My daughter, Katy, and I love to make cookies, especially when it is snowing outside and we have a process that we go through to make them. Melt the butter, sneak a few chocolate chips. Add the sugar and eggs, sneak a few chocolate chips. Add vanilla, baking soda, flour, etc. and of course, sneak a few chips. Then, you stir it all together to get the dough, which, you must taste! Sing a little to the song on the radio, do a little dance, put the dough on the pan, and put it in the oven. Dance a little more, try another pinch of dough until the cookies come out of the oven and eat one while it is really hot. It melts all over your hands and face! Giggle some more while you pour a much-needed glass of milk and voila! In addition to feeling a tad sick, you have made cookies and memories all in one day!
One time, however, we put baking powder in the dough instead of baking soda and it was a disaster! Another time, we forgot the eggs; and yet another time, we pulled the cookies out of the oven too late and they were burnt. If you miss a necessary step in baking, you will ruin the final cookie outcome.
The experience is the same when you are trying to hire the right person. There is a recipe for finding the right fit called the 7 Steps to Finding Great Employees: 1) Create your Ideal Candidate in your mind 2) Write the job description 3) Write the job ad 4) Review resumes and schedule candidates 5) First Interview 6) Second Interview and 7) Third Interview. When you miss one of these steps, it is like you burnt your beloved chocolate chip cookies… gut wrenching!
Cultivating your staff begins with hiring the best and you can’t do that if you leave out a part of the recipe. So pay attention, focus and be patient when hiring your next employee. Also, don’t forget to wipe the chocolate off your chin!
When Katy was a little girl, she loved to play with Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. Some of her creations were hilarious; an arm being in the ear hole, lips in the eye hole, or Mrs. Potato Head walking around on a hat instead of shoes. Part of the brilliance of that game is taking all of the parts and making a whole, no matter how it looks to someone else. Once, Katy dressed up Mrs. Potato Head with shoes, lips, 2 arms, 2 eyes, and… a mustache on her head. She looked up at me with those big blue eyes and said “Mommy, doesn’t Mrs. Potato Head look beautiful???”
Last week, I had a client who was getting really frustrated with the search we were conducting. He looked at me and said “If I could just take attributes from one candidate and put it with the skill set from the other candidate, I would be hiring someone today!” Although a frustrating feeling, this is good news. When you start to see what you want from an employee, even though it is in 2 people, your ideal candidate is right around the corner. All you need to do is piece together what is important to you, and that person will show up. It is indeed a beautiful thing.
After an interview with a really great candidate, my clients usually want to hire that person on the spot. They do not want to wait. They feel very strongly that they have waited long enough, and they want to get this person on board ASAP. While I completely understand their desires, I ask them to think about the interview for at least 24-48 hours. The reason for the waiting period is that your thoughts are really different outside of the interview, especially if you give your thoughts a chance to simmer. Think about it like you think about soup in a crock pot.
Similar to making a soup where you initially collect and prep all of your ingredients, a company preps by putting together an ideal list for the best candidate, writing a job description, writing a job ad, and posting the job. The job then simmers on the job boards as applicants begin to submit resumes, compared to the soup simmering in the crockpot. Then, the employers get the resumes and begin interviewing, like adding spices to the soup, continuing to let it simmer.
Throw in some vision and dreaming, your crock pot will make some pretty great soup. Eat the soup too early and the spices may have not soaked in yet. If you wait too long, the vegetables turn to mush, and the soup is not as good.
For the past 3 weeks, I have been racking my brain trying to figure out how being compared to a slobbery, atomic mutant reptile can possibly be a compliment… maybe I am bigger than life? Loud? Dry skin?
The more important concept to consider here is how an outburst like this might affect your customers. If she said this to an important client or a big donor, those potential clients might be unwilling to sign that contract that you are wanting them to sign. They might not want to do business with you. People have pulled their business away for a lot less than being called Godzilla.
Meanwhile, we will be looking for another candidate and I will be moisturizing heavily.
Last week, I was conducting some phone interviews with a client. On particular call, the interview was going really well until the candidate surprised me with a request: “Can I put you on hold and take this other call?”
“Uh, sure,” I mumbled. While I waited, listening to really bad background music, I contemplated this question: “Does this candidate really want THIS job?”
The resounding answer came to me. No, he really does not. If he really wanted the job that my client was offering, he would have ignored any and all calls, no matter who is calling him. At this point, nothing else matters; his skills, his experience, his ability to do the job – none of those count, because if he does not WANT the job, he is not going to DO the job.
The last thing that you want to do is hire someone who is not willing talk to you long enough to find out if this is the job for them or hire someone who is not absolutely thrilled to come and work for you.
So, put this job offer on hold, just like the candidate did to me, and wait for the right candidate to come along. They will come to you if you are patient. You will be SO glad that you waited!!!
I have read multiple articles recently about writing resumes, and the primary school of thought is that a candidate has 3 second to capture the attention of the hiring manager. The resume has to be easy to scan, because the hiring manager is looking at hundreds of resumes, and they will only look at the candidate for 3 seconds.
Did you know that the same is true for candidates looking at job ads? When a candidate is applying for jobs online, they will review a ton of job ads in one sitting, and apply to those jobs that sound appealing.
So how do you write a job ad that stands out? Here are a few tips:
1) Do not use your job description as your job ad. Usually job descriptions are long and tedious to read, so candidates will not spend the time to read it fully and completely. They will scan it, and you have 3 seconds to capture their interest.
2) Use your mission statement in the first line of the ad. Candidates want to know that their work is playing a part in something larger than themselves. They want to know that their work matters, so tell them WHY your company is doing what it does.
3) Keep it short. Begin with your mission statement, use a few bullet points to tell candidates what you are looking for, and then give clear instructions on how to apply. You can always give candidates more information as the interview process continues.
When you are writing your job ad, remember this is a marketing piece. Make the ad a direct reflection of the job, the mission and the values of your company. It is an invitation for them to apply, and you want the tone to be positive. At the end of the day, you only have 3 seconds….
When a client calls me to help them screen and interview candidates, they are usually in a hurry. They need me to get started today, and frankly, they really needed me to start 3 weeks ago. The “hurry up” syndrome is a common issue at A-list Interviews.
However, hurrying through the interview process never works. Making a bad hiring decision just to put a “butt in the seat” is always more costly than having a little patience and truly screen and interview until you find your ideal new employee. Robert Plotkin, who wrote “Preventing Internal Theft” says “It is better to operate short-handed for a period of time and rely on your existing staff to cover… than hiring someone unqualified or inappropriate for the establishment.” I could not agree more.
As painful as it may seem to wait for the right person to come along in your interview process, it is always way more painful to bring a person onboard who is the wrong fit for your company. Consider the other factors that are included in hiring a misfit for your organization: reduce efficiency and down time for training, morale within the organization, the customer experience of a person who is not in alignment with the company just to name just a few. And in the end when you bring in a new employee just to fill a position, the likelihood that you will end up back in the interview process within the six months is incredibly high.
Stick to our A-list motto of “find the right employee the first time” and you will save yourself more time, money and headaches than you can imagine. The right employee is always worth the wait.
While rocking my infant daughter years ago, I began instinctively doing what adults have done for centuries. I began singing lullabies to her.
When the wind blows the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby…”
And then I stopped.
I suddenly really listened to the words that I was about to sing! I thought to myself, “What kind of fool puts an infant in a cradle at the top of a tree and watches them fall?!” Horrified, I changed the words…
“…Right into Mama’s arms.’”
Ah…much better. My daughter was raised singing Rock-A-Bye Baby with a much better alternate ending. To this day, I am not sure that she even knows the original words to that song, which suits me just fine.
In the interview process, I teach people that the best skill to have is listening for word choice. I train them to stop, really listen to the words used by the candidate, and digest their meanings as they relate to the position for which we are hiring.
When you listen to the word choices of your candidate, they will tell you what you need to hear in order to make a great hiring decision. Word choices will expose blamers, know-it-alls, pass the buckers, and more.
When the interview is through, if you feel the candidate did not give you enough information, review your notes. The words you really need to listen for are in there. As an interviewer, your primary job is to pay attention to the word choices used by your potential employees. And be careful to not just hear what you want to hear. It truly means the difference between a decent employee and an A-list player. If any “boughs break” in your business, which would you rather have waiting at the bottom of the tree?
Last weekend, my 11 year old daughter Katy flew on an airplane BY HERSELF for the very first time. I was a nervous wreck! I had a hard time focusing on work…. I kept checking my phone to see if I had messages from her saying that she had landed safely. Katy, of course, was fine. In fact, she had a great time during her first solo flight and learned a valuable lesson in independence. I realized the more she can do for herself, the better equipped she will be in the future when dealing with unexpected situations.
Now you may ask what any of this has to do with interviewing. As I impatiently waited for the phone to ring, I had a realization that I need to provide my clients with the same level of independence. While I certainly adore helping each of my clients interview for their next great employee, I also realize that I need to get them better prepared to do interviewing all by themselves. Again, the more prepared they are in their businesses, the easier it is to handle unexpected personnel issues.
In the past, my typical process was to create and submit job ads, help develop job descriptions, vet interview candidates, schedule interview times, and then perform the actual interviews in front of my client. We would then do a “dash board” review in between interviews to uncover what we learned from each candidate, based on speech patterns, phrasing, and responses to my A-list candidate questions. Rarely, did I actually hand the interview process over to my client. They have certainly learned from the experience as 91% of the time, they retained the ideal employee they were seeking. But I realize that my mission with A-list Interviews is to transform the world through the interview process to create happy, healthy work environments for all. This cannot be achieved until I give my clients the gift of independence by empowering them to run effective interviews long after I am gone.
From now on, I will be including a hand over process where I will be teaching my clients how to interview by themselves through the program I have developed called “7 Steps to Amazing Employees”. I have seen this program work successfully in all walks of business so I am excited to help my clients develop their own comfort levels around the actual interview process. Now when they fly solo, I will still be a nervous wreck because I really want my clients to succeed, but I will know that I set them up for success and the world will be transformed through the interview process by hundreds of interviewers, not just me. And there is no better feeling than that!
I was meeting with a new client to discuss the possibility of hiring their “right hand” person. As I do with every client, I asked her to dream big. “If you could have any person that you wanted for this job, who would they be and what would they know?” Do you know what she said? “I want them to be punctual.”
When you make a bad hire, you say to yourself, “Well, I can work with this employee if only they do xyz.” Then, xyz doesn’t happen. Then, you say to yourself, “If only they will do abc, then I can work with that.” Of course, abc isn’t going to happen either. The next thing you know, you are just wishing for someone to be punctual.
So, what if you changed the word punctual to “Committed”? If someone is committed to the job and committed to the company, then they will be punctual.
I dare you to dream big around your next hiring decision. Think roses and rainbows, to infinity and beyond. Conduct effective interviews and you will find your dream employee!