The Historical Background Of Human Resources Management | DisruptHR Talks

It’s DisruptHR in Vancouver this week and I had the pleasure of talking about two of my passions, History and HR last year.

I loved the format of this event, it’s a night of short focused talks from professionals who want to share their ideas on how we can move our talent thinking forward via 20 Slides x 15 Seconds = 5 Minutes.



The art of the question

Interviews are often the first impression for candidates, a window into the culture of your company. They are a crucial part of the candidate experience and a defining opportunity for you as the Manager to understand if you have a team of recruitment game changers.

It’s easy to ask questions, to follow a script, to let the candidate lead you in the interview, to ask the safe questions which enable you to hire a candidate that will 9 times out 10 leave the company willingly or not willingly after 6 months. For me to really understand if my candidate is a slam dunk, I ask questions to gain an understanding of their knowledge, behavior, aptitude and experience.  Those questions are born from the Pohlmen model designed for organizational conversations and super useful for interviewing. Remember for each interview question, there should be a clear goal achieved in hearing the candidates answer:


Clarifying questions: It takes discipline not to speak past your candidate in an interview, asking clarifying questions helps uncover the real intent behind what is said. “Can you tell me more?”.

Example, imagine the candidates resume and cover letter are tailored perfectly for your company and the opportunity:

Me – Help me understand why are you interested in this opportunity?

Candidate – I LOVE my company and I’ve hit the glass ceiling 

Me – Can you tell me more

Candidate – Well, my boss isn’t developing me and I don’t feel appreciated

Adjoining questions:  Are used to explore related aspects of the problem that are usually ignored in the interview. Taking time to ask them can help us gain a broader understanding of the person.

Me – Have you spoken to your boss about development opportunities?

Candidate – Yes, well once and they haven’t asked me again.

Funneling questions: Deep dive questions, designed to provide insight in the candidates personality, motivation, strengths and opportunities. Dive deep enough that you no longer have to make any assumptions, because they only make an ass out … you know how it goes.

Me – Have you thought about taking on your own development? 

Candidate – Well, I think my boss should be telling me what I need to work on

Me – How did you reach that thought?

Candidate – Well, he’s older than me and knows more

Me – Got it. Do you know if they have a development plan for themselves?

Elevating questions: Zooming out, helps me see broader issues and highlight the bigger picture the candidate is painting.

Me  – Are your peers on a development plan?

Candidate – Yes

Me – Great, do you know how and when they go started?

Candidate – They met their year end goals in Feb and so their managers sent them a training course in March and they have time with a coach once a month. They’ve got a like a whole program designed for them. It’s not fair.

Me – I see, is there a trend that if you hit bonus then your development plan kicks in?

Candidate – Yeah

Me – Is it a trend or is that the companies strategy? Could you ask your manager for clarification, then you’ll know where you stand and what your future is with the company that you LOVE.

Disaster averted. Through the art of the question, energy and dollars have been saved that cannot be refunded if the candidate doesn’t pass probation. If the candidate stays at their company or if they do leave, I know that I’ve been responsible to guide them to ask themselves questions and not jump ship to find the answers.

HR Is Still Alive, The Cold Call Is DEAD.


I saw this image over the weekend and it got me thinking about the shift we are seeing in the landscape of business, specifically recruitment.

My first recruitment gig was with a digital agency in London, UK. My manager took a chance on me, having no recruitment experience or knowledge of how it all really worked she hired me on the Friday and started on the Monday, thrown straight into the quarterly forecasting sales meeting. On my first week I had to declare to the whole team how much billings I would be ‘pulling’ in that quarter, throwing out a number in the thousands I figured I had enough time to get my game plan together before the end of the quarter party. Jumping in with two feet I shadowed one of the more seasoned recruiters and he was a champion of the cold call. Lesson one — how to cold call (shudder) I hated them, so much so I did them in the only place with a closed door in the open office — the toilet. Guess what, clients and candidates hated my cold calls too. What was worst was I discovered that we had an incredible database that could tracked your cold calls, we had a target each week and it was believed the more cold calls, the more sales. I wasn’t sold, and so I set about building trust, establishing need, presenting viable solutions and listening to candidates and clients. I was able to renegotiate my KPI’s and recruit the way that felt good for everyone in the experience. For me that’s the key piece, each conversation and exchange requires both parties to feel win-win. Yes, I still called advertising agencies that had just won a huge client knowing that they would need people to support the upcoming work, the difference being it wasn’t cold. We already had a relationship or a mutual business acquaintance would introduce me to confirm that I wasn’t a shark.

Fast forward, it’s been ten years since my agency days and business has changed across almost all departments. We know that HR is not dead, it’s having a revival in the very best way. There’s been a shift in the tide to empower employees and candidates to take on their experience and companies are adapting their HR principles and practices to meet new expectations. As Jillian Walker — Director of Talent at Relic Entertainment so gracefully wrote in previous blog post, “whether a candidate is hired or not doesn’t matter — what does matter is how you treat them along the way.” I like to think that we are all candidates in the experience, HR is a service that has mulitple guests/customers/candidates.

At Arc’teryx Equipment we’ve worked with a number of recruiters over the years. The most successful are mistaken for employees when on-site. They get it, they invest time in relationships, they wear the product — genuinely not just off the shelf for the first meeting. With our recent growth in the news and an increase in roles on our careers page we have become a magnet for cold calls. From both candidates and recruiters, it’s fascinating to me how many rely on the old model of selling. Immediately I think of their targets, and if I have time dialogue about how we operate I share. Knowing that time is the finite resource nowadays with the rampant virus of ‘I’m so busy’ taking over the flu in victims, I wonder why isn’t the conversation the cold call is dead? Imagine if recruiters were taught to measure their success on their ability to build trust, establish need, the quality of solutions and listening (confirmation) as the new norm. Those are the KPI’s we hold each other accountable here at Arc’teryx on Team Talent — we have another one but it’s not printable (scroll to core value no.2).

We have an opportunity to shift and support each other in this new way of doing business, respecting each other’s time and giving feedback when we are on-track and off-track. There’s plenty of opportunities for companies to partner with recruitment agencies — building trust, establishing need, presenting viable solutions and listening to candidates and clients is the ticket to success.

– —

Laura Appleton — Talent Acquisition & Development Manager at Arc’teryx Equipment. Champion of the people, amateur MC and lip-syncer. You can find her on her bike, on the slopes or online @lauraappleton

Monday musing – when to call it quits and hat tips

Fast Company writes some great pieces, this one is perfect for Monday musings. I joke that passive candidates become active around 6pm Sunday evening. We’ve all been there, the weekend is over and the reality hits in that you’ve got 4 hours left to be yourself before you set the alarm and mentally prepare to wake up to 5 days of counting down to the weekend again. Reading through 7 signs its time to look for a new job is an excellent reminder that when you’re wrestling between being ‘responsible’ and sticking it out, the cost can be far greater than a monetary value. Number 6 is a big hitter personally for me, and it take courage to be in the real conversation that the job that you think is keeping the house going, is actually ruining relationships within the house.


Is what’s going on at work affecting your personal life? Do you find yourself arguing with your partner or snapping at your children because you come home tired and stressed out from the workday? Have you taken time off due to stress or are seriously considering doing so? Or find yourself feeling depressed when it’s time to return from days off or vacation, rather than well-rested? If you recognize any of these symptoms, it could be a sign your job is threatening some of the things that matter the most in your life.

So if you’re reading through the signs and your inner voice is agreeing, listen to your gut and follow these steps:

  1. Write out your strengths – ask yourself, are they are being exercised in your current role?
  2. Write out your core values – ask yourself, do they match your current companies core values?
  3. Look at your 10 year vision – is that vision being served by what you are doing Monday to Friday 9-5?
  4. Listen to your best friends – they want the best for you and sometimes the best is telling you a few home truths (hat tip to Tess Sloane)
  5. Write a list of the job titles and companies you would love to work for and get going on how to make it happen.
  6. Repeat 1 to 4 until the fear/uncertainty is replaced by excitement/passion to fuel number 5.
Don’t settle, follow Steve’s advice.

Getting back on the horse or bicycle

Whichever saying you relate to,  you’ll understand the essence of what it means to re-start something. For me re-starting this blog after 2 years on hiatus is the genesis of being in action around my career goals. There’s a great quote by William Wordsworth that best fits the purpose of this blog;

“Fill your paper with the breathing’s of your heart.”

Talent Talk is a place for sharing my thoughts, musings and inspirations around talent in the ‘work’ place. Having fallen back in love with my work place after 2 years, the timing is right.