Interviewing

Written By: morunda | Posted in: Active Advising, Interviewing

This 10 minute video will help to ensure you have an effective interview. 

 http://www.nextlevelexchange.com/candidate-interview-preparation-video.html   Read More >>

Written By: morunda | Posted in: Active Advising, Hiring Authorities, Interviewing, We care

I often ask directors what percentage of their challenges are technical compared with people-oriented. In most cases the breakdown is 60% people and 40% technical. Yet anecdotal evidence suggests that most employment interviews focus on technical considerations rather than examining a candidate’s character, personality, background, and attitude.   Read More >>

Written By: morunda | Posted in: Active Advising, Interviewing

Morunda asked numerous long- term expatriates in Japan’s pharmaceutical industry for suggestions for new executives coming to Japan or new companies looking to establish themselves in the world’s second largest Pharmaceutical market. Interviewing candidates is difficult, but when you add that the candidate must interview in a second language and culture, then navigating the land mines of recruiting talent in Japan’s Pharmaceutical industry there are a several points we need to consider. I suggested to my group that although many leadership traits are universal Japanese can be reserved and not as forthcoming as Westerners at explaining their achievements. One manager noted that “the group dynamics and group philosophy of Japanese culture is incompatible with standing out or appearing unique. Japanese do not often cite their achievements or qualifications, which make them, appear different from the group.” Japanese refer to this as Deru kugi wa utareru which literally means, The nail that sticks out gets hammered down. He also said, “Character and leadership are probably more closely linked to local language and culture; Japanese executives can be more effective at this than a foreign manager new to Japan. A foreigner can easily identify accomplishments and achievements since these are concrete and visible regardless of language.” A Head of Clinical Development remarked, “The strategy for interviewing starts with the company strategy. If the goal is to maintain the same local ‘culture,’ then your statement is true. However, if the company is looking to create something new, then the hiring practices need to take that into consideration. Status quo thinking gets you status quo results.” However, some thought that cultural differences may be an overused excuse in the 21st century. A Marketing Director suggested, “There are too many examples where Japanese managers have put up barriers to changes and over-used the excuse of ‘cultural differences’ only to see a foreign manager come in and make it happen. Japanese do still not challenge the status quo in many cases, and therefore, foreign management decides to send someone who can challenge this.” The President of a Market Research company interviews in a typical Western style to ensure that the candidate can operate in a global environment and then leaves it to the Japanese HR Director and managers to decide if the person could “fit in with the team and not destroy the team dynamics.” However, the President also noted, “On a couple of occasions, I have vetoed their concerns because I strongly believed the candidate would change the team dynamics . . . in a good way.” One executive suggested that expatriates should have a trusted partner in the interview process who is Japanese and who understands the real expectations for the role that is going to be filled. It is also valuable to get multiple viewpoints (which is true in any country). He also said, “The bias toward more fluent English speakers is very real, and it can be very easy to overlook the most talented individuals if you only look through the lens of a single language. I have learned it is also very easy to hire the wrong person because it is easy to communicate with them.” His advice to companies coming to Japan is to be careful of candidates who can speak English. English-language skills do not mean they are the smartest or the right person for the job. He observed, “I’ve seen it time and again. An expat snags an employee and put them in an important position, just because they speak English.” The comment about hiring based on language skills only was repeated many times during our assessment: “Sometimes non-Japanese managers make the opposite mistake, which I have seen quite a number of times as well. When they finally find a candidate who speaks REAL fluent English, they compromise in terms of other skills.” “Foreigners make the mistake of hiring Japanese based solely on either their English language ability, or the fact that they lived overseas. Better to hire the non-English-speaking RIGHT person!” “A common mistake made by companies is that when the Japanese candidate speaks out a lot in Japanese. They are deemed more outgoing and thus smarter (not sure if that is the right word in this context). But these ‘types’ of Japanese stand out in the foreigner’s mind.” A major cultural difference for Japanese candidates is the structure of the interview. A European executive described his experience: “I have interviewed over 100 Japanese candidates, and I do not think that Japanese are necessarily reserved as such when it comes to talking about their achievements. They may not be as pro-active, but I think there is another reason for that other than ‘Japanese-ness.’ First, many Japanese are simply not used to the interviewing style practiced by international companies, and do not fully understand what is expected from them. In traditional interviews conducted by ‘“old-fashioned’” Japanese companies, the format and the focus of the interview are very different. Things these companies would look at are: Which college? Which jobs/titles up until now? How many times did the candidate change jobs? How long did the candidate stay in each job? What is their age and salary level? If these factors live up to the expectations of the hiring company/manager, then the actual interview focuses mainly on checking the content of each job and checking whether the candidate is mentally stable or not as this could cause problems for the company. In these interviews, the candidate is first asked to explain his or her resume, and then the interviewer asks details about the contents afterwards. The candidate is basically not expected to talk about achievements but is expected to explain the job content as it is almost assumed that any experience is good experience. “In contrast, a multinational company spends more time assessing whether the candidate would be able to deal with the challenges of the position that he/she is actually applying for. To know this, you need to know the following: 1) if the candidate has the experience necessary (i.e., previous experience), 2) if the candidate performed well and can prove it (not everybody learns the same from different experiences), and 3) how the candidate would react in certain situations related to the position that he/she is interviewing for (simulations, etc.). This style of interview requires more thinking, more explaining, and more preparation on the part of the candidate. I do not think many Japanese understand what an international company defines as an ‘achievement’ (because they are not used these kinds of interviews).” “Japanese are probably not intrinsically more reserved or less forthcoming, but I think they are caught off-guard in many cases when interviewing with international companies as they are not familiar with the interviewing process and do not know how they are expected to respond.” A Human Resources Director in Tokyo at a leading American Pharmaceutical company who has interviewed hundreds of candidates said, “Japanese can be reserved and not as forthcoming as Westerners at explaining their achievements.” He also observed that Westerners often miss good candidates due to language limitations, and he suggested that only a few candidates can express their achievements in fluent English. Six suggestions from the firing line to sure that there are no missteps in interviewing and recruiting your next star! 1. Put your dunce hat on and do not make any judgments for the first 15 minutes. 2. Allow the candidate time to adjust to the pace and setting of the meeting. 3. Take some time to introduce the company and yourself. 4. Ask some general questions to warm the candidate up and gain rapport. 5. Ask the candidates to expand their answers, as probing open-ended questions. 6. Ensure your agent has briefed the candidate thoroughly and prepared him/her for the meeting.

Written By: morunda | Posted in: Active Advising, Interviewing

Several years ago, I searched for a brand director for Advair in Japan. GlaxoSmithKline’s marketing director for the product was a tall, charismatic American. He aimed to take the marketing team from providing communication support for the detailmen in the field (medical representatives) to developing, planning, and executing marketing plans.   Read More >>

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This 10 minute video will help to ensure you have an effective interview. 

 http://www.nextlevelexchange.co

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I often ask directors what percentage of their challenges are technical compared with people-oriented. In most case

Read more >