6 Answers To Your Health Care Reform Questions

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How are health insurance rates being affected by health care reform? Now that the notices have been sent and exchanges have launched, what's next for employers? Here are six (6) answers to commonly asked questions on health care reform currently.

1. How are health insurance rates being affected by health care reform?

Currently, health insurance rates have been only modestly affected by health care reform, although this trend is not expected to continue. A 2013 survey conducted by Towers Watson reports that the average total cost of health care is projected to rise by 5.2% in 2014, while a survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers shows an expected 6.5% increase. Most national surveys have been reporting stable costs (if not slightly lower) from 2012, and our surveys of local employers have also seen stable and slightly lower average premium increases from the last few years.
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50 Sample Interviewing Questions for Employers

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50 Sample Interview Questions for Employers examples of behavioral interview questions interviewing questions for employers

When conducting interviews, it's helpful to not only develop standard interview questions unique and specific to each position's requirements, but also to compile a bank of questions for critical competencies common to many jobs that you can choose from for your interviews.

Such competencies include a number of soft and analytical skills including critical thinking, judgment, decision-making, initiative, risk taking, creativity, diligence, resilience, communication, conflict management, time management, supervision, among others. Many of these are relevant to a number of jobs.

We've compiled a list of 50 common interview questions, mostly behavioral in nature, which you can use to interview your job candidates.

  1. Tell me about a time when you were creative in solving a problem.
  2. Give me an example of a time when you found an innovative or a new and better way of doing something on the job.
  3. Describe an idea that came to fruition because of your efforts. What was your role? What was the outcome?
  4. What is the biggest risk you've ever taken at work? What happened?
  5. Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
  6. Give me an example of a time when you used good judgment when solving a problem.
  7. Give me an example of a difficult decision you had to make at work in the last year.
  8. Give an example of a time when you had to make a decision or come to consensus in collaboration with others.
  9. Tell me about a time when you had to make an unpopular decision. What was the outcome?
  10. Describe a problem at work that you were unable to solve. Why couldn’t you solve it?
  11. Explain a situation in which you needed to successfully convince or influence someone to accept your viewpoint.
  12. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a coworker.
  13. Discuss a situation in which you had to work with a frustrating coworker and how you worked with them.
  14. Tell me about a time when you dealt with a difficult team member on a project or task.
  15. Describe a negotiation you were involved with. What did you do and what were the results for you and the other party?
  16. Explain a time when you had to motivate others to achieve certain results. What did you do?
  17. Give me an example of a time when you had to change your behavior or work style to effectively work with others.
  18. Describe a situation when you had to change your style or actions to respond to someone else's needs.
  19. Tell me about a crisis that you had to handle at work. How did you respond to the crisis?
  20. Describe a time when you had to communicate sensitive information to others. How did you communicate this information?
  21. Explain a time when you had to adjust to a change over which you did not have control.
  22. Discuss a time when you encountered a difficult obstacle that you had to overcome on the job. What steps did you take? What was the result?
  23. Tell me about a project that did not go as planned.
  24. Tell me about a work-related decision you made or a situation you handled where, if you could do it again, would do something different.
  25. Tell me about a time when you felt like giving up on a certain job or task.
  26. Describe a time when you encountered a stressful situation at work.
  27. Give me an example of when you made an unusually positive impression on a customer.
  28. Describe a time when you had to deal with an upset customer.
  29. Tell me about a specific project or task that you were involved with that resulted in improving something in your department and/or organization.
  30. Tell me about a time when you had to analyze information, identify issues, and develop a plan to solve a business problem.
  31. Describe a time when you had to present a plan or proposal to an authority figure and did it successfully.
  32. Tell me about a time when you compiled and/or wrote a report that was well-received. What attributes of the report led to the positive outcome?
  33. Give an example of a time when you had to analyze information and make a recommendation. How did you go about this? What were the results?
  34. Explain a time when you needed to step into a situation, create support, and achieve results.
  35. Tell me about task you did at work in which you had no experience. How did you address your inexperience?
  36. Describe a situation where you had to learn something new. What steps did you take?
  37. Describe how you have developed others in the past.
  38. Explain a time when you had to instruct or train someone on how to do a task. How did you go about this?
  39. Explain a situation when someone asked you for help outside of your job.
  40. Describe a situation when you had to coordinate or manage a project. What steps did you take to ensure that the project met its goals?
  41. Describe a task that you had to accomplish without any direction.
  42. Tell me about a time when you delegated a project or task effectively.
  43. Give me an example of a goal you set that you reached successfully.
  44. Tell me about a time when you exceeded your manager’s expectations.
  45. Give me an example of a time when you had to go above and beyond your usual duties to accomplish a task.
  46. Describe a time when you had to balance multiple conflicting priorities and did so effectively.
  47. Provide an example of a situation when you prioritized elements of a large project or initiative.
  48. Tell me about a time when you faced an unreasonable deadline and how you handled it.
  49. What work accomplishment are you most proud of?
  50. If I was to contact your previous manager, what would they say about you?

These sample interview questions can help you identify how a candidate would act in real life work situations based on how they have acted in the past on many general competencies. But be sure to supplement these with questions that evaluate specific competencies you are looking for and the essential skills you would like your ideal candidate to have. 

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The 20 Craziest Interview Questions We've Heard

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Some employers are taking interviewing to an entirely different level by asking job candidates creative, outside of the box, seemingly absurd, but effective and unique interview questions during the hiring process. The following are 20 of the craziest questions we’ve heard of that are asked in interviews at companies like Google, Marriott, Bain & Co., and Mastercard.

  1. If you were to get rid of one state in the U.S., which would it be and why? (Forrester Research)
  2. How many golf balls can fit in a school bus? (Google)
  3. Why are manhole covers round? (Google)
  4. How many quarters would you need to reach the height of the Empire State building? (JetBlue)
  5. What do you think about when you are alone in your car? (Gallup)
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3 Frequently Asked Questions about FLSA

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Employers usually have a number of questions about the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which governs wage and hour rules - when and how employers are obligated to pay employees for time worked or not worked under law. Here are answers to 3 frequently asked questions about issues related to FLSA.

1. Can we dock exempt employees' pay?

Some employers seek to dock or withhold pay as a disciplinary measure for exempt employees, particularly for reasons such as absenteeism, tardiness, or performance. Under FLSA, however, employers may not reduce an exempt employee's pay for showing up late, leaving work early, or because they did not perform the quality of quantity of work expected of them. Other guidelines regarding the docking of exempt employees' pay include:

  • If your organization has a written paid sick time, paid leave, or other time off policy, it may reduce the employee's sick or paid leave account for absences due to illness, injury, or medical appointments. 
  • Once an employee's sick or paid leave account is exhausted for these absences, you must pay employees for partial day absences unless they qualify under FMLA and are using intermittent leave. 
  • If your organization does not have a sick or paid leave policy and it is implied that employees receive pay for their absences, it cannot deduct pay for full or partial day absences for exempt employees.
  • Exempt employees who are new to the organization and not yet eligible to receive holiday or vacation pay, should generally be provided with it, given these above guidelines.

There are situations where your organization has the ability to dock or reduce pay of exempt employees, such as if they did not work some days during their first or last week of employment, were absent for an entire week, or received an unpaid disciplinary suspension. Deducting pay for exempt employees is usually permissible under these circumstances, however, you can only dock pay if employees are not working (i.e. not checking email, voicemail, etc.) in these situations.

2. For what time do we need to pay non-exempt employees?

Unlike exempt employees who are paid to complete a job, non-exempt employees only need to be paid for time worked, so naturally, the issue of what constitutes "working time" for non-exempt employees is a common question and issue employers face. Job-related or required training, department or staff meetings, and time spent on work travel are all considered working time for non-exempt employees and must be paid. This even includes seminars, training, or meetings on job-related topics held after hours.

In addition, unauthorized working time may also be considered time worked. Even though an employer may not specifically authorize an employee to work, non-exempt employees must be paid for all work they complete. For example, if a non-exempt employee works at home off-the-clock on their own accord, that time must be considered hours worked even though the time was unscheduled. Additionally, if an employee starts work early or stays late, that time must also be paid. Non-exempt employees must be paid for all hours worked.

Employers are increasingly facing this issue when non-exempt employees access work at home, such as via electronic devices like a Smartphone. For example, if a non-exempt employee sends an email to another employee outside of work hours, they are entitled to be compensated for the time spent responding to that email.

3. Is this job exempt or non-exempt?

Employees exempt from both the minimum wage and overtime pay requirements not only include those that fall under the Department of Labor's  exemptions for executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, and certain computer professionals, but seasonal employees who are employed at certain seasonal amusement or recreational establishments also fall under those exempt from these provisions. Correctly classifying employees as exempt or non-exempt can be tricky given the many guidelines for exemptions.

Terming employees "hourly" or "salaried" can commonly lead to issues of misclassification. Salaried employees are not automatically "exempt" and hourly employees are not automatically "non-exempt." Also, a professional, highly-skilled, or managerial-related job tile (such as engineer, analyst, administrator, or supervisor) does not sufficiently guarantee exemption. Employers need to evaluate employees' specific job duties (regardless of how they are paid) and their job title to determine exemption status, as well as use specific tests to determine their status.

Outdated job descriptions can commonly lead to issues with FLSA compliance so it's important to regularly update them, determine their accuracy, and conduct FLSA audits or evaluations to determine if a job is exempt or not. Job descriptions should accurately depict what an employee actually currently does in the position because they are the most crucial element to deciphering a position's FLSA status according to exemption tests.

FLSA is a difficult and complex law to administer in the workplace, and as a result workplace violations are easily made. Understanding the common pitfalls faced by other employers, however, can help your organization stay compliant with the law's many provisions.

Please note that by providing you with research information that may be contained in this article, ERC is not providing a qualified legal opinion. As such, research information that ERC provides to its members should not be relied upon or considered a substitute for legal advice. The information that we provide is for general employer use and not necessarily for individual application.