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.
My daughter, Katy and I were having a girls’ night in recently, complete with the Texas Longhorn football game, pajamas and of course, pizza. I asked her if she wanted to ride in the car with me to go pick up our food, and she enthusiastically agreed. Appearing to be ready to leave, she had on her pajama shorts, fuzzy purple slippers and her fleece peace sign jacket. I said “Its 49 degrees outside. You might want to change your pants.” So, she did. When she came out of her room with her chocolate brown moose p.j. bottoms, she looked at me, looked down at her pants, and giggling said “This does not match! Now I have to change my shirt!” After that, she had to change her jacket, until finally; we left to go get dinner. We laughed hysterically about the change of clothes from the bottoms up!
Many of my clients look at hiring in exactly the same way as my daughter got dressed. They react to the circumstances as opposed to having a plan. When the pants leave, we will make the new pants work with the old shirt, even though the materials are all wrong and the outfit doesn’t suit the occasion. With just a bit a planning, changing your pants doesn’t have to ruin your whole outfit. So, how do you plan to avoid wardrobe mismatches?
Here are a few tips:
First: Take the time to look at your entire outfit. Before hiring people, who do you need and why do you need them? Look at the vision for your company. Where are you going? What type of skills and people will get you there? Think big. Then define your ideal candidate on paper.
Second: Write the job description. Re-write the past version if you have one. Do not just reuse the old one. What worked before may not work now. Look at the position from a new perspective and re-create it. You have a golden opportunity to transform this role.
Third: Pull it all together when writing your ad. This is where you put the finishing touches on the position. Invite people to apply by sharing your vision, the ideal person description and technical skills required. Make it appealing to attract the person you are seeking.
To capture the attention of candidates, your presentation of your company is key. Be prepared. Make sure that the ideal candidate list matches the job description, which in turn matches the ad. It’s the entire outfit that makes the difference, not only to the candidate, but also ensures that you hire the right fit. Don’t just change your pants! Create a whole new look!
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?
With sweaty palms and a dry cotton mouth, Jane Smith opened the door and walked in. She approached the greeter and requested to meet with a certain person. She checked her hair and makeup in her hand mirror and then tried desperately to calm her nervous stomach. When she looked up, she saw the person that she was meeting, and she took a deep breath. “Here we go,” she thought. Is this a date or a job interview?
On the outside, the excitement of the first meeting, nerves and newness of it all give the interaction of an interview compared to a date an appearance of being the same. Candidates are in a vulnerable state when they walk into a job interview and going on a first date can produce similar feelings of vulnerability. But are they the same?
The largest difference between a date and a job interview is the power of the interviewer over the candidate. The interviewer decides when the interview will take place, its location, time of day, the agenda, whether there will be a second interview, whether the candidate gets the position and whether the candidate receives a “no thank you” for not retaining the position. All of the power sits with the employer. In dating, the 2 people come to the table as equals.
This power difference is why employers struggle with interviewing. They are often as uncomfortable with the power differentiation as the candidate, unsure of how to get around an environment that brings about one individuals desire to please and the others role to choose. Their sole desire is to make a good assessment for their next hire, yet candidates are just telling them what they want to hear. And of course they are! They are trying to find a job and willing to bear sweaty palms!
Peyton Manning is in and Tim Tebow is out.
First, when making a good hiring decision, a boss must ask this question: Can I work with this person? Both Tebow and Manning have solid reputations for being workable, and in this era of cranky celebrities, this is point for both of them.Was this a good hiring decision? Only time will tell.
Second, the next question is can they do the job? While Tebow has been somewhat inconsistent last year, so has Peyton Manning. While Manning has experience on his side, he is also injured and set in his ways. What happens if he gets injured again?
Third, is the candidate passionate about the job? Manning is a little crusty around the edges. He is older and he was a leader in the lockout with the NFL. Tebow loves the game of football. He is energetic, passionate and needs some coaching.
My vote? Hire Manning to train Tebow. Now you have experience coupled with passion and healthiness. That is a winning combination.
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!
Last fall, I recounted a story about “The Winker,” an inappropriate event that occurred during one of my interviewing sessions. A female candidate had winked at my client during the interview process, making him feel very uncomfortable. Although the candidate was very qualified, we did not hire her because of the discomfort experienced by all who were involved. Well, folks, you won’t believe this, but I had another instance of a winker at the interview table! Not only did she wink at my client, but the top button of her blouse popped open!
I cannot stress enough than an interview is not the time or the place for sexual overtures and “Janet Jackson” style uniform malfunctions. As an interviewer and coach, I certainly see inappropriateness from both men and women. Remember, if you are the employer and uncomfortable in any way about a candidate, listen to your discomfort, regardless of how qualified the candidate may appear. This type of behavior in an interview could be a sign of things to come, including a sexual harassment suit.
Last summer, I was knee deep in the interviewing process for one of my clients. We had been through several candidates looking for the perfect A-list player for their team. The last interview of the day looked incredibly promising! The woman who sat across form us was qualified, both technically and culturally. As the candidate began asking her questions, she leaned over and winked at my client!
In my line of work as an interviewer, I see way more sexual inappropriateness from women than I do from men. If you as the employer are uncomfortable in the interview, then you will really be uncomfortable when they are on your payroll, no matter how “qualified” they are.