Thursday, July 25, 2013

3 Reasons to Hire Nervous Job Candidates

boxheadFor many people, interviews are one of the most nerve racking things that they can do. It’s not surprising when you think about it, since there is a lot at stake: the job of their dreams, the ability to make the next mortgage/rent check, regaining a lost sense of self esteem, etc.

With so much being at stake, isn’t it perfectly understandable that many candidates may succumb to nerves during an interview? The problem is that these nerves can indeed impair their interview performance and hinder the interview process – candidates can speak too quickly, slur their speech, have temporary memory loss and basically not give a true representation of their ability. This means that it is very easy to miscast nervous candidates as basket cases or incompetents who are not suitable for the job, when in truth they could be more appropriately skilled than some of the more outspoken and forward applicants.

In fact, three studies back up the idea that nervous candidates may be in fact disguising underlying brilliance.

The first was a study by Corinne Bendersky from UCLA’s School of Management. In her study she looked at MBA students and classified them as an extrovert and introvert (typically more neurotic and nervous) and she looked at the perceived status of these students. They found that those who were seen to be more extroverted were perceived to be of higher status and a better potential contributor to the effort. While neurotics were seen as lower status and they were expected to make a smaller contribution (this superficial first impression is an effect that is likely to be replicated in the interview room). But, what was most interesting was that at the end of the 10 week study/project period, the extroverts were seen to have lost status and to have contributed less than expected and neurotics were seen to have contributed more than expected and gained status as a result. Corinne concluded that extrovert traits that may them stand out from the crowd can fail in a team based situations. And the dull, uninspiring traits of introverts can make them effective on the job.

So, if you are hiring for roles with a collaborative element consider that the more nervous and neurotic may make a very positive contribution.

Corinne completed a second study which looked at team perceptions of neurotics and extroverts before and after working together and revealed that the general preconception is that the volatility and negativity of neurotics will be a drag on the team and that the enthusiasm and energy of extroverts would boost the team. But, in the studies the contributions of extroverts were not as good as expected and the introvert performed beyond expectations in a team environment.

A third study by Adam Grant from Wharton compared the sales performance of a group of 340 introvert and extrovert sales people. They found that the most successful employees were the ambiverts (halfway between introvert and extrovert) earning 24 percent more than introverts and 32 percent more than extroverts. So, in a purely sales capacity, this study (albeit isolated)  has shown that extroverts are the worst performers.

Now, I am in no way suggesting that you exclusively hire introverts because you need a balanced team and introversion is just one of many qualities and skills which can lead to the employee being a higher performer. But, that is the point; while you should not hire someone just because they are introvert, equally it does not make sense to overlook someone because their introversion and neuroticism may have affected their presentation during the interview. Try and build selection processes that allow both introverts and extroverts to shine and develop interview techniques that relax candidates and which coach nervous candidates back into a state where they give an authentic demonstration of their ability, enabling you to make truer assessment of their abilities.

If you need help with effectively interviewing nervous candidates, watch out for the second part of this article titled, “8 Tips for Interviewing Nervous Candidates.”

Kazim Ladimeji  |  June 19, 2013  |

Monday, July 15, 2013

Can tablets handle business?

On 27 January 2010, Apple launched the iPad, and sparked something of a revolution in mobile computing. Tablets have since become the computer of choice for many people, and the consumer-oriented devices have increasingly found their way into business life.

Many companies have since been attempting to take a piece of the Apple pie by releasing various competing models, from the hundreds of Android devices on the market – sparking court cases galore – to a handful of Windows devices and the BlackBerry Playbook.

“The consumer purchases a tablet and goes into work, acting as a brand advocate,” says Ovum principal analyst Richard Edwards. “They use it in every other area of life, so why not work? That’s how Apple has got so much scale.”

IT departments are bracing themselves for an influx of mobile devices, which will put a strain on the corporate Wi-Fi network and potentially open up companies to data security issues. But tablets have been suited more to the consumption of media than as devices for the enterprise.

There is a general lack of business software, but Microsoft is about to introduce a new option for CIOs with its launch of Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT on 26 October. The new version of Windows is tablet-optimised and could bridge the gap between Windows-based desktop computing and tablet computing, which has previously been limited mainly to Android and iOS devices. Research from Ovum has found people would like to use Andoid and iOS devices at work.
“We’re almost giving up the desk to become very mobile” Rob Bamforth, principal analyst Quocirca
“We’re in a transitionary space right now, where we’re almost giving up the desk to become very mobile,” says Quocirca principal analyst Rob Bamforth. “But it’s still difficult to call whether people will prefer something entirely tablet-like or the legacy keyboard.” A number of hybrid devices have been launched recently, in the run-up to Windows 8, including HP’s Envy x2, Dell's XPS Duo 12, Toshiba’s Satellite U920T and the Archos Gen10 XS. These hybrid devices have both touchscreens and keyboards – the latter either detaches or flips around to turn the device into a slate. The launch of Windows 8 will undoubtedly cause a stir in the coming months, but will its software encourage business users to invest in Windows 8-based tablets? To investigate this question further, Computer Weekly has looked at three devices to see how Android, Windows 8 and iOS fit in the enterprise


Fujitsu Stylistic M532


The Fujitsu Stylistic M532 tablet runs the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS. It is aimed at professionals looking for a small (25.7cm), lightweight (560g) tablet that can be easily integrated into their company’s virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). The device uses a Tegra 3 T30S 1.4 GHz quad-core ARM processor.
According to Fujitsu, users of the M532 can securely access business applications, data and company intranets. It is built specifically to protect any sensitive company data against leakage and unauthorised access. “The full range of devices support mobile device management services. For example, we have a Fujitsu managed mobile service that enables IT departments to remotely install, update and wipe a tablet,” says Dave Shaw, product manager for Stylistic tablets at Fujitsu.

The supplier also ships the device with Absolute Computrace, which enables the M532 to be tracked and wiped remotely, even if the drive has been formatted, providing peace of mind to both the user and the company’s IT department. Available for £462, the device looks stylish, can be held in one hand, and features a highdefinition screen and 8.4 hours of battery life. In terms of storage, it includes 32GB of flash memory and is configured with 1GB of RAM. The M532 comes pre-installed with £100 worth of business applications, including Citrix VMware View, ThinkFree Office, ES File Explorer, and Norton Security with a one-year subscription.


Samsung 700T running Windows 8


Windows is likely to remain king of the enterprise desktop, laptop and PC market for the foreseeable future, but how well can it run on a tablet?

The Samsung 700T tablet is what used to be called a slate PC. Originally released in 2011, it is a full-blown 11.6in touchscreen PC without a keyboard. It is currently selling on Amazon for £766.
The 700T is powered by an Intel Core i5 2467M 1.6GHz processor, has 4GB of RAM and features a 64GB solid-state disk. The screen is high resolution with vibrant colours. With a bluetooth keyboard and wireless mouse, the Samsung 700T could easily replace a notebook PC. The included docking station, which measures 11x10x1.5cm and doubles as a stand, has an Ethernet connector and an HDMI port.
The device is well-suited to running the final shipping version of Windows 8, with its touchscreen user interface. As expected, with Microsoft ActiveSync, connecting the Samsung 700T to an Exchange email server takes seconds, which should not burden the IT support desk. It requires a Windows Live account and connects seamlessly to Hotmail and Gmail.

There are not yet enough applications in the Microsoft Store to assess the suitability of this Windows 8 tablet as an enterprise device, but more Windows 8 software is likely to be become available when the new OS ships in October. Weighing just under 1kg and with battery life of around four to five hours, it is certainly not a tablet that could be used on the road all day. But the Kindle app works well and the large screen makes reading in landscape format particularly comfortable. It will be interesting to see how the Samsung 700T works in a full enterprise environment, as and when virtual private network, anti-virus, enterprise resource planning and business intelligence software, and apps such as Citrix Receiver, are certified for Windows 8.


Apple iPad


The Apple iPad is clearly the king of the tablet world. Apple’s ringfenced, yet sophisticated, ecosystem has managed to lock millions of customers into buying through iTunes, which could prove a barrier if businesses want to develop their own custom iPad applications for employees.

Featuring a 1GHz dual-core ARM chip, reviewers and analysts have always championed the iPad as a fantastic piece of kit. However, even as a leader in the tablet market, the iPad has never been aggressively targeted at business users. It is the most popular tablet in UK businesses because people buy it for personal use and take it into work. Prices start at £399 for the basic model. Due to the extensive app store, there are plenty of features and applications that work really well and aid the iPad in its work duties. The iOS operating system supports ActiveSync for connecting to Microsoft Exchange, while Citrix Receiver and Wyse PocketCloud deliver a Windows desktop for the iPad. Enterprise applications such as Microsoft OneNote,, Sage and Oracle Expenses are available in the Apple AppStore.

Along with a variety of planning, note-taking, file-sharing and scheduling apps, the iPad can contend with many of the made-for-enterprise tablets on the market. Its biggest downfall comes from a lack of multi-screen technology, which is now available on Android operating systems. It can become quite convoluted switching between different applications and web pages – something fans hope will be fixed in a future upgrade of the operating system.

There is also an array of choice when it comes to Apple accessories. Cases with in-built keyboards can increase productivity, and many do the job well. However, with an already expensive piece of kit, this is an additional cost. Surely if typing on the iPad – or any tablet for that matter – is so difficult, an ultrabook or transformer model tablet would be a more convenient tool?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

We're Entering the Era when Machines will "Learn" and "Think"

As we enter into the third major era of computing, Cognitive Computing represents a whole new approach to solving complex data and information analysis problems.
Eric W. Brown, Director of Watson Technologies, IBM

Ninety percent of the world's data was created in the last two years, and we are rapidly approaching a point where more than 80 percent of it is unstructured, including all of those documents, videos and audio files flying around the internet. In fact, one of the greatest challenges facing most businesses is how to make effective use of these enormous and growing volumes of data, something we call big data. In the medical field alone, the amount of information is doubling every five years, yet healthcare providers have precious little time to keep up with all of this information.

To address these challenges, IBM is working on the next era of computing systems, or the third major era of computing, which is called Cognitive Computing, or systems that can "learn" or "think."

As the third major era of computing, Cognitive Computing follows the first era, which consisted of tabulating machines and the second, the era of programmable computers. Cognitive systems represent a whole new approach to solving complex data and information analysis problems, in three ways: They use deep analytics for huge amounts of data; they have learning capabilities that allow the system to automatically learn and improve over time; and, they have natural interfaces between humans and computers.

IBM's Watson system is one of the first systems built as a Cognitive Computing system. Watson applies deep analytics to text and other unstructured data sources to extract meaning from the data, and applies inference and reasoning to solve complex problems. As a first step toward Cognitive Computing, Watson expands the boundaries of human cognition by providing humans with fast, efficient access to relevant knowledge trapped in huge volumes of unstructured data. This capability can be used for complex problem solving, such as helping health professionals to treat patients.

How does Watson work?

Watson provides significant value by using hundreds of analytics that apply natural language processing, information retrieval, text analysis, knowledge representation and reasoning, as well as machine learning, to understand complex problems, generate possible answers, and evaluate evidence from unstructured data. This processing is inspired by how we as humans solve problems. At the same time, it provides a look into the future where Cognitive Computing systems will perform tasks that previously, only humans could do, thus freeing up humans to apply our immense cognitive capabilities for significantly more complex problems.

Think about it: in the programmable systems era of computing, people had to think and solve problems the way a machine processes information. For the first time, Cognitive Computing systems will begin to move beyond being blunt instruments of numbers and words to representing events in the real world. Machines are beginning to understand our world as we do. They will learn, much in the way we do: through the senses of sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch.

In this new era of computing, our machines will teach us and be taught by us. They will know the world through diverse inputs -- digital and organic -- for the purpose of helping people see through complexity, overcome bias, keep up with the speed of information and make better decisions. Cognitive computing is the driving force behind this change.

About the author of this Post

Eric W. Brown, Director of Watson Technologies, IBM
Eric W. Brown is the Director and Principal Investigator for Watson Technologies at IBM's T. J. Watson Research Center. Eric earned his B.S. at the University of Vermont and M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts, all in Computer Science.Eric joined IBM in 1995 and has conducted research in information retrieval, document categorization, text analysis, question answering, bio-informatics and applications of automatic speech recognition. Since 2007 Eric has been a technical lead on the DeepQA project at IBM and the application of automatic, open domain question answering to build the Watson Question Answering system. The goal of Watson is to achieve human-level question answering performance. This goal was realized in February of 2011 when Watson beat Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in a televised Jeopardy! exhibition match.