Hiring new employees is one of the most difficult challenges for any business. Just when you think everything is clicking on all cylinders, someone gives their notice and you are forced to divert your attention from the work that you love to replace a team member. There is no question that this is a time consuming process; however, making the wrong hire can be costly and have long term negative effects on your business. I’ve certainly made my fair share of mistakes over the years and seen caterers stumble through the process. Here are three common mistakes to avoid when you’re looking for your next hire.
“If you continually look for talented people (even when you’re not hiring) you are one step ahead when you actually have to start the process.”
Fishing in Shallow Waters
If you start with a pool of mediocre candidates and you pick the best one, then all you are doing is picking the least mediocre. That is, get a bunch of resumes, narrow those down to those you want to interview, pick the best three to come in for a second interview and hire the best one. This is where the traditional hiring funnel can come back to bite you. Here are two tips to avoid falling into this trap.
1) Establish a process of steps that a candidate must go through and put candidates through that process until you find the right one. If you trust the process then only the best candidates will make it through each step. Resist the urge to compare candidates against one another, compare them to the expectations you have for the position and the experience they have that will allow them to be successful.
2) Expand your candidate pool with talent folders. At Footers we have a mantra that we should “Always be Recruiting.” If you continually look for talented people (even when you’re not hiring) you are one step ahead when you actually have to start the process. When you come across someone you think would be awesome on your team, put their information into a “Talent Folder,” then once an appropriate position comes open, reach out to them to see if they are interested or know someone else who might be.
Asking theoretical questions
Theoretical questions get theoretical answers. Candidates are more prepared than ever for the interview process. They are often coached on what to say and have access to endless tips on how to best present themselves. It’s imperative to ask for specific examples of their previous work and how they handled similar situations that they will be in if you hire them for the job. Don’t ask; “How would you handle an upset customer?” Instead ask; “Tell me about a time when you had to interact with an upset customer.” Then ask myriad follow up questions such as, “Did anyone else help you with that interaction? What solution did you come up with for them? What happened after that experience? Did you get any special recognition? Were any process changes made that you were part of?” The more questions you ask, the clearer the picture becomes of the candidate.
Resist the urge to settle on a candidate that you don’t feel 100% sure about simply because work is piling up. It is tempting to get someone in the door quickly because your team is falling behind trying to pick up the work from the person who has left. Or you hurry to hire because you want to make sure you have someone in place before the two-week notice expires for the departing employee. We’ve all been there before, and while this may be a short term fix, it can cause serious long term problems. Hire slowly and take your time to make sure you find the right person for the job. If you need additional help to get the job done in the short term, look to those on your team who might have some additional capacity, even if they don’t work in that department. Do you have a service staff person looking for extra hours that could come in and complete some paperwork to help ease the load on your sales team?
By avoiding these three very common mistakes, you can improve your hiring and ensure that you are adding top talent to your team. Those are the people that will continue to move your company forward and bring you success in the long run.
Anthony Lambatos is the co-owner and CEO of Footers Catering, Denver, CO.