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!