First up: this is not for everyone. You need to be in the right industry and targeting the right level (remember from my last blog? we’re targeting young, raw, potential hairdressing talent – not middle-aged sales managers). I wouldn’t exclude this from recruiting qualified staff but the process is designed to weed out talent from a big lunch of candidates really quickly. You also need balls the size of melons.
Second up: I did not come up with this process for recruiting. It is taken from a much cleverer guy than me called Nigel Botterill – I’ve taken the idea, tweaked it for the industry and in no way am I passing this off as my own inventiveness.
Quick disclaimer. Candidates have legal rights before you even send out a job offer or rejection letter. Don’t take this blog as legal advice – and if you think good legal advice is free you’re a muppet. Pay for good legal advice and follow it.
What’s the job?
You need to start with a really clear, fair idea of what the job is and the type of person you’re looking to recruit. The job description should be really crystal-clear but keep the person profile a little looser. Apart from anything, you can get in a LOT of trouble by deciding you want 5’11” 21 year-old girls with long legs and blonde hair. Also you need to keep yourself open to the odd curve-ball. You might think you need one type of person but in fact be impressed by someone very different. My person profiles are more personality-based. For example, if I have an assistant team who is nice but kind of lazy, hard to leave unsupervised for long or disorganised, I’ll be looking for someone who is assertive, who can demonstrate leadership potential even on a small scale or someone who just comes across as plain bossy!
Go through your pile of applicants comparing each with the job description and person profile – NOT with each other – that’s the quickest way to employ merely the best of a bad bunch. If you have to reject ALL of the applicants, do so.
Send the job description to remaining candidates with their interview letter.
Here’s the bit that takes some balls. You’re going to make the interview a bit of a bitch. The interview letter should be a little vague – maybe even leaving off your address. Just say it will be held “at our Smallville salon”. If the applicants can’t pick up the phone to ask for directions or do a little Google research, you don’t want them. Make the interview at a dumb time in the morning. My last batch of interviews for the post of receptionist were at 7am. I had 2 applicants call me to ask if this was a mistake and 3 ask to reschedule. Stick to your guns – you want to weed out any that are inflexible. It might seem harsh, particularly as we never open the salon before 8am, but I want people that, when it really counts, can make the necessary arrangements to impress.
At 7 am PRECISELY, lock the door. No latecomers allowed. You can allow them to reapply at a later date if you like, I don’t. I do find lateness disproportionately offensive, so make your own call.
If you think that’s harsh …
Arrange ALL of the interviews for 7am. The first stage is going to be a group exercise. Put all your applicants on one side of the room. Ask them, in turn, to tell you ONE thing about your business. It can be anything, but it can’t be something someone else has already said. If they can give you a fact, tell them to go stand the other side of the room or even go into a different room. If they can’t they stay where they are. If you are nice, you can come back to the people who struggled and see if they suddenly remember some little nugget they want to share. I’m not that nice.
When everyone has had a chance to speak, tell those who couldn’t tell you anything that unfortunately, the interview is over for them. You just saved yourself (and the applicants) a whole bunch of time – and you haven’t even eaten into your salon hours yet. Be kind – remember that your applicants will be on Facebook the second they leave your salon – make sure they are saying good things. Treat them with respect and emphasise the need for a good fit between employer and applicant – it’s not them, it’s you and your funny ways. you don;t have to mean it.
Now you get to talk to individuals
NEVER interview on your own. You won;t be working with these guys in isolation – it just isn’t fair. My interview has AT LEAST 2 interviewers, preferably 3 including: myself, a person the applicant will be working WITH on the same level, and a person the applicant will be working FOR. Go through your list of interview questions ahead of time (I’ll share mine in a future post), talk about possible responses that would be positive, and those that are negative. Keep the interview friendly (if you’re not enjoying their company, your customers won’t either) but don;t be afraid of silence. Applicants nearly always feel the need to fill silence – very often with a closer version of the truth. Make immense amounts of notes and take a Polaroid – I know it’s old-school but you need an instant print.
Keep the other applicants waiting. This bit is unfortunate and can come off as rude – I always temper the news with the fact that they will find out the very same day whether or not they will be offered a job.
Both with each other and referring closely to the job description and person profile. If nobody fits the position, reject them all, there and then. If you have one position to fill and two strong applicants, reject the rest then re-interview – if you still can’t decide call your accountant and take them both (you have a probationary period in your offer letter, don’t you?)
NEVER ignore your advisors – what is the point of bringing them in to the process if you weren’t going to listen? – but ultimately the decision has to be yours. Live by the sword, die by the sword – if you make a duff decision own it and rectify it quickly.
Decide and tell them immediately
You don’t have to have your offer letter typed up and ready to go. Be sensitive to those you are declining – they got through to the last stage of a tough process and you need to recognise that. You can tell them in a group if you have more than one to decline – remove those candidates that aren’t right for this job, but that you’d like to call on again in the future.
With the ones you’re offering jobs to I would always do that individually. Can you imagine offering 3 guys jobs and two of them saying they now don’t want it? Tell them you’d like to offer them a job then get it to them in writing the same day – candidates that are waiting around have a horrible habit of going for more interviews.
Something to add? Let me know!