Let’s See What You Can Do!

Hiring Show and Tell
Listen to the Hiring Tip Here

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.

How Do They Handle Unpredictability?

Tough job interview

Listen to the Hiring Tip Here

Day-to-day business life can often be very hectic. We’d like to have things orderly and predictable, but it’s just not always going to be that way.

The famous heavyweight boxer, Mike Tyson, once said, “Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.”

Well, business life tends to punch us in the mouth every so often. Some of us can handle that very well, others not so much.

So, let’s find out how a candidate might deal with uncertainty or unpredictability or even getting punched in the mouth.

Start the Interview 30 Minutes Late

Then ask the applicant why he’s 30 minutes late?

Okay, I even winced a bit writing that, but you’ll get an immediate idea of how your applicant handles opposition or a challenge.

Will the applicant buckle and, to keep the peace, say, “Oh, sorry for being late.”

Or will he hold to his notion that he was on time and you’re late.

Will he get flustered, even a bit upset?

Whatever happens, you’ve thrown a curve his way and you’re getting a first hand look at how he handles it.

Ask Her the Same Question Over and Over

Again, I’m wincing (come on, I am human), but this is another example of deliberately trying to fluster our applicant.

Here’s an example:

You ask Carol to tell you about her last employment. Carol gives you a good report on that. You move on to a few other parts of the interview and then ask, “Okay, Carol, why don’t you tell me about your last employment?”

Again, you discuss other aspects of the job interview and then, “Carol, tell me about your last employment.”

Now, that’s the third time asking about her last employment. The second time, she probably thinks that you forgot that you already asked or perhaps you want to know more about that time period, but a third time? What gives?

Do we dare and go for a fourth time?

I’ll leave it to you, but you get the idea. We’re challenging Carol’s poise, and we want to see how she responds.

Will she keep her cool and answer professionally?

Or will we see something less than professional.

Challenge Her Answers

This is probably one of the toughest hiring tips I’ve written. By now, I’m sure you understand why.

We’ll stay with Carol on this.

Carol tells you that she’s very skilled at handling a management position. She feels she has excellent leadership qualities.

Your response could be:

“I don’t think that’s true.”

And then say nothing. Wait until Carol responds.

She’ll likely ask you why you feel that way.

You could say, “Well, I just don’t sense you’re telling me the truth.”

I won’t begin to tell you what may happen next, but be prepared for just about anything.

And of course, be sure to keep your cool all the way through this kind of interview.

Life in the business world can move along smoothly until a customer comes up to us and calls us a liar or demands their money back right now, right now or yells at us in front of five other customers.

Or a supplier tells us they can’t deliver that item you urgently needed this morning until you pay your bill and you know the bill is fully paid. The supplier has got to hang up now and attend his daughter’s wedding, so you won’t be able to supply the evidence that the bill is paid until after the wedding and the reception! Way too late for you.

When these circumstances punch us in the mouth, we’ve got to have staff who can calmly and effectively do what’s needed.

If you’re hiring for a position that requires considerable poise in the face of daily challenges, you might consider this tip during the hiring interview. It will likely not be a boring interview.

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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