AFTER THOUGHT : Birds of a feather

I have been interviewing people for new position in my team. I have identified number of short-listed people and then asked the rest of the team to meet with them to see if there is good ‘fit’. I have been bit shocked at the feedback from my staff who have all said the people I have tended to choose have all been similar to me. I wasn’t aware of this and am not sure it is for the good. Can you help please?

Carrying out an effective interview is an essential part of manager’s toolkit. However, we often don’t get enough chance to practise this. There are range of common pitfalls that can trap you.
One of these you appear to be experiencing at the moment: that is, the tendency to automatically feel okay with people who are ‘like me’. This happens unconsciously but if you respond warmly to the person for this reason you are likely to be biased and not choose them for their true match with the job. You are in fact choosing them for their match with you.
There are number of other pitfalls that can trip you up further. One is called the ‘halo’ effect. This happens when you have heard something very positive about the person and you let that bias your judgement rather than making sure you get balanced view of the interviewee. This can also happen in reverse if you happen to hear something less than positive about the person before the interview.
Another is judging by appearances. For example, if the person is well groomed and appropriately dressed you will probably tend to be more accepting of them. The same thing can happen with your first impression of the person. For example, an initial good eye contact and confident handshake from the interviewee could again involuntarily make the interviewer have biased viewpoint.
Another trap to be aware of is the human tendency to stereotype people. Obvious examples are internal judgements about differences about being male or female or coming from different culture. However, more deep-seated pitfall in this same area is that you may have had negative issue with person who was similar to the person now being interviewed and you may unintentionally stereotype them as being the same and judge them using totally false perspective. Again all of this can happen without the manager being aware that he or she is falling into the trap.
The best approach to avoiding these pitfalls is first to make sure you put the interviewee at ease. Then always show them respect and your real interest. Ask open questions and then have the good sense to basically shut up and listen. If you do this you will learn what you need to know about the candidate. You will then be able to make valid decision and will avoid these hidden pitfalls and biases that can happen inadvertently.

I thought I had got my head around the new KiwiSaver scheme but after the Budget I became confused as there seemed to be many changes. Can you give me simple summary of what the basics are?

Quite number of people have asked this question. The first thing to mention is that you can download KiwiSaver employer guide at The key points on KiwiSaver are as follows. It started on 1 July. Enrolment is voluntary but new employees are automatically enrolled. They can opt out between days 13 and 55 after commencing their new employment.
People enrolled are required to contribute either four percent or eight percent of their gross salary (including bonuses, commission, extra salary, overtime and any other remuneration). After the initial 12 months of payments employees may apply for ‘contribution holiday’. This can last from three months to five years. Contributions resume after the holiday. There is no restriction on applying for further holiday.
Withdrawals cannot be made until the employee is eligible for NZ Superannuation, or after they have been in the scheme for five years, whichever is the longer period. In cases of financial hardship, serious illness, permanent emigration, or to purchase first home, this rule may be waived.
The Government will pay lump sum contribution of $1000 into new KiwiSaver accounts and is also providing $40 per year subsidy towards scheme fees.
People enrolled in KiwiSaver can select their own KiwiSaver scheme provider. If they don’t they will be allocated one of six default providers. Employers must give new employees and anyone interested an IRD KiwiSaver information pack and then deduct contributions from before tax pay.
Up to 1 April 2008 an employer can voluntarily contribute towards the minimum four percent contribution. For example, two percent employer and two percent employee. From 1 April 2008 employers will be required to make compulsory contributions starting at one percent and moving up one percent per annum for four years to 1 April 2011.
Employers will be given tax credit from 1 April 2008 for their compulsory contributions of up to $20 per week per employee.

Kevin Gaunt, FNZIM, FAIM, is CEO of NZIM Auckland and has been senior executive with, and consultant to, some of New Zealand’s largest companies.

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