NEW EMPLOYEE TIME: Your Opinion Requested

  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Jul 01, 2008 8:26 PM GMT
    This morning I received word that one of my office assistants will be departing after July 21st. I wasn't very happy to receive this as she has been a good part time employee for the last 3.5 years. Her main responsibilities including the processing of new business for my firm as well as some ancillary marketing and client contact. She did ok with marketing and was almost perfect with office procedure requirements.

    Since I have been in business I have employed a number of assistants. I've really been fortunate, especially my main assistant responsible for marketing. I've had 2 the entire time I've been in business.

    The position at question here is split. I've had a couple of good assistants (including the one who is leaving) and two or three that were less than what I wanted. I remember interviewing 2 good candidates in 2001, a 30+ woman who looked good on paper and seemed to come across well and a guy who was a grad student, the son of a professor I had in college. I hired the woman, who turned out to be an air head (and subsequently hired the grad student in another role and he was exceptional).

    So my question.. for those of you who work with employees in the workplace or either hire or work in human resources. What is the most important thing you look for when hiring an employee? Is it a gut reaction? References? I'm just very curious.

    icon_biggrin.gif

  • ShawnTX

    Posts: 2484

    Jul 01, 2008 8:34 PM GMT
    I never hire based on past work references, I find them too biased, one way or the other.

    In the end I always go with my gut reaction and am happy to say that when I do I'm pleased with the outcome. I like people who think in different ways (in general as well as different to me) and those who take control of the interview and really make it all about them. I like the confidence that shows.
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    Jul 01, 2008 8:38 PM GMT
    " What is the most important thing you look for when hiring an employee?"

    I search my instincts to determine how likely is this person to sue us? It's ugly, but it's the truth.
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    Jul 01, 2008 8:58 PM GMT
    Frankly, when it comes down to the final couple candidates in a job search, I go by gut instinct and personality. If I can get along with them, I can work with them around any other issues that may arise. If I can't imagine working with them, we're gonna have troubles if/when any work- or performance-related issues come up.
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    Jul 01, 2008 9:02 PM GMT
    I've found when hiring, it's based more on personality and how they will interact with other employees. I work in a fairly casual atmosphere, and we're really more like a family, so if I can tell that someone won't fit in with the family, they're not going to be a good person to hire. You obviously want someone who is qualified- but that's the easy part. An important thing to remember is that experience shouldn't be that big of a factor. Just because they haven't been in an office environment for very long doesn't mean they won't be able to make copies, fax, or whatever office duties may be required of them. I also find it useful to find someone who has some connection or interest in your particular industry. For example, even if you're hiring just an office assistant for an architecture firm, it's helpful if they have an interest in art or design. But again- personality and ability to gel with other people is key for me.
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    Jul 01, 2008 10:11 PM GMT
    HndsmKansan said What is the most important thing you look for when hiring an employee? Is it a gut reaction? References? I'm just very curious.

    I look for general aptitude. I don't necessarily care if they have the specific skills for the job. Those can be learned by someone who is bright and competent. Someone who is intelligent and has good "soft skills" (i.e. able to interact with others, good poise and presence, willingness to learn, and a can-do attitude) can do well.
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    Jul 01, 2008 10:23 PM GMT
    I'm old-fashioned. I go for the casting couch.
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    Jul 01, 2008 10:30 PM GMT
    Well, I was recently hired to work in a boutique advertising staffing and management firm and read resumes all day. So my dime-store opinion is that you should look for some one who displays applicational intelligence-- that is, they can see how an idea, however abstract, and can apply to a situation. The paper pusher with no ability to think for themselves or to 'see what people need and act' is useless.

    I also think you should hire someone with a strong personality fit. You have to work with this person, they should be someone you want to be around.

    References I think are tricky because they do not necessarily reflect the quality of a candidate's previous work. I think it's good to look for red flags-- having been sacked, insubordination, etc-- but I think the quality of a candidate will be in their resume and how much they can tell you about what they did and how they demonstrated growth and reposibility-- in fine detail.
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    Jul 01, 2008 10:32 PM GMT
    I've had to interview several candidates in the past year for positions where I work. The hiring committees have always gone with our gut feelings, and we haven't been wrong about a person yet. When my boss hired over objections of people that interviewed the candidate, the person never worked out and always ended up leaving, and leaving a mess on their way out. My boss hired them based on their pedigree, which said nothing about their ability to interact well with others, work with a team, or be as competent as their resumes claimed they were.
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    Jul 01, 2008 10:35 PM GMT
    yalemarine said My boss hired them based on their pedigree, which said nothing about their ability to interact well with others.


    See? My criteria are simpler.
    Are they hot? Will they put out?
  • swall1963

    Posts: 161

    Jul 01, 2008 11:19 PM GMT
    I work for a city government and when we hire new employees, by the time we have narrowed the applicants down to the 3 or 4 that we are going to interview, it is pretty certain they have the knowledge and skills to do the job. So, we generally look for those who are going to be able to fit into the office atmosphere. We take into account personality and how they present themselves. In my opinion, by the time it comes to an interview it is very subjective criteria that you are looking at. We also use a preset list of questions in the interview to avoid asking personal questions or treating the applicants differently.

    I once had a lady interview for my Deputy Clerk position and during the interview she was asked. "How do you handle differences of opinion with your supervisor?" She said, "I am always right." Needless to say she didn't get the job.

    And, as in anything in life, there are no guarantees.
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    Jul 03, 2008 1:07 PM GMT
    It is difficult, particularly because you are limited in what you can ask, especially references.
    Some people are so good at interviewing you can't tell if they may actually be a nightmare. lol
    I find that job specific questions and situational questions are helpful. ( what would you do if ) I'm also very careful about people that seem to be telling you what they think you want to hear. No one is that perfect.
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    Jul 03, 2008 1:34 PM GMT
    I usually base it on a number of factors, which follow in no particular order or importance.

    --Personality: Since my employees are going to be dealing with a lot of different people, I can't afford to hire a wallflower or someone who is simply a follower. I need people who are independent, reliable and take initiative. Plus, also helps that they have a sense of humor close to my own. I think: would I want to hang out with this person and shoot the breeze?

    --Work ethic: Usually I can tell what their work ethic is by their job experience. High end customer service will tell me their experience, but certain questions I ask in the interview will give me a better idea, and helps that they answer honestly, even if they don't know the answer to the question.

    --Volunteer: I've found that I have better work performance from people who do volunteer work. They're more inclined to be more direct with me, and willing to take on responsibilities and try new approaches.

    --Working knowledge: What I mean by this is that they have a foundation, no matter what kind of foundation, and functional knowledge about the environment they're going to be working.
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    Jul 03, 2008 3:28 PM GMT
    I go by instinct and if during the interview we seem to click WAY TOO good, I won't hire them!!
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    Jul 03, 2008 3:36 PM GMT
    Agree with most of the above. I look at their skills, education, and experiences that apply directly to the position, but also those that don't. I prefer someone who has tried their hand at a few things, if not through work, then by volunteering or in their extracurricular activities. They tend to me more quick to learn and adapt to changes in the workplace. And they are more motivated to branch out and take on new responsibilities or seek out PD opportunities.

    Just one of many factors, but an important one for me.
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    Jul 03, 2008 3:48 PM GMT
    Although I didn't read all of the comments above me, someone else may have written this and therefore, I apologize for it being a repeat.

    First, I think you have to be clear on the skills that are required for the job and how important each one of those are to you.

    Second, I would base my interview questions on having them describe when they demonstrated the skills you require. For example: "Tell me about a time when you developed a marketing campaign."

    This line of questioning will tell you how they actually behaved. They should describe the scenario, their role in accomplishing the task, and what the end result was. It is based on the principle that "past performance is an indicator of future performance".

    In the example of the 30+ woman who didn't seem to be what you thought, with this line of questioning, she may have described a scenario where she wasn't clear in her thinking. That would have led you to believe, before you offered the job, that she may actually be an airhead.

    Hope I wasn't telling you something you already knew. Good luck.
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    Jul 03, 2008 3:50 PM GMT
    It's always about instinct first.

    I have hired a lot of people in my career in hospitality - it's like a rotating door in this industry. I have only ever made two mistakes, and I fully accept that my instinct failed on those occasions. A lot of my employees went on to management positions, so I think I have done alright.

    Some of my tips:

    Always ask situational questions.
    (What would you do if...)
    (How would you handle...)
    (Have you ever been in a position where...)

    This way, you can see the thought process of an applicant, rather than getting the trained response of a closed answer question.

    One of the most common problems in HR is evaluating an applicant when you haven't given them the information they really require. Sure, you know the job, and the environment they will work in.

    So a question like:
    "How do you think you would handle working in a very diverse team?"
    is really stupid.
    Who could really answer that question correctly?

    I always check references BEFORE I interview. That way, you can weed out the nonsense applicants before you waste your time. And always take references with a grain of salt. But think of it this way - if your applicant is able to put someone as their referee, they must have something to offer. No one would put a referree into their resume if they were going to say bad things.

    Finally, remember that you are their boss. In most cases, employees fail to perform their duties because of failure from above. Poor direction, poor training, poor renumeration will always result in poor employees.

    good luck
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    Jul 03, 2008 3:56 PM GMT
    lol Ok I guess I will use it. It is a No Brainer...


    Hire the person that can prove they can get things done right and ethicly grounded...icon_rolleyes.gif