Happy Monday ladies! How was your weekend? I just got home from a week and a half in Portland and Seattle for a mix of work and play. And I got quality time with my beautiful momma and bestie! Those two make my world so much better. PSA: call your mom and/or bestie ASAP. Your mental health can thank me later.
This week my mind is in the world of hiring. It’s one of the most fun AND most exhausting responsibilities as a manager and a leader. And when you’re brand new to management you’re just winging it. Totally get that — been there done that. Unfortunately, I also have the battle scars to prove it from hiring the wrong fit a few times. IT’S THE WORST.
A bad fit on your team not only makes your life hell as a manager, it also can easily poison your team and their success — you know, the whole “one bad apple” deal. And NO ONE likes having to fire someone, so let’s nip this in the bud with 5 mistakes to avoid when building your team.
#1 – You’ve marketed the position with a vague title and vague job description
You’ve gotta know what you want and be clear about it! Using a generic title like, Manager II, tells people nothing about the position. I strongly encourage you to use those important keywords like “manager” so people find your position in their search but ALSO add something specific to the title. Are they a Maintenance Manager or a Scholarships Manager?
And then get really technical in the responsibilities and duties. Use the industry acronyms and be clear about the amount of work generally goes along with each category of duties. For example, I used to hire case managers in the human services field and most case managers do this work because they love working one-on-one with people. Well in reality the time spent one-on-one with clients was about 30-40% of the job while recruitment and administration was the majority of the job. When I was more upfront about that, we found better fits for the position.
#2 – You’re giving away all the answers in the interview
This is the biggest mistake I see managers make ALL THE TIME. They mean to just ask a simple question in the interview but instead tell a whole story with context and background first and then ask the question, in turn basically giving them the answer you want. For example, I had a boss who would tell interviewees exactly our recruitment process and then ask them, do you think you could do that and be happy doing that? Ummm, well of course they’re going to say YES! Duh. A better way to go about that question would be to ask, how would you convince someone that this program is the right fit for them? Or tell us about your experience with recruiting clients over the phone.
Also, I highly encourage you to always start your interview with this first and second question: 1) What do you understand this position to be and why do you want that job? 2) What do you know about our company so far and why do you want to work with us? Make sure you ask these questions with NO preface. They’ve seen your amazingly specific job description and they had access to your website, they should be able to answer these questions without asking any questions of you or having any orientation from you. If they don’t answer these questions well, they are NOT your people. They just showed you that they really don’t care about this job specifically and that they do not prepare or do their research. You don’t need that on your team. That leads us to #3…
#3 – You’re shying away from the red flags
Don’t turn a blind eye to red flags! Like the two questions I just mentioned, that is a HUGE red flag if they can’t explain the job they’re applying to or can’t show you that they at least checked out your mission on your website before walking into an interview. Trust me, you will regret hiring that person. But there are so many other red flags to look out for; they talk to much and/or don’t take social cues in the interview, they have spelling and grammar mistakes in their resume and cover letter, they don’t customize their cover letter for the position, they never answer questions with stories or real examples of their work they just use buzzwords and generic terms, etc. If you hesitate, LISTEN TO IT.
#4 – You’re picking experience over attitude
Try to make your interviews as conversational as possible so you can get a feel of folks attitudes. Ask lots of questions that require the applicant to share past experiences and stories, not hypothetical questions. This gives you a much better idea of their actual problem solving skills, their ability to learn, and their willingness to adapt to change. Listen to these and weight these answer much more heavily than the degrees or years at an employer. Some of my best employees and leaders have been less than perfect on paper, but were incredibly collaborative, driven, and passionate. You can’t teach those things as easily as I could teach them how to utilize a specific database or use Excel. Attitudes generally don’t change, so watch those red flags and make sure you look for attitude fit in your team.
#5 – You aren’t testing the required skills before hiring
I don’t care what job you’re hiring for, you need to do at least one quick assessment to ensure that your applicants have the basic skills that you need for the position. I once was hiring a senior manager who would have to compile data into reports and then analyze those reports to better our teams’ outcomes. To do so, they needed to be able to manipulate raw data in Excel (nothing crazy, just sorting and filtering). So we put our last two candidates through a quick 30-minute assessment with some unidentifiable raw data in Excel, and thank God we did. The gal I was 99% sure I wanted to hire couldn’t answer ONE question because she always had a data specialist at her disposal and never had to manipulate her own data in over 20 years of being a senior manager. BULLET DODGED. Don’t assume ANYTHING about your applicants just because they have a degree or years of experience. PS – make sure you have the applicant do these assessments in the office so they can’t have someone else do it for them at home.
So What Now?
Give your hiring process a quick overhaul. Take a couple of hours and revise that job description, update your interview questions, and put together a basic assessment for the interview process. Talk to your other interviewers to make sure they are prepped with open ended questions, ready to ask for real-life examples from the applicants and that they don’t give away any of your answers!
Take a quick sec and share your best hiring advice in the comments with us!
Talk soon 👋🏻