David Comar didn’t think it could ever happen to him. He recently was looking to hire an employee at Genesis Direct and was completely charmed by the candidate’s personality during a job interview and decided to make the hire.
It turned out to be a mistake — one that Comar hopes he never makes again.
“I’m a little more careful than I was a year-and-a-half ago, and I’m making sure I get a lot more specific,” says Comar, co-founder, co-owner and principal at the private direct marketing company. “At least now I’ll be able to give a better reading on intent and effort and not just someone that speaks well.”
Comar, who also holds the title of vice president, has not changed his tune on the importance of personality and energy. In fact, he wants people who can fit in to the 110-employee company’s high-energy culture. The challenge is to assess the skills, assess the energy and make a good decision on whether to hire a person or not.
Smart Business spoke with Comar about how putting your best foot forward can help you find the right people.
Show your spirit. Folks respect me and respect the leadership of the company. We don’t demand it. They see how hard we work for our clients. They see we’re in the fray. It’s not some direction coming down from on high. It’s someone who is working directly with the client on an ongoing basis and getting the feedback they need to put together the correct programs.
It’s busy. There’s not a lot of downtime. Because of that, folks get involved. We set up good systems, we’re consistent with our message, and we have the right teams in place. Responsibilities are very clear and very measurable about whether folks are doing the job they need to do.
Share spirit with job candidates. Take a step back and ask what makes your company attractive either for a new client or for a new employee. You’re not selling your company; you’re creating a value proposition. It’s a value proposition for your client, and it’s a value proposition for your employee.
If the employees feels there is positive energy, a vision and a plan and all of this has been presented to them and people know where they’re going and there is some level of ongoing growth, hopefully, the employer can show that.
Make sure they talk to the folks of the company who share that same level of positive feel that I would as the owner of the company.
If you’re not able to hire the right employees, I don’t think you’re representing your company the right way. Let’s say the next day you were shutting down your company. Where would you want to go work? Obviously, you worked for someone at some point. Why did you work there? What companies did you feel best about and what did you do?
Employees need to understand their contribution to the company is well-represented in the actual job description. It’s not just, ‘Hey, we need an account manager.’ They need to know that their position is important.
Be specific. You can learn a lot more out by asking extremely specific questions. In other words, from a client services level, I would be asking about specific accounts they handled and specific situations they were in with clients and how they handled them. When they give me the answers, I would ask more specific questions. ‘Well, if that happened, then did this happen?’ They can walk you through the whole process in their own words. The more defined you can get in your questioning and how they handled specific situations, the more you can find out.
When you ask general questions, you get general answers. When we interview here, they see five or six different people. So I get a lot of input, too. People ask the questions that are required from the desk they sit at, and then we get a consensus and move forward.
It’s important that they have been part of the interview and approval process. If it’s like, ‘Here’s Joe; train Joe,’ that’s tough. They have been a part of it. They feel like, ‘I’ve made this decision along with everyone else here; I’m going to make this work.’
Don’t be mean. I’ve had people talk to me, professional interviewers, and tell me that my system is all wrong. And for all I know, it could be. They say ask uncomfortable questions and keep them on edge. I don’t know how to do that.
All I know how to do is give them a comfortable surrounding because that’s what I do for a living. That’s how I interview. You don’t get the answers you would get if they were uncomfortable or on the spot, which I think is what some interviewers say.
But I think I still get there, I just go a different way.
Provide a mentor. We have two or three stars in every single department and I park them with a star. They are going to be part of the team. Let’s say I put someone with an account manager. There’s account managers and production coordinators and folks that work within a team to support a client. So it’s to the advantage of the account manager to get those folks up to speed as quickly as possible.
They need additional resources for their team. So the training that they do is very self-serving. It’s the right thing to do for them. If they don’t get it based on that, that would be a real problem. I would question their future employment here. I think that’s pretty basic stuff. It’s not like you’re training someone to take your place. You’re training someone to be part of your resources and client services.
How to reach: Genesis Direct, (813) 855-4274 or www.genesisdirect.com