This is the 2nd part in a 3rd part series on hiring. See episode 9 for some tips on creating your job description and advertisement. In this episode of the IT Provider Network I am discussing tools and techniques to move the candidate from the inbox to the offer letter.
Testing to weed out the noise.
All of our candidates go through some sort of testing, and most go through quite a bit of testing to hedge our losses against a bad hire.
Start your Testing in the Job Advertisement – make the candidate to something extra when sending in their resume. Make sure they read until the end.
Using Skype for initial interviews for non-english speaking audiences. 3:15
Using One Way Video Interviews on Sparkhire to separate the curious from the serious candidates 4:00
Two way Video Interviews
Cognitive, Personality, Motivation and Testing for Culture Fit
Break the ice with some questions to build rapport.
Talk about Work Experiences in addition to Work Skills
Check their Social Media Profiles
Concentrate on Soft Skills
Don’t forget to be quiet and listen.
If you have doubts about the candidate, keep looking and remember a vacant position is better than a bad hire any day.
Ask your questions or share your feedback
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•Email firstname.lastname@example.org (audio files welcome)
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Help a Brother Out
Terry: Hi, and welcome to episode 10 of the IT provider network.
Female 1: Welcome to the IT provider network. Are you a manage service entrepreneur wanting to take your business to the next level? Do you excel in IT, but feel your business management could be better? Join Terry Russy, where every episode he shares his skills, tips and tricks that have helped him to build a successful, worldwide business.
Terry: In our last episode we talked tools and techniques to use to get a great job advertisement out for a position that you have open. Today I want to carry that a little further and talk about the next step in the process. This is where you’re getting some candidates coming in, and you need to test them and interview them.
So at the end of episode 9, we pretty much had you ready to get your job posting online, either through one of the online posting services or through Craigslist or LinkedIn and hopefully now you’re getting some candidates flowing into your system. That system could be an applicant tracking system or an email address or worst case your own email box. The one thing I forgot to mention in episode 9 with job postings is that I usually include my first test to the applicant in that job posting I’ll give you an example of what I mean.
So this is for a level one helpdesk tech, at the bottom of the ad it reads, “For immediate consideration, please send your resume to email@example.com and reference the above job posting in the subject line”. In the body of the email, tell me how you move a users profile from one machine to another when replacing a users computer” and then I write, will be interviewing in our town next week and make your first impression count.
So it’s usually a little test like that, it might be a technical test if it’s a technical position or it might be just sending your resume to a different address, either a mailbox specifically designed for that post or an email alias, so just by adding that one sentence to the job advertisement, I created 3 little tests for the candidate.
Could they send it to the right email address, did they put the job posting into the subject like, and were they able to answer the technical question? A question that was easily solved by goggling it. So think about that when you’re making your ad.
What this allows me to see, is did the candidate read the job description thoroughly. Did they read the job advertisement to completion? Did they have any attention to detail? Are they a throughout thought out person? Are they really interested in the position or are they just wasting my time?
So first test in the job advertisement, it’s a great way to start the initial screening process.
So now you have your candidates, I like to keep them organized by stages, so whether you’re doing this in a tool like recruiter box or Zip Recruiter or even Indeed or whether you’re just doing it with folder’s in your inbox, try to start separating the candidates as they come in into candidates that are not a fit, candidates that you might want to move on to a screening stage or first interview or some testing stages and that’s what we’re going to talk about now some testing stages. So let me tell you some of the things that I have done in the past. One of the things that I do and I would encourage you to see if it’s a fit for your company, is I use some off-shore resources for my overnight guys.
I have one guy in India and one guy in the Philippines that’ve actually been working with me for 6 or 7 years but it took me a long time to find the right guys and the way I initially did it, was I used a service called Odesk now it’s known as Upwork.
What Odesk does for me or Upwork, is it gives me a centralized building platform, as well as a really good time management system where I can actually track what my employees are doing and how productive they are.
It tracks their mouse clicks, it shows me screen prints periodically and just gives me a good platform to do it. When you first post a job posting there you get hundreds of responses, so what I did was set up a Skype voicemail box and I recorded a message and I had the candidates leave me a message and essentially this is the first test for those candidates.
Can they speak English, can I understand them on the phone? Not that my overnight guys do a lot of phone work, but I want them to be able to speak English and be able to put together a sentence.
So that was the first test. If they didn’t pass the English speaking test, boom, they went right in the not a fit category.
The second test that I would give them and this was not really for offshore people but for really all technical candidates was I would use a video interview service. So the one I chose is Spark Hire, you can find a link to Spark Hire in the show notes. Spark Hire allowed me to ask the candidates 8 to 10 questions in a textual format or I could actually record it video to them and then they could record back a video to me.
When I was doing a lot of hiring, I found this service invaluable. It showed me a few things about the candidate. First, did they have the balls to get on a video camera and actually send me a video message? It sounds easy, but takes a little bit of hutspa to be able to do that.
The second reason was that I could actually ask them some tough questions and give them a little time to think about their answer. Thinks like, what are your salary requirements? What would your old boss say about you?
Those types of questions allow me to get feel of how they responded and I wanted to see the look on their face. Spark Hire is a great tool to allow them to do that and again if they made the cut I moved them forward in the process.
If they didn’t make the cut I moved them backwards in the process or marked them as not a fit. These interviews that I was doing on Spark Hire were one way interviews, so the question was static, the candidate would respond in I think it was 30 seconds to a minute to respond to each question and then I would get emailed the answer and I had that process tied into my interviewing systems so but again based on the results of that I would move the candidate forward or mark them as not a fit.
Spark Hire is real good for one way interviews. There are other services I know Hire View is one and there’s also another service out there called Talent Rooster. So you might want to check them out. I’ve only had experience with Spark Hire, and I was very happy with the service.
Now if you want to do two way video interviews, which is great if you have a remote applicant. For example, I have some clients in New York, that’s about a four hour drive for me, 3 and half hour sometimes depending on traffic, I’ll do a go to meeting interview and that’s a great first interview, right? Get the candidate on go to meeting have a nice interview you can bring in multiple people if you want, you can even have Lurker, people within your company that are not participating in the interview but they’re listening live or listening to the playback afterwards always a good idea to record the interview, of course if that’s legal in your state.
The next kind of testing I did was personality testing and there are many different services for this and I don’t begin to know the underlying mechanics of how this works but the general overview is ask your candidates 50 to 75 multiple choice questions and these testing services will spit back an assessment or a score for that candidate.
There’s one’s that test personality, there’s ones that test motivation there’s one’s that test cognitive ability there’s one’s that test how well the candidate will fit within your team.
I’ve used the WonderLic test and I’ve had pretty decent success with that, and I’m currently using DISC Assessments. You can buy DISC Assessments from a number of different people or services. I know if you guys are using Chartec they offer a Disk Profile service, if you use Manage to Win, David Russel offers a Disk Profile service and then there are many many other companies that do as well.
I like the Disk Profile because it works with my team and well as the candidate. I can look at the candidate see how well they’re going to fit in with my existing team and that’s really important. The culture fit of the new hire is really important. You want to make sure where they’re going to fit in with your team.
I encourage you to take a look at them and again move the candidate forward if it’s fit or put them in the not a fit category if he’s not a fit. So behavioral testing, personality testing, those are two additional ways you can move the candidates forward.
Then the other thing I do sometimes is I might have a third-party interview. Sometimes your gut tells you that a candidate is really good and you really like them but you’re biased. You formed an opinion in the first minute or two and sometimes that opinion can steer you wrong.
I’ll either ask someone involved in my company that’s not a part of the direct team or I might even ask someone out of the company and this is where a third-party coach if you work with one, might be able to help you, or someone in your peer group might be able to interview them on your behalf. It’s amazing what you can find and see by having someone with a fresh set of eyes with really no invested interest take a look at a candidate you want to hire.
We just had this happen recently in our own company. We had a candidate that everyone was gung ho about the candidate for our sales team on the other side of the company for our enterprise services side of the company and he looked good he smelled good he acted good but then we caught him in a lie and that only happened when we had a face to face interview and we were able to force questions that were not part of the normal interview routine. So we two guys myself and another person that interviewed this guy at the very tail end I mean talking offer letter day and we discovered that he really wasn’t working. He had been unemployed for a while. That might not have been a bad problem except he lied to us about it.
You might want to think about third party interviewers or people that are not so vested. Sometimes, we’re so gung ho to get somebody in to fill a position because we’re struggling we don’t have the staff that we need that we’re making bad decisions and I just put this up on our company bulletin board,
“A vacant position is far better than a wrong hire.”
Just remember that. Take your time sometimes it’s very frustrating. It takes forever to get a good hire but take your time go through the steps.
So now that you have the testing done and you’ve moved your candidate through the stages it’s time to start interviewing and there’s a few tips I want to share with you on interviewing as well.
There’s a lot of resources on the internet about interviewing so I won’t kill you with it but the first one and this is really important is build a rapport with the candidate. Try to do this right in the first couple minutes.
If you need some tips on building rapport we did a whole episode on that. That was episode 3 of the IT Provider Network. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes so you can find it on the website.
You need to take a couple minutes and ask some ice breaking questions. Get the candidate to open up a little bit and feel at ease. Remember he’s looking for a job he’s probably nervous. You want to try and put him at ease and have a good conversation.
A couple of the ice breaking questions I ask, and I just actually did this yesterday when we were interviewing a new candidate, were “How was the ride to the office?” You know you look at their resume you find out where they live and you say “Oh, did you come down this road, how was the road, how was the travel, how did it compare to your job or your previous job, is it a better commute, a worse commute, etc.?” Those kinds of questions will get the candidate talking about his ride in.
Always offer them something to drink, Would you like a water or a coffee? Can I get you something to drink? I always do that at the beginning so I don’t have to interrupt the flow of the interview. That’s usually my first question.
Then I kind of ask them to tell us a little bit about themselves. There are certain things you can’t ask them and you need to know those boundaries but the candidate can tell you anything they wants so if he want to tell you he’s married with 3 kids, that’s fine. He can tell you that. If he wants to tell you his religious background or anything like that he can tell you that you just can’t ask about it. So it’s good to get them talking about himself try to break the ice a little bit. If he says he has kids you can talk about kids and then you can start building a relationship with this person, building rapport.
I also encourage you to concentrate kind of on their soft skills, right? When you’re in that interview you have a really good chance to see how this person interacts with other people.
I go back to my old saying, “Someone’s always selling somebody,” they should definitely be trying to sell you in this interview, you know? If they’re sitting back in their chair and they’re laid back and they’re looking at their phone probably not a good fit. It they’re attentive they’re sitting up straight they’re answering your questions directly they’re trying to give you a thoughtful answer then you know that’s a really good thing.
Especially in our business where people are spending their days troubleshooting, you want to make sure you have a candidate that’s really really intuned with listening. You know listening is a big part of troubleshooting and if they’re not listening in the interview they’re not going to listen to your customers.
I have another saying in my company and that’s, “There are never any better than the interview.” So, if you think the guy is just okay in the interview, it’s probably not a fit, right? You want to strive for A players. You can’t get all A players, but you want to find the guys that are B plus’ that you think you can mold into A’s, the people who have the drive and the potential to really be something and that’s where the soft skills come into play.
If they can’t hold a conversation or they can’t wow you in an interview, they’re not going to really wow your customers either. I encourage you to take a look at that of course in our field we have to focus on technical skills too and I encourage for you to test for that as well. I don’t need to tell you how to do that you guys know what you do. You can tell if someone’s snowing you in an interview if you’re talking about VM ware and they don’t know what you’re talking about you think they’re a VM ware expert.
It’s funny for techs we often find you know 40 different technologies listed on someone’s resume when they have experience with 2 and they’ve laid eyes on 38 of them! Be careful of that as well.
I also encourage you to check their social media profiles, again if you’re using a media tracking system a good one will do this for you but it’s good to even snoop out a little further. Look at their email address put it into google go into Facebook put in their email address go into Twitter put in their email address put in their name. Try to figure out what their profiles are. A lot of these guys are pretty smart, they change their profiles to their first name and middle name when they’re interviewing something like that but you can often find them anyway. Sometimes it’s crazy this stuff you see on people’s social media profiles especially when they’re job hunting. So make sure you check them out.
The other thing that I would do is make sure the personality of the candidate fits the job and the team they’re going to work on. So you know let’s talk about the job first, there’s certain jobs where a personality is a big part of it, right? Phone etiquette is a big part of it. Dictation is a big part of it, there’s other jobs where it doesn’t matter as much but in general you want someone who is a people person. We’re in the people person industry, right? So, even if they’re in finance or accounting, they’re still going to be talking to your customers and you still want them to have enough social skills to be able to have a conversation.
Be thinking about their social skills and how well they’re holding a conversation while you’re interviewing them. One of the tricks that I like to use during an interview, is just being quiet. You know so making sure you’re not talking over the candidate. A lot of times I’m in group interviews and I find the interviewee, no the interviewer is babbling on and on and on about the company. It’s just like copy writing, right? Nobody cares about you. They only care about them.
You want to give the candidate a chance to talk during the interview. You also want to see if they did any research on you company so that’s another test you should use. “What do you know about our company? Did you look at the website? What do you see that you like? Where do you see yourself fitting?” I use all those kinds of tests to see how well they prepared for the interview. So don’t forget to do that and don’t forget to shut up. You also want to make sure that when you ask questions of the candidate, you include questions like how did the candidate feel?
Tell me about a time when you screwed up at work and how did that make you feel or tell me about a time when you accomplished something really good for your team and how did that make you feel? Those are real good questions to get an idea of how the candidate thinks, how their brain works, what motivates them and you can ask them too, what motivates you, money, fame, whatever. Just kind of good questions to get a feel on the candidate.
So I have a couple of other random tips that i picked up in my research for this and I think they’re pretty good.
The first on is use interview templates. Standardize the questions especially if you’re going through multiple candidates. If you have 20 candidates for a job, try to ask the same 20 questions at a minimum to those candidates so you can compare their answers. I think that’s good advice.
Remember it’s a big world out there the best people in your team might not be in your local area so don’t be afraid to hire remote people. You know, we’re a remote service provider for the most part so why would it matter where our people are? I do like to build teams and I do like have people see each other during work but I’d definitely trade that for a good candidate that wasn’t geographically close to my offices. So keep that in mind. Don’t be afraid to hire globally.
This one I think is really important. If you have any doubts, keep interviewing. So, if you have doubts at the interview stage it’s not the right person, keep on looking and also don’t forget to use your network. You have networks on Facebook, you have networks on LinkedIn, you have networks in your neighborhood, at your church, your community, don’t forget to use them.
Sometimes you can get great referrals from your network. You also might be able to do reference checks in your network.
I just had a situation yesterday where a person was a technician at a school and he led me to believe that the whole team was ousted from the school, basically that the manage service provider was fired and in reality I found out that wasn’t the case. I was able to reach out to my network find someone that worked at that school and check on the story, turns out it didn’t check out. So, don’t be afraid to use your network to check references and stories and don’t be afraid to try before you buy especially if you’re looking at someone that’s out of work.
You know you can also hire them for a week. Give them a shot see what happens see how they look see how they fit in with the team see if they show up on time. You know, the hiring market it’s really tough for technology so if they’re out of work there’s probably a reason they’re out of work. Now that’s not true all the time and I do feel bad for people who are out of work for extended periods of time but I want to make sure my company is healthy first so I’ll give them a try before you buy invite them in for a day or a week to work.
And then lastly, don’t forget to invite your team in for the final interview, so the people that will be working with this person this candidate invite them in for the final interview. Let them have a say in what happens. Now, it may clear your whole process but you again it’s much better to find out now than later. Get a second set eyes on the candidate.
So that’s it, some tips and tricks for interviewing and testing. I hope you found this valuable,
I hope you’re enjoying the podcast. I really do appreciate you taking time out of your day to listen.
Our next episode, episode 11 is going to talk about on boarding, some things you can do in the first 90 days to really make the new team member feel like they’re part of your team. So if you haven’t listened to it already, go back to episode 9, listen to the tools and tips for giving a good job description and a good ad out there and then look forward to episode 11 where we talk about on boarding the new employee.
I have a new employee to onboard Monday, so it should be fresh in my mind. Thanks everyone! Have a great day and don’t forget to reach out to me at the IT Provider Network.com and subscribe to us on Itunes,Sticher or wherever you listen to your podcast.
Female 1: Thank you for joining us, and we hope you’ve been inspired. Check us out on social media via @itprovidernet and visit us at www.itprovidernetwork.com for past episodes, show note, videos and more and we hope you’ll joining Terry next time on the IT Provider Network.