When I was a young manager, I did a terrible job with hiring.
My strategy went something like this: Forget about preparing for the interview, skip asking meaningful questions, and consider a pulse the same thing as being qualified. Let me tell you, I certainly filled my spots quickly, but you can probably guess the caliber of talent I hired and consequently the caliber of talent I attracted down the road. Never forget, if you have a lousy reputation around town, then often you’ll attract that kind of talent when you are hiring.
I found myself with a team that failed to stand and deliver at the moment of truth, that refused to embrace a service culture, and that called off as soon as they had a day’s cushion between them and being terminated for attendance. I had unhappy Guests, a Leadership group with a team unable to deliver excellence (or even mediocrity), and a business that was struggling financially.
Something had to change. And what needed to change was how we recruited and hired our team.
When you hire the best team, you have a great chance of delivering fantastic Customer service.
There is no guarantee though, because after you hire them you have to train, develop, and lead them to success, but it definitely sets you on a path to win. We’ll talk more about how to properly train and onboard your new team members next time, but today let’s embrace the need to recruit great talent.
Here is a straight forward model to ensure you hire the team you need and that your Guests deserve. You want the best right? Who doesn’t? Here’s how you find them.
Battle the warm body syndrome.
Emphasize behavior based questions during the interview
Sugarcoating things doesn’t help anyone.
And finally. . .
Treat your applicants very well
Let’s take these one at a time.
BATTLE THE WARM BODY SYNDROME. There are going to be a fair number of applicants who just aren’t a fit for your organization. They either lack the attitude or aptitude – and this is where you may have a choice. Remember that in some cases you can absolutely train the skill if the candidate has an amazing personality. Of course, there are skilled trades that don’t have any latitude, but do you really need a decade of experience running a cash register to make a great cashier? Absolutely not. Think carefully before you turn away a great smile and friendly nature (who knows, they may be right for a different position). If you are always recruiting and keeping your eyes open for talent that will help you maintain a steady flow of applications that can lead to better hiring. The other piece to this puzzle is patience. Sometimes you just have to wait when you haven’t found the right candidate. Often your team may be begging for help and your managers may be complaining for you to hurry up already, but sometimes you just have to stick to your guns and wait for the right person. Most often, an empty spot is preferable to one with the wrong person occupying it.
EMPHASIZE BEHAVIOR BASED QUESTIONS DURING THE INTERVIEW. Take some time to prepare for the interview and make sure that you take advantage of any hiring questionnaires your organization may have to offer. I am speechless when I see Leaders try to hire folks and wing the questioning (especially when they have a perfectly nice guide just dying to be pressed into service). Now a cookie cutter interview guide isn’t the whole answer – you have to look at the position and pose questions that have real meaning for that job. What would you do if a Guest complained? How would you handle a Customer who was belligerent? What does Customer service mean to you? Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond for a Guest. Those put your candidates in the driver’s seat and allow them to really open up. Yes or no questions are great if you are a terrible listener and don’t care what your future employee has to say – but we can all do better than that. Ask great questions, stop talking, and listen.
SUGARCOATING THINGS DOESN’T HELP ANYONE. There is a place and time for you to speak in the interview for sure. There are upsides and downsides with every job – be completely honest about them. Be up front about the hours for the job, the insurance benefits, pay rate, and opportunities for advancement. They will find out eventually anyway, so give them the chance to opt out of the interview before either of you wastes too much time. If you don’t allow facial hair, have a policy against piercings, or require work on holidays, let your applicants know. Also be sure you give a realistic picture of what the job entails and what your expectations are for Customer service. Make sure you emphasize the importance of caring for Guests and that there is no wiggle room with that. When you discuss these types of non-negotiables during the hiring process you will find that you are actually starting to reinforce your culture from the very beginning. If you do end up hiring the candidate, then she has already started her immersion into the values of the organization.
TREAT YOUR APPLICANTS VERY WELL. Too often, Interviewees aren’t treated very well. Some old school Leaders believe that as the hiring manager they have carte blanche to mistreat those who are seeking employment. First of all, that’s a lousy attitude. It’s hard enough out there when you are looking for a job without making it feel like a game show called “How Badly can I Mistreat You?” When you schedule someone in for an interview, be on time, offer them a bottle of water, and be prepared. Take the time to listen to what they have to say and come prepared with intelligent questions. Do them the courtesy of reviewing their resume prior to the interview to show you care. That will also help you craft questions specifically geared to learn more about the person as an individual. This is all by way of saying that the folks who are interviewing with you will walk away with more respect and loyalty to you and your business if you treat them well – and that applies whether or not they get the job. Which leads to the final point – be sure to let folks know in a timely manner if they weren’t selected for the job so they can pursue other options. If you can give them feedback that might help them succeed next time, even better. Talk about building a world class reputation in the community!
If you embrace this B.E.S.T. hiring framework the talent you attract and hire will improve exponentially. You will also find that you become the place where the very best talent wants to call home.
When you maximize your hiring processes and put the right people in the right roles at the right time, you will drastically improve both Customer service and your organizational culture.
Until next time, be sure to treat your Customers (and your potential team members) like cherished friends.
Tony Johnson Customer Service Expert | Author | Trainer | Speaker
Check out my new book: RECIPE FOR SERVICE Now Available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Recipe-Service-Inspire-Deliver-Customer/dp/0986391204
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