Playing matchmaker

The interview process is as much about judging potential employees as it is about auditioning for them, says Andrew C. Jacobs.

And making sure a candidate is the right match is never easy.

“That’s the hardest thing to do,” says Jacobs, president and CEO of Influent Inc. “The higher the position, the more difficult it becomes.”

The candidates who reach Jacobs’ door — mainly potential managers — all have the required education and the qualifications. So it comes down to getting to know people and letting them get to know you, he says.

Sure, you rely on past experience, but not everyone has the work chemistry you’re looking for. Engaging in conversation and allowing your employees to talk with candidates can help you learn if they’re a good fit for you and vice versa.

Interviewing is something Jacobs is well-versed in. The call center operations company, which posted revenue of $48 million in 2007, has 2,000 employees — 80 of those in its corporate office.

Smart Business spoke with Jacobs about the steps to hiring the right managers.

Spend time with job candidates. It’s really hard in an interview process to get to know somebody well enough to really know if they can be successful or not.

The most important thing is to spend enough time with them. When they’re people who are going to be reporting to me, it’s very important that they spend enough time with me to get to know me a little bit and I get to know them so we can judge just on a fundamental level whether we’re the kind of people that like dealing with each other, whether there’s some decent chemistry there.

I want people who come to work for me to feel coming in, ‘This is the kind of guy I’m excited about working for.’

But really it’s just engaging in conversation. It is establishing that personal relationship.

In the end, what I rely on the most is to be as open, as honest and as frank as I can be about the kind of company we are, what we’re looking for, what our goals and objectives in the world are. Just talk to them about that and see how they react to that.

It achieves two things: I get to know more about them, and they get to know more about us, and it helps them make a better decision.