Yeah, We've Got That!

The Dirty Dozen – Lessons Learned from Job Recruitment

Posted in What's New by Kate Whittemore

Two months have passed since we originally brainstormed, outlined and devised a job description for our Office Administrator position.

This process was new to us. For 40+ years most of our hires have been people walking in off the street looking for a job. Are you surprised by this? I hope so.

Over the last 10+ years we have hovered between 35 and 40 staff members. Those staff members wear a lot of hats and never have we created a new position like we did recently. Our staff has always transitioned into existing positions or sometimes a new title was created because we recognized that someone was wearing a hat that needed to be clarified as a true title, not just added responsibilities.

The new position is something that our company needs, a staff member to help facilitate our growth to the next level, someone to take the goals of our management team and make sure they are embraced and followed through on.

For too long we have rested on the way it has always been, and as our head honcho grows more inclined to step back from his role as the day-to-day decision maker, we have to be able to build a framework that allows our management to take the ball and run with it. Home Central has many policies and procedures that are based solely on the idea that we have always done it that way, not necessarily because it is right or well-planned.

So we decided to break from the mold and create a new position that would 1) free up some time for our managers to take on more management and 2) provide someone adept at planning and execution that could take a goal and monitor the progress made toward that goal.


New position = new candidate selection technique.

To find what we thought was a uniquely qualified candidate, we canvassed the internet utilizing local universities, public job listings and even a costly online job recruitment posting, plus our own web presence.

To say we were dumbfounded by the response would be an understatement. Well over 120 resumes were sent to us, of which about 90% were local people and probably 75% had the minimum credentials required. We trimmed that number down to about a 1/3 of its original size and brought about 1/4 in for a first round of interviews. To maximize efficiency we scheduled groups of 3-6 candidates and interviewed them all at once in a group format.


Credentials vs. Talent

Many of the non-selected candidates had glowing resumes, commendable credentials and talents that were hard to pass up, but by using a panel to review the resumes, we chose the ones that we could easily say were stand outs.

Our group interviews were apparently very nerve inducing to the interviewees, but most seemed to enjoy the process when all was said and done, plus we got a unique glimpse into their interpersonal skills and maybe better insight into their personalities. I would have been rendered speechless or at least unable to formulate coherent responses to questions in a setting such as this and thus I give each and every candidate a round of applause for handling the situation with dignity and grace.

I personally picked some standouts from the resumes whom I thought would be my top choices in the end, but the interview process was truly enlightening and made me appreciate the value of life experience over credentials, approachable personalities vs. driven “all work and no play” types and butt kissing vs. displays of their unique talent. Of course our interview panel had some disagreements over a few candidates, but it was extremely interesting for all four of us to solidly agree on a few ‘unlikely leaders’ from the pack.


To Drink or Not to Drink Before an Interview?

As I write this we have not picked a final choice for the position, we have at least one more round of interviews to go, but the process has been enlightening and at times I have wanted a stiff drink.

Here are the things we (or I rather) have learned:

  1. The job market is brutal. Some candidates seemed disgruntled with the job search before they even walked through our doors, and it showed!
  2. Companies are treating applicants like crap! No responses to resumes or applications. Trust me, I understand how overwhelming the onslaught of applicants can be, but most don’t send out a simple email to their applicants saying “no thanks.” These applicants are often our own customers and they can spread word of mouth just like a disgruntled customer.
  3. This fact shocked some of my co-workers who have searched long and hard for jobs in the past; job seekers no longer follow up on applications submitted, instead they only follow up after being contacted for the first interview. Years ago everyone called and stopped by to check in and see if their application had been received or reviewed. Now it appears that career counselors have instructed candidates to wait until they are called back before they start pestering (I use this term affectionately) the employer. Apparently the applicant pool is too large to waste your time following up on every resume you send out, plus lots of employers find this motivated demeanor to appear more like pestering than persistence.
  4. The pool of applicants looking for a lower management position in a small company is HUGE! I took our job postings down only halfway through their allotted run-time because we had too many resumes to review already.
  5. These applicants are qualified, motivated and most are looking for a job with a company they can call home. The desire for a job closer to home, in a family owned company, with job stability, is paramount to higher paying jobs where you are treated as a number, not a person.
  6. Preparing for an interview is important. Gathering information on the company and the position is important to make you appear prepared for the questioning.
  7. Other preparation techniques should be reviewed for their usefulness: yoga for clarity, Jock Jams session in the car to pump you up, Alcohol use before 10 a.m. to loosen you up, less or more perfume depending on your personal hygiene habits, have a friend look over your wardrobe to identify whether you are over or under-dressed for the position or under-dressed to go out in public, plus they can tell you if your shirt is on inside out ( I need someone to do this for me rather frequently).
  8. Drinking before an interview is quite normal when you stroll around town filling out applications. Motivated applicants who apply online seem to not need as many drinks before 10 a.m.
  9. Applicants should read their resumes and make sure they don’t sound too scary, or so self-assured that employers envision a half naked prince riding on a white stallion. Either is intimidating!
  10. My inbox capacity needs to be increased to accommodate all of these resumes and follow-up emails. In fact I need an assistant just to manage this influx of communication because I made an error scheduling appointments for almost all of our 8 scheduled interview time-slots.
  11. Ask the right questions and you can get a wealth of information that will help you regardless of whether you hire the person or not. We asked people about their favorite time saving applications and I came away with a list of apps I need to download, plus some people came up with some awesome responses regarding ideas for future marketing campaigns and events. Lesson: post fake jobs to serve as a brainstorming tool!
  12. I am extremely grateful for the nepotism that got me to where I am today. I enjoy my job (most of the time) and I am thankful I was never put in a position where I had to display my personal charms to a panel of interviewers. That could have been disastrous!

Thank you to everyone who applied and kudos to those who survived our first attempts at the group interview method! If you didn’t get a response to your resume or interview you can rest assured that it probably got returned to us in the mail as undeliverable or my cluttered desk ate it.

If you are interested in a position with Home Central check out our Employment Opportunities page on a regular basis and if you are an employer looking to hire do it now! There are so many people with great talent and I have a stack of gorgeous resumes to prove it. Plus those qualified candidates pushed so hard at our soft hearts that we are considering adding another position…

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