Most people only do it a few times in their life, but whether you’re a CEO or a receptionist, or anyone in between, starting a new job can be one of life’s most stressful events. Even if you’re the best in the world at what you do, you’ll still be in a foreign environment with different people, systems, processes and culture which all adds up to make you feel way out of your comfort zone. As a general rule of thumb, I believe it takes around 3 months (the ‘honeymoon period’) for a new hire to feel comfortable and fully productive in their new role.

As a consultant I typically change engagements every 6 months which means I’ve had lots of ‘practise’ in starting a new job over the years. In these engagements find myself regularly coaching new employees on how to best handle their first 3 months in their new role so I decided to write this post to share it with the masses. Here are my top 9 tactics to reduce new-job stress:

1) Manage your own expectations

Remember that good things take time. The primary source of stress that a new hire feels is the pressure of their own unrealistic expectations to immediately prove themselves to their new colleagues and managers. Once you come to peace and accept that it is impossible for you to be a high functioning, high performing employee on Day 1, and be comfortable in knowing that it will probably take 3 months before you are able to become fully productive, then you will greatly reduce the amount of stress you experience in your new role.

2) Be a sponge

Every company has its own unique culture, processes, systems and people and learning these can often feel like ‘information overload’, especially in the first few weeks. My recommendation is to listen, observe, and let this information ‘wash over you’ and be comfortable in knowing that not all of it will stick the first time.

3) Introduce yourself

Instead of waiting for people to introduce themselves to you, be bold and make the first move. Something as simple as “Hi, I’m Brian and I’ve just joined the recruitment team” can start a conversation.

4) Schedule regular check-ins with your manager

Checking in with your manager on a regular basis will help you to feel supported and confident that you’re on the right track in your new role. Hopefully your manager has already built these check-ins into your onboarding plan, but if they haven’t then take initiative and request some 1:1 time in their calendar on a regular cadence for the first few months.

5) Ask for help

Don’t know where something is? Not sure how to use the coffee machine? Don’t be afraid (or too proud) to ask for help! You’ll be pleasantly surprised that people are more than willing to help and it’s a great way to make introductions and get to know your new colleagues.

6) Eat in the lunch room

Instead of eating your lunch by yourself at your desk, head to the lunchroom, join a table and introduce yourself (but don’t bring last night’s leftover fish to reheat!).

7) Attend social club events

Most companies will have some form of social club or happy hour gatherings. Make an extra effort to attend these events and if it happens to be a potluck event then bring something really yummy!

8) Volunteer

It could be for social events, fundraising initiatives, or anything, but if the opportunity arises to volunteer for something then put your hand up or register your name. It’s a great way to meet people outside of your department and to experience the company culture (not to mention having fun while doing it!).

9) Get sweaty!

At the time of writing this I’m currently working at Lululemon and I am lucky enough to have full access to daily yoga and fitness classes throughout the working week. Whether it’s in the locker room or on a yoga mat I’ve met a bunch of really cool people during these ‘sweat sessions’ which has helped me become more familiar and comfortable in my new environment. Perhaps there’s a running group, bike club or boot camp that some of your colleagues have organised which is a great opportunity for you to network and socialise with your new workmates.

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interview tips


With thousands of books, articles, blogs and courses that discuss the science and art behind ‘perfect’ interview questions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed on this topic. Throughout the last 10 years in my career I’ve learned that you don’t need to over-complicate interview questions and I prefer to keep my questions fairly simple and straightforward – Keep It Simple Stupid (as my dad used to tell me!).

Below are my top 12 interview questions that I like to use to gain an accurate, broad, and multidimensional understanding of a candidate to ensure the best possible long-term match for a specific job opportunity.

Note: I wont ask all of these questions in the same single interview, some of them are better suited for an initial phone screen conversation, and some of them are better suited for conversation during the offer stage.

1) Why did you apply to this position?
A good open-ended question to start the conversation. It will usually reveal the candidate’s main motivators (very important!),their current situation, and will provide a good basis to launch a productive conversation.

2) Why are you a [ insert: developer / project manager / architect etc] ?
Another very open-ended question that candidates will interpret differently from one to the next (but that’s ok!). Hopefully they will talk about the passion for their craft, what they like about it, and discuss the path that brought them to where they are today.

3) If i was a magic genie and could create you your dream job, what would it be?
This is a great question if you can’t quite peg down what the candidate is a fit for, or if you’re having trouble identifying whether the role is a good fit for a candidate. This question can also help to accurately ‘pipeline’ a candidate for future roles.

4) What’s your understanding of this position?
A good level-setter. During an interview I like to ensure that the candidate has an accurate understanding of the role that they are interviewing for, and this question should reveal any discrepancies or misunderstandings. Once they’ve answered this question, I’ll usually ask the hiring manager to explain the role in their own words and to cover off any discrepancies that have been revealed.

5) What are some of your key strengths as they relate to this position?
Most candidates will have a premeditated response to this popular question so I like to take it one step further by asking them to relate their strengths to the specific role they are interviewing for.

6) What do you love/hate about your current job?
This question can reveal a lot about the candidate’s personality, likes and dislikes and will help you to assess whether the role is really going to be an enjoyable and long-term fit for them.

7) What do you like to do for fun in your spare time?
It’s important to gain a complete understanding of the candidate and that includes their personality and interests outside of a professional work environment. This will help with culture fit assessment and will usually reveal interesting facts about a candidate that will keep the tone of the interview light and conversational.

8)Tell me about your long-term careers goals and how you feel this position fits into them.
Evaluating long-term fit is critical and this question will help you do this. I like to hear how the candidate feels about the long term fit, while I’ll also be making my own assessment.

9) Tell me about a single [project / task / event / product ] that you were involved in from start to finish that that you’re particularly proud of.
Taking a page out of Lou Adler’s book, this is a fantastic question that will reveal a lot about the candidate, and will create many opportunities for follow-up probing questions and conversations.

10) Tell me about your favourite manager and what about them made them so great?
Recruiters also need to evaluate whether the candidate is a good fit for the management style and personality of the hiring manager. This question will give you insight into this area and will help you make comparisons to evaluate a good overall team fit.

11) What concerns do you have about this opportunity?
This questions allows you to uncover, discuss and overcome any ‘red flags’ that the candidate could have about the role. It can also reveal any discrepancies or misunderstandings that the candidate may have. The quicker you can identify these, the more time you will have to overcome their objections and clear up any misunderstandings.

12) Compensation aside, why do you want this job?
Another page out of Lou Adler’s book, I’ll often ask this question during the offer stage to reduce the focus on salary and remind the candidate of the non-monetary reasons of why they should accept the position.


Asking good interview questions doesn’t need to be complicated or fancy. By keeping it simple and asking intelligent open-ended questions at the right time, a recruiter can easily gain a deep and broad understanding of a candidate to be able to make insightful and accurate assessments of their long term fit in a position and within an organisation.

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human resources

Not so differently, when someone asks me what I do for a living, and I tell them “I’m a recruiter”, a common response is “oh, so you’re in HR then?”. “No” I reply, “I’m not part of the HR department at all, I’m in Talent Acquisition,” to which they will usually give me a confused look. The funny thing is, I’m not too bothered about getting called an Australian almost everyday, but I do have a problem with people assuming I’m in HR – I can’t explain why I react differently about the perceived miscategorization of my profession vs my nationality, I just do.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand why people assume that recruitment is part of HR. Recruitment was born out of HR many years ago, and was traditionally lumped in under the ‘HR umbrella’ throughout the 1980’s, 1990’s and most of the 2000’s. However, it’s different now: recruitment has gone through a major metamorphosis over the recent years and, in my opinion, has forged its own identity and therefore deserves it’s own department (aka Talent Acquisition). In this case, Talent Acquisition will still likely ultimately report to the CHRO’s office, but be seen and managed as it’s own business unit.

HR vs Talent Acquisition, What’s the Difference?

The way I see it, when you boil it all down it’s fairly easy to distinguish between the core functions of HR vs the core functions of Talent Acquisition: Talent Acquisition is responsible for attracting and bringing talent into an organisation, and HR is responsible for retaining and nurturing that talent.

It’s Time For An Honest Conversation:

Those in our industry know that attracting and bringing talent into an organisation ain’t easy, especially with the relentless ‘war for talent’ raging on around us. The fact is, you need specialised resources (i.e. recruiters), tools, and time to be successful in Talent Acquisition, and a traditional HR department typically isn’t in a position to supply these. In the same way, HR also needs their own specialised resources, tools, and time to be effective in performing their core function of retaining and nurturing talent effectively.

Many HR professionals openly admit that they despise the recruitment part of their role, and prefer to outsource it, even if it means using expensive and ineffective recruitment agencies. Similarly, most recruiters (including myself!) are turned off by the thought of dealing with the day-to-day responsibilities of HR such as employee relations, payrolling and performance management etc.

Hello Marketing!

The longer I work in Talent Acquisition, the more it becomes clear to me that the relationship between Talent Acquisition and Marketing is, in fact, much closer than one might initially think,. You see, both departments are essentially doing the same thing – the key difference is that traditional Marketing creates demand for customers to buy products and services, whereas Talent Acquisition creates demand for customers (aka ‘candidates’) to join an organisation. Commonly used terms like ‘employment branding’ and ‘employment value proposition’ stem from traditional marketing concepts.

Key Stakeholders are Key

Talent Acquisition has two key stakeholders: yup, you guessed it – HR and Marketing, and it’s critical that Talent Acquisition forms close relationships with both of these business groups to be effective. Talent Acquisition must work closely with HR to ensure hiring plans are aligned with business strategy and headcount. Also, recruiters are constantly evaluating long-term fit during the screening and interview process. There’s also crossover and collaboration with the onboarding process done by HR amongst other areas of overlap.

Talent Acquisition must also work closely with Marketing to ensure consistency of branding and market message. There’s also a lot of opportunity to partner on projects such as the company careers site, social media and industry events.


Although recruitment was born out of HR, it has evolved and matured over the years and now deserves its own identity in Talent Acquisition. However, in order to attract and bring talent into an organisation effectively, Talent Aquisition needs to build stronger relationships with Marketing, while still retaining some of its deeply-rooted connections with HR.

*these are my personal views and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer*

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In today’s highly competitive job market, overlooking one of the most basic and simple parts of the recruitment process can reflect negatively on you, your company and your employment brand. Essentially, it will annoy and frustrate candidates and they’ll be less likely to want to work at your organization in the future.  Additionally, you also miss out on the opportunity to build your network and promote your employment brand

Ever since the early days of my recruitment career, I’ve made a special effort to differentiate myself from other recruiters and do my best to provide as much feedback as I can to applicants of my jobs. Admittedly, I haven’t been perfect in this area and there have been candidates that fell through the gaps, but over the years I have experimented with, developed and tested a number of simple ways  to improve my feedback rate and here’s a couple of easy tips that may help you:

1)    Implement a system to respond (and thank) every candidate applying to your job.

As well as a personal touch, this gives the candidate confirmation that their resume has been received. Thanking them for their application is polite and a good way to start the relationship.  This might sound like a lot of work if you are receiving hundreds of applications for a specific job but there are many quick and automated ways to do this depending on the technology of your recruitment process. Most Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and job board software products will have a customizable auto-reply function for new applicants coming in. If this isn’t available to you, then a simple email auto signature will suffice and only takes a couple of seconds to do. Here’s one I’ve used in the past:

“Thank you for sending your application to us. We will review your application over the next few days/week/end of month and will be in touch via email or phone with some feedback.”

Many ATS systems and job board products will offer a standard response, but I recommend customizing this message to reflect your personality and the employment brand of your organization.

2)    Let every candidate know the final outcome of their application.

This seems obvious for the successful candidates, but what about the ‘rejected’ ones? Remember, they might not be the right fit for this job but they could be a great fit for another role that comes up in the future (or might be able to refer someone to you). Also, remember that candidates talk to each other and you could quickly get a bad rep around town.

Again, many ATS systems will have a customizable function that will allow you to do this with the click of a button. If you don’t have an ATS system, then you can use another quick email auto signature to respond to the candidate. Here’s an example of one that I have been using recently:

“Thanks again for your interest in this postition. Although you have gained some great working experience throughout your career, your profile isn’t close enough to match the needs for this particular position and so we will not be proceeding with your application. We will hold onto your details in case something more suitable becomes available and please keep an eye on our website”

This message is polite and complimentary to the candidate and gives a clear indication of whether they are successful or not. It also lets the candidate know what you’ll do with their information and promotes your career page. It can also be another chance for you to promote your employment brand.

This has been extremely effective for me and I have received hundreds of replies to this message from candidates thanking me for my time and for actually getting back to them. This small step reflects positively both on me as a professional as well as the company I’m working for. It also keeps the door open for future relationships as I continue to build my network.


By using technology and a little bit of thought and planning, everyone should be able to respond to all candidate applications. Instead of viewing feedback as a burden and cumbersome to give, try viewing it as a great way to promote your employment brand and build networks in the talent market. By responding to every applicant that has shown interest the opportunity, you are creating a good first impression and taking the first few steps towards building a relationship with the candidate.

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human resources

1)    Uncover your candidate’s motivators:

Every candidate will have their own specific reasons for looking to change jobs (lack of career progression/ challenge/ support from management/ compensation etc) and your first priority should be to discover AND qualify exactly why they are looking to leave their current employer. Remember; don’t take their reasons for face value! Qualify their reasons by discussing them in more detail and asking probing questions to dig deeper into why they really feel that way. Keep notes and document this important information as you can use it in the future to remind the candidate of their original motivations.
This is an important step as not only does it give you more control in a counteroffer situation, it also gives your more insight into the candidate and what really makes them tick.

What if the candidate is primarily motivated by money?

That’s ok! At least you now know so you’ll be extra alert to the heightened risk of a counteroffer situation. I’ve successfully placed dozens candidates whose main motivator is money – sometimes it can make it make the candidate easier to close as the motivation is black and white. Again, dig deeper and find out the specifics about their compensation requirements and the shortfall at their current employer. This information can be used to your advantage during the offer process.

2)    Discover their risk factor:

Once you’ve feel confident you’ve nailed down the candidates main motivations, then ask this question: “have you raised this issue with your boss/manager/HR yet?” This can give you valuable insight to the level of risk of a counteroffer occurring. If the candidate replies “yes but he/she can’t do anything about it” then you’re pretty safe. If the answer is “no I haven’t” then they could be high risk. I usually probe further here and sometimes, depending on their motivations; I suggest they speak with their boss/manager/HR before moving forward on their job search (it could save you a whole lot of time and effort in the long run!).

3)    Reveal and talk about the Elephant:

For the majority of candidates, the possibility of a counteroffer won’t have even crossed their minds so this is your chance to reveal the elephant hiding in the room to discuss and educate (and scare!) the candidate about the reality of counteroffers. An unprepared candidate may accept a counteroffer because they panic and they haven’t thought it through. Resigning can be an emotional experience and rash decisions can be made. A quick google search will bring up dozens of articles detailing why accepting a counter offer is a bad idea but the main 2 I use during this conversation are:

–    Your loyalty will always be in question: If you accept a counteroffer, then you’ve already broken your trust with your current employer and you’ll likely be seen as a ‘flight risk’ resulting in a good chance they’ll be looking to replace you anyway.

–    The figures speak for themselves: Multiple studies show that 80% of people who accept a counteroffer have left again within 6 months as money is only a short term fix to the core problems.

You could also suggest that the candidate does their own research online as they’ll quickly learn themselves that accepting a counteroffer is rarely ever a good idea.

When should I have this conversation with the candidate?

There are 2 key occasions that I recommend you have this conversation: The first during the initial meeting/interview with the candidate, and then again before you formally make them an offer to keep the negative reality of a counter offer fresh in their mind.

4)    Don’t leave it to chance: 

Just because you’ve already prepared the candidate to reject the counteroffer, it doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods yet. Another critical step is to make sure you keep in close contact with the candidate throughout the resignation process. Ask the candidate when they will be formally handing in their resignation and agree to schedule a phone call with them shortly afterwards to check in and see how it went. This way, if a counteroffer was made to the candidate during their resignation process, you’ve probably caught it early enough to use the information you gained in step 1 to remind the candidate of their original motivations to leave before a rash or emotional decision is made. 

5)    Don’t give up:

Even if you perform all of the previously mentioned steps, there’s no guarantee that the candidate won’t accept a counteroffer and you could be back at square 1. If you find yourself in this situation, then the best thing to do is to keep in friendly contact with the candidate, especially for the first 6 months (remember the statistics!). If they’re a super star candidate and a great fit for your team, then the chances are you’ll still have a need for them in the future. Call them a few weeks later to check in and arrange to meet them for lunch/coffee/beers for a friendly catch up. Think about it: by keeping in touch with them, guess who they’ll be calling first when they’re back in the market within 6months time?


Counteroffers are here to stay and are becoming more common. However, by educating yourself about the negative reality of counteroffers and following the 5 steps outlined above, you can greatly reduce the risk for a counteroffer getting in the way of a successful hire.


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