Author Archive

Top 10 most challenging interview questions to ask a candidate

 in All markets by 

Top 10 most challenging interview questions to ask a candidate


So you’ve been through a pile of CVs and whittled it down to a handful of candidates. They all seem impressive on paper, but how do you identify the true talent – the individual who is the best fit for your organisation?

How do you sort the wheat from the chaff?

A good interviewing technique is crucial in Hong Kong’s competitive job market. Good interview questions help HR professionals come to grips with what they need to know about a candidate – their skills, their strengths, and potential cultural fit. However, with a wealth of information available to candidates on the “right” thing to say, it’s not always easy to see through the bluff and bluster.

Here are 10 curly questions to put to candidates during your organisation’s next round of recruitment.

No.1 If a colleague’s behaviour (talking too much on the phone incessantly) distracted you to the point it affected your work performance, how would you resolve it?

This is a good opportunity to determine how well a prospective candidate can resolve conflicts in the workplace, while maintaining a good relationship within the team.

No.2 Without consulting your CV, tell me what defines you

Helps the interviewer gauge the candidate’s ability to think on their feet and also reveals how well they know themselves. It’s also a chance for them to tie why they are interested in the role and why they’re a good fit in your organisation.

No.3 What bothered you most about your most recent employer?

This is a trap for potential candidates who like to gripe excessively about their employers – past or present – and who could potentially have a negative effect on the morale of your team. But it’s also an opportunity for them to explain why they are looking for a new role, and help you to gauge their expectations.

No.4 What do you read to enhance your professional development?

A switched-on candidate who is genuinely interested in the role should be able to fill you in on relevant topics, trade publications and appropriate media channels to the industry and position at hand.

No.5 Can you give me an example when you had to make a snap decision without all the facts?

Demonstrates how agile and flexible the candidate is. A good answer reveals their ability at problem-solving – a handy attribute in any organisation.

No.6 What’s a brand that typifies you?

The candidate’s answer will depend on their individual circumstances and the role they are applying for. A well-prepared candidate should have a good answer at their finger tips.

No.7 Describe your worst boss

Watch out for candidates quick to criticise their past managers. Rather, look out for candidates who use the question to explain their preferred management style and how they adapt to different personalities in the workplace.

No.8 What five words best describe you?

This question gives pointers about whether the candidate is a good fit your organisation’s culture and core values.

No.9 Convince me of one idea, then convince me of the opposite.

This demonstrates their ability to think clearly and a willingness to challenge their own preconceived notions about a topic. It should also illuminate the interviewer as to whether the candidate can organise their thoughts coherently and communicate ideas convincingly, even when they don’t entirely agree.

No.10 Which person, living or dead, would you like to have dinner with? Why?

This helps the interviewer understand where the candidate draws their inspiration from. Their chosen dinner conversation could also shed light on what they are truly passionate about.

Photo / 123RF

This article was first published in Human Resources and is reproduced with permission. 
Original can be found at

Working on holiday? You’re not alone, 62% of Indian employees do so

 in All markets by 

Working on holiday? You’re not alone, 62% of Indian employees do so

A recent study by Snow Software has revealed that employees in Asia Pacific (APAC) find it most difficult to disconnect from their jobs while on holiday, compared to those from the US and UK. In fact, amongst the 3,000 employees surveyed globally, more than one-third of those in APAC (37%) said they always took their work devices on vacation. More specifically, the percentage of employees per country who did so was as follows:
  • India: 62% (Highest globally)
  • Hong Kong: 60%
  • China: 36%
  • New Zealand: 33%
  • Japan: 30%
On the other hand, just 28% of Australian workers always brought their work devices on holiday. Globally, a little more than one-third (36%) of American workers had the same habit, while 26% said they would never bring their work devices on vacation. At the same time, Europe had the smallest number of respondents who brought their work devices on holiday, at just 29%. That said, about one-third (35%) did report bringing their devices along “most of the time”.

Younger employees more likely to bring their devices on holiday

The generation with the highest number who always took their work devices on vacation was the Millennials (37%), compared to only 24% of Baby boomers. On the contrary, 33% of Baby Boomers said they’d never take their devices with them, a contrast to just 18% of Millennials.  
Photo / 123RF

This article was first published in Human Resources and is reproduced with permission. 
Original can be found at

How long is too long to sit on a job offer?

 in Hong Kong by 

How long is too long to sit on a job offer?

There are countless career websites or mentors urging candidates to take some time to review a job offer before accepting it. It turns out mulling over a job offer for too long can burn bridges. More than half of the 225 Hong Kong bosses surveyed have withdrawn a job offer because a candidate took too long to consider the offer. So, what is an acceptable range for hiring managers? One to two weeks (40%) One day to one week (28%) Two to three weeks (18%) Three to six weeks (12%) “In a candidate-short market, in-demand talent can be more selective about the roles they choose to pursue. However, lengthy decision-making times can cause frustration for both candidates and hiring managers. When it comes to filling vacant roles, time is usually of the essence which means hiring managers are inclined to move forward with another candidate if their preferred applicant takes too long to decide,” said Elaine Lam, associate director of Robert Half Hong Kong. Hong Kong employers indicated these are the most common reason why candidates take so long to make a decision: Multiple job offers (29%) Non-competitive salary (26%) Counteroffer from candidates’ current employer (20%) A lack of passion about the role (16%) Unsatisfactory job responsibilities (9%)  
Photo / 123RF

This article was first published in Human Resources and is reproduced with permission. 
Original can be found at

7 ways to make the HR function more agile

 in All markets by 

7 ways to make the HR function more agile

Data from a new survey of 850 HR decision makers globally shows that:
  • Less than half of HR directors (44%) report their data is integrated for realtime reporting and analysis.
  • Only 10% believe they have complete integration of data, and 44% feel strongly that they lack this.
  • 45% believe data in their systems in contradictory, and only 6% disagree with this.
  • Only a third of HR directors (35%) are at all confident that their employees have a basic understanding of data analysis methods – but not everyone needs to be a data scientist, rather they need the ability to interpret the findings data scientists discover.
So how can we overcome this productivity paradox which comes with working through technology? There are seven key factors that have been identified in this new research from Oracle and the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management – wherein business efficiency has been shown to increase by two-thirds when the right technology is implemented alongside these factors.  

1 Flexibility and embracing change

More than half of HR directors report their organisation emphasises agility, in both their people and the organisation as a whole – only 3% say this isn’t the case. And managers are trialling new ways of working, with new team structures tested on a regular basis according to 38% of HR directors and 30% of employees. Meanwhile, half of HR directors (49%) strongly agree that new technologies have been openly embraced, as do 42% of employees. ACTION ITEM: Organisations should embrace flexibility as a concept and, where possible, keep an open mind on how and where their employees work – otherwise a large number of organisations could miss out on the benefits of freeing their people to work from anywhere at any time.  

2 Learning culture

Half of HR directors strongly agree that their organisation’s basic values include ‘learning as the key to improvement’, but just as many report their organisation’s culture does not make learning a top priority. Only 36% of employees definitely agree that development and promotion opportunities are available to all staff, while less than half of HR directors (48%) feel the same way. Almost a third of employees (31%) are very concerned they won’t have opportunities to learn and prosper in the future. ACTION ITEM: And as every employee is different, personalised learning programmes should be a focus. Thankfully, this looks like to become the norm, with 53% of organisations planning to be able to target their employees with development and training opportunities within the next three years.  

3 Data-driven decision making

While most of us embrace data as our guide for decision making, hierarchy still seems to play a significant role in many organisations. In fact, 41% of HR leaders and 36% of employees strongly agree that seniority and experience are the typical basis for decisions in their organisation. This is concerning, especially as only 48% of HR directors and 38% of employees report that it’s standard practice to incorporate available data within any decision-making process. ACTION ITEM: With less than half of respondents saying that data use in decision making is standard, it seems there’s plenty of room for improvement. Leaders need to demonstrate both the right skills and behaviours in this area – demonstrating both the skills and the mindset to be led by evidence.  

4 Open communication and collaboration

It may seem obvious that more communication leads to greater sharing of ideas, a better work environment, etc. Yet, 51% say that they ‘better keep their cards to themselves’. This could be down to a certain amount of bureaucracy and process left within most organisations. Only 31% of HR directors and 25% of employees are sure they have very little formal bureaucracy within their company – and one in five employees says this definitely isn’t true. ACTION ITEM: Many newer, and more agile, organisations have a flatter structure, with less hierarchy. This begins with a leadership team that leads by example, being open, visible, and encouraging. And it’s how they can build engagement with, and participation in, a shared vision.  

5 Shared digital vision and participative leadership

It seems there’s an established digital vision in place for most companies, as only 20% of employees feel their organisation doesn’t have a well-defined digital strategy, and only 24% of HR directors agree with this. But this is still a considerable proportion for a modern business. And while some don’t have a strategy in place, the bigger issue may be that strategies aren’t complete, aren’t agreed, or aren’t being effectively communicated. ACTION ITEM: If leaders can communicate openly, and collaborate, then it’s easier for employees to see a shared digital vision, appreciate the role they play, thus helping to encourage participation from top to bottom. And participation at all levels is critical if an organisation truly aspires to become adaptable.  

6 Entrepreneurial culture

While almost half of HR directors (44%) feel they have a culture that tolerates failure and acknowledges people learn from their mistakes, only a third of employees (34%) report this is the case, meaning two thirds are wary of acting aligned or driving their own ideas. In fact, many report their organisation simply does not boast an entrepreneurial culture. Over two-thirds of staff (69%) say they don’t work in a ‘dynamic and entrepreneurial place’ where people take risks. ACTION ITEM: This means removing barriers to contribution and helping staff to feel safe to question norms, trial new ideas, and sometimes fail, in order to learn. It may also necessitate teaching them the basics of ROI, of justifying their ideas under ‘inputs and outcomes’ and not primarily under ‘budgets’.  

7 Critical thinking and open questioning

Only 48% of HR directors say the use of evidence and analytics in decision making is part of the culture and even less – 37% – of employees agree. This means many HR teams are not understanding their talent landscape or are unable to predict future needs, shortages and requirements, at a point in time when organisations need to be taking an objective, evidence-based approach to decision making; there’s room for improvement in critical reflection. ACTION ITEM: The ‘old’ corporate world often favoured ‘sticking to the processes’ – behaviours. Less questioning but therefore less efficient execution. The ‘new’ corporate world needs to break with this. This requirement to continually challenge the business looks like a significant challenge for all firms.  
The study gathered insights from almost 6,500 professionals around the globe, composed of 850 HR decision makers and 5,600 employees of all levels, of which approximately 300 employees as well as 50 HR directors in Singapore participated.  
Photo / 123RF

This article was first published in Human Resources and is reproduced with permission. 
Original can be found at

Is it a good idea to serve alcohol in the office?

 in All markets by 

Is it a good idea to serve alcohol in the office?

We all know the scenario. It’s 5pm on a Friday and you and your colleagues have had a productive week in the office. The team’s hitting its budget and meeting deadlines. What better way to celebrate and do a little team bonding than sharing a glass of your favourite wine or beer?

But is it actually a good idea? Far be it for the team at Human Resources to come across as a bunch of wowsers – but we look to bust a few myths about workplace drinking.


Five myths around alcohol in the workplace:

Myth No.1: It’s OK to get drunk every once in a while

Although it’s good to celebrate successes and foster a closer feeling in the organisation, overdoing it can encourage a drinking culture at the office. The short and long-term effects on alcohol are well documented: impacting health, ability to function properly and, in the worse case, leading to dependency.


Myth No.2: Drinking is safe in moderation

Moderate drinking can still be harmful to health. HR needs to be mindful of an employee’s health. Just one drink can negatively impact an employee with poor health – for example, if they have a heart disorder or are pregnant.


Myth No.3: Wine or beer won’t make you as drunk as spirits

Often, businesses provide drinks at events, but choose to stick to wine and beer as it is assumed they won’t make people as drunk as spirits such as whiskey or gin. However, all alcoholic beverages contain alcohol (ethanol), therefore, all alcoholic beverages can make you drunk if consumed in sufficient quantity.


Myth No.4: Drinking is OK as long as you can hold your booze

There always seems to be that individual who appears to consume alcohol freely at functions, but appears tip-top at work the next day. Despite this, such individuals can still suffer the effects of excessive alcohol consumption to their health – such as dehydration – and, in the long term, their liver.


Myth No.5: You can sober up quickly with a cup of coffee

It’s not uncommon for employees to head for the coffee machine the morning after a night of partying and drinking for that all-important shot of caffeine to wake/sober them up. Unfortunately, coffee has no effect on processing alcohol.

For businesses hosting a function on a week night where alcohol is served, they could choose to have it on a Friday, or give employees the day off the next day, giving them time to remove the alcohol from their system.

Photo / 123RF

This article was first published in Human Resources and is reproduced with permission. 
Original can be found at