressured environment, and they are interested in achievement and influencing others. They seek to be in control, craving status and approval. Work-life balance is not a motivator. They are often workaholics and quite enjoy that pressure as long as they are properly compensated. They also cherish challenges. “The more motivated heavyweights are, the more obstacles they will plow through, the more ladders they will climb, the more competition they will dominate,” she observes. Top motivators for this group are achievement, responsibility, active/high-pressure work environment, power, status, and contribution/legacy.

Gen-Yers: Members of Generation Y, who account for 11 per cent of the sample, tend to drive many managers crazy, because they seem unmotivated and appear to believe they should be allowed to rise through the ranks without having to pay their dues. But Ms. Jerabek says they’re misunderstood. “Gen-Yers want to do what they love and love what they do. Don’t be mistaken, however; once focused on a goal they love, Gen-Yers are not afraid of hard work, and are the masters of balancing heavy workloads and different life spheres,” she says. They thrive in a job environment that is team-oriented, encouraging participation, enthusiasm and an open mind. Give them projects that allow them to think (and act) outside the box. Top motivators are inspiration, social contact, financial reward, recognition and appreciation, creativity, power, status, mobility, contribution/legacy, and fun and enjoyment.

Explorers: The fifth most common group, at 9 per cent, hate routine, preferring change and variety. Don’t expect them to stay in a job for long, but instead arrange it so they can continually learn new things. Generally, they are quite creative. Top motivators are learning, change and variety, job-hopping, creativity, independence, power, mobility, and contribution/legacy.

Managers should know what cluster individuals they work with – or want to hire – fall into, and then within that cluster they need to know the key motivating factors for that person. If you understand the motivators, Ms. Jerabek advises, you can arrange any job so it will be fulfilling.


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