Happy Halloween! Halloween can be fun and scary. I had the best time going to a haunted house a few years ago called “The Trail of Terror and the Depot of Death.” The haunted adventure consisted of two parts: The Trail of Terror through a dark wooded area, and The Depot of Death through an old train station. I was excited because I wanted a thrilling experience and yet I was terrified of what might lie in wait. I knew that the haunted house wasn’t really haunted — at least that’s what I hoped. Still, I was afraid to start down that path through the woods.
Do you feel like this when it’s time to hire employees? Just like my haunted adventure, hiring can be fun and scary. What if you take a wrong turn and find a zombie waiting to eat you, or a chainsaw-toting maniac ready to cut you to bits and pieces? I’m pretty sure that something this scary won’t happen if you hire the wrong person; however, the fear is real. At one point in The Depot of Death, it was so dark that I felt trapped and my fear nearly paralyzed me. Without the ability to see, I had no idea which way to turn to get myself out of there. So I grabbed my cell phone and used the light of the screen to orient myself and find a way out. The actors immediately began screaming, “No lights.” When I think back on this, it was pretty funny.
How can you overcome the paralysis and shine a light on your hiring to successfully navigate the process? When you are hiring employees, you want to avoid situations like this.
First, understand that hiring is a work in progress. When you enter unknown territory like The Trail of Terror, you have to adjust and make course corrections along the way because you have obstacles — hopefully ones without chainsaws. You will feel lost and you will make mistakes. Like any skill, hiring employees takes practice. It’s very common to start out thinking you need a bookkeeper and later realize you need an accountant.
On The Trail of Terror, there were people strategically stationed to keep you on the trail. When you hire, actors with fake chainsaws to keep you on the right path are unavailable and you have to build in your own checkpoints. For example, you might place an ad for a bookkeeper and start reviewing resumes and screening candidates. After a few phone interviews, you may realize that everyone you talk to lacks the experience you need. This would be a checkpoint. Go back and evaluate your needs with this new information in mind and do some course correction.
After successfully navigating The Trail of Terror, it was time to enter The Depot of Death. I had made it this far yet dreaded what was to come. Many of us dread those in-person interviews. How do we know if the person is who they say they are or is just some actor dressed up in a costume to fool us? As I entered the door to The Depot of Death, I was unprepared. First, it was dark. And I mean dark as in no light at all. You went in blind and had to rely on your other senses.
When you interview, you need to rely on your eyes. You need to be alert and watch for small clues that give you greater insights into your candidates. For example, a client wanted employees who could keep up with their fast-paced work environment and was constantly disappointed when people they hired were unable to keep pace. I asked my client whether their candidates kept pace with them as they went from the lobby to the conference room or office where the interview would be conducted. Light bulbs went on. The candidates who failed often lagged behind as they moved from the office to the interview room.
You need to use your ears to listen for clues as well. I can tell you as I walked through The Depot of Death, my ears were on high alert. I was listening for any small sound of movement, rustle of fabric, or even a hint of breathing coming out of the darkness. When you interview, you need to be a great listener. Too often, interviewers do most of the talking and forget that the purpose of the interview is to learn more about the candidate. When you talk too much, you give away clues about what you’re looking for and candidates learn to repeat back what you’ve been saying.
I often see interviewers talk about their collaborative team environment. Your candidate may be unable to collaborate with the team, and now they know that’s what they need to tell you in order to get the job. Instead, ask Insightful Interview™ questions that reveal whether the candidate does well in a collaborative team environment.
Using your eyes and ears and paying attention to the information candidates give you will help you successfully navigate your hiring adventure. With a little advance planning and strategic use of your eyes and ears, you will be successful in avoiding The Trail of Terror and The Depot of Death.
Share your nightmare hiring stories in the comments. What did you learn? In our insightful community, sharing is caring and your insights may be just what someone needs to move forward in their business.
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