Evaluating a Candidate
What are you gonna look for in a top candidate? It kinda goes back to what we talked about under the job description piece again. You wanna have in your mind what the most ideal candidate is gonna look like. Doesn't mean you're always gonna find them. Doesn't mean you might not find somebody who looks kinda different from that, but you feel really enthusiastic about still. But you wanna have at least in mind from the get-go what the best person for this job can look like. Because that's what you're interviewing around, and then that's what you are evaluating around as well. How well do the answers that they gave in an interview process and on the application match up with what I think is the best person for this job? And kind of always making, always playing around, around that delicate balance. I don't wanna harp on this too, too much here, but just think through that again in terms of your job description. Think through that in terms of the application process. Think through that in ...
terms of the questions that you ask, and then think through it again in the evaluation phase. Now, speaking of evaluation, before we get into the nitty gritty of it, another one of the questions that often comes up is do I wanna hire for experience, or do I wanna hire for potential? And the answer is, of course, as always, it depends. (laughing) We've talked about, I hired Shannon for potential, not experience. She certainly had experiences that led me to believe she had the potential, but she didn't have experience as a community manager. When we hired for the Member Experience Specialist, we knew we needed to get people on the job pretty quickly. I mean we were, we got them hired real quick, and then we got them working real quick. They're working right now, (chuckles) while we're here. And so I said, I'd love to hire someone for experience instead of potential. I was open to hiring someone for potential, but I knew because our timeframe was tight that experience was far outweighing someone's potential to do the job. And we got lucky, and found people who had exact experience in what we were looking for. And that meant, then, that they could get started right away. And they, going back to how will they help, it's an opportunity, hiring someone is an opportunity to add revenue to your business.
Right. They're gonna help move the ball forward in a different way than I'm moving the ball forward. Because they can be a foil for you in some of the content management, places where I don't, I can't bring that to the table. In that case, like when we were looking at those different pieces of the puzzle, we leaned more towards experience in this case. Yeah, absolutely. And so, a lot of this is are you looking short, is the need short-term, or is the need long-term? Doesn't mean how long that employee is going to be with you, but do you need them to know what to do yesterday? (chuckles) Or is it okay that they're going to help shape the job itself. Right, like, Shannon came into the job and has really started to transform what that job is all about, because she had potential, she had skills that could lend that position going in one direction or another, and she could make it her own. Whereas with this Member Experience Specialist, we certainly had flexibility with it, because flexibility is also a value of mine, but at the same time we knew pretty well what they needed to do. They needed to onboard people, they needed to answer questions, they needed to be willing to match people up, and host events, and we had this laundry list of things they needed to do. And so hiring for experience made a lot of sense there, as opposed to potential. They weren't helping to shape the job as much as the job was dictating what kind of experience they needed. The other thing to consider here too is pay. This is not a golden rule, and it doesn't always apply, but most of the time, or a lot of the time, let's not even say most. A lot of the time when you're hiring for experience, you end up paying a premium for that experience because they have a job, they have a position that they can directly relate your offer to, and they're not really most likely going to entertain your offer if it's not actually higher than what they were earning before. People like to step up in positions, they don't like to move laterally, generally, with pay. If it's the same title, or the same set of responsibilities, if they're jumping ship, it's generally for more money. Whereas with hiring for potential, you can be a little bit more conservative with what you're offering. You may still need to match a previous salary, or a previous expectation of pay, but they're not going to have the expectation that they're gonna get paid more because it's a different job. Does that make sense? Does that kind of ring true in your experience as well?
Yeah. So that's definitely something to consider. All right, let's talk a little bit more about how you're actually going to evaluate your candidates. Obviously, hopefully, you're interviewing a bunch of people. I would say always aim to interview at least three people for a job. Which one of them is the best cultural fit? Which one of them is the best match for experience? Whether that's direct experience or related experience. What kind of unexpected skills might make someone really exceptional at the job, what did you learn about that person in the interview process that was like, oh, I had not considered that, but I like it. (chuckles) Right? You know, did anything like that come up that might tip the scale in that person's direction or not? And then also, who could add value to your company really quickly? That's not always gonna be the case. You're not always gonna be able to find someone who's adding revenue or adding value to the company right away. But, when it happens, it's a really good thing to consider in terms of evaluating candidates. How else do you evaluate who to actually give the job to? Well, I'm thinking about... I mean, just from the candidate's perspective. I wanna know that this is something that is gonna make them as happy as it's gonna make... As much as it's gonna add value to the job that it's gonna add value to their life.
Yeah. And to their experience, like that success, that will set them up for success. 'Cause I do, I do take time to think about that. Like, where are the gaps, say we were hiring for potential, like, are they gonna be able to bridge those gaps, and is that gonna be a positive experience for them? Or is that gonna feel like a deficit to them?
Yeah. So just, just thinking through, I mean, each person's gonna have their own set of questions that you need to ask that's specific to them. So, yeah, that, going into their heads too, and looking at how that will play out over the next week, two weeks, three weeks. Thinking about what training would look like for that person. Do you have the time to, can they ramp up quickly, 'cause I need them to ramp up quickly. You know, you knew you were gonna have to take the time to longer training period with me, but you were willing to invest in that, and I was comfortable being tabula rasa for you.
(laughing) Yeah. So, just thinking through those steps, you know, like, what's it gonna look like in three weeks, what's it gonna look like in a month, six months, a year? And how are you guys gonna, so it's thinking through. Yeah, are you comfortable with that timeframe. For sure, Maya. To follow up on that, how do you navigate the interview process to get clear on whether... 'Cause I tend to hire, I have tended to hire for potential sometimes to a fault, and I find myself, like, mentoring more than I'm actually running my business. So I'm learning now the value of also looking to hire for experience. Having said that, if you are in a situation where you're hiring for potential, and you're in an interview, or during the application process, what questions do you ask them to get a feel for whether that journey for them is going to be something that's pleasant for them or something that makes them go ahh, I'm not sure if I want this. Yeah, I mean, my default setting is back to enthusiasm. Are they stoked by challenges? Do they like to learn? Are new things good for them or scary? Or are they ready to sit down and do spreadsheets? You know, seriously, like I'm ready to do the things that I've done in my other jobs. Or does that person have, like, enjoy learning new things? I mean, just make it really simple. I mean, you know transparency is also one of my values, and so I might just be really up front with them. You know, this is the scenario, provided you meet all of our expectations as time goes on, going back to Patrice's segment. First we'll spend a couple of weeks learning about these things. Then we're gonna spend a couple of months getting you up to par on these responsibilities. Then six months out we'll probably add these responsibilities on. And just being clear with them and getting their buy-in on that process and kind of evaluating their reaction to that as well. And just really setting the stage. I mean, again, transparency, I just like to tell people what's gonna happen. (chuckles) But that might not be comfortable for everybody, but that would be another way I'd kinda tackle that. Yeah, so what are your concerns about choosing the right person? 'Cause like I said, this was... Finding the right person, choosing the right person, choosing the wrong person, was one of the biggest fears people told me about hiring. What kind of concerns do you guys have? Specific things. Lashanta. I'm a feeler, so I think sometimes I can mess up between the person who has the right heart and the person who has the right hustle, if the wrong things come out. And that can be very problematic. I know being on some interviewing committees when I had a traditional job, you just happen to hear personal stories, and it's like even though that touches you, is it gonna move your business forward? And those two things aren't one and the same. Yeah, yeah. Well, and that brings up a good point too, that, I think in a large corporation you may be able to take a little bit more risk, because the risk pool is a little more diversified. You guys can't afford to take big risks, and so that might mean hiring more toward experience, specific skillsets, than it does hiring toward potential or because someone just really resonates with you on a people level. In that case, I think self-awareness is key. If you know that's a problem for you, keep that in mind. It may still come up, and there may still be scenarios where it's really hard for you to choose, but just even having it top of mind I think is huge. What other fears do you have about choosing the right candidate? Shannon, do you have a story about choosing the wrong candidate? Oh, gosh. One that's been circulating in my mind as we've been talking, and it's sort of been a touchstone sort of think through how would you do things differently, and, you know, you had the worst-case scenario was your first case scenario, but... And also that idea of working within your network, sort of some safeguards to have in place, and working from your heart versus the hustle. I hired someone who I knew. I thought she had all the right skills for the job, and... I couldn't tell you what, I think maybe I let my personal relationship stand in the way. But, you know, I don't know how much I could have done different because then it just was a disaster. She couldn't, it was a job that required travel, she could barely take a plane ride, just very set, lots of different things. So I had to go through a process of setting her up, you know, a performance evaluation process. To unwind that situation. And it broke the friendship as well. So, yeah, but I also learned a ton, and I also had to toughen up. I'm gonna try and help you succeed, I'm gonna try and fix this, and I'm gonna do it with really concrete steps. Like, I gave it my all. So I feel good about that, you know. But it was things that were beyond my control.