While in college I attended a Presbyterian Church and later was asked to serve part time as their youth director. Growing the youth program over the years, the part time job eventually led to a full time position. [Two steps forward] After seven total years working at the church, it was time to move on and I needed to interview for a new job. The church had changed pastors and my youth program was not on her agenda. #ChurchLife
So I began interviewing for jobs, reading all of the Interviewing for Dummies types of books, and practicing my interview skills. I had researched the best questions to ask as a candidate that would demonstrate my thoughtfulness and desire to have the job. I was polished at answering all the, “Would you rather work by yourself or as a team member,” or the “What would you say is your greatest strength and weakness” type of questions. I would say I kind of became an expert interviewee. Unfortunately I was also interviewing for a few jobs I had no desire to have [One step backwards] for the sake of experience.
Over the years, I started getting the jobs I wanted, climbing the proverbial ladder and honing my ability to prove I deserved the next job, the better pay, or the promotion. I continued researching the best ways to GET the job I wanted. Then I bought my own business and now I needed to interview to find the perfect employee. And what seemed like, suddenly, I now had to evaluate the talent from the other side of the desk. Now I had to decide if the candidate was being honest, if they could work both alone and as part of a team. To be honest, at first I hated being the lead in the interview dance.
That was, until I began intentionally implementing 3 important components into my job fulfillment:
– Hire the person – not the product knowledge
– Commitment to diversity
– Prayerful consideration
HIRE THE PERSON – NOT THE KNOWLEDGE SET
In my book, The Ten Commandments of #SuccessWithoutApology, I mention the line my friend Shari used when interviewing me in 2005. She told me, “I will teach you the product on the shelf, that is the easy part. I cannot teach you how to build relationships and handle difficult situations, which I have seen you do.” From that interview, I have always reminded myself – hire the person, teach them the products. When I am hiring for the boutique or interviewing stylists for the salon, I always evaluate the person’s integrity, trustfulness, dependability, and character first.
When I interview someone, I am curious about them as a human. I begin most interviews asking seemingly mindless and irrelevant questions about them as a person, student, mother, role model, etc. I ask about their one year goals for themself. I love to ask them about their favorite places to shop (remember I am interviewing for a boutique) and why they love shopping in those places.
I love to ask questions that forces them to process emotions in real time. I want to understand their natural reactions to situations, what excites them and what bothers them. This is an interview trick I observed most with Tony. He had this way of interviewing you without ever asking a single typical interview question. Yet, he tended to hire great, complimentary people who would stretch themselves to their full extent to be the best employee possible. His people learned the skills, but they proved themselves as people.
COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY
I believe my earliest hiring mistakes where when I tried to hire people whom I thought were just like me. (Duh, who needs more of me at the office – no one!) But I would think their work ethic looked like mine or their approach to multi-tasking was similar to mine; therefore, we would work well together. I could not have been more wrong. I have learned over the years how diversity is so key to a workforce.
I need people much more structured than me, people who work slower than me, people who see the world differently than I do. I need people on my team who are passionate about different things. I need people surrounding me who are older and younger. I believe the greater the diversity, the better chance of handling adversity.
The third, yet most important component to my interviewing policy is to give both the candidate and myself time to prayerfully consider the job opportunity – after I have already decided that I think they will be a good hire. This has saved me multiple times from offering a job to the wrong person.
While not everyone wants to take their interview concerns to God, they do generally need to talk it out with someone. I am often considered to be very decisive and am not known to slow down and really over-contemplate decisions. In hiring, I can rush the process. So at the close of an interview with a candidate I am really interested in hiring, I always end the meeting with instructions for the candidate to go home, pray about whether the job I have described for them is really what they believe they are being led to do. I ask them to talk with their spouse, partner, or parent about what they like or don’t like about the job. By asking them to do so, I also take the time to reflect and pray about the decision.
I have found this tactic to be very instrumental in offering the right person the job. While the candidate may not take their concerns to God – I do. And I pray that He gives me discernment and direction. I feel prayerful consideration is crucial for interviewing success.
What is your interview dance step? Do you have certain go-to questions that give you #InterviewSuccess? I have had very diverse interviewers over the years. I believe interviewing for small businesses may be different than large corporations, but some underlying principles remain the same.
Most importantly for you small business owners – find your style. Because hiring bad people can sometimes be the most costly mistake we make.