Monday, May 11, 2015

My Interviewing Process, because I trust everybody...

Over the years of interviewing people, I have realized that I am really not that great at judging talent.  Generally, I like too many people.  I trust that what they are telling me is true.  So this is the process I have developed over the years and why it works for me.

Post the Ad

I post my ads on Linked In.  It is my go to place for job postings.  Everyone in business uses Linked In.  OK, so people don't always USE Linked In, but at least many people have an account. 

When I write the ad, I try to mirror the company that they are going to work for.  We are not a large corporate organization that is a name everyone has heard before.  We are a small company, full of passion that needs people that really are going to work to help us succeed.  So I try to write the ad so people understand who they are applying with.

I then post that link on all my social channels to get the word out to a wider different audience.

Then I usually get 100 resumes to review.  Quick note: Great people need to be contacted quickly or they will get another job. 

Sorting the Candidates

So I review the candidates everyday.  I quickly sort them into 3 piles.  No's.  These are usually easy.  At least half of the candidates are NOT qualified and don't deserve a second glace.  Yes's.  These are people that I realize meet the criteria I have set for the job.  Finally, Maybe's.  These I put in because they are decent candidates.  They look pretty good.  They are not perfect, but I don't want to yet throw them in the dust bin.  If the interview pool is small, I will go back to the Maybe's.

First Interviews

I will email the yes's and ask them to call me the next morning at 9 AM and every 20 minutes thereafter.  I will give them my cell number.

So the next morning I will hopefully have a few interviews.  I schedule them in 20 minute increments; 9:00, 9:20, 9:40 etc.  I want them to call me to show me they can keep an appointment.  I schedule it quickly as I want to make sure they are responsive on email.  If they don't get my message until 10 AM the next morning, I likely don't want them to work for me.  My people need to check email regularly and respond promptly. 

When the candidate calls me, I thank them for calling.  Then I tell them we have 15 minutes.  In that time I would like them to explain their job history from the beginning of their career, reminding them I am looking at their resume.  Then, tell me what you know about Mirabella.  And finally, I will answer any question they might have.   In this I learn... Can the candidate follow simple instructions?

It is very interesting to see how they then react.  Do they actual go through their resume?  Or do they just talk about what they have been doing lately?  Can they remember the dates they worked at different companies (ideally, they are looking at their resume and walking me through it)?  At this time, I like to have them explain gaps in the resume.  I also like to see why they left each company and why they joined each company.  This can be very telling.  If they hated every boss, they are going to hate you too... eventually.

When they get done explaining their background, will they remember to tell me what they know about Mirabella?  It pains me to see how little preparation people do for interviews.  If all they know about Mirabella is what they can read on the "About Mirabella" section of my website, I am NOT impressed.  Today with the resources people have at their fingertips, even small companies can be researched.  They should find out more!

And finally, the questions they ask are very telling.

Are the questions they ask about the position well thought out?  Are they wanting to know about the company, its people, its products and its customers?  Obviously there is a big red flag if the questions are about money and benefits.  I will ask them their salary history at this point though.  I want to know if they will be in our range.  This also will give me an idea of what salary I will likely offer to them.  If the salary range is $40-60k and they have been making $120k, I don't want to waste their time going to the next step as they will likely NOT be happy to take a huge step down.  On the other hand, if they had been making $42k, I will not likely offer them $60k either. 

Second Interview-The Group Process

If I like them, I will schedule a follow up group interview in our company headquarters.  We will invite our management team plus people that may actually work for this candidate to be a part of this group process.  In this interview, I will generally ask the same first question again.  Tell us about your work experience from the beginning of your career until now.  Then I shut up and let the team interact with the candidate.

My team asks different and better questions than I do.  It is interesting to watch the candidate answer questions without having to think them up.  It is interesting to watch the candidate interact with the team.  Are they warn and engaging?  Do they fit culturally?

 At the conclusion of the interview, I instruct our team to NOT talk about the candidate to each other.  I want them to have a chance to see each of the candidates before speaking.

Once we have seen the candidates, I will get the team back together to evaluate each candidate individually.  Though you can get a little group think, I don't think you can get away from that.  So each person sounds off on their impressions of each candidate.  Once everyone has spoken, then we will have more discussions with individuals with differing opinions.  Often, one person might not like the way a candidate answered a certain question and that colors their opinion.  Many times people will be influenced by dress code or mannerisms.  None of these impressions are bad, it is just important for everyone to know WHY someone likes or doesn't like particular candidates.  We will do this with each candidate.

Then the real job begins.  We then try to determine if there is a candidate that everyone is comfortable with continuing.  Frankly, if just one person doesn't think they are a fit, I don't hire them.  If there are multiple people, great.  If there is only one candidate, I am nervous.


After we chose the candidate we want to pursue, I will call them for their references.  I want to talk to 3-5 people.  At least one of those candidate have to have been their boss at some point.  Before I call these references, I will ask the candidate what these people will likely have to say about them.  People are surprisingly forthcoming with this as they know I will actually be talking to the reference.

My experience in checking references is that people are generally very nice and polite about the candidate OR they are over the top excited about the person. 

If they are very nice and polite, the candidate is likely an average to poor performer.  If the reference goes on and on about the candidate, you have a winner!  It has NEVER happened to me that a candidate gives me a reference that said something negative.  But you need to read between the lines to get to the truth.

The biggest surprise to me about reference checks is how easy they are to do.  You always hear that large companies instruct their people to refer these to the Human Resource department.  Then the Human Resource department will give you only the basic facts about their employment.

But I have not had that be a detriment.  People are giving you references to people they like and that like them.  They will generally NOT stick you with Human Resources.

Next Steps

If I don't get a candidate that our team loves and the references love, I start the process over again.  Yes, it takes time, but it is easier to hire than fire.  Hiring the wrong person for your organization sets you back.  Hiring the wrong person hurts your culture.  Hiring the wrong person wastes the companies resources, not the least of which is the time of the team to train a mediocre person.

The best next step with any candidate is on-the-job interviews.  I would love a person to ride along with a salesperson, sit for a few hours with a customer service person, or work a trade show.  It is good for both parties to understand each other more and make certain there is a strong match.  
Mirabella at a Trade Show

We do this process for every candidate.  We want to make sure our customer service department team is as important as our Regional Managers by doing the same level of interviewing.

Even with this process, you make mistakes.  I encourage you to train everyone well.  Give them the best shot at success as you can.  If you realize you made a mistake, get rid of the wrong people quickly.  I know it hurts to be without a person.  But it is better to keep a strong culture with great people than allow a mediocre person that doesn't fit the culture to stay.

Hope this helps!

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Right Mindset for Successful Employment

Do you get paid what you deserve?  This is THE most difficult discussion I have with employees each year, compensation.  Honestly, as the boss, you can never win.  The employee always believes that they deserve MORE than I can reasonably offer to them.

Therefore, there is always this discontent.  At least one time per year during reviews.

Years ago I had an employee turn this conversation on its head.  It came after a very difficult salary negotiation.  Have you ever heard that during negotiations the first to speak losses?  Well, we were discussing the next year's salary on our drive out to a monthly meeting with our management team.  This 1 hour drive was completely silent.  Neither of us wanted to be the first to speak, and therefore lose the negotiation.

In the end he said something that is the perfect way to think as an employee.  He said, "You buy me for wholesale and sell me for retail." 

Your employer PAYS you at wholesale and the services you render for this employer is the retail price.  The difference between this wholesale price and the retail price is the profit the company makes on you.  The more you provide value to the company, the more you make because the company keeps becoming more profitable on your work.

I believe this to be true.  Therefore, the only way for an employee to make more money is to be more valuable to your employer, that is increase the retail price.  If your retail price continues to rise, you will get a raise or you will become so valuable some other company will pay you much more to join their firm.

So as an employee, you need to have the mindset that you have to continue to raise your retail price by providing more value to your firm.  How can you do that?  If you are in sales, it is obvious that you need to make more sales and more profitable sales.  If you are administrative, you need to find ways to do more work in less time, increase your efficiency.  If you are in management, your group needs to find ways to accomplish more with fewer man hours. 

This takes creative thinking all the time.  It means thinking about how and why you do each task.  Are you doing something that doesn't need to be done at all?  Are you doing something that if you took a class you could do it quicker with technology?

That is how you increase your retail price... and therefore increase your pay. 

Long term, it is NOT about negotiating a better salary!

Think of many of the Unions in our country.  They have served an amazing purpose for millions of Americans, my Father-In-Law was part of a Union for 40 years.  But in many Unions, the Union bosses negotiated such great deals for the employees, the company was not competitive.  Therefore, many contracts had to be renegotiated to the workers detriment.  This is an extreme example.

But consider this the next time you ask for a raise...

Monday, March 16, 2015

Command: Find Enjoyment in your Work

How many times have you heard the phrase "Enjoy your work and your never work a day in your life?"  We use this when talking to young people predominantly.  We are telling them, find a job that you LOVE, then you will have a fun and fantastic career.

The only problem with that is that work is often NOT fun.  In fact, work is often... work.  It is hard.  It is filled with pressure.  It is filled with dealing with sometimes impossible expectations.  And it is filled with long hours and uncertain results.

At a recent breakfast meeting of business leaders, Jonathan Rourke, a Pastor in San Diego challenged us from the words of Solomon.  Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 tells us to "find enjoyment in your it is from the hand of God."  Yes, a command to enjoy your work!  Oftentimes, we turn this on its head and say, find work you enjoy.

Finding work you enjoy is a lot of pressure.  How will you know what your job will really entail?  How will you know if the company is going to be going in the right direction?  You won't.

So hear the commandment from Solomon, the wisest man ever to live.  We have to enjoy our work... whether we have a bad boss, fulfilling work,  or difficult co-workers.
Mirabella team.  Yes, I'm the ONLY guy!

But HOW?

Jonathan challenged us to:
  • Repent-- we should ask forgiveness to our co-workers, boss or spouse about having a bad attitude.  Humble ourselves.  Realize this is EXACTLY where God has you RIGHT NOW!  So you must CHOOSE JOY!
  • Relationships-- perhaps you are here not for your OWN enjoyment, but you are there to encourage others!  Remember, it is not about US.
  • Redemption-- our job at work is to make order out of chaos.  That in itself should be fulfilling.  A job well done.  A job you have given your all to.
Often you hear people say that work is a curse from God.  But that is NOT true.  God had Adam and Eve in the garden assigned to care for the garden.  Care means work!

So, go have FUN at work.  Enjoy the journey of work.  Challenge yourself to do it to the best of your ability to make God proud.  

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Perfect Cancellation Policy

New York restaurants now have a new way to control no shows.  They are donating all last minute fees they receive from cancellations and no shows to The Robin Hood Foundation, an organization that is fighting poverty in NYC.

What a great idea!  How can patrons get upset about that?  Are they going to get mad at the restaurant?  Not anymore!  It is a clever way to handle a tough situation.

I spend my time in the salon industry.  Salons have this exact same problem.  But the stylists and owners have such amazing relationships with their customers, they don't want to punish them for disrupting the salons appointment scheduling.

But now they can do something proactively to solve a problem and help the industry!

There is a charity that does great work in the salon industry called The Beauty Bus.  Beauty Bus passionately believes that even in the face of life threatening and chronic illness, men, women and children, and their caregivers, deserve dignity, hope and respite through grooming and beauty services and pampering products.  

Salons, please do something for yourselves!!!  Initiate a charge for no shows or last minute cancellations.  Donate 100% of that money to those stylists in need through the great not for profit, The Beauty Bus!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Forgetful and 50

My wife and I were watching an older romantic comedy on TV the other night.  At the end of the movie, Judy looks at me and smiles saying "Do you remember that movie?"

"No" I say. 

She says, "We saw that movie when it came out!"

Hmm, I guess I am getting a bit forgetful.  All of us are.  One of my kids was relating a story from childhood.  But honestly, he doesn't likely remember the events, but the retelling of the story has kept it fresh in his mind.

As a Christian, I need a reminder too.  That is why I go to church every week.  I need to be reminded what I believe.  I need to be reminded how I am to live my life.  I need to be reminded what Jesus did for me.

But I am forgetful.  I need those reminders daily.  So that is why every morning I read my Bible and pray to God.  I need to be reminded of God's great promises, His story.  And by praying, I am reminded that I cannot do this life on my own.  I need His help, guidance, and blessing in my life.

Are you forgetful?  Try following this advice!

Monday, December 15, 2014

ROI- College Education

Indiana University

Yes, I went to Indiana University.  It is a beautiful and fun place to go to school.  During these years, I learned a ton about growing up, accounting, dealing with others and made some amazing life long friends.  Both Judy and I wanted this experience for our kids.  Thankfully we had the means, as did my father, of providing this education to my kids.  It didn't bankrupt my dad and it didn't bankrupt me.

But things have changed. 

Over these past years, the cost of education has continued to grow.  Now, it is feasible that a student would graduate with $100-200,000 in student loans.

Many kids have got to consider what they plan to do with this investment that they have to make in themselves.  Are they planning on becoming a teacher?  Do they want to do social work?  These are great careers and will provide great tangible and intangible rewards.  But will they be able to pay off these student loans?

Today, there are so many other ways for kids to get a degree (which I still think is important for many people) that are FAR cheaper than that traditional college step.  There are many on-line universities today that provide a high quality education.  And they do it at a fraction of the cost. 

I know that means not having the same experience as their parents and maybe their friends are having.  But in 10 years, while they are debt free and have purchased there first house... that friend is still not able to finish the loan repayment.  Much less consider buying a house!

Consider experiences to round out that education.  Take a year and go to China to teach English.  Go to Alaska and work on the fishing boats. 

As Apple says, Think Different!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Trade Shows- Why attend? How to attend?

I have been attending the Long Beach Hair Show since 1989.  Most of those years, this show was on Super Bowl weekend.  But as most attendees are female, it did not hurt the attendance. 

Since I sold my business, I have not exhibited at this show.  (Frankly, it has had some ebbs and flows in terms of its popularity.)  But this year it seemed to be well attended and the quality of the attendee seemed to be pretty good. 

As I talk to many different vendors throughout the show floor, each vendor sees the show completely differently.  Some vendors said the show was WAY down from last year.  Some vendors say it is the best show is years.  And others say that it was about the same.  The show organizer told me that the ticket sales over the past 3 years has been about the same.

So why the huge disparity from the vendors?  I would say it is because each vendor is at a different stage in their development.  Some companies are brand new to the show.  Some have been coming for years.  And some are still building a presence. 

For the new vendors, they have exciting booth presence, a solid product, and positive people working the show.  These vendors steal the show usually.

Existing vendors have already been seen by these regular attendees.  What makes them stand out and require attendees to look again?  They MUST have new items, new booth, or be constantly be renewing relationships with existing customers

The rest of the vendors just feed off of the traffic of the show.  Many of the vendors sell the same product for the same price.  The only thing that sets them apart is their booth location and the people behind the booth.  Unless you are in the business of doing trade shows, I see know reason to attend to see vendors like this.

But for me, each time I attend a trade show I learn.  In my 6 hours at the show, I likely had 60 conversations.  In each conversation I ask, what's new and exciting?  People would tell me about their brand, their personal life, or their customers.  After the show, I will follow up on a couple of solid product leads... that is new places for me to sell Mirabella.  Second, I will follow up with new relationships that I made.  Perhaps nothing will come for my business, but I can always learn from others.  It can give me a great or different perspective about the industry.

The only people that I hate to visit with are people who are stuck in a rut.  They act like nothing new is happening.  They think only negative thoughts of the future.  These people will drag you down! 

Personally, I like speaking with the people who are actually making new things happen.  I spoke to a manufacturer who was us 20% on the west coast... who had been selling out here for 20 years!  I spoke to a new brand that opened 150 new salons from the show last year... and expect to do even better this year.

Its all about your attitude isn't it?  If you hang around with a bunch of people that think everything is bad... it likely will be.  If you speak with people who are positive about the future, you will likely think the same.