Massachusetts Law Poses Serious Questions About Hiring

7 Steps for Avoiding the Never-Ending Interview Process

15 Tips to Help You Nail the Phone Interview

What We Can Do to Save Our Farmland

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Massachusetts Law Poses Serious Questions About Hiring
(By Dan Simmons, CPC)

The face-to-face interview is filled with numerous questions, some of them standard and some of them not-so-standard. In fact, some of those questions are posed not only during the interview, but also on the employment application. One of them is as follows:

"What is your current salary?"

It has become common practice for employers to ask candidates about their current level of compensation. However, following the passage of a recent Massachusetts law, that practice may become less common and it certainly will be less common in Massachusetts.

This new law now prohibits employers from asking prospective hires about their salary histories until after they make a job offer. So in actuality, we
're not just talking about the candidate's current salary. We're also talking about the candidate's past salaries, as well.

And it
's not just salary, either. It's salary, plus all other forms of compensation. Now, the candidate can still voluntarily disclose that information, but let's face it: how many candidates will want to do that?

In theory, the main beneficiary of this law will be women. That
's because women, due to a number of factors, have historically been paid less than men in terms of salary and compensation. With the implementation of this law, women's current and past compensation histories will not be "held against them," so to speak.

This law, the first of its kind in the United States, poses some serious questions about hiring, including the following:
  • What will be the consequences of its passage, both intended and unintended?
  • What adjustments will organizations make within their interviewing and hiring process to account for this law?
  • Will the law be embraced by other states across the country?
  • If it is embraced, how quickly will it be embraced (and passed) by other states?
Most organizations do not have devious intentions when asking a candidate about their salary and/or compensation history. All they're really trying to do is determine how much the candidate should be paid and then if they can afford to hire the candidate.

So what does this mean for organizations in the state of Massachusetts? It means there are going to be a whole lot of hiring managers extending offers to candidates with NO idea of whether or not the candidate is going to accept.  Some candidates may be pleasantly surprised, others possibly insulted.

While this might make things better for the candidate, it might not necessarily be the case for employers. Hiring top-level talent is already challenging in today
's candidates' market. For employers in Massachusetts, this law could make it even more challenging.

What are your thoughts? I welcome your insight. You can contact me at

7 Steps for Avoiding the Never-Ending Interview Process

(By Dan Simmons, CPC)

Now that you
've decided you need to hire someone, you've got your job description written, you've determined what qualities you're looking for in a candidate, and created a strong presentation to sell them on the position, what's left to do? Not much, just get it done!

It makes no sense to turn this into a never-ending process of interviews and discussions. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by torturing potential candidates by dragging the process out unnecessarily. They hate it, and it's NOT effective.

The time it takes to acquire a candidate will vary depending upon the position that needs to be filled. Recruiters often say, "What drags gets dirty." What hiring managers think is productive might very well be the opposite. The process should be looked at from the viewpoint of the candidate. Keep in mind there are presently more open positions for great talent than great people for the jobs; 2016 is a seller's market!

People are drawn to companies that make decisions in a timely fashion. With this in mind, is your interviewing and hiring process as efficient and effective as it could be? Furthermore, do you communicate to everyone concerned what this process involves and how long it
's likely to take?

Every company is different in its hiring practices, and there are variations depending upon the position being filled. But when this drags into a never-ending process of interviews, it inevitably ends in lost hires.

Here are seven steps to avoid the never-ending interview process:
  • Decide on a practical timeline for the new hire that considers realistic candidate acquisition times and the availability of all participants in the process.
  • Clearly communicate the details of the job description to everyone conducting interviews so they can be adequately prepared for the task.
  • The interview process should be handled as efficiently and as quickly as possible.
  • The time lapse from when a company receives an application from a candidate and when a company official first responds to them should be brief. This is critical.
  • All on-site interviews should be done efficiently. Everyone involved in making the hiring decision should be available on the same day to interview candidates. This is just as important in a work facility as a corporate environment or any other worksite. The order of the day is expediency.
  • Everyone conducting the interviews should be fully prepared. Often the hiring process gets bogged down when an interviewer isn't properly prepared or just doesn't have the requisite skills to conduct an effective interview. Make sure everyone is on top of their game and readily available.
  • Finally, when you have completed the interview process, do NOT drag out the decision. Narrow your choices down to the top candidate and make a job offer. If they turn down your offer, make an offer to your number-two candidate and keep going until you've gone through all your top candidates.
If you'd like more information on this topic, call me at (888) 276-6789 or send an email to (And don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn!)

15 Tips to Help You Nail the Phone Interview

(By Dan Simmons, CPC)

The truth is you
're never going to get called for a face-to-face interview if you don't leave a good impression during the phone interview. The phone interview is an extremely important first step in the hiring process, so it shouldn't be left to chance.

The one thing you need to understand about the phone interview is that you have just one objective: to receive an invitation for a face-to-face interview. In doing this, you should take the opportunity to find out as much useful information as you can. Don
't forget that the one objective of the face-to-face interview is to get an offer of employment.

To review:
  • The primary objective of a phone interview is to get a face-to-face interview.
  • The primary objective of a face-to-face interview is to get an offer of employment. (Although you may or may not end up accepting the offer, you still want to at least get one.)
Now that this has been clarified, below are 15 tips to help you nail a phone interview so you can proceed to the in-person interview, which comes next in the hiring process:
  • Prior to the phone interview, make recordings of yourself answering normal interview-type questions. Your spouse or a friend can interview you. Listen to how you sound, make sure you're articulating your words, and practice until you're happy with the impression you're making.
  • Take the call in a quiet room free of distractions. If necessary, it's okay to ask the interviewer if you can call them back when it's more convenient.
  • Do not have any noise going on in the background, like a TV, stereo, people conversing, etc.
  • Avoid using a mobile phone due to the risk of a poor reception.
  • Have a pad of paper, pen, and copy of your updated resume handy.
  • Write down the caller's full name and position with the company. Verify this by repeating it back to them.
  • Hold the phone receiver 1/2 inch from your mouth and speak right into it.
  • Do not chew gum, smoke, or eat anything during the phone interview.
  • Speak conversationally throughout, using some variance in inflection and tone.
  • Make sure you are being heard, but do not shout into the phone.
  • Smile throughout your interview and show some enthusiasm. This will be conveyed through the phone.
  • Sometimes it helps to be standing up rather than sitting down.
  • Allow the interviewer to do most of the talking. Do not give one-word answers. You need to use this as your chance to "sell" them on your qualifications and experience.
  • Do NOT bring up compensation, benefits, holidays, or vacation time, as it would be self-serving.
  • When you sense the interview winding down, look for a chance to request a face-to-face meeting.
These tips can help you nail any phone interview, which is the critical first step in getting invited for an in-person interview at the company.

If you're a job seeker and have any career-related questions, you can email them to Don Hunter at Don also encourages you to connect with him on LinkedIn.

What We Can Do to Save Our Farmland
(By Dan Simmons, CPC)

In the previous issue of the Animal Science Monitor, I introduced the American Farmland Trust and discussed how that organization is saving both farmland and food in this country. This month, I want to address what you - and I - can accomplish in our efforts to do the same.

One of the founding members of the American Farmland Trust was Peggy Rockefeller, wife of noted philanthropist David Rockefeller. She was a very successful farmer, raising cattle on her farms in upstate New York and Maine. She gathered experts from around the country to develop and implement programs using conservation easements, a very powerful tool to make the country's most productive farmland completely off limits for development.

Agricultural Conservation Easements (ACE)

This is simply a deed restriction that can be voluntarily placed on a piece of property by the landowner. This keeps their farmland available for farming. The ACE is granted to a governmental agency or to a qualified conservation organization. Each ACE is customized for each property according to the conservation goals and needs of the particular landowner. The easement typically allows agricultural activities and associated structures like barns and fences, while limiting uses that would be not be aligned with commercial agriculture, such as non-farm related dwellings.

Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (PACE)

To provide a financial incentive for farmers to place an agricultural conservation easement on their property, this program was established. If the property qualifies, the landowner is paid a financially competitive amount to keep his land out of the hands of developers. PACE programs are run by state and local governments, along with privately held conservation organizations.

To keep the program alive, it depends on public funds, which include matching funds provided by the federal branch of ACE. To implement the PACE program effectively, farms must be prioritized according to threat of development, soil quality, and its future agricultural viability. If you have a farm you would like to keep rather than sell to developers, you can find information on to apply for the PACE program.

2 ways you can help:

We can all become involved one way or another in helping save our vital farmlands. We encourage everyone to do his or her part because this affects all of us, as well as future generations.

#1 - Spread the word.
By spreading the word that "No Farms = No Food," more people will become aware of the threat to family farming and become involved. Go to to request a free bumper sticker. You should also contact your governor about setting aside more state funding to protect farms and to ensure that our wildlife has the essential habitat to survive. Tell all your elected officials to act now to save farmland, soil, and water so that we can continue to feed America.

#2 - Shop at your local farmers' market.
All across our country, small family farms are struggling to survive. If farmers cannot make a decent living, how can they keep their land? Urban sprawl is encroaching on all sides and their livelihood is under constant threat. Buy fresh food locally from your local farmers
' market to support and protect our nation's farmlands.

Local farmers who sell their foods at farmers
' markets have 10% greater odds of staying in business than if they sell their goods through normal channels. By doing this, you will also be helping your business community. Businesses located near farmers' markets gain more sales on those days the market is running, which also helps local tax coffers. People who shop at farmers' markets save about 25% on food, as compared to shopping at standard grocery stores.

This is a very important cause and AFT needs more people to become involved. If you would like to join AFT or contribute your time, money, and effort, please visit


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