The Job Application Process
So let's take a look at the application process that you're going to use. We talked a little bit about this in the last session. You certainly can create an application process that's, you know, send me your resume or CV and a cover letter, go through those, see which ones seem to be the best fit for you. We talked a little bit about maybe doing some trial work on a project. I know Kristin mentioned in the Coke commercial chat that when she was hired at a marketing agency previously, they had hired her first as a freelancer to write a couple of articles. Actually, as part of the interview process they paid her freelance rate, and then brought her on as a part time employee, which is awesome. If you can kind of extend that trial period to someone, that's amazing. Not every job lends itself to that, but I think it's a great way to do it. But I wanted to show you what our employment application looks like now, and this is a pretty new... To be completely honest with you, this is a pretty ...
new thing that we have, a new asset that we have. But I created it with the long term vision that we're not just gonna be hiring a person here or a person there, but that I know looking further out what we're gonna be hiring for, what values are important, what attitude, what cultural aspects are important to us as a team. And so we wanted to have a document where we could be sending people if they said, "Hey, do you have a job right now that you're hiring for?" "No, but why don't you go ahead and fill out our application anyhow?" 'Cause ABC, always be checking out the talent, right? So this is what our application actually looks like, and if you notice the format here, it's just a Google form. This is not fancy. I could've done it in type form, but it would've taken me an extra five minutes, so I didn't. It's a Google form. So on the first page here, I just ask for this very simple information, the stuff that I need to know to be able to contact them, really. And then we start getting personal. I ask for their social media profiles, I ask them to tell me about their customer service or support experience, I ask them about their personal values, I ask them about their personal use and comfort with the internet and new technology. 'Cause it's extremely important to me that anybody we hire is not someone who is gonna be like, "Oh, there's a lot of apps that you use." Right? I need someone who's very comfortable, very fluid with technology, and even someone who's willing to say, "Hey, I heard about this new app. Can we try it out?" Like, those are the people I need on my team. You cannot be technology averse. So I wanted to ask about that as well. I asked to tell me about a problem or challenge at your last job that you were able to solve creatively, so starting to get into more of the cultural aspects here, and just checking to make sure that they're attitude and their skills were the right fit. I also want to know, do they have experience doing the kinds of things that we do? Business development, marketing, freelancing, how familiar are you with our members, right? With our target customers. And then if you do have a bit more experience, tell me more about it. And then I also asked them, "Why do you think you're a great fit for this?" Right? I went through all of that effort to create a job description that really described very well the opportunity that we had, so I want them to respond back to me. You read this, you thought you were a great fit, tell me why. And then anything else that they'd like me to know. And I kinda use that question as, you know, if you're not gonna bother taking the time to tell me something else, maybe you're not a really great fit for our team. 'Cause you should be willing to volunteer ideas, you should be willing to volunteer something, right? Come up with something. So that's why that question's in there. So essentially, as I said before, I kinda used that application as a first interview. I wanted to get out of the way all of those questions so that I didn't have to interview people who just weren't a good fit. And so yeah, just sort of thinking through, what are the bare minimum things that I need to know about someone to make sure they're a good fit for actually spending some time with them on the phone? Is there anything... Oh yeah, go ahead. No, well I was just gonna say, what I loved about this is when I first read over the application, she said, "Hey look at this. What do you think?" And I was like, "This is interesting." Because this is what I, in the past, would've had. Like, I would've passively received all the resumes, and I would've done a screening segment ahead of this to then reach out to people, to then do these questions. And so I loved that this kind of just jumped right into those interview questions, and so you sort of condensed the step, but nothing was lost in translation in my opinion. Yeah, I was super, super pleased with the way it worked out. You know, Patrice had said, "Have a set of questions that's standard for everybody." This is all of my standard questions. And I figure... I mean, yes, I would never hire someone off of this, obviously. But if I'm gonna standardize something, why not systematize it and automate it, right? And so this is essentially automating an initial interview. That's the way I do it. How have your application processes differed in the past? I mean, other than what you just said. That would be the main thing, but I mean, I even think back at Borders, there, there was a screening test that people had to take that sort of, you know, that's very corporate. Yeah, there was like a... You know, it's almost like a psychological test. A lot of companies do that. There are companies that today still do that, even in sort of professional level positions. I'm not a fan of them, but yeah, I would say those are two different ways. Yeah, absolutely. So first of all, Shannon referenced Borders, and so we should give, for people who don't know... Shannon and I work together now. We didn't work together for 10 years, but before that 10 year period, Shannon and I co-managed a Borders Books and Music together. So it was a $5 million a year store, it was a big business. We had about 40 employees, give or take, throughout the year, and it was a great experience. And so we really got to know each other's strengths and skills, and way of operating back then. And we'll tell you more about that, and some of our war stories there as we go throughout this session. Oh, I know what I was gonna say. You mentioned personality tests, or psychological tests, and that is something else that a lot of people involve in their application process, and it's certainly something that I've used in the past. I've talked here on Creative Live in the past about the Fascination Advantage test. I've used a Myers Briggs in the past, I know Myers Briggs has a lot of faults, but at the same time, it's the one I know the best. And so it tells me something about people.
You gave it to me! I did, both of them. Was that intentional? Yes! I thought she was just telling me about Myers Briggs, and I was like, "Oh that sounds cool." And she said, "I'll send you some stuff." (laughing) But, I have to say it's informed my whole process with you, like even onboarding, I see how we work together, how that... Like what your intentions were in bringing on an extrovert, and I learned more about myself, and as I've gone along I could see how other personalities will fit in with us. So yeah, it has been... I take back my "I don't care for those" statement. Just a second. So, when I was bringing on Shannon, so I knew I was looking to hire for this position, so I did have a position in mind when I started talking with Shannon. But even before I started talking to Shannon, I started thinking about what is the personality, right? What's the right skills, the right attitude, the right experience? Who's the perfect fit for this job? And I know those two systems well enough to be able to say the perfect fit for this job is a catalyst, that's the Fascination Advantage. So passion plus innovation is the catalyst, and it's an ENFJ is the right Myers Briggs for this job. So an extroverted intuitive feeling judger, which describes her to a tee!
I didn't know that! And so, I knew... I mean, I was willing for there to be a little bit of wiggle room there, but I knew that that was basically the personality that I was hiring for. And as soon as I started thinking about getting Shannon into that position, I thought to myself, "What would Shannon be in Fascination and Myers Briggs?" And I was like, "There's no way she's not a catalyst and an ENFJ." Like, that's who she is. Guess what? I was right! And so that's how I've used personality tests in the past, is more like, just making sure that what I think about someone's personality is bearing out in a more objective kind of thing. And yeah, and I'm thinking too about what kind of skills, strengths-wise, communication style-wise, what's the best person for this job? I'm an introvert that runs a community of hundreds of people. Eventually we will be thousands of people. That's not a great fit. Like, I'm a good leader, I'm certainly good at building relationships with people in that community, but in terms of the daily response, the daily in and out, the daily operations of that community, it's not actually a great fit for my personality, but that doesn't mean I can't do it. It just means I need to find someone who has a perfect fit for that. And so, I'm sort of an introvert building a team of extroverts who can fill that role, right?
Yeah, absolutely. Awesome. So, we alluded to this question earlier. I want everyone to think about their favorite... Oh, Melissa, you had a question. Yeah, my question was, and I think you sort of answered it, was around the test, the personality inventories. Is that something that you generally give before you bring somebody on board, or after you bring somebody on board? So I'm thinking about these recent hires that we did, and I didn't feel the need. I guess the way I did it in that case was I described the... Like I could say, yes, I still would say catalyst and ENFJ as who we were hiring for this last time. But instead of making them take the test, I described those personalities in my perfect candidate description that we had for skills, experience, attitude, and so even if they're not a perfect fit for those qualities, I've got that taken care of in the job description. And so throughout the interview process, I'm kind of balancing, is that really their personality or are they trying to pull one over on me, or they may be showing up a little bit differently. But generally, I would use it as part of the application or hiring process. Not necessarily in the application itself, but I've written in job descriptions before, "Share your Myers Briggs type with us if you know it." or, "Share your Fascination Advantage type with us if you know it." Because that tells me something, ostensibly, about who they are and how they show up, and what their skills are and their strengths are. But we do use it internally too, like Shannon said. She can see better how we communicate, and where we might butt heads, too, based on me being an INTP and her being an ENFJ, or me being a maestro and her being a catalyst. And so, yeah, it's helpful on both sides. I think it's helped me side step some potential land mines. Oh really, like what? Well, like if I didn't know... 'Cause I don't know if I would brand you as an introvert if you hadn't told me that. I mean, I might, because I know her well enough and long enough, but would I think through what that could mean in a job situation? So understanding, because I do think it's real important, especially in any sort of leadership situation, that you can identify communication styles and you can adapt within them. Like you can't just use one, in my opinion, one style and that fits all. So to know when it's good to reach out to you, or when it's good to maybe give you space, and when not to throw my extroverted stuff all over you.
Exactly. So it gave us like a little road map. Yeah, exactly. I mean, what is an application process and an interview process, if not just really getting to know somebody really well? That's what it is. And so if we have tools that help us get to know people better, I say let's use them! I use those two, you might use Kolbe or Strengths Finder, or Enneagram, those are ones that I'm not super duper familiar with. These are the ones that I know, and so they're the little tiny shortcuts that I use. Right? We don't always want to take shortcuts, but when one presents themself that seems good and has a good track record with us, I think it's a good idea to use a shortcut. Again, we're running out of time to run our businesses. Let's take advantage of a time saver when we can. So now that you've had time to think about, maybe, what your favorite interview was, I'd love to hear from just a couple of you and we'll start with Shannon. Yeah. So like I said, our experience was interesting and unique, but outside of that, I would say the last job I worked for, a non-profit, for 10 years. And when I first came in, first interview, no big deal. But then the second interview, they took me around, they introduced me to people, I got to feel how the office was, they unwound what the culture was gonna be like for me, and I felt the perfect glove fit. I just was like, "Okay." So it was very reassuring to me, and I think it was very reassuring to the company as well, to have that sensibility. Yeah. And similarly, I have not been on a lot of job interviews in my life. I mean, I started my business five years out of college, and the early interviews, one, have not stuck with me, and two, I'm sure were not great. But, my first job out of college was at Borders. And when I got hired, it was for a summer bookseller position. It was not like it was a super strenuous interview process, but our old General Manager, Pete, was a great guy and a great manager, and part of his interviewing process was definitely helping you to get to know the culture of Borders. And Borders, you know, say what you will about their business, but they had an amazing culture. And culture was super important to them, and cultural fit was super important to them, and so part of the interviewing process at Borders was just, "Hey, what books are you reading?" "What music are you listening to?" "What movies do you like?" Actually, I think I kind of fell in love with the hiring process because You got to have that conversation. Yes, exactly! And just getting to meet people and hearing about different things, and yeah, we would literally say, "Tell me what you're reading right now." 'Cause if you're not reading something right now, you're probably not a great fit for working at a book store, right? Or if we were hiring for a barista, what do you order when you go to a coffee shop? And I think we can forget about questions like that, or we can forget about the cultural pieces and getting people in on the big picture in the interviewing process, but to me, it's a really important part from an employer perspective, but it's also a really important part, to me, from the employee perspective. And I think, maybe sometimes our favorite interviews are also the ones where it's obvious that the employer is trying to sell us too, right? 'Cause to me, in a second interview at your old job, it sounds like that's a little bit what they were doing as well, is like, "We like you. We want to make sure you like us, too." Yeah, exactly, exactly. 'Cause the interview process goes both ways, right? And so if you can build that kind of rapport at the same time that you're measuring their cultural fit, not only are you gonna make sure you're hiring a good candidate, but you're also going to be getting their buy-in and making them feel like, "Yeah, I do really want this job." Well, and you're talking about, when we're talking about being job creators, you want people who are gonna succeed. You want to set them up for success, you want to set your business up for success. So I think that's part of what... Like, by finding that great match, you know that success is in the blue print. Yeah. So how about you guys? What have been some of your awesome interview experiences? Shelley? One of my first interviews out of college was actually with the Lakers, and it was before they had moved to their new location, and I remember I was so nervous sitting in the little waiting room, and this guy came down the hall. I couldn't even look, I was so nervous, and he sat next to me and opened his newspaper, and he's like, "Oh, are you here for an interview?" And I'm like, "Yeah." And I'm like literally shaking, and he's like, "Oh, what are you interviewing for?" And I said, "Oh, I'm interviewing to intern in the PR department." And he's like, "Oh, with John Black? They're a great team." And he kinda talks to me for a little bit, and he's like, "Okay." And he stands up and he's like, "Well, good luck!" And I finally look up and I'm like, "That's Phil Jackson." (laughing) So that's how my interview started there. And I did get the position. That's amazing. So, funny side story, I've gotten my hair cut at the same salon as Phil Jackson before, in Whitefish, Montana. (laughing) Anyhow, yeah. So this is gonna sound a little bit funny, but on my first date with my now husband, we started talking about how he interviews. At that time he was doing a lot of hiring, and he was telling me about a question that he asks people during his interview process. And the question was, what would your best friend say about you as far as some of your best qualities, or some of the qualities... So your best qualities, and then what would your best friend say are your most negative qualities? Which, I think it's actually a great question because it's not what you would say. You have to really think about, like what is the thing that the person who knows you really well would say to you? And of course my answer about what my worst quality was something that my best friend had just recently told me, just before that, which was my taste in men. And here I was, telling my future husband on a date that my taste in men was probably my worst quality. But it worked really well, and I really enjoyed that process of being asked a good question that gets inside your head. Yeah. I love that too, because not only are you getting the critical thinking piece, but you're getting an honesty piece too. Is this someone who's willing to actually tell me what they think a negative quality is, or are they gonna say, "Oh, my best friend wouldn't say anything bad about me." And also someone who is at least strategic enough, maybe, it worked in my favor, but strategic enough not to say something totally blasphemous, or something really bad.
Yeah, I curse too much. Yeah, yeah, exactly, like, I'm a drug addict. Yeah, we don't want that. Anybody else? I like things where I can do projects, 'cause I can show my skills. And another weird one that people don't like that I do like for interviews, I like it when group interviews. So when they're interviewing like five people, and it's all of us, that way I can kinda read the other employees, and if they're really liking someone then I'm like, "I'm not like that person at all," I can opt out of it. 'Cause I'm like, "If they're interested in that, they're not gonna like me." Or it kinda helps me read them in a way, too. Fascinating. I have never been a part of a group interview, I have never done a group interview. Makes me nervous to think about. Yeah, totally. But I can absolutely understand why you like that so much. That's really interesting.