Latest News

The value of a good phone interview

by Paddy Collins on December 13th, 2018


Adapted from an article by Lou Adler, CEO and founder of the Adler Group, a training and search firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring

With the demand for talent exceeding the supply for these jobs it turns out there is just no time for face-to-face interviews. Instead, people are being hired after one or two phone screens. There are powerful reasons why this actually might be better than the in-person interview.

The big benefit of an in-depth phone interview is the ability to more accurately assess ability, fit and motivation by eliminating the visual impact of first impression bias.

I stumbled upon this concept long ago when I realized I could save a lot of time by conducting a thorough phone screen before conducting an onsite interview. As I started meeting candidates screened this way, it became apparent very quickly that the person’s first impression, good or not so good, had little impact on the assessment if I had already determined these people had the ability to handle the major performance challenges of the job.

As I handled more national search assignments it wasn’t generally possible to meet candidates in-person before presenting them to my clients. To get around this I conducted multiple phone interviews, one preliminary screen and a second one equivalent to the in-person performance-based process described above. When I subsequently met the person, it turned out the phone assessments were more in-depth, more objective and more accurate in predicting actual performance.

For one CEO appointment, the candidate hired for the job told me candidly that the phone interviews I conducted with him were far superior to any of the in-person interviews conducted by the board members.

This leads to my conclusion stated earlier: A series of properly conducted performance-based phone screens are more effective than interviewing candidates in. The impact of first impression bias and all of the factors associated with it cause interviewer bias – this doesn’t happen over the phone!

Regardless of how it’s done, phone-based interviewing with no video results in a more business-like interview and assessment process. The research clearly shows that interviewer bias and lack of objectivity are the top causes of hiring mistakes including not hiring the best person for the job. You’ll solve both problems by picking up the phone first.




Culture – the Best Measurement Tool

by Paddy Collins on November 28th, 2018

Click on the image to see full version of Hofstede’s Multi-focus Model

Every organisation has its unique style of working which often contributes to its culture. The beliefs, ideologies, principles and values of an organisation form its culture. The culture of the workplace controls the way employees behave amongst themselves as well as with people outside the organisation.

Clearly the culture also defines how the organisation is likely to interact with customers, suppliers and a range of external stakeholders. Consequently there is a clear link between culture and bottom line performance.

Measuring culture is important for your company and measuring the right things – those that matter most to performance and provide a framework for positive change is crucial to future success.

Organisational culture is the pivot on which a company’s competitiveness in the market (including the job market) hinges.

And this brings us to another challenge: how to use an intangible and pervasive dimension like culture as a management tool in order to achieve our company’s strategic objectives and, indeed, ensure the culture we are setting up doesn’t subsume our strategy, but the two sustain and enable each other?

The best answer I have found yet to this question is Hofstede’s Multi-focus Model on Organisational Culture, comprising a conceptual framework to map out our corporate culture and a digital tool to effectively measure it and identify any gaps between the “as is” (the actual behaviours and practices taking place at all levels of the organization) and the “to be” (what top management wants to believe).

The model breaks down a company’s organisation culture in 6 core dimensions:

1 Organisational effectiveness (goal oriented vs. process oriented)

2 Motivation (internal vs. external)

3 Structure, Control & Discipline (low vs. high)

4 Degree of innovation (local vs. professional)

5 Inclusiveness (closed vs. open system)

6 Management philosophy (people vs. task oriented)

These dimensions are measured through the online tool and compared to internal and external benchmarks. It is important to notice that there is no absolute measure of success (i.e. not necessarily a company that scores higher on any dimension is “better” than its competitors); on the other hand, it is relative to the external market and industry conditions (the external benchmark), as well as the top management’s vision and objectives (the internal benchmark).

How does measurement lead to success? The Hofstede tool provides an assessment of current and desired culture for the organisation plus a suite of change levers to deliver the optimal culture – this is delivered by changing real life work activities including for example:

> The way we deal with each other;

> The way we do our work;

> The way we deal with the outside world.

Should you wish to arrange a demonstration of the Hofstede Multi-focus Model please call us for details on +353 1 662 3020.



by Paddy Collins on October 26th, 2018

This is the ninth of the series of typical interview questions. For each question we outline why the interviewer is asking the question and how the interviewee should respond to it.

Our suggestions should be treated as guidelines, always adapt them to your personal judgement of the situation and to your own particular experience and individual style.

What was your biggest professional failure or mistake to date?

Why is this question asked?

To see how you cope with probing and with sensitive question

To assess your understanding of what constitutes a ‘failure’ or ‘mistake’

To explore your attitude to ‘failing’, learning from mistakes, taking a risk, putting yourself out of your comfort zone

To see how quickly and positively you learn and recover

To gauge your resilience levels and your ability to adapt and recover

To explore your tolerance if others ‘failed’ on your team

To explore your self-awareness and honesty

To see whether you would admit your and your team mistakes

To find out what your way of highlighting problems is

To see if you involve others in an appropriate manner and in right time

How to best answer it?

Indicate your self-acceptance and tolerance threshold as well as expectation of yourself (show high but realistic expectation)

Choose an appropriate example, do not let it be too extreme or personal – stick strictly to work, job, business, life in organisations

Remember it is vital to emphasise the constructive action you took to recover:

1. get back in action

2. address mistakes

3. turn situation around

4. rebuild relationships

It is important to indicate your quick learning from setback – list learnings from ‘failing’ and/or ‘mistake’

And finally show how you turned your ‘failure’ or ‘mistake’ into a positive!



Employee Engagement – does it matter?

by Paddy Collins on September 27th, 2018

Employee Engagement is defined by Wikipedia as a fundamental concept in the effort to understand and describe, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the nature of the relationship between an organization and its employees.

Better engagement means better productivity. Research consistently proves that corporations whose employees are engaged perform better than companies whose employees are not.

When employees are engaged at work, they feel a connection with the company – they believe the work they’re doing is important and therefore work harder (discretionary effort).

Measuring employee engagement is important for your company and measuring the right things – those that matter most to performance and provide a framework for positive change is crucial to future success.

Gallup conducts extensive research on engagement and finds strong correlations between engagement and performance and these are highly consistent across different organizations from diverse industries and regions of the world.

Further research on engagement helps to identify factors which are relevant, these include:

-Good management

-Recognition and reward

-Personal growth opportunities

-Flexible work environment

-Company mission and purpose

Bersin by Deloitte attempts to encapsulate the key factors impacting engagement in the framework below called the Simply Irresistible Organisation (click on the image to enlarge it).


by Paddy Collins on August 30th, 2018

This is the eighth of the series of typical interview questions. For each question we outline why the interviewer is asking the question and how the interviewee should respond to it.

Our suggestions should be treated as guidelines, always adapt them to your personal judgement of the situation and to your own particular experience and individual style.

Have you ever managed a conflict?  How did you do it?

Why is this question asked?

• To see how you deal with difficult issues constructively and in a resilient way

• To gauge your positive conflict resolution capabilities and positive problem solving approach

• To find out what constitutes your understanding of ‘conflict’ – in your eyes – is it a major challenge or a ‘normal’ part of professional life?

• To see whether you recognise conflict when it exists and whether you can maintain a ‘team’ relationship even when facing a conflict

• To explore whether you remain positive in a potential conflict situation or you are more likely to aggravate it

• To flag up the possibility that conflict is unavoidable in this role; ‘conflict’ can be perceived as challenging but inevitable and constructive element of achieving the organisation’s goals

• To probe your experience with directly taking responsibility, addressing and managing conflict

• To explore your ‘learned’ and ‘intuitive’ skills

How to answer it?

• Demostrate your expectation that conflict can occur for many reasons and take different forms in any professional role

• Present your ability to identify conflict, indicate its signs and signals

• Choose an example and talk through a conflict situation that you have experienced:

1. ensure your example fits the context of the role you are being interviewed for

2. use a STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, Result)

3. if appropriate show how you ‘mediated’ a conflict – rather than being one of the direct parties involved

• Emphasize the importance of initial gauging how serious and urgent the issue is:

1. is it impacting the work of the team, the progress of the project or achieving a deadline

2. is it distracting the team?

• Focus on the ‘process-related aspects’ of the conflict rather than on personal issues

• Indicate principles for approaching a conflict:

1. Address the conflict directly and honestly with persons involved, avoid communication via emails or ‘cc’ messages.

2. Try a dialogue on a one to one basis, listen to all sides – stay objective – understand their concerns and interests, try to get to the root cause of the problem.

3. Get agreement to involve the various parties together if appropriate – show willingness to listen, understand, and try to find a compromise solution that everyone can live with.

4. Find a shared objective to focus parties on – and move towards the greater goal (e.g.  the interest of the project, the team’s credibility, and everyone’s individual success)

5. Only if required as last resort – involve a ‘third part’ (e.g., manager, HR if the issue is not resolvable at your level)

6. Don’t be afraid to escalate and bring the issue to senior management or use other tools or mechanisms (e.g., HR processes) to resolve it

7. Use ‘No blame, No names’ – protect privacy, always show discretion

8. Show you can be logical and remain process-focused in an emotional situation

9. Find creative and value-adding solutions if possible. Look for the results that are satisfactory enough for all involved.

10. Aim for an optimal solution, remember that there is rarely a perfect outcome!!!




by Paddy Collins on July 26th, 2018

This is the seventh of the series of typical interview questions. For each question we outline why the interviewer is asking the question and how the interviewee should respond to it.

Our suggestions should be treated as guidelines, always adapt them to your personal judgement of the situation and to your own particular experience and individual style.

How do you manage stress under pressure?

or: How do you deal with an extra project added to an already full work schedule?

Why is this question asked?

– To see how you handle the question in the stressful interview situation

– To see what ‘stress’ means to you – whether you have a high or low tolerance for it

– To flag to you there may be a certain level of stress in the job you are applying for

– To assess whether you have ever faced stress before and how you have constructively dealt with it

– To explore your self-awareness of your stress factors (if any) e.g., being ‘not busy enough’ or ‘underutilized’ in a job may be more stressful to some people than being overloaded with work!

– To explore your stress-resilience and your adapting strategies – to learn how you cope with stress, how you manage it, recover from it, absorb it, organise around it – and still get the job done!

How to answer it?

– Every scenario is different and it requires a very careful assessment

– Provide an example (STAR) with a positive outcome of a stressful work-related situation

– Show how you try to manage work proactively in order to prevent a potentially stressful situation arising in the first place:

• plan ahead

• communicate clearly to your Manager about expected difficulties

• ensure back up plans and resources are in place

• communicate these plans to others so that they are ready when required

– However, you need to also show how you deal with a crises when it arises (unexpectedly):

• stand back, stay calm, but remain focused on urgency

• consider context, risks and implications of the critical situation

• first assess priorities yourself, then go to Manager and /or other key stakeholders to agree what actions need to be taken

• see if some work can be re-allocated, pushed out, delegated or re-prioritised

• stay in contact with people involved in the situation and provide updates

• show your efforts and commitment to get the job done successfully

– Finally, describe your personal stress management strategies – how you also ‘let go’ and  unwind at home – jogging, gym, cooking, friends, family, etc. (it could be good to present self-care and a healthy work-life balance outlook)



by Paddy Collins on June 29th, 2018

This is the sixth of the series of typical interview questions. For each question we outline why the interviewer is asking the question and how the interviewee should respond to it.

Our suggestions should be treated as guidelines, always adapt them to your personal judgement of the situation and to your own particular experience and individual style.


Where do you see yourself work-wise in 3-5 years’ time?

Why is this question asked?

– To explore your self-awareness, your personal vision and your proactive career plan

– To evaluate whether your plan fits with the employer company structure and vision

– To ensure that you are not just ‘filling a gap’ or ‘escaping’  from a difficult situation of your current commitment

– To see how your projected career path can contribute to the company

– To verify whether your expectations match the company’s needs, possibilities and culture

– To gauge how realistic and achievable your ambitions and development expectations are

– To explore your flexibility and versatility to grow with the organisation

How to answer?

– Firstly, consider which direction the employer is growing or changing; think about the pace of their development

– Secondly, try to assess the employer’s work environment and culture – are they ambitious, dynamic – or more conservative?

– Show how you have always progressed in your roles thanks to your ability, flexibility and adaptability (present a summary of your development to date)

– Give examples of your commitments in the past to other companies to prove your loyalty

– Highlight how you intend to continue to professionally grow, add value and contribute to the employer’s success  – express how motivating this plan is for you

– Show how eager you are to invest, learn and progress within this role and emerging opportunities

– Emphasize that you are interested in progressing upwards with them at the right time (to show a little humility)

– Indicate briefly where you may be headed longer term, but remember to stay tentative!

– Present your priority – e.g., to do a very good job for the company, be satisfied with the challenge and the quality of own contribution

– Don’t focus on ‘self-interest’ matters – e.g., your development, promotion, convenience or salary  –  when you get the offer you can negotiate these further!!!


Data Protection Policy

by Paddy Collins on May 24th, 2018

Torc Consulting Group

Data Protection Policy

In Ireland Data Protection law applies to the processing of personal data of living individuals.   In addition every Torc employee, associate and contractor has obligations to ensure confidentiality of personal and business data under their contract of employment or engagement on a specific assignment.

This policy is focused on informing Torc, its employees, associates, contractors and agents of their responsibilities under data protection to obtain, process and disclose personal data in accordance with the Data Protection legislation requirements.

Torc Data Protection obligations

As a data controller Torc has obligations under the Data Protection Acts of 1988 and 2003 and General Data Protection Regulation 2018 to ensure that personal data is managed in accordance with the eight principles of data protection.  At a high level, Torc must ensure that personal data is:

  1. obtained and processed fairly
  2. kept only for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes
  3. not used in a manner incompatible with purpose for which it was provided
  4. protected against unauthorised access, alteration, disclosure or destruction or unlawful processing
  5. accurate, complete and, where necessary, kept up to date
  6. adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose for which the data was collected
  7. not kept for longer than is necessary
  8. disclosed to the data subject on request and corrected or destroyed where they so request.


The Acts also provide that a “duty of care” is owed to data subjects, which means that those controlling or processing the data should take care that their activities do not cause damage or distress to the people concerned by, for example, maintaining inaccurate information on our files, or disclosing personal data to someone who is not entitled to this data.

To ensure that all staff and others who process personal data on behalf of Torc are doing so in accordance with these principles at all times, we have developed this Data Protection Policy together with a Data Protection Code of Practice for general application.

Paddy Collins is Torc’s Data Protection Officer (Full details of the role and responsibilities of the Data Protection Officer are in the Appendix.)

What is personal data?

Personal data is any data that identifies a living individual.  If an individual can be identified directly from the data or indirectly, by using that data in conjunction with other information that is in Torc’s possession then that constitutes personal data.

This means if we have a piece of data on one system such as a mobile number that can be input to another system and matched to other data – name, address, date of birth etc.,  then that mobile number constitutes personal data.

Who does Torc hold personal data about?

Torc holds personal data for a narrow range of individuals such as current and former clients, prospective clients, candidates, course participants and employees.

How can we use personal data?

Torc can use personal data to complete the purpose for which the data was obtained.

Rights of data subjects (i.e. clients, candidates, course participants and employees, third parties etc ) to access to personal data

Data subjects include any person about whom the Torc processes personal data.

All data subjects have the right to access the information held about them, ensure that it is correct and fairly held, and to complain to the Data Protection Commissioner if they are dissatisfied.

All data subjects have the right to ask for their personal data to be deleted and not to be processed any longer.

All requests to access or delete personal data will be handled in accordance with the procedures as detailed in the Data Protection Code of Practice and in the General Data Protection Regulation.

It is very important to note the following: 

You may not access any personal data records or databases for your own purposes, or for your friends or family. This is a serious offence.

 If you plan to use personal data for a new business purpose, you must first obtain formal permission from the Data Protection Officer.

 If a third party requests any personal data, you must always validate the identity and authority of the third party to ensure that he or she is entitled to the information and you must ensure that any disclosure is permissible under this policy.

 Managing Contractors/Suppliers and other agents

If Torc is providing any personal data to a third party we must have consent to do so.  In addition, we can only provide this data where there is a contract established which includes adequate provisions for data protection. Torc must include comprehensive provisions for data protection which state and limit the purposes for which data is provided, limit access only to essential contract staff/associates and ensure data copies are recovered/destroyed when services have been provided or the contract comes to an end.

We must also take appropriate operational measures to ensure the contractor/associate has appropriate organisational and technical measures to safeguard any personal data provided.

Should you have any questions regarding this policy and Torc data protection obligations please contact:

Paddy Collins, Data Protection Officer

Torc Consulting Group


Torc’s Data Protection Officer

The responsibilities of the Data Protection Officer are:

– to implement Data Protection training and awareness for staff ;

– to  advise Directors on any relevant Data Protection issues;

– to supervise the application of the Data Protection Acts;

– to review and update the Data Protection Code of Practice / Data Protection Policy as necessary;

– to undertake any necessary coordinated consultation and be the primary contact for all consultation with any other body regarding any new development in Data Protection e.g. any new EU Regulation on Data Protection;

– to be the primary contact for all Data Protection matters with Data Protection Commissioner, including reporting to Data Protection Commissioner on Data Protection breaches;

– to ensure requests for personal data submitted to Torc are processed in a timely manner by the appropriate person;

– to receive complaints and respond if anyone in Torc is not happy with how the Data Protection Code of Practice is being applied;

– to receive complaints and respond if any data subject believes that their request for personal data has not been processed appropriately;

– following a formal evaluation of the request, which approves it as valid, to ensure requests from other organisations for access to personal data in Torc’s  possession are processed in a timely manner by the appropriate person


by Paddy Collins on April 30th, 2018


This is the fifth of the series of typical interview questions. For each question we outline why the interviewer is asking the question and how the interviewee should respond to it.

Our suggestions should be treated as guidelines, always adapt them to your personal judgement of the situation and to your own particular experience and individual style.

Why are you looking for a change now?

Why is this question asked?

– To explore and understand your true motives and drivers – you should focus on positive drivers (the positive challenges of the new job)

– To ensure you are not looking to move to avoid a current challenge

– To understand the applicant’s full and positive perspective on their own career goals

– To see how the applicant is self-motivated and wants to generously contribute to the new job

– How important is this job to you – verifying your motivation level, commitment and enthusiasm

How to answer?

– Outline why & how this new position is so exciting, challenging, explain it is a place where you hope to contribute

– Show your proactive research to find a job like this – and how you have worked towards it over time

– Most importantly – Balance your intention to contribute and to develop – specify where & how you plan to do it!

– Outline other legitimate reasons for changing your job, for example: your contract is ending or there are no permanent opportunities for you in current area

Other possible reasons for move:

– Last job requirement and scope was not what was advertised or was in fact narrower than originally advertised

– Leave personal circumstances to last, for example: partner moving to a particular city

Are you ready for disruptive recruitment?

by courtesy of Dr. Klemens Wersonig, Austria, on March 21st, 2018

I have been a headhunter for 25 years, interviewed around 30.000 people. I love my job, but there is one thing that I regret. There is one thing that could and should be dramatically changed and improved. To do so, it needs disruptive thinking also in recruitment. No, this is not about technology, it is not about a new recruitment platform and app. It is about alternative thinking. It is about looking at recruitment from a new perspective. It is about You.

Headhunters and recruiters in general are briefed according to a very tight script. And this script is heavily industry biased. A telecom company looks for a new Sales Director with deep telecom experience, of course. A food company needs people with profound food experience, a car company needs car experience and so on. Industry experience dominates it all. But why? Why can a computer sales manager not sell cars? Why can a pharma marketing manager not promote food? Why can an automotive controller not work in a hotel chain? Because you need to understand the industry, its way of thinking and dealing.

Maybe you are wrong?

What if, the opposite was true? What if a clear industry outsider would bring so many new ideas and approaches, question all the “necessary” industry routines, because it does work different and better elsewhere? What if this would give you just the decisive advantage over competition?

This is disruptive recruitment: Hire on purpose an industry outsider!

Why are you afraid? Too radical? Too much too loose? I do not agree! I am not saying that you should change your whole organization. I am just saying, put an outsider into a key position. Don´t just have “more of the same routines”. Be courageous and see what happens, if a real newcomer challenges all your well beaten paths. Look for experience, hire a brilliant person with emotional intelligence, but forget industry experience! At least once! There are so many seasoned and well experienced leaders around, who would love to change industries. Take advantage of it!

Jump over your shadow!

I have been preaching this to my clients. They find it interesting, but nobody is ready to take the first step, yet. Some key decision maker has to jump over his/her shadow and then soon it might become a trend and we will ask ourselves “Why didn´t we do this earlier?” Are you the trend setter? Are you ready for disruptive recruitment? Go for it!

Dr. Klemens Wersonig
Founder & CEO
TARGET Executive Search

© 2018, TARGET Executive Search. All rights reserved.