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Hiring and Skywriting

Hiring and Skywriting

I have an associate degree in aviation and a bachelors in liberal arts with a concentration in communications and advertising from Purdue Universtiy.  Upon completion my mom said I was prepared to be a sky writer.

A Bit About Megan

In high school I worked for a family business that had a handful of year round employees (I was one of these) and a large amount of seasonal staff.  In college I interned at United Airlines World Headquarters, that was the largest business I’ve been apart of and honestly hiring at that level is outside of my scope of knowledge.

Upon graduating college I worked in sales for a few years. It was a small franchise and the experience I received there has been incredibly valuable.  After that I went back to school to become a photographer and have freelanced in that field for 13 years. I continue to do this while also running our other business.  We currently own and operate a small business with a staff of 20-24 employees.

Staffing in the Beginning

Once your business is up and going generally I think staffing evens out, but in the beginning it can be tough, especially if you are looking for many people at once.  Fortunately Bill handles a seasonal staff of about 50 so when it was time for us to start our new business he had good experience with hiring. As we’ve discussed, this business is a franchise and we did have the benefit of hiring and interview guides with suggested questions.  At opening we were looking for about 15 people, 8-10 with a specific skill sets and the remaining in customer service and sales.  We advertised in digital arenas such as indeed, craigslist and even spread the word through our own face book pages and friends.  We hung a banner on our store front, which has good visibility and set a date to hold a job fair.  I held my breath as I thought we’ve never done anything like this in our previous experience and I wasn’t very confident that anyone would show up!   We had a manager hired so along with the three of us we had 2 other people we trusted and had experience with hiring and in our industry help us with our job fair.  We opened the doors for it and low and behold people showed up, what a relief it was!  We ended up with about 10 of our staff from that day and through individual interviews found the remaining to open our doors.  The wonderful thing of hiring a staff pre opening was that we could then spend about a week having all of our new staff come in and train together, we also all work together to set up the space and fine tune some processes before opening the doors.  That being said the “fine tuning” processes is constant!

Interviewing Now

When opening and running a business time because incredibly valuable so anything I can do to use it most wisely is important.  Our interviewing process starts with a 10-15 minute phone interview.  This is a great way to decide if moving forward for an in person interview is worth the time for both parties.  Generally, I can find out from the phone conversation if their skill set might be a match and certainly find out if the times we need to fill are times that work for them.  If I need someone who can work on Saturday and they are never available on the weekends then moving forward with an in person interview at that time doesn’t make much sense.  I also find when people want a job they agree to items that might not be reality.  For example  rather than initially offering exactly what time we need to fill I will discuss the hours our business is open and ask them if their are any days and times that they are unavailable to work.  If it seems we might be a match from their response I will  then move forward with the specifics of the times we need filled.  Initially, I didn’t word questions this way but found if I gave the times we needed people would agree that it all worked for them and then when we got in depth in the interviewing process they would offer that they really couldn’t work every Saturday but would be willing to work occasionally which didn’t meet our needs and was therefore wasting time.  We also hire staff that needs to have a license and insurance in their field so making sure they have this requirement met before they come in saves time for us all.    In any case, you get the idea doing a little work upfront can save time and hopefully make sure that when you are then investing more time in person you have qualified people coming into interview.

Once we decide to move forward with an in person interview we have applicants fill out an application and then move into an interview.  I think it is important to build great questions to analyze decision making and any qualifications that you need to fit the job.  For our sales position we always ask in those interviews for someone to “Sell me this pen”  that tells me a lot about how they deal under pressure and if they will be comfortable asking for the sale.

On many applications you can ask if it is acceptable for you to reach out to their references and this is something else I follow up on.  It is great to confirm their past working experience and often hear good things about a person getting ready to join the team.  We have however also heard things that have given insight to why they might not fit into the team so while these calls can be a bit cumbersome and at times awkward, they are always valuable.    Lastly, we have everyone we employee complete an online background check, this can get expensive but well worth it to find things that people may not tell you about upfront.  We’ve experienced reports coming back with issues, some of which we find acceptable and some that are not, every person and company has to decide what is acceptable for them.   We can also tell a lot about a person who is willing to discuss it with us rather than someone who is trying to hide issues from us.

Put Em to Work

The final step to anyone we are thinking of hiring is what we call a working interview.  We invite the potential employee in to spend 2-3 hours actually working with us.  Not only does this give us a chance to spend some more time with them, it also give them a chance to see exactly what we do and how we do it.  During this time we like to challenge the interviewee to see how they react when they need to solve a problem-nothing mean, but we throw them right in and see how they react.  Anyone can hold it together and “show well” during a 45 minute interview, but over a 2-3 hour stretch people will let their guard down a little bit and you really get to see their true character.  On more than one occasion we have had the interviewee say after the working interview that the job wasn’t what they expected and decided not move forward.  While that is hard to hear, it is great that we didn’t spend any more time on a relationship that wasn’t mutually beneficial.

I’ve also found that as your staff develops and good people rise to the top it brings other great people to your team.

If all else fails I might circle back to skywriting…

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