Client Newsletter – May 2019

  • Client Newsletter – May 2019

    Client Newsletter – May 2019



    May 2019 sees the beginning of a new era in Japan and was celebrated across the country with an extended Golden Week. We would like to give credit to Travel Photography for their image of the world-famous Sanja Matsuri in Asakusa, which is Tokyo’s largest and attracts up to 2 million visitors over three days in the third weekend of May. What the new era will bring for Japan remains to be seen, but certainly, the country will be on the world stage for the next couple of years at least. We are looking forward to supporting you all as Japan gets ready to welcome visitors for the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics. Please let us know how we can help!


    The Legal market continues to show a strong interest from major corporations in compliance and regulatory hiring, particularly in industries such as healthcare, food and consumer goods. We are continuing to see the importance of IT legal experience – many clients now have an extensive technology focus and software interaction with their customers, and there are a lot of legal issues involved – it seems every company is an IT company now! Candidates with solid technology industry experience are in high demand.


    Coming back for the long Golden Week holidays, the number of jobs available in Accounting and Finance has increased. In particular our clients in retail, healthcare and pharmaceutical industries are keen to hire candidates at mid-level, with about 10-15 years’ work experience. Our clients are adapting to needs from this group of candidates and are offering flexible working conditions and curbing excessive overtime. They hope to attract candidates with improvements in their working situation, not only through increased salary.


    In Human Resources, there is currently a large number of roles available covering payroll, social insurance and compensation and benefits – and for our Japanese and foreign capitalized clients. There are also several new Senior / HR Business Partner searches we are supporting, and there is still a strong need in training and development, especially in the retail sector.


    The following are some examples of offers out this month:



    • US Medical Devices – Compliance Director – 16M
    • European Healthcare – Legal Manager – 14M
    • European Automotive – Legal Counsel – 9M


    Accounting & Finance

    • European Retail company – CFO – 16M
    • US FMCG  – Senior Finance Manager – 12M
    • European Chemical Company – Senior Accountant ­– 8M


    Human Resources/General Affairs

    • Foreign Furniture Company – HR Assistant Manager – 8M
    • Fashion Brand – Payroll Specialist – 5.7M
    • Major Pharmaceutical Company – HR & Communications Director – 16M


    Recruitment Focus

    Structured Interviewing

    In last month’s newsletter, we looked at how our own biases can affect the way we interview and can lead to poor hiring decisions which damage your organisation and prevent the company from moving forward.


    One way to help eliminate bias from the interview process is through the use of structured interviews. What are structured interviews? Basically, structured interviews are where all candidates are asked the same set of questions, in the same order, and are assessed on the same scale. These questions will have been formulated to connect to the job-related traits and skills you are seeking for the particular role.


    Many companies now are switching to a structured process and the reason is simple – studies into interview methods have found that a structured interview will predict the performance of a candidate almost twice as accurately as an unstructured interview. According to a  1998 study by Franks Schmidt and John Hunter looked at 85 years of research findings into how accurate assessment techniques are in predicting job performance and one of their conclusions was that structured interviewers were tied second for the best predictors – behind job sample tests and level with general cognitive tests.


    Furthermore, structured interviews will serve to get rid of many of the natural biases of an unstructured interview, namely similarity bias, confirmation bias and non-verbal bias. Add a number of different interviewers from as diverse backgrounds as possible, and the process will become much more balanced and produce consistent results.


    The process will be fairer and, as a result, candidates will have a better experience, as they feel they are being assessed equally on their skills and experience. Whether they are successful or not, it is likely they would report the positive experience to their friends and colleagues, improving the company image.


    Also, your questions will be directly related to the job, and give both sides a clearer image of about what to expect, leading to better performance and company fit should the candidate join. You will also be able to provide clearer feedback, both to other members of the interview team and to candidates – you won’t be relying on ‘gut feeling’ or ‘fuzzy’ character descriptions, instead, you will have clear, objective data.


    With all these benefits, it is a wonder why not all companies use this method. Creating a structured interview is a resource and time-intensive process but the effort you put in now will help your organisation make stronger hires.


    So how do you go about creating a structured interview? The first step is to take your job description and decide which skills, hard and soft, are most important for the role and then create your questions. Structured interview questions should be of the ’open’ type (i.e. you can’t answer just ‘yes’ or ‘no’) and should relate directly to the job. The best type of questions for predicting performance in the role will usually fall into two categories: behavioural and situational.


    Behavioural questions relate to how a candidate handled a certain type of work situation in the past, e.g., ‘Tell me about a time when you had to manage a disagreement between your sales team and a client’.


    Situational questions are about imagined situations at work which is very likely to happen in the job there are interviewing for. These questions look to the future, for example ‘How would you manage a long-term client who was always slow in paying their invoices?’ The candidate’s answer should give a strong indicator of how they would react in situations which relate strongly to the job.


    Added to these there should be some general interview questions, relating to required technical ability and knowledge and what they know about your company and its competitors. Also, you should use these questions to find out if the candidate is a match for your company’s values and culture. Think about how employees operate at your company and how management works – do you have a flat structure or a more top/down environment? Should employees be very independent or is it best for them to be ready to adapt to an existing structure?


    Once you have thought of the questions, you should structure the interview itself to produce consistent results and avoid bias.


    • As much as possible, conduct the interviews in the same place, under the same conditions
    • Unless it is unavoidable do not have some candidate meet in person and others over Skype or videoconference for example
    • Ask the questions in the same order and have standard follow up questions – this will help you avoid creeping into personal topics and triggering your own similarity bias
    • Have a number of people in the interview team, this will give you a variety of opinions and will dilute any biases


    Once all the questions are asked, the interview team should be able to rank the candidate answer against a planned rating scale – what makes a ‘Strong’ ‘Normal’ or ‘Weak’ response. Go through your questions together and decide on best answers so you can easily recognise whether a candidate is a match to the skills you are looking for.


    By using the structured interview method, you will be avoiding bias and increasing your chances of hiring candidates who match your company’s culture, have the right skills and who will be successful in the role. The question again is why more companies don’t use this system.


    The main reason is that it is time-consuming to put together the questions, test them, decide on how to grade the answers and get everybody to follow them. You will also have to regularly refresh the questions as information may spread about your questioning style and candidates will start to prepare the best answers. Also, you will have to take care that the candidate has a positive experience from the interview, if your interviewers sound like they are just reading questions from a prepared list then it may be difficult to make a connection when you meet.


    So yes, it is tough and time-consuming to establish a structured interview process, but the benefits are long-term. Structured interviews have been found to be a great predictor of fit for the company and success in the role, and making successful hires will save your company much more in time and resources.

    Recruitment 101 – Jumpy Candidates

    Many clients tell us that they don’t want to see candidates who have many job changes (after fewer than 2 years) on their resume. The thinking is that these so-called job hoppers can’t commit for the long term and will leave soon after they join.


    However, they are some good reasons why it may be worth taking a look at a ‘jumpy’ candidate.  In today’s job market many high-performers do not stay for long periods – the days of lifetime tenure with one company are over, and you may miss out on talent if you stick to such outdated views of employment.


    • They are willing to take risks to get ahead – this may or may not match your role but could give your company an advantage


    • Flexible and adaptable to change – they have seen a number of different strategies and can use them to meet varied challenges


    • They have great connections – they will have met a wider range of people than those with a more stable background and will bring that network to your company


    • They have been constantly developing – we learn most when we are put in a new environment and movers will have picked up more than those who stayed in the same place


    Of course, a lot depends on the individual candidate, they should be able to show how each move was a step forward, and you should proceed with caution if you are not sure they will fit your role or company. However, if you can take a chance on a high-performing candidate with frequent moves, they could add a significant edge to your organisation.


    We provide a free consultation and training session to help clients improve recruitment activity and perfect their agency relations.
    For further information on this topic or any other recruitment-related questions, please contact 

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