Help! My Business is Growing

How to avoid hiring mistakes, with Jamie Van Cuyk

June 07, 2024 Kathy Svetina Episode 79
How to avoid hiring mistakes, with Jamie Van Cuyk
Help! My Business is Growing
More Info
Help! My Business is Growing
How to avoid hiring mistakes, with Jamie Van Cuyk
Jun 07, 2024 Episode 79
Kathy Svetina

When hiring for a new position, it's crucial to get it right.  Hiring mistakes can be costly and disruptive, affecting productivity, team morale, and your bottom line. Making the wrong choice can also mean wasted time, resources, and opportunities for your company to grow. 

But how do you avoid making hiring mistakes? 

What are the red flags to watch out for? 

And how do you pick the right people who will bring your business to the next level?


In this episode, Jamie Van Cuyk and I explore the ins and outs of Hiring Mistakes and how they can affect your growing business. We discuss what can trip up your hiring process and provide actionable tips to avoid them. 


Jamie Van Cuyk is the owner and lead strategist of Growing Your Team, is an expert in hiring and onboarding teams within small businesses. Drawing from over ten years of leadership experience, Jamie teaches her clients how to hire their first team members, including employees and long-term contractors. By learning the dynamics of each company and their specific needs, she helps them find their perfect-fit, long-lasting team members and avoid the hiring and firing cycle. 


We discuss: (timestamps)

02:01 Common hiring mistakes by small businesses

04:52  Defining your hiring needs

07:41 Creating strategic hiring plans 

10:34 The differences between hiring for tactical vs leadership positions

15:38 Interview questions to determine if candidates are tacticians or more strategic 

17:20 Spotting hiring and interview red flags 

22:44 Balancing gut instincts and bias when hiring

24:53 The average number of interview rounds for a position

28:30 Evaluating candidates through paid assignments

32:42 Actionable steps to take to get your hiring right



Resources:

Jamie Van Cuyk, CEO and Lead Strategist, Growing Your Team
https://growingyourteam.com/

Contact Info: 
jamie@growingyourteam.com

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/GrowingYourTeam

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/growingyourteam/

LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamievancuyk/ 


Kathy Svetina, Fractional CFO:
https://www.newcastlefinance.us/

Blog post | How to Avoid Hiring Mistakes
https://www.newcastlefinance.us/listen/how-to-avoiding-hiring-mistakes/

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

When hiring for a new position, it's crucial to get it right.  Hiring mistakes can be costly and disruptive, affecting productivity, team morale, and your bottom line. Making the wrong choice can also mean wasted time, resources, and opportunities for your company to grow. 

But how do you avoid making hiring mistakes? 

What are the red flags to watch out for? 

And how do you pick the right people who will bring your business to the next level?


In this episode, Jamie Van Cuyk and I explore the ins and outs of Hiring Mistakes and how they can affect your growing business. We discuss what can trip up your hiring process and provide actionable tips to avoid them. 


Jamie Van Cuyk is the owner and lead strategist of Growing Your Team, is an expert in hiring and onboarding teams within small businesses. Drawing from over ten years of leadership experience, Jamie teaches her clients how to hire their first team members, including employees and long-term contractors. By learning the dynamics of each company and their specific needs, she helps them find their perfect-fit, long-lasting team members and avoid the hiring and firing cycle. 


We discuss: (timestamps)

02:01 Common hiring mistakes by small businesses

04:52  Defining your hiring needs

07:41 Creating strategic hiring plans 

10:34 The differences between hiring for tactical vs leadership positions

15:38 Interview questions to determine if candidates are tacticians or more strategic 

17:20 Spotting hiring and interview red flags 

22:44 Balancing gut instincts and bias when hiring

24:53 The average number of interview rounds for a position

28:30 Evaluating candidates through paid assignments

32:42 Actionable steps to take to get your hiring right



Resources:

Jamie Van Cuyk, CEO and Lead Strategist, Growing Your Team
https://growingyourteam.com/

Contact Info: 
jamie@growingyourteam.com

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/GrowingYourTeam

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/growingyourteam/

LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamievancuyk/ 


Kathy Svetina, Fractional CFO:
https://www.newcastlefinance.us/

Blog post | How to Avoid Hiring Mistakes
https://www.newcastlefinance.us/listen/how-to-avoiding-hiring-mistakes/

Kathy (host):
Well hello there and welcome back to another episode of Help! My Business is Growing, a podcast where we explore how to grow and build a business that is healthy and sustainable. I'm your host, Kathy Svetina, a fractional CFO and the founder of NewCastle Finance, a company where we believe that everything that you do in your business is eventually going to end up in your finances. And to get to healthy finances is to have a healthy business. The question is, how in the world do you get there? Well, this is where this podcast comes in to help.

Kathy (host):
When your company makes hiring mistakes, especially for higher level strategic positions, there could be some pretty bad consequences. You can end up with team members who aren't the right fit, which leads to decreased business performance and ultimately, you fall behind financially. When you make the right hiring decisions, it transforms your business. It leads to increased productivity, better teamwork, a stronger competitive edge, and, of course, better financial performance. So how do you avoid making hiring mistakes? And how do you make sure that you find the people that are a good fit? What are your needs and expectations for those in higher level positions? What do you need to consider when you're hiring for those? And how do you hire the right people that will achieve that excellence instead of just settling for mediocrity?

Kathy (host):
As a quick reminder, all of the episodes on this podcast, including this one, come with timestamps for the topics that we discuss, and each one has its own blog post. You can find all the links and the detailed topics in this episode's show notes.

Kathy (host):
My guest today is Jamie Van Cuyk. She is the owner and the lead strategist of Growing Your Team. She's an expert in hiring and onboarding teams with small businesses, drawing from over 10 years of leadership experience. Jamie teaches her clients how to hire their first team members, including employees and long-term contractors, by leading the dynamics of each company and their specific needs. She helps them find their perfect fit, long-lasting team members and avoid the hiring and firing cycle. Join us.

Kathy (host):
Jamie, welcome to the show.

Jamie (guest):
Hi, Kathy. Thanks for having me.

Kathy (host):
Well, thanks so much for being here. You know, when we first connected, I was really intrigued by all the content that you put out there about hiring. So I want to start this conversation with a pretty big question. You know, pretty much every single small business owner is asking themselves about hiring mistakes. We all make them. And I want to know, what are the most common hiring mistakes that you see when you're helping people hire new team members? And most importantly, how do we actually avoid these mistakes?

Jamie (guest):
Oh, that's a great place to start. Yeah, that's kind of a loaded question, because I feel like there's so much I can share right now. So, hiring mistakes. The most common one that I see small business owners make when they go to hire is not actually being very clear on the position that they're hiring for. They might sit there and just feel like, "I'm overwhelmed. I need some help. So let me just get anybody and I'll figure it out as we go along." And the problem with that is, if you figure it out after you hire somebody, what are the odds that the person you hired is actually going to be good and skilled at what you need? Because yes, as a business owner, we become a jack of all trades, and we do a little bit of everything. But that's not everybody out there. So you might run into the fact that the person you hired is great and amazing, but just not right for you.

Jamie (guest):
So you really need to figure out who is it that you need? What are those tasks and responsibilities that this person really needs to take over that are going to do the best for your business, that are going to help you see that really good positive ROI? And then in addition to that, who is going to be successful inside your organization? What personality do they need? What skills do they need? How are you going to work with them as a manager? What is the culture you've built? Especially if this person is going to be client-facing, how do they interact with your clients? What do your clients expect? Things like that.

Jamie (guest):
So it's not only just the tasks and responsibilities that you need to know, but this whole ideal candidate that you need to know. That way you can go and find the right person. So that is the number one mistake that I see people make.

Jamie (guest):
The other mistake is the hiring process takes a lot of time. So they just want to get it done as quickly as possible, which means they skip steps. They don't really do their due diligence to make sure they're doing the right things. Even if they are taking time to interview and write job postings, they're not taking the time to ensure that they're doing those things correctly. They get to a point where they just get into decision fatigue, because they don't have the right things helping them make the decisions. They're just like, "Alright, I'm just gonna hire this person because they're the best of what I have." But they don't know if the best of what they have is even the right thing for them. So they're not doing their due diligence in the process to get the right person and identify the right person to help them support what they need support with in their business.

Kathy (host):
So let's go back to the first item, figuring out who exactly do you need. And it's funny, we're talking about this because I just had a conversation with a business owner yesterday, talking about how they need to hire a salesperson. And they have some idea of what they actually want them to do. Essentially what they need to do is really bring in business. That is the number one thing that they need to do. But of course, there's other stuff that we talked about, like, how would they know that they are successful? Like what are some of the KPIs?

Kathy (host):
So if someone is really struggling with this, say, okay, let's take the example of you need to hire a salesperson, right? Someone needs to help you bring in business and just yourself, where would you go from there? Do you put a job description together with some of the KPIs? Like, what do you even do? Where do you start?

Jamie (guest):
Yeah, so the first place to start is you're like, "Okay, I need a salesperson." Well, you have to figure out, like you said, what that salesperson really looks like inside your organization. So the first place to start, and this is where we start with all our clients in what we call our hiring kickoff call, is with the question, "How is this position going to impact your organization?" With a sales position, the simple answer is they're going to help bring in revenue. Okay, great. What does that look like?

Jamie (guest):
And so we're going to start digging in to say, six months from now, a year from now, what are the markers that this person is successful, that this person is actually doing the job that you hired them to do? What does that look like? How do you get that additional support, and all those things that say this person is actually meeting your expectations?

Jamie (guest):
Because sales, and I love that you brought up the sales example, because this is a great example. There's a lot of different nuances when it comes to sales positions. But there's sometimes these two buckets that sales positions can fall into. In one, you want the salesperson that's going to go out and be that person that's going to be doing those quick sales. You don't care about things as long as that money's being brought in. So whatever they're doing to bring money in, great, keep that money flowing, keep it coming.

Jamie (guest):
And then you're going to have the other side where it's, "Okay, we need to slow down, we need to do our due diligence, make sure that every person is the right person. We have a lot of different service offerings and product offerings. So we need to make sure that this person gets the right products and services for them. So we're not just focusing on closing the sale, we're focusing on making sure that everything we sell is the right thing for that person. And maybe that means that this is going to be less than we would possibly could talk this person into buying, but it's what they need right now. And we know when we do well here, they're going to return and buy more later and be a repeat client and things like that."

Jamie (guest):
So you have to know, what type of sales culture do you want? What is important to you? Because the person that's going to succeed in either one of those positions is not necessarily going to succeed in the opposite. So you need to know what is your sales culture? What do you want? What does that day to day look like? And what says, "Yes, I'm going to be happy with this person's performance."

Kathy (host):
And this is where I'm planning and kind of stepping back to look at the entire picture helps. I feel like a lot of people just go and just like, "Let's go, let's go, let's go, let's go." But it really pays off if you pause, if you go slow, so that you can go faster. Because I've seen businesses really get burned by this. They keep hiring, the hiring, and the person is not right. It didn't work out for whatever reason. I mean, there's just so many things that can go wrong. And what I'm always trying to figure out is, why is this happening? A lot of times I see it's because they did not take that time to think about, "Okay, what is the culture of my business? What do I really need?" Like, let's lay this down, not just in your head but actually put it on paper. Have you seen that?

Jamie (guest):
Yes, yes, definitely. And I think it's like one of the holdups that I see. Sometimes, let's still go with a sales position, you're delegating sales and you want to hire someone for sales because it's not your area of expertise. I even know, for myself, I remember going through my career and I came to a crossroads when I was working in corporate. I was like, okay, I can go into sales, or I can go into leadership, what do I do? And the reason I chose leadership is I knew I always wanted to run my own business. And I was like, I'm not gonna hire someone to be CEO of my business, but I can hire someone to sell. Not really thinking at that point in time that, oh, when I'm a small business owner, I'm doing it all. So maybe I need to learn some sales skills as well. But I chose to learn what I felt was most important for my business. So I didn't come out being a salesperson.

Jamie (guest):
So there's a lot of people the same. If you're delegating something, typically, it's like, I recognize I'm not good at this. It's a real drain on my resources. It's making it so I can't operate in my zone of genius in my organization. But if I'm not good at it, how do I really sit down and create all the details of what this person is going to be doing day to day? Because I don't know, there's so much that I don't know. And that's okay. It's okay not to be able to fill in all the details. It's more of that big picture of what's going on. What does that look like? What's going to make you happy? Like, for example, how do they communicate with you? How do they track their data? How do you want them going out?

Jamie (guest):
And also, if you know that you're not an expert in that area, you also then know what type of support you can provide them. So if you're saying, I'm an expert in this, so I can mentor and coach someone, you can hire a different person than if you say, I am not an expert in this. I can look at data and I can coach them from a leadership perspective, but I can't really teach them how to do the tactical part of their job. Then you need to make sure you're hiring someone that knows how to do that technical part and potentially has been in positions before where they don't have a supervisor that's holding their hand throughout the process, but really just being that high level leadership and mentorship in general for their career.

Kathy (host):
And this is a good segue into what I actually wanted to ask as well, because I've seen that there's a difference between tactical positions and strategic positions, right? And I also see people getting really comfortable with getting people who are tactical, because again, a lot of times you're hiring people that can just replicate what you're doing. But the more strategic positions are more like leadership level style positions. And it's a different way of hiring someone for those positions. Can we talk about the differences in the hiring process between a tactical and a leadership position?

Jamie (guest):
Yeah, so the main difference is really going to be the questions you ask during the interview. And that all starts with, once again, knowing who you're looking for, who your ideal candidate is, and who you want to hire.

Jamie (guest):
So with the tactical positions, we're going to ask questions that really dive into their ability to execute. Sometimes it's diving into their ability to troubleshoot when things don't go right. How did they identify what is right versus what is wrong? How do they handle details? How did they handle maybe what can be seen by some people as an overloaded workload? And how do they manage it to understand what needs to be done today? And what can wait till tomorrow? And what can wait till next week? So we ask questions to understand their ability to execute the work.

Jamie (guest):
With the more strategic positions, we're asking questions around their strategic thought process. So we're not asking questions about, you know, tell me about a time when you had to go in and update SEO on an entire website. We're asking questions maybe along the lines of, "Tell me about a project you worked on where you identified that the SEO needed to be improved in order to achieve marketing goals. Walk us through your thought process, what had to happen, and what the results were." So sometimes we're talking more about, okay, how did you identify this, maybe what you delegated or worked with your team on, and then what were the results?

Jamie (guest):
We're really looking at, can they understand and do they know how to work through those bigger picture items? And then a lot of times with those strategic positions, there's people management involved as well. So we want to know how they work with people. How do they mentor people? How do they help people that maybe are not understanding something and they have to help a team member understand so things can be executed as needed? So we're looking at those people management, leadership, and mentorship skills as well.

Kathy (host):
Are there any particular questions that you have found are very helpful to differentiate between a tactician versus a strategic person when you are trying to hire into a more strategic position?

Jamie (guest):
Yeah, so part of it is having to come up with specific questions, because everything we do, the questions are 100% specific based on that ideal candidate. We have a bank of interview questions, but we change and manipulate them. And what we're going to select always depends on the information that we have.

Jamie (guest):
But some of the things that we're going to look for and ask about is, when we ask a question like "Tell me about a time when…", we're going to listen for what are they telling you the most that they're doing? Is it just the executing? Are they going to tell you about their thought process and things like that? So you're really listening for what they are including in their answers.

Jamie (guest):
One type of question that helps you really see their thought process is asking about times when things went wrong. There's always something that's going to go wrong. If someone's like, "Everything was perfect, I'd never made a mistake, there was never an error," either they're not aware of what's going on around them, which probably means they're not at that strategic thinking level yet, or they don't want to admit to their mistakes, which probably also means they're not the person you want at that strategic level yet, because they're going to sweep things under the rug instead of handling things properly. So you want to ask about what went wrong and how they corrected the situation or what happened as a result.

Jamie (guest):
Sometimes we ask about things like if they're in a position where they're going to be doing a lot of the planning, asking about times where plans were made, what went into making those plans, and who was involved. Sometimes that's a good question - who was involved in the developing of these plans? So when you're hearing who was involved, it's okay if everyone there, including the person involved, was someone senior and they were the junior person there. Maybe they're not really the person that's going to be doing the strategic thinking, but they were involved more so to say, yes, we could do that execution-wise, or no, we can't.

Jamie (guest):
But if they're saying who was involved, and it's more kind of like a collaborative environment, or the people that they are like, "This person was involved because I went to this person to get their opinion or get their insight to make sure that the information was correct, that the plan we were putting together was feasible," then you can see that they're really in more of that strategic thought process point in their career, versus just being tactical.

Kathy (host):
How about the type of questions that they ask you as the owner as well? Does that give you an insight into how they are really thinking? Are they thinking more tactical or more strategic?

Jamie (guest):
So I think once again, it always depends. I know there's a lot of people that always say, think of the questions that candidates ask you and kind of evaluate off of them. And I think that puts a lot of pressure on candidates. They're like, sometimes I don't know what to ask. And for an interview, there's so much on the outside that they're really not able to ask good strategic questions a lot of the time because they only have so much information, or they're trying to interpret the information that they do have.

Jamie (guest):
So I don't really put a whole lot of weight on what questions people ask, especially in my process right now where I'm speaking to most of the candidates. I'm typically speaking to candidates as an outside consultant on behalf of my clients. It's very early on in the process. So a lot of times, it's too early for them to ask those strategic questions.

Jamie (guest):
But one of the things that I will say that I think is important if the candidate does ask questions is listening for - is this something we already talked about in the interview? Or is this something that was presented to them in the job posting? So if they're asking questions and I'm like, this information, I know you had this information in front of you, you didn't have to go and review the website or do a whole bunch of research, this information was provided to you. And you're asking me questions about it. That can show me a little bit of their thought process and where they are. Or if they're asking questions that I just kind of answered, and they're not asking it in a way to dig deeper, find out more information. Sometimes that will say, alright, maybe they're not as good at that strategic thinking. They need things handed to them, and so forth.

Kathy (host):
Are there any other red flags when you are interviewing people that tell you that this might not be a good candidate for that particular position? It all depends again, but is there anything that you've seen that comes across like a pattern that you said, okay, I've seen this before, this is a red flag.

Jamie (guest):
Yeah, there's so many, it depends. But there are some things that I think are pretty good and consistent red flags. First off, do they actually show up on time to their interview? Occasionally, you'll have people that have missed an interview because their current boss doesn't know that they're interviewing and all of a sudden they get pulled into a meeting. They can't say, "Hold on, I need to go take an interview, I need to end this meeting."

Jamie (guest):
So then I'll look at what did the candidate say when they reached out to you? And sometimes, are they proactive in rescheduling? Or is it 12 hours later that they reach out? And sometimes, what does that communication look like? If it seems like a good excuse, that it really was that they were pulled into a meeting, something that they couldn't get out of, we need to respect that because we all want people working for us that are going to respect our business until the very end. So we need to respect them if they legitimately are pulled into a meeting.

Jamie (guest):
But if you have people that just aren't showing up, I used to reach out and say, "Hey, was there an issue that you couldn't get on the interview? Would you like to reschedule?" And then sometimes people would reschedule, and then they'd miss again. Or I'd find out during the interview that they're just really not a good fit. So now, unless the candidate reaches out and has a good excuse of why they missed an interview, we don't reschedule.

Jamie (guest):
We also, especially if they are applying for anything that's an admin type position, or where details are important, they get all the interview information when they apply. We don't send any reminders, because I want to see that they're actually paying attention, that they can keep track of their own schedule. Especially if it's an admin position where calendar management is an important skill, something they're going to be doing for their new boss, we want to make sure that they can actually manage their own calendar. So we don't send reminders because we want to see, can they keep track of the details themselves?

Jamie (guest):
So there's things like that - are they showing us that they have the skills outside of those interview questions, but inside of those things, that they're showing us that they have those skills? How do they show up for the interview? I'm not expecting, because the first interviews we're doing them over Zoom, I'm not expecting someone to put on a suit and tie or dress business formal because I'm seeing them from the shoulders up. But are they at least showing that they are attentive during the interview?

Jamie (guest):
Like I interviewed someone once and they were looking over to the side, kept getting distracted and looked like they were typing emails the entire time. It's like, you don't really care about this interview. There's a difference between, once again, people are working jobs, so sometimes the only quiet place they have to go take an interview is in their car. But are they in their car and paying attention, versus a candidate that I interviewed that was driving between meetings, and the phone was over to the side, and they were driving. And to me, I was like, that's not okay. Being in your car, fine. You might not be able to go home to take an interview and then get back to the office in the time of your lunch break or anything that you have. But you have to make sure that you're paying attention. And if the candidate is not showing you respect during an interview, then they're probably not going to show the respect or be dedicated during their time of employment.

Kathy (host):
Yeah, it's interesting. I mean, I've never had that happen to me. But I can't imagine someone taking a job interview while they're driving or typing an email. Whether they're doing it is just, it's just mind boggling to me. It really is.

Jamie (guest):
Yeah, actually, I'll share another thing real quick, because this actually just happened. I always say we have to take our emotions out of the hiring process and all this stuff, because if we put our emotions into it, they can lead us to hiring people that we like, we also feel this connection to, but they're not a good fit.

Jamie (guest):
But I think sometimes our gut and our emotions will tell us other things, like red flags that maybe we're not picking up on through their words. But we have to listen to those. So if our gut is telling us not to hire someone, and we can't figure out exactly what it is, maybe do some due diligence, making sure you're not letting biases get in the way. But if your gut is really telling you that this person is not someone that you would work with, don't continue on, don't invite them to the next round of interviews, don't give them the job, even if everything else is great.

Jamie (guest):
I recently interviewed a candidate where there were multiple reasons why they were not the right fit for my client that I was not going to pass them on. But I just had this feeling the entire time that we were on the call that this gentleman was talking down to me. And I was just like, well, my gut is telling me that he doesn't respect me right now during this interview. And he'd be going into a position where he'd be talking to people in the community all the time. So it's just like, this is a red flag.

Jamie (guest):
So there's all these other reasons why he's not moving forward. But if he checked every other box, I'd be really hesitant about moving him forward because of this. And when I told this guy that he was not moving forward in the process, I received an email back that was pretty rude, telling me that I wasn't good at my job. And I'm just like, well, thank you. But, you know, I guess this actually means I am pretty good at my job, because I picked up on this behavior without him having to say anything directly, just by the way that he was communicating nonverbally and everything during the interview.

Kathy (host):
You know, this is a really important distinction to make. There's a gut feeling, and then there's also a bias. So there's like a fine line between those two. What are your thoughts on that? Because we want to make sure that we have a diverse set of candidates, that we have a good team put together. And we're not using our own biases to judge the person. But then again, we kind of have to listen to our gut here. So what's your take on that?

Jamie (guest):
Yeah, so I would say definitely examine it, don't jump to that conclusion of, okay, this person is not the right fit, because my gut is telling me. Ask what happened during this interview to make me feel that way? Is it all of a sudden, you're thinking, this person is not dedicated? This person is going to be someone calling out all the time? Well, what did they tell you that? Did they show up to their interview on time? Okay, did they tell you anything that makes you really feel that they're not a dedicated employee? Or are you thinking that because during the interview, you heard a kid in the background? So you have to think about, like, what triggered this in the process? What made me feel this way? And if it's not something that the person is telling you? Or sometimes those nonverbal cues that come up in people's communication, then you have to check to say, am I letting my biases get in the way?

Jamie (guest):
And I've had to coach some clients through this in the past, where then we'll say, well, maybe let's have an additional conversation. Let's dig into some of these areas. Where we'll look at, obviously, we can't ask someone directly about care and their children and childcare and all that. But there are other things that we can ask that can help us feel comfortable in this area, or help prove what we're feeling. So there are ways to get around it. If you're like, everything else about this candidate is perfect, I want to make sure I'm not letting biases get in the way, then sometimes it's just having another conversation to explore those biases, explore those things that are telling you no. But at the same time, I have to say, I always say you have to work with this person. So if you're literally sitting there in the interview saying I don't like the way this person talked to me, this person is treating me in this interview, you have to respect that on your own to say there are some things I'm just not going to deal with in the office and I'm okay with that.

Kathy (host):
And how many conversations do you think - is there a minimum and a maximum? Because you know, years ago, I interviewed for a position when I was in corporate. I literally talked to 13 people and had eight interviews. I would have never done that at this point. I think I would have just kind of clocked out at three, or two at max. But how many interviews is enough? And how many is just too much? Is there such a thing?

Jamie (guest):
Yeah. So you definitely need two interviews. And I always say no more than three. And that third interview, there should be a really good reason why there's a third interview. And so to give you some examples of why there might be a third interview - for example, sometimes there's a team interview, and it's a little bit maybe more informal, it's really short, it's just you want to get your team's perspective in that as well. If it's a very high level position, I also help sometimes nonprofits refill their Executive Director and CEO positions, those positions will go into three interviews. Because it's very high level, it's very senior, we have to dive into a lot of information. There are a lot of stakeholders, from the board and the staff that need to get involved. And sometimes we don't want to get that many people involved too early in the process, we only want them involved with the final candidates.

Jamie (guest):
So you have to think, what is the reason? If you're just like, well, I need more people, because you said you talked to 13 different people, why do all those people's opinions matter? And you have to figure out who is the decision maker, and then who also just has a say in the process, and who are you putting into the process because they want to be in the process, but it doesn't matter what they say, because you're gonna make your decision anyway. And go from there and really figure out who matters.

Jamie (guest):
I was recently talking to a business owner, and she was doing the interview process all on her own. And she said, I want someone else in the process. Because I want someone to double check what I'm doing, that I'm not following my emotions, that this person is actually doing the right thing, this person is actually right for the position I'm filling. And I think that's okay, so then that's either you're having a recruiter come in and do that first round of interviews, or you do the interview and then you're adding kind of that additional conversation for that additional person. But make sure that person has a purpose of being in the interview. So sometimes it's a stakeholder, it's maybe an important client, it is someone else in the business who is going to work closely with this team member, someone that really has a good understanding of the position, the business, its needs, and can provide you valuable feedback.

Jamie (guest):
But we have to respect the candidate throughout the process. And that is super, super important. Those long interview processes don't respect the candidate. It's saying the candidate is going to give us all this time because they want the job. And if they're not going to give us their time, who cares. But we have to respect the fact that if they're interviewing, typically they have a job. Sometimes you go through all those rounds of interviews, and you're not the only person going through all those rounds of interviews. So you don't get the job at the end. And we have to recognize that we might not be the only person that candidate is speaking with at this time. If everybody asks them to do eight interviews, how are they ever going to get their current job done? So we have to be respectful.

Jamie (guest):
And you do at least two. And the reason you want to do at least two is one, you're going to weed candidates out during that first interview. So you don't want to take too much of their time. But you want to ask enough questions to make sure that the good candidates move on to that second interview. And two, there are going to be people you love in that first interview that are going to ace every question, but once you get into those deeper questions, or you have a second conversation with them, you're going to realize that they're not a fit. So always do two, so you have two points of contact with that person. But I say no more than three.

Kathy (host):
Yeah, it's, you know, the eight interviews, I was just at that point, I was just laughing. I'm like, this is terrible. I mean, I didn't even want the job at that point, because I was completely turned off. But I was curious, you know, where is this gonna go? It was interesting. I didn't want it.

Kathy (host):
To ask for particular roles - let's say that you're hiring an admin role. How do you feel about giving them a certain assignment, a paid assignment, so that you can actually see them work in action before you make the decision to actually hire them?

Jamie (guest):
Yeah. So great question about that. Okay, so first off, the paid assignments get a little tricky. So make sure you're talking to your bookkeeper or anything like that. Because what a lot of people don't realize is sometimes with paid assignments, depending on the work that you're having them do and everything, you actually have to set that person up as an employee in order to pay them for that assignment, which means you have to set them up as an employee with the state and unemployment and all those other things, which is a very cumbersome process. So it then gets into that tricky thing of like, well, I'm telling someone I'm going to pay them but I don't want to go through all those hassles, but how do you legally pay them and not put yourself into trouble? So sometimes paid assignments, well, it sounds great, and you're like I'm paying someone for their time, might be more of a hassle than they're actually worth. So just keep that in mind when you're making your decisions about what you want somebody to do.

Jamie (guest):
Doing an assignment I think is fine, as long as there's a good purpose for it, as long as you're learning something from it. And sometimes we have to ask ourselves, what can they learn? Or what can they show us in this little amount of time? And sometimes it's not just like having them do a paid assignment, it's having them do a little test or a case study or something as part of one of the interviews. What can you learn?

Jamie (guest):
So sometimes with assignments, we're saying, hey, for an admin, I want them to come in and do this test project or whatever with some of my files, or some of these things. This is what they're going to be doing day to day on the job. But then we judge them based on someone who has gone through onboarding and training, but they haven't gone through onboarding and training yet. So do they know enough to be successful at what you're going to give them without going through onboarding and training? So that is like one thing to ask yourself with that.

Jamie (guest):
If you're having them do, let's say, you need this person to be an expert on QuickBooks, there's QuickBooks testing and stuff out there where you could have them do some testing and see what is their actual skill level in this area. So I think you just need to be very careful about what you give them and making sure that you're judging them on the right criteria based on what they can actually show you and what they can do.

Jamie (guest):
There are a lot of times where I have clients that say, we want a project to be a part of the process. And when we dig into what they want to uncover, we can actually uncover all that information during the interview if we ask the right questions, that we don't need to take the time for a case project or test projects or anything like that. But then there are other times where we do have to put something in.

Jamie (guest):
For example, one of my clients right now, we had them, after one of the interviews, they were told a lot of information about the organization. So it was like, alright, you're going to answer a lot of questions. Now we're going to tell you a lot of kind of that behind-the-scenes stuff, stuff you can't really find out from the website. And then with the next interview, they were asked to just do a five minute kind of presentation on what they thought were the greatest strengths of the organization and how they would leverage those strengths in their position moving forward. So we were able to then test their thought process and everything, we didn't have them put together a PowerPoint or any visual documents, it was just a verbal presentation, where then we are also able to ask them questions based on that presentation, to once again dig into some of their thought process and everything there to really understand if they were a good fit.

Kathy (host):
And was that a tactical position? Or was that a more strategic position that you were hiring for?

Jamie (guest):
That one was more strategic. So we were able to really test their thought processes and everything with that. With the tactical, yes, sometimes a little bit of testing or some case studies and test projects might be needed. But once again, sometimes we can figure out their real ability just by answering the right questions, and asking how they've handled things in certain situations in the past.

Kathy (host):
So Jamie, we have talked a lot about what are the hiring mistakes, how to fix them, what to look for. If someone is looking to hire and they want to hire right, and they have made mistakes in the past, what is your best advice to them, something that they can do, something really actionable today, to not repeat those mistakes from the past anymore.

Jamie (guest):
Okay, so my best piece of advice is take your time to write a job post that speaks directly to your ideal candidate. You can't hire a great person if a great person never applies. And they're not going to apply if they don't feel a connection with your job posting. There are so many opportunities out there that you want a candidate saying, "Yes, this is the job for me" before they ever submit their application, before that first conversation. And you do that by speaking directly to your ideal candidate.

Jamie (guest):
We use language in our job postings along the lines of "this job is for you if…", "the successful candidate is…", and things like that. So we want people nodding along and saying yes, yes, that is me. We also want people that read that and say, nope, that is not me. And they deselect themselves from the process. So you want to be very clear. We don't want to hide things.

Jamie (guest):
I've had people in the past say, well, I'm not going to include that because that's not a really favorable thing. And it's like, but if they have to do it, we want people who don't want to do that task to not apply. We want to make sure that we really describe the job well. So that way people know what they're applying for. And we get the right candidates into our pipeline.

Kathy (host):
That's a great tip, Jamie. Where can people find you?

Jamie (guest):
You can find me at growingyourteam.com. We hang out a lot on Instagram at @growingyourteam. And then there's the Growing Your Team podcast which is available on all major podcasting platforms or at growingyourteam.com/podcast.

Kathy (host):
Awesome. And we're going to have all of that in the show notes. So if you didn't get a chance to catch it, just look in the show notes. It's going to be all there. Thank you so much for being on the show, Jamie.

Jamie (guest):
Yes. Thanks so much for having me.

Common hiring mistakes by small businesses
Defining your hiring needs
Creating strategic hiring plans
The differences between hiring for tactical vs leadership positions
Interview questions to determine if candidates are tacticians or more strategic
Spotting hiring and interview red flags
Balancing gut instincts and bias when hiring
The average number of interview rounds for a position
Evaluating candidates through paid assignments
Actionable steps to take to get your hiring right