HR & Technology: A Pandemic Love Story

HR & Technology: A Pandemic Love Story

Samantha Badr


Hello my beautiful readers! Before we dive into the juice, let’s talk about how my life came full circle last week. For my veterans, you already know how this story began. For our new readers – let’s give a quick refresher. About a year ago, I was at a critical point in my life. I had received my master’s degree in HR and was hungry for the career I had planned for years. I was applying to numerous jobs with no luck. Countless applications and countless denials. I even considered changing my whole career path, but I guess the universe had a different plan for me.

LinkedIn connected me with my ~favorite~ HR professor from Pace University. You guys might know her. Her name is Lisa Stamatelos – the beauty and brains behind LJS HR Services. Of course I seized the opportunity to reach out for advice or any reason to give HR one last chance before I threw in the towel. Could’ve been LinkedIn or could’ve been sheer luck. Either way, Lisa saw my potential and took me in – giving me this platform to call home, while expanding my knowledge and love for HR along the way.

So, when Lisa asked me to speak to Pace students about HR, I couldn’t have said YES, any quicker. Speaking to the same class that sparked my interest in HR to begin with. That’s when I realized I made it. Life really came full circle. Just one short year ago I was lost, but now I’m more motivated than ever before. Let’s give a shout out to our savior, our president, Lisa! I owe this all to you. To her students – thank you for laughing at my jokes, but also for giving me the opportunity to speak to you and give some heartfelt advice. It means so much to me, and hopefully you will continue to follow my journey.

Now, let’s get into the good stuff, and the topic of Lisa’s class – HR Trends in 2022. It’s no secret that our world has been shaken the past two years. Everything you thought you knew – changed. Organizations completely shifted and altered their procedures, policies, hiring practices, and more. At the forefront of it all – the *star* of the show has been technology. Love it or hate it, almost every organization has had to focus on technology since our world turned remote. Below are some of the HR practices that technology has affected, as well as, influenced, the years to follow:

  • HRIS systems: Losing access to the office meant losing access to hundreds of the paper files that HR needs to onboard/offboard staff, process payroll and benefits, draft job contracts, etc. Organizations had to either invest in a new HRIS system altogether, or utilize the functions of their existing platforms. Paper forms are an endangered species, and recruiting or other HR functions have now been transferred to online filing systems.
  • Teamwork and collaboration: Now that the paperwork has been established, how has teamwork changed? Organizations had to be creative and find ways for staff to continue collaborating on projects, without sacrificing the quality of the work. Que in the Microsoft Teams and Zoom platforms. These modules supply the luxury of scheduling webcam meetings or providing shared screen options to work on projects with teammates – all while still harboring some type of real-time human connection.
  • Hybrid working model: Now that we’ve established a way to bring coworkers together, how can you expect employees to come back into the office when they’ve been enjoying their Zoom meetings on the couch? Organizations might want to consider a hybrid working model, where employees split time between home and the office or continue working remotely altogether. One thing is for sure – if you want employees back in the office, you better sweeten the deal. Who wants to sit in traffic or spend money on transportation anymore?
  • Performance review modules: If you cannot physically see your staff, how can you judge their performance? The traditional performance review is now a thing of the past. Employees are tired of being graded on a scale of 1-5 and attaching their anticipated bonuses to these numbers. I think it’s time to shift the countless hours spent at the end of the year into something more productive. Instead of self-appraisals and yearly meetings with your supervisor, how about trying to have more frequent check-ins with staff. Try setting company-specific and personal development goals at the beginning of the year. Grade an employee’s progression to these set goals, and reward them for meeting their deadlines.
  • Recruitment strategies: Face-to-face interviews are now screen-to-screen interviews. How can recruiters judge you if they can’t see the shoes you’re wearing? Organizations – please be creative and start asking the hard questions. Gauge your candidates responses when asking them about their career goals or preferred methods of learning. The good news is that with remote work, you can recruit staff outside of the city the organization is based out of. More applications means more opportunities to find the right fit for your company.
  • Training and development: Now that we’ve hired the new staff, how has training and development changed? Not every employee will be tech-savvy. Everyone has different learning styles. Be sure to create user-friendly directions for all staff – senior management positions, or not. It’s important that everyone knows how to clock in their hours, access training materials, etc. Set aside some time to work with employees if they are having technical difficulties. The extra attention matters.
  • Employee retention: So, you have recruited, onboarded, and trained new and/or existing employees. Now what? You must work to keep them! Consider your total rewards packages and make some adjustments. PTO is not the hottest reward anymore. How about flextime? How about a Zoom happy hour? Maybe a virtual mural board in which employees can add their feedback or ideas for engagement programs. Involve your staff in your decision-making. I promise it will go a long way.

We’re two months into 2022 – what has your organization implemented thus far? It’s definitely not too late to plan some changes this year. Employees have become unmotivated and disengaged from staring at their computer screens all day. Make their day better by providing support or rewarding them without warning. Ask your employees how they are really doing.

One inspiring question I received from a Pace student was “how has the pandemic changed/shaped HR”? My answer is this – HR is no longer just the gatekeeper for your emergency contact form or timesheet. HR has been completely revolutionized. HR is now considered a business partner and vital in making management decisions. There’s so much more to HR than paperwork. We are now the gatekeepers of change. Move over everyone – HR is coming in HOT this 2022.

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Recruitment Strategies: The Interview of Champions

Recruitment Strategies: The Interview of Champions

Samantha Badr


Join me on this HR journey as I try to navigate my way through *Recruiting* and all the fun stuff that comes with it. To provide some background – I’m not technically my company’s recruiter, rather an HR professional that wears many hats. Our interview process begins with the recruiter reading through a bazillion resumes. But luckily for me, I showed up just in time to showcase my one true talent – “chitchatting”. This last week was filled with structured panel interviews and I can’t wait to tell you ALL about it.

Interview Types

Before we dive into the good stuff, let’s educate ourselves on interviews in their entirety, because who knew there were so many different techniques? For starters, interviews can be either structured or unstructured. Structured interviews provide the interviewer with the information needed to make a hiring decision. This technique is crucial in defending an organization against allegations of discrimination because all applicants are asked the same questions. In an unstructured interview, applicants can set the stage while many open-ended questions are asked. However, a lack of structure can make it difficult to compare and rank applicants that are not asked the same set of questions.

The most widely used types of interviews are:

  • The telephone prescreen interview
  • The direct one-on-one interview
  • The panel interview

Before being hired in my current HR role, I experienced all the interview types listed above. The recruitment process started with the telephone prescreen interview. The second round included the direct one-on-one interview, and the final round was a panel interview. Now that I’m sitting on the opposite side of the table, I get to witness just how much this process can be designed in different ways.


The three most common approaches to interviews are behavioral, competency-based, and situational. These approaches are used to discover how the interviewee performs in specific situations. The logic is based on the fact that past performance can predict future behavior. In a behavioral approach, a candidate’s experience, personal attributes, and job-related skills can be determined by this style of questioning. In a competency-based approach, questions are designed to determine if the applicant possesses certain attributes or skills. The situational approach provides candidates with hypothetical scenarios and focuses on their past experiences, behaviors, knowledge, and abilities.

Some examples of interview questions are:

  • Behavioral: Give me a specific example of a time you set a goal and how you were able to achieve it.
  • Competency-based: Tell me about a situation in which your spoken communication skills made a difference in the outcome. What did you learn?
  • Situational: You have been hired as the HR director in a 300-employee company and are struggling to perform the necessary HR administrative work by yourself. The CFO tells you that you need to be more strategic. How would you handle this situation?


Now that we’ve discussed interview types and approaches, it’s time to figure out an interview style. Interviews can be either one-on-one or conducted in a group setting. The most common style is the traditional one-on-one interview, where just the interviewer and interviewee are present. As for group interviews, there are two types – a panel group and a candidate group. In a panel group interview, a candidate is interviewed individually by a panel of two or more people. Panel interviews can create a broader picture of the candidate given that there are differing perspectives amongst the interviewers. The less common option, a candidate group interview, is when a candidate is interviewed alongside other job applicants who may be applying for the same position. Each candidate listens to information about the company and position then may be asked to answer questions or participate in group exercises.

Formatting Interview Questions

Most interviews will consist of a combination of open/closed-ended questions and some follow-up questions. Open-ended questions encourage candidates to provide longer answers and expand on their knowledge, strengths, and job experiences. Closed-ended questions can enable the employer to receive direct responses and specific information from the candidate. Follow-up questions are needed if an interviewer does not fully comprehend a response, if answers are vague, or if more specific information is required. Understanding the different styles of questions can help interviewers be creative during the interview design phase.

Some examples of interview questions are:

  • Open-ended: What are you looking to gain from your next position?
  • Closed-ended: How many years of experience do you have as a team leader?
  • Follow-up: Could you please tell me more about . . .?

Something to note: Because interview questions can be pre-determined, it is important to not make any statements that could be misconstrued. It is best to avoid using terms such as “permanent” or “long-term” when describing the job. To minimize the risk of discrimination lawsuits, interviewers must also familiarize themselves with topics that are not permissible as interview questions.

Closing the Interview

The most popular method of closing an interview is to say that the interview is ending and to offer the candidate the opportunity to ask any questions. This enables the candidate to gain clarification on aspects of the position such as hours, salary, and benefits. The interviewer should answer the candidate’s questions as candidly as possible while avoiding compensation discussion if others are present. The interviewer may want to ask if the candidate is interested in the job based on the information provided in the interview, the time frame of the rest of the interviews, and when a decision is likely to be made.

This past week was my first time conducting interviews and I couldn’t wait to learn something new. Candidates started with a pre-screening phone interview, with rounds 2 and 3 being virtual panel interviews. As time progressed, I found that it might be beneficial to play around with different interview styles since some questions could overlap or not provide enough background. Throughout the week I altered introduction styles, interview questions, and scenarios, to observe the outcomes. The key takeaway is that people love me and I’m really good at chatting. With all jokes aside, the one thing that really stood out to me was the interview style. Although my colleagues and I had naturally inviting demeanors, some candidates were more reserved in their speech, which made it harder to judge. However, the best observations were made from the questions that produced personal responses. These last two years have shown the significance of human interaction and how we have lost that through our computer screens. At the end of the day, we are all human beings first, and the more we focus on that, the greater we can be.


Some laughs to get us through the week…

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Job Descriptions: Yes, They Matter.

Job Descriptions: Yes, They Matter

Samantha Badr


‘Tis the season, HR professionals! *Job Descriptions* have made their debut and it’s about time we updated these things. Businesses are beginning to make a comeback and hire new talent, which means job descriptions have made it to the top of the priority list.

Most of the time, job descriptions are updated in conjunction with annual performance reviews or as a part of the recruiting process. However, over the last two years, many employees have found themselves wearing multiple hats to compensate for the loss of staff and/or new workplace procedures. Thus, the importance of updating job descriptions. Employees need a clear guideline of their essential functions so they can be clear on what’s expected of them. While doing so, organizations are given the opportunity to reassess the skills needed to perform in particular positions. Furthermore, job descriptions can play a crucial role in performance reviews, career development, setting salary/pay grade levels, and even recruitment.

Every job description should be based on the results of a thorough job analysis. For my non-HR readers – this is the process of gathering, examining, and interpreting data about a job’s tasks. A job analysis can include interviewing and observing employees to find out what tasks are being performed, having employees fill out questionnaires, and collecting data on jobs from salary surveys. The results should be documented and reviewed by the employee and their supervisor to account for changes such as knowledge, skills, abilities, physical characteristics, environmental factors, and credentials/experience of the position.

Job descriptions include the minimum qualifications and skills needed to perform a job, as well as defining job title and job grade. Other specifics are included such as performance standards, management expectations, scope and limits of authority, hours, job location, and travel requirements. When creating a job description for a new position, HR professionals should work closely with managers to identify what business needs are and why a particular job role is critical to their organization.

It’s important to note that job descriptions and job postings are two different things. A job posting is what an organization uses to sell itself and an open position – while a job description is about compliance and covering the essential functions, qualifications, and physical requirements of the job. Job descriptions should always include the outcomes the position is responsible for, why the outcomes are important, and what the organization’s values are. A common mistake an HR professional can make is writing job descriptions that are too wordy and overly complicated. Instead, they should focus on simplicity and include the minimum requirements needed to achieve desired outcomes. Oh, and by the way, please stop listing unnecessary degree requirements or excessive years of experience. Give employees a chance! More likely than not – they are just as determined to achieve success as the applicants who check off the “right boxes”.

Although job descriptions aren’t considered “fun”, they can help strengthen an organization’s emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion in its recruitment strategies. Surveys have shown that job seekers can experience barriers due to a gap in work history, frequent job changes, or minimal work experience. It’s important that employers consider how they can reach all demographics and provide equal access to available opportunities. To eliminate bias in recruiting practices, organizations should focus on levels of experience rather than years of experience, as well as contextual performance, and an applicant’s ability to collaborate/contribute to company culture.

A long list of requirements on a job posting can deter many good candidates from applying for a role because they may feel they cannot meet every qualification. Speaking from experience, it’s really hard searching for jobs. Even with a master’s degree, I spent almost two years applying to countless jobs. After a while, it became very discouraging to see that I met the educational requirements but not the years of experience needed for an HR role. After many interviews, I was finally granted the opportunity to showcase my capabilities and work ethic. So, from me to you – keep trying! If you’re looking for a job, I feel your pain – and if you have a job, I also feel your pain.

Stay safe everyone! Until next time…

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“How Can HR Help?” – Part I

“How Can HR Help?” – Part I

Samantha Badr 


Welcome back, my lovely audience. I decided to switch things up this time around with a new segment called “How Can HR Help?” – because sometimes we just need a little break from all the research and the numbers. This is a place where we can come together as human beings and vent about office culture and how we can make our 9-5’s just a little more bearable. I asked some of you guys across all social media platforms to message me with any workplace-related concerns that you might want some advice on. Well, here it goes…

A little backstory – I received a message from someone about their current workplace practices and their downfalls. After pondering further, I have summed up the situation in the following points:

  • All employees are working from home (WFH)
  • Office staff consists of 16 employees (including the manager)
  • Office Manager hired 2.5 years ago
  • New hires: 4 employees hired within the last year
  • 9/16 employees have worked 10+ years
  • 2/16 employees have worked 4+ years
  • 11/16 employees trained one way, while 4/16 were taught something different
  • Tasks are hard to complete, resulting in employee conflicts

The main takeaway from this scenario is that all employees work differently. How can an office run effectively if all employees are not on the same page? If we think of this office’s job tasks as steps to a ladder – if one step is missed or not stable, then everyone can come crumbling down. At what point do we look at management as the sole perpetrator? For starters, these are just my opinions and if there are genuine concerns with your co-workers and/or manager, it is best to reach out to HR to address any issues you may have.

As for my advice – it’s hard for a manager to step into a new position with 15 new employees. However, it is even harder if you do not find ways to engage with your staff. I was told that this manager did not have a welcome meeting, or any meeting with the whole staff, at all. This left senior staff discouraged and often disappointed with office culture – resulting in tension amongst new and older employees.

Another key issue was the training. It seems that the former manager trained the office staff in one way, and the new manager just hired 4 new employees and taught them the basics. Yes, I’m sure everyone is competent enough to fill their roles, but the lack of communication only makes matters worse. It is not the employee’s job to come to a consensus with their co-workers about how certain tasks should be done.

Sorry “new” manager, but it’s been 2.5 years. It’s time to step up for your staff because they need you! Office culture is based on teamwork and collaborative projects, but this staff wasn’t set up for success. My recommendation is this – WFH already has its challenges, don’t add to them. The pandemic has sparked creative ideas around the world, so it’s never too late to reignite the fire in your staff. Unfortunately, employee burnout will be the result if nothing changes.

The good thing is that your employees still care. People want to do a good job. Start by finding a way to have all staff engage with each other on a personal level, such as “happy hour” on zoom or any other platform. As for training – start somewhere. If it seems too overwhelming to start from scratch, enlist the help of your staff to make some templates in a shared document drive, where everyone can see examples of how certain tasks or documents need to be created. This will go a long way.

My closing thoughts – good luck! Keep voicing your opinion to your manager and you might see some change happen.

Hope this advice helped. Stay tuned for next time.

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