LinkedIn or Facebook or just Googling
their name. This is the way we learned
one candidate had a DUI on her record—
needless to say we passed on her. We need
employees who can withstand a careful
search by our clients, so we don’t want to
see photos of our employees in drunken
drug parties wearing scanty clothes.
3. The Phone Interviews
In a perfect world, both our COO and I
will call and talk to the candidates in advance of a face-to-face meeting. I found
it very helpful for us to do two separate
calls. Our COO, Josh, does a preliminary
screening and eliminates any who do not
come across well during a phone call.
I like to do these calls to get a good
sense of the candidate before our face-to-face interviews. I always start off by asking
if they have any questions for me. This
tells me if they have done their homework
on us. Surprisingly few have! It should be
pretty easy to find out information about
me and the firm—all you have to do is
Google my name. I am amazed at how
few people actually do this. Our business
philosophy and what we clearly stand for
is all over the Web; smart candidates will
familiarize themselves with our firm and
each of the team members.
I also use this time to cheerlead Josh
and the rest of the team. He is smart,
dedicated and an amazing COO and I
want any candidate to appreciate how
much they will enjoy working with him.
4. The In-Person Interview
A couple of things we do to create a
great experience for our candidates—we
have a welcome sign with their name
on it. We want them to know, whether
they come to work with us or not, they
are special to us.
We also ask what we call “offensive”
and “defensive” questions. It goes like
this: Tell me about a time at your previous job where you were facing a challenge. What was the problem? How
did you fix it? What were the results?
We ask these two to three times. We
want to see how they solve problems.
Then we ask them to tell us about a
time that was not successful. We want
to see how they handle failure.
We have them interview the team
members who will part of their everyday work life. I let both the candidate
and the existing team know they should
be completely honest with each other.
I want any prospective employee to
know the good, the bad and the ugly.
We don’t want them to have any surprises coming to work for us. In this regard, I tell them my worst failings—I am
likely to give them “drive by” instructions
without enough detail and I expect excellent work, every time. If this doesn’t scare
them off, then I will go to the next steps.
The team tells me how grateful they
are that we take their input into every
hiring decision. I want to make sure
the existing team will be happy working with the new employee.
We once hired a marketing manager
for one of our other companies, only to
learn he couldn’t type! I didn’t think that
was even possible today. We have experimented with proofreading and editing
tests along with typing tests to see how
fast and accurately they do type.
Now we are likely to give them an
article or a page on our website, and ask
them to write a two paragraph summary or
to create a PowerPoint slide presentation
on the topic. We might give them 20 to
30 minutes to do this task on-site at our
office. This lets us know how well they
can communicate and whether they have
some familiarity with common software.
We also have them take a Kolbe A
Index to see how they approach work
and solve problems. This costs us about
$50, and is very helpful in finding the
right person for the right seat on the bus.
If they have gotten this far, we will check
their references. I also like to see a certified copy of their college transcript. For
prospects who hold securities or insurance licenses, we will check them out to
look for any “dings” on their records.
7. The Offer
Once we feel like we have the right
candidate, we make a written offer. It
outlines their base pay, and what they
have to do for a raise. It also describes
how we do quarterly bonuses, based on
profits and employee reviews. We list
when they can expect reviews.
Although, I have noticed our pay is
towards the high end of the pay grade,
we usually start an employee at a little
less than where they will land in a few
months. This allows us to increase their
salary if they meet their benchmarks.
What we don’t do: We don’t use any
recruiting firms for this kind of search.
We got burned many years ago with some
very expensive and highly unqualified
candidates. We prefer to do the legwork
ourselves. Good luck in creating your
own dream team.
Katherine Vessenes, JD, CFP, RFC, is a top
practice management consultant and authority on legal and ethical issues for financial
advisors. She has her own practice where she
follows the advice she gives other advisors.
We want folks who are
interested in something
much more than a job.