By: Kristi Spargo
There’s nothing quite like the moment when I had to inform an employee that they have unpleasant body odor and needed to wear deodorant. Or the moment when I politely requested an employee to please leave their half-shirts at home and try to step up their office apparel to include pants without holes. Memorable indeed. It’s been over a decade since I worked in human resources but I’ll never forget the sinking feeling in my stomach, the nerves gripping my throat, my cheeks flushing and my verbal skills deteriorating to a lot of “umms” and “yeahs” during these awkward conversations. Perhaps that’s one of the main reasons why I left the field; but I have no doubt that the experience of hiring and firing people has helped me throughout my career. I learned a lot about reading people, the importance of personality type vs. business culture, and how to graciously coax someone without causing tension. Most importantly, I learned it all starts at the very beginning: the hiring process.
Rank the Resume
Establish set parameters and sort resumes accordingly. If the position has hard and fast requirements such as a degree or salary range, quickly skim and make two piles – those that meet and those that don’t. I know there are good people that have other quality skillsets, but if you even consider bringing in a candidate that doesn’t meet the standards you are setting yourself up for problems later on. The candidate might think they are ok with a lesser salary, but it won’t be long until unhappiness sets in. Or another employee might find out that the recent hire didn’t meet the position requirements and this will cause internal contention.
Yep – it’s ok to judge by first impression. If you call to set up an interview and don’t hear back within a few days, don’t bother calling again. If the email is filled with typos or is addressed to the incorrect organization, file it. I give people one chance. I know this might be too harsh of a criterion for some but it’s been my experience that if someone isn’t taking the time to put forth their best effort from the start, it only goes downhill from there. I’m not wasting my time trying to talk someone into acting like a professional when there are hundreds of other candidates who already are.
Trust Your Gut
If you bring a candidate in for a customer service position and they are mumbling at the floor it might not be a good fit. If it’s a staid office environment and the candidate has on ripped jeans and declares their love of partying, chances are high it might not work. These observations shouldn’t be used to completely write someone off but they should be taken into consideration. Make notes during the interview of the candidate’s verbal responses as well as their non-verbal behaviors. Read between the lines. Sometimes good candidates struggle with finding the right words and sometimes bad candidates excel at knowing just what to say. Behaviors, attitude, tone, and mannerisms are innately more difficult to fake. What is your initial impression? I always asked myself, would I get along with them if they were my co-worker? These observations will help when deciding the right fit.