How Would They Handle An Irate Customer?

Listen to the Hiring Tip Here

This is a great question for those applying for a position that involves regular contact with customers.

But instead of having your applicant simply answer it, why not see how they would actually handle it.

There’s nothing like a live exercise to find out how skilled someone is, right?

So, let’s set the scene:

“Sarah, you’re going to be the store manager in this live exercise. I’ll be Mary, a very upset customer who has just come over to you demanding her money back. She’s loud and you can see she’s having an effect on the other customers in the store.”

And then do your best to give a realistic display of what this irate customer might say and see how Sarah responds.

I understand each store may have their own refund policy, and if you want to briefly describe yours to Sarah to make this exercise more realistic, that’s not a bad idea.

Observing how Sarah would apply a store policy would be helpful, but the main thing you want to see in action are Sarah’s “people skills.” How does Sarah defuse this irate customer so that the other customers aren’t negatively affected AND so that Sarah feels she’s being genuinely attended to.

You could do several versions of this. I would suggest starting off by making it fairly easy for Sarah and then make tougher each time. Maybe you start crying at the end and see how Sarah deals with that.

Just suggestions, folks. The purpose here is to observe your applicant in action and handling what is likely one of the more difficult situations he or she will encounter.

You might learn more about Sarah in 10-15 minutes of this kind of live exercise than you might in hours long interviews without the live exercise.

To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.

If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.

Let’s See What You Can Do!

Hiring Show and Tell
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This tip is similar to an earlier one, but I wanted to give it a different spin here.

Let’s give your applicant a very specific assignment and have him carry it out as part of the hiring interview.

A few examples:

Have a customer service candidate review how customers are handled from pre-sale all the way through to fulfillment and follow-up and have the candidate write up how this could be improved.

If someone is applying for the collections position, do a bit of role playing. Have the candidate go down the list and attempt to collect the amounts from you.

Sales is another great position for role playing. Describe a few different selling scenarios and have the candidate take you from start to finish of the sales process.

For some of these, you could even include a time element, say 30 or 60 minutes.

A smiling candidate with a well-rounded résumé is a good start. A candidate who performs right in front of you will take you considerably closer to hiring the right person.

To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.

If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.

How Long Do You Wait For the Right Person?

the right person

Listen to the Hiring Tip Here

We all know how important it is to hire the right people.

We try to be thorough.

We go through résumés with a fine tooth comb.

We do background checks.

We talk to previous employers if we can.

We interview people once, twice and even 3-4 different times.

We use employee tests to help us learn more about the candidates.

If you’re not using any employee tests, give this three minute video a watch.

But, in the end, we’ve got to make a decision.

If we’re not certain we’ve got the right person, what do we do?

I’ve spoken with many employers and HR people over the years. They are usually working with two pressures:

  1. The pressure to get someone hired and doing the work that needs to be done.
  2. The pressure to hire the right person so that one or two months later, they’re not going through the whole process again.

So that restates the subject of this hiring tip:

How long do we hold out for the right person?

Let me state the obvious: It depends on the specific circumstances of each hire.

If the position has to be filled yesterday and its lack of being filled is adversely impacting the bottom line, then you may be in the compromise business and willing to hire someone who is “good enough.”

If you feel you have considerably more time to get the right person, then you stay at it longer.

And there are many shades of gray in between these two scenarios.

Some of us entertain concerns like:

  • “I don’t even know if the right person is out there!”
  • “I could be at this forever and not get the person I really want.”
  • “If I hire this guy and he doesn’t pan out, I’m okay on going through this entire process again. And again. And again. I’m going nuts here, I’ve got to fill this position.”

So, do I have any sage advice for you?

Well, I recall a customer who needed a front desk person hired. It was a key position. The position was responsible for handling phone reaches and walk up traffic. If the person holding this position is sharp, he converts those prospects into buyers. It was a relatively small business, so the position had to have someone really good.

This customer was using our testing service and the first two candidates were so-so, both from his point of view and from the point of view of the test results.

After he tested the third candidate, he called to tell me how much he loved this third person. He went on and on about his résumé and his experience. He was gushing. But he also knew the test scores weren’t all that great. One test in particular indicated the candidate had considerable difficulty following instructions.

I wasn’t going to tell him to hire the person or not hire the person, I just wanted to make sure he knew there was quite a red flag with the subject of following instructions.

He went quiet for awhile on the phone and I asked him what he wanted to do. He told me he wasn’t sure and we ended the phone call.

A few days later another set of tests came in. The scores were very good and my customer called to tell me he LOVED this person as well. We talked about it some and he was happy to now have a person who met his needs and also tested out well.

I asked him a bit of a self-serving question. I asked him if he were not using our testing service, would he have pulled the trigger on the third candidate?

He said he most definitely would have. But he went on to say, “Stan, there’s another piece to this. I bumped into the guy’s previous employer and all he would talk about was how much difficulty he had with the guy following instructions.”

So, I realize this story is a nice plug for our testing services, but it also makes a point. He hung in there to get the right person and he succeeded.

Sometimes you need a little help to hire the right person.

Sometimes it takes believing that person IS out there.

To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.

If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.

Is Your Hiring Interview a One Way Street?

Listen to the Hiring Tip Here

Our purpose in the hiring interview is to find out as much as we can from our applicant. And we normally do this by asking various questions about their experience and hard skills and ideally we take some time to inquire about their soft skills.*

Normally this information is acquired through a “one way line of questioning.”

Let’s broaden this out a bit. Find out what the applicant wants to know about you.

Now a good number of interviewers will do this but the point of this hiring tip is to see just how far you can go with this approach.

Instead of asking Alice, “What would you like to ask me about working here?” you might handle this a bit more directly:

“Alice, I’m sure you have a list of questions about our company. Let’s get started with those.”

You really do want Alice to ask away. The more questions she asks you, the more insight you’ll gain.

If Alice is not prepared to ask you anything, you could nudge her along with:

“Well, I imagine you’d like to ask me about the company culture and what it’s like to work with the staff here.”

Then just sit there silent and await her response.

If you’ve mentioned pay but not in great detail, you could ask, “Did you want to ask about overtime or any off hour requirements we may have?”

Again, just ask and await an answer.

In Alice’s defense, her lack of curiosity may simply be that she is accustomed to the interview being a one way street. But she should want to know if the company is a good fit for her. She’ll find out some of that from your questioning but she’ll find out considerably more if she’s pro-active in the interview.

And the flip side of that is Alice may indeed have a shopping list of questions to ask. Let her ask away.

The more back and forth you have, the more you’ll learn.

* soft skills: personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.

To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.

If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.

How Well Do They Collaborate?

Revised workload

Listen to the Hiring Tip Here

I was listening to a podcast earlier today about different business strategies and the subject of collaboration came up. After working with quite a few companies, the speaker concluded this was a weak link for many of them.

He felt that perhaps some of this was due to the original formation of the word itself.

“Collaborate” had as one of its earlier or perhaps earliest meanings: “to cooperate with the enemy.” I recall from various stories and movies about World War 2, a collaborator was someone who helped the Germans in various countries they had invaded.

Well, I’m not so sure this earlier definition would be a reason that people in today’s workplace might have a difficult time working with others.

But the ability to work with others IS an important quality to look for when hiring.

A business can grow nicely or be severely held back solely on the amount of cooperation that occurs amongst its individuals and groups.

Does the marketing department work well with the sales department and vice versa? Or do they give each other lip service and just go about doing things the way they want to. Or worse, are they at odds because each department “knows best”?

But let’s concentrate here on one person’s ability to collaborate: your applicant.

How well can she work with others?

Does she work well with others because management wants her to, or because she herself believes it’s the best way to get things done?

Let’s find out.

“Alice, tell me about a couple of projects you’ve done at previous companies that required a considerable amount of collaboration on your part.”

Or, “Frank, tell me about a time when you observed something was not going to get done on time or was not going to get done very well unless you personally cooperated with the others involved at a much higher level than you are used to.”

Of course, you’ll want to listen for what Alice and Frank did that showed they were actually working WITH other people.

But you want to be listening for something more. You want to see if Alice or Frank felt they were making things succeed because of their personal involvement OR if they really understood the value of working WITH other people as the compelling force at work.

And maybe even one more thing to keep your radar tuned for: did they enjoy the collaboration?

If your applicant feels collaboration is a valuable means of getting things done and if they genuinely enjoy doing so, well, I’d say you’ve got a keen insight into a potential employee.

Would you agree?

To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.

If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.

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