ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition — September 2003

In This Issue

BRIDGES: Internal Consultants for Change and High Performing Work Cultures
In A Nutshell
Proven Strategies on Service and Life
Leading Wholeheartedly: A Quality Approach
Respectful Confrontation for Superior Results


Articles in Brief
The Help Desk
News Bites
What’s Up?

Book Nook

September 2003 News for a Change—Home Page

NFC Index

AQP Home

Articles in Brief
A quick synopsis of what other publications are saying about topics related to leadership, employee involvement, quality, and organizational performance

July 2003

Why Are Manhole Covers Round? (And How to Deal With Other Trick Interview Questions)
Companies of all stripes are zinging job applicants with sadistic puzzlers. There are no right answers, but there is a right way to answer.

Sometime after “tell us about yourself” and “describe a challenge you faced at your current job” comes the zinger, that off-the-wall Zen riddler that can leave you sputtering in the middle of a job interview: Why are Coke cans tapered? How would you weigh the world’s fattest man without using a scale? How many tennis balls are in the air in New Zealand right now? It’s a growing trend in this buyer’s market for the best and brightest—everyone from tech companies like Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard to Wall Street investment banks to the U.S. military uses these sorts of questions to gauge a candidate’s problem-solving ability.

Fortune Magazine
June 23, 2003

Down and Out in White-Collar America
Professionals have never had a tougher time finding a job. It’s not just the economy; the rules of the game are changing.

Finding a job has always been hard, of course, even for someone who holds a bachelor’s in engineering as well as an MBA. But whether you’re a newly minted college graduate or a seasoned executive with Fortune 500 experience, the job market now is the harshest it’s been in decades—bleaker than the “white-collar recession” of the early 1990s, and by many counts, even more severe than the downturn of the early 1980s. “I’ve been in this business for over 20 years, and it’s the worst I’ve ever seen,” says David Hoffmann, CEO of DHR International, a Chicago-based recruiting firm. “Nothing even comes close to this.”

So what’s keeping white-collar applicants from finding jobs? The rudderless recovery and economic uncertainty deserve much of the blame, but it’s bigger than that. Increasingly, supereducated and highly paid workers are finding themselves traveling the same road their blue-collar peers took in the late ‘80s. Then, hardhats in places like Flint, MI, and Pittsburgh were suffering from the triple threat of computerization, tech-led productivity gains, and the relocation of their jobs to offshore sites. Machines—or low-wage foreigners—could just as easily do their work.

HR Magazine
July 2003

A Hire Standard
Most human resources professionals should be aware that a panoply of federal and state laws that prohibit workplace discrimination based on such factors as race, color, creed, national origin, religion, gender and age—to name just a few. Some employers, however, may not fully understand the extent of potential liability involved with making hiring decisions. Perhaps most potentially frustrating for employers is the fact that their employee selection systems can be found illegally discriminatory even in the absence of offensive intent.

The legal risks associated with hiring systems may be especially great now when unemployment rates are relatively high. When employment opportunities were plentiful, workers who were passed over for a job opportunity had far less incentive to wonder why or to take legal action. After all, another—perhaps better—job was likely around the corner. Now that the economy has slowed and jobs are no longer plentiful, workers may be more likely to question why they were not hired—and to look for legally actionable causes.

The challenge for HR professionals is to create an employee selection system that is efficient and beneficial, but that also minimizes vulnerability to legal challenge. The article gives seven tips that can help guide you in assessing the general vulnerability of your employee selection procedures. Where necessary, consider revising procedures to reduce your organization’s legal risk.

T+D Magazine
July 2003

Who Wouldn’t Like It?
Believe it or not, there are people out there—friends, neighbors, and family—who, brace yourself, don’t like the Internet. Worse, they’ve decided to live their lives unplugged. Twenty-four percent of Americans live their lives free of the Web’s entanglements, and more than half say they don’t need it; they don’t want it.

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