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HR Interviews – 3 Areas That Will Help You Ace HR Interviews

HR interviews can be stressful and unpredictable, so doing your homework is essential. Here are three areas you should be prepared in advance to talk about because you’ll certainly be asked about them in the interview.

1. Be prepared to explain why you’re leaving your current company.

Expect to have to answer this question in your first phone interview. The interviewer doesn’t want to hear all the gory details about why things didn’t work out in your last job. But the hiring company’s due diligence requirements compel the interviewer to ask – and you should have a brief, logical, professional answer that reflects well on you, your former boss and your former employer. When in doubt, be hard on the issues and soft on the people involved.

2. Be prepared to describe how your current HR job has contributed to your company’s results.

Recruiters know that the best predictor of future performance in Human Resources is a successful past track record. HR professionals who can link their work to the bottom line are in high demand. You don’t have to be an ex-CFO, but you need to be comfortable explaining how your job (and the job for which you are applying) will impact your company’s P&L, and be able to discuss it articulately.

3. Be prepared to talk about how you’ve built and led successful HR teams.

HR professionals who can lead teams effectively are attractive candidates. Leadership and team skills get more critical every year as companies seek to accomplish more with less. How many people report to you now? Under your leadership, how have your direct reports grown both personally and professionally? Be prepared to provide details.

Scripting and preparing yourself in advance to talk about these three areas comfortably will go a long ways towards helping you ace HR interviews.

Source : Alan Collins – EzineArticles

Waitrose introduces filtering tool to ensure highest calibre of graduate candidates

Waitrose, the food retailer, is using a new online recruitment tool with the aim of ensuring the highest calibre candidates progress through to its graduate selection centres.

This year, Waitrose has received over 2500 applications already for its graduate scheme.  

By introducing Graduate DILEMMAS from A&DC, the graduate recruitment team hope to efficiently filter out less suitable candidates and ensure those getting to the centres have the potential to succeed as future store managers.

Anglie Johns, manager recruitment services at Waitrose, said: “We anticipated an uplift in applicant numbers this year and therefore wanted to introduce a new, robust selection tool to our graduate assessment process, to address the challenges of the recruitment market and the growing numbers of applications.”

Graduate DILEMMAS is an online situational judgment test that assesses graduates’ judgment and decision-making skills in relation to common work situations.  It is used to sift candidates quickly and easily online, based on an overall judgment score.

The scoring of Graduate DILEMMAS has been tailored to reflect ‘what good looks like’ for graduates within Waitrose. Store managers with detailed knowledge were asked to complete Graduate DILEMMAS and indicate how effective candidates should respond. Based on their responses, A&DC created a bespoke scoring key for the company.

Source : The HR Magazine

CIPD reports 30% increase in exhibition visitors since 2008

The CIPD has reported a 28% increase in visitors at its Annual Exhibition since moving from Harrowgate to Manchester, as well as a 9% increase in conference delegates.

Speaking yesterday at the closing key note session of the three-day event, the CIPD’s president Vicky Wright said: “We have reached out to more people to hear our new HR message. And through social media, more people than ever have shared in our conference.”

Wright added: “The CIPD is calling for much more clarity in the HR profession. Next generation HR is a real presence working in high performing, sustainable and committed departments, but they urgently need a business connection.

“The CIPD needs to be able to provide services to new organisations and our professional map has been aligned to play that role with new services to help our members be successful.”

Source : The HR Magazine

The year ahead: Age discrimination looks set to be a hot topic in 2010

 Employment law is always changing, and this shows no sign of slowing down in 2010. In the first of a series of articles looking at the main changes expected in 2010, Lorraine Heard, a partner in the employment team at law firm Dickinson Dees, sets out why age discrimination will remain high on the agenda for HR professionals next year.

If the past year is any indication – a year when Strictly Come Dancing’s Arlene Phillips was replaced by the younger Alesha Dixon and the BBC sought to recruit an older female newsreader – age discrimination will be a hot topic in 2010 for the public and HR professionals alike.

End of default retirement age?

We all watched as the High Court rejected the Heyday case, ending the challenge to the UK’s default retirement age of 65. However, the Government has brought forward its review of this area to 2010, signalling the likely end of the default retirement age. If this happens, HR professionals should be ready to adapt their policies and procedures to ensure that they record a ‘normal retirement age’ for the organisation, as this will then replace the default age.

Whether the retirement age is ‘default’ or ‘normal’, there will still be ways employers may be caught out by retirement-related issues. In one recent case a professional with 38 years’ experience was denied a top position because she was three years from retirement, and the employer had to pay around £35,000 for injuries to feelings.

It is also possible that increased focus on eliminating age discrimination may result in the questioning of practices such as the scheme for calculating redundancy payments. 

The statutory scheme can result in a higher payment to an employee who is over the age of 41 but who has fewer years’ service than an employee under the age of 41.  For example, 51 year-old with 10 years’ service is entitled to 15 weeks’ pay whereas 40 year-old with 14 years’ service is only entitled to 14 weeks’ pay. If the redundancy payment is enhanced, for example, by using twice the employee’s normal salary as the figure for a week’s pay instead of the capped statutory amount, the difference in the amount actually paid could be significant. 

An employer who seeks to reward loyalty by providing for an enhanced redundancy payment in respect of each year of service, regardless of the employee’s age, would not have the ‘statutory scheme’ protection and would have to justify its decision to avoid a finding of age discrimination.

End of ‘age bars’

Some organisations still set seemingly arbitrary age limits for jobs. At one end of the spectrum, an ‘age bar’ that excluded anyone aged 36 or over from training as an air traffic controller was found to be unjustifiable. At the other end, with much talent available for hire, organisations must be careful not to ‘over-specify’ roles, potentially leading graduates and new entrants to the market to feel discriminated against for a job they could do. Those responsible for recruitment need to ensure that candidates are recruited on merit, and job specification criteria are drafted in relation to skills. 

Source : HR Magazine

Huge jump in the number of people working beyond 65, according to CIPD



The proportion of older workers planning to work beyond the state pension age has increased by 31% in the past two years, according to the CIPD.

The Employee Outlook survey of 2,000 working people shows the proportion of people aged 55 and above planning to work beyond the state pension age has jumped to 71%, compared with 40% two years ago. Financial factors are the main reason employees of all ages plan to work longer, with 71% of those aged 55 and over saying this is the case.

The CIPD reports the recession has shrunk pension pots, savings, investments and house values.

Chares Cotton, reward adviser at the CIPD, said: “Employers need to review how they are helping their employees save for retirement to get value from their pension spend from 2012 onwards. With more people planning to work past 65, employers will have to accommodate older workers and motivate those who wish they could be elsewhere.”

The research also shows the older people get, the more likely they are to be planning to work beyond state retirement age, suggesting that reality bites as they get closer to drawing their pension. Less than a third (30%) of people aged between 18 and 24 plan to work beyond the state retirement age, but 52% of this age group said they did not know and 18% said no.

Less than half of employees (46%) said they had a pension with their current employer, with men (52%) more likely than women (39%) to say this is the case. But less than a quarter (23%) of people aged 18 to 24 have a pension with their current employer.

Source : HR Magazine

The worms are turning

Employees are expected to pull together, with two thirds working unpaid overtime. But half say that this work level is unsustainable, and UK organisations risk brain drain as disgruntled staff plot upturn escape.

UK employees have stretched themselves to the limit to get their organisations through the recession, yet employee engagement is significantly below normal, new research by global management consultancy Hay Group reveals.

As the economy improves, some UK organisations will face a talent exodus of disengaged employees, overstretched and under-rewarded in the recession, the research warns. The study, The Loyalty Deficit, of 1000 front line employees also reveals how some employers have broken an unwritten ‘contract’ with staff, jeopardising loyalty, commitment and ultimately firms’ ability to rebound out of recession.

Two thirds (65 percent) of employees are currently working over and above contracted hours and over a third (36 percent) have increased the amount of overtime they put in over the past 12 months. The average amount of unpaid overtime workers are currently clocking up is six hours per week, almost an extra day.

For now, this extra time is being put in willingly as workers pull together. The vast majority (85 percent) of those working unpaid overtime are committed to helping their organisation survive the recession, while 84 percent say that people in their team are willing to go beyond their normal responsibilities to help each other out.

However, half (50 percent) of these employees warn that this level of work is unsustainable.

Seven out of ten (70 percent), claim that overwork is having a negative impact on their relationships and family life, whilst a similar proportion (76 percent) complain it is affecting their general health and wellbeing.

Despite this apparent ‘Dunkirk spirit’ among frontline workers, employee engagement levels stand significantly below normal levels, 59 percent against normative levels of 72 percent*, whilst more than a third of employees (36 percent) are ‘unhappy’ in their current role. Approaching a third (30 percent) rate their organisation as a worse place to work compared to 12 months ago.

Russell Hobby, Associate Director at Hay Group, explained: “Walking around the office, leaders may feel the warm glow of a ‘Dunkirk spirit’ among teams battling through the recession together.

“However, managers should beware of superficial engagement, where levels of effort and staff retention are artificially inflated by redundancy fears and a soft employment market, rather than genuine loyalty to the firm.

“Those companies solely focused on the bottom line during the recession could easily fail to notice the debt they have built up with employees for their loyalty during tough times. They risk falling behind those few organisations that have bucked the trend and successfully kept engagement high.”

The Hay Group research shows that some workers are only staying with employers due to an uncertain jobs market, and warns of an imminent talent exodus from organisations that fail to re-engage their employees before the economy revives.

The majority (53 percent) of employees describe working under a ‘climate of fear’ for their jobs. One third (33 percent) of workers are actively looking for a new job, and nearly half (47 percent) plan to leave in the next two years.

Of those planning to stay in their role for at least another year, over four fifths (88 percent) attribute this to a lack of vacancies elsewhere, whilst 92 percent fear the risk of starting a new job in the current economic climate. However, approaching half (41 percent) say they are more likely to leave their employer with an improvement in the economic environment.

Russell Hobby commented: “If the 47 percent of employees planning to leave their jobs over the next two years carry out their intention, this would be a 16 percent increase in UK average employee turnover levels. With the average cost of replacing an employee said to be £6,125 this suggests that low employee engagement in the recession could cost the UK economy an additional £17.4 billion.”

“As the economy warms up, leaders will notice a trickle of talent draining from their organisations that could quickly turn into a torrent if they do not act now to re-establish trust, and provide a vision for the new business world.”

The study warns that some employers have broken their psychological contract with employees, by leaning too heavily on them for too long during the recession whilst giving little in return. Around two fifths (39 percent) of workers feel their employers have broken an unspoken contract of loyalty with their staff over the past 12 months.

Nearly half (46 percent) no longer have faith in their employer, whilst approaching half (45 percent) are now less proud to work for their organisation compared to a year ago; 46 percent are less inclined to recommend it as a place to work to friends or family. Consequently, the vast majority (91 percent) of workers claim they “work to live” rather than “live to work”, 16 percent of which say this has changed in the last 12 months.

Russell Hobby commented: “Hay Group research shows that firms with an actively engaged workforce on average achieve two and a half times greater revenue growth than those with low employee engagement.

“This not only represents a huge missed opportunity to companies that don’t engage their employees, but their ability to respond quickly and decisively to the upturn will also be greatly impeded without staff on side.”

Source : The HR Director

Removal of tax breaks undermines childcare voucher schemes

Four in five payroll professionals do not think organisations will continue running childcare voucher schemes after tax exemptions are abolished, according to research by the Institute of Payroll Professionals (IPP).

The UK’s leading membership body for payroll professionals carried out a survey amongst its members asking their opinions on the government’s intention to scrap tax exemptions on childcare vouchers from April 2011. Unsurprisingly, 78 percent of IPP members also said they are against the withdrawal of tax relief on childcare vouchers. There is a worry that removing tax exemptions will encourage some mothers to stay at home and not go back to work after having children.

The findings support the IPP’s stance that employers may no longer see the financial value of retaining a childcare voucher scheme if they do not benefit from tax breaks since administration costs are usually paid for by savings on National Insurance.

Karen Thomson, Associate Director of Policy, Research and Strategic Visibility of the IPP, said: “We asked our membership to voice their opinions over the elimination of tax relief on childcare vouchers and we received an overwhelming response confirming our belief that this plan would influence a company’s decision on whether to maintain the scheme.

“The reality is that many organisations will not see the advantage in offering the scheme as it will just incur costs to operate and be a further burden to the payroll department. “In response to these survey results, the IPP Policy & Research team will be writing to the Treasury on behalf of our membership and will publish the outcome shortly.”

Source : The HR Director

Workers forced to clock in and out to use lavatory

Workers at a meat factory claim they are being forced to clock in and out every time they visit the lavatory and claim that their pay is then docked accordingly.

More than 100 workers at the Dunbia plant in Sawley, Lancashire have complained to their union Unite that they are being penalised by up to £30 a week for the essential trips.

But the company, which supplies meat to Sainsburys and the Co-op, insists the system – which is applied across all its factories – is purely for safety purposes and staff are not financially penalised.

They insist they pay an additional allowance to cover the time lost making bathroom trips, but Unite’s Cathy Rudderforth claimed that workers had seen no evidence of an extra payment.

“It’s outrageous that in 2009 workers have to endure the indignity of clocking out for lavatory breaks,” she said.

“We’ve made numerous attempts to speak to Dunbia on behalf of our members in recent weeks, only to be given the run around by a company which clearly wishes to avoid any form of challenge to the manner in which it treat its employees.

“Its workforce, some of whom are migrants, are extremely frightened to be seen talking to the union. They are vulnerable people, and, as with all workers, deserve to be treated fairly and with respect.”

A third at the plant have submitted an official grievance to the company demanding a change in the policy.

Dunbia said in a company statement said: “Employees are required to clock in and out when accessing/leaving major food processing production floor areas, including visiting the lavatory, to ensure their safety and wellbeing on site.

“To ensure that employees do not suffer financial disadvantage, Dunbia increases employees’ weekly wage to compensate for lavatory breaks. Employees are paid this additional allowance, even where they do not use the time allocated for lavatory breaks.

“This scheme, which has had the continued support of the workforce, has operated satisfactorily since its implementation over five years ago.”

Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans called on the two sides to reach an agreement. He said: “Going to the lavatory is a natural thing and I can’t imagine that people are taking breaks which are affecting productivity.

“I do hope that the unions and the management pencil in a speedy meeting and come up with a solution because the firm is a major employer and I would like to see it go from strength to strength.”

In October, Dunbia, a Northern Irish firm, was ranked 16th in a table of best-performing, privately-owned companies in the whole of the UK and Northern Ireland with sales of £466.3 million.

Source : The Telegraph