Part Two: Rethinking The Interview Process To Identify The Right People
In part one of this post, Prepping Your Company to Attract the Right People, I talked about how we at OneVision changed our infrastructure to attract the people we most want to hire and help build our team.
In this one I’m going to get into the nitty gritty of how we’ve also changed our interview process. In other words, once we’ve attracted them, how do we select and hire only those that are the very best fit for the company?
To explain why this is extremely important to us, let me back up a few steps.
In the consumer technology industry – whether it’s basic tech support or home integration – it’s rare to find tech experts who also know how to deliver excellent service within the context of our clients’ lifestyles. It’s not just about taking off your shoes when you walk into someone’s home or presenting a professional appearance, it’s also about recognizing the bigger problems when our clients describe specific symptoms. Sometimes this requires focusing on the emotions of the issue instead of the technology, and then delivering peace of mind while addressing the big picture situation.
In the healthcare industry, this is more intuitive as developing an excellent bedside manner and working with families in stressful situations is part of the day-to-day job.
So to have the team that we need, we have to always be pulling professionals from exceptional environments such as institutional or enterprise settings where they are more likely to have matured with those kinds of expectations (unlike a Best Buy Geek Squad environment). We’re often looking to hire people who aren’t even looking (because in a strong economy those are going to be your best potential hires). We want people who know how to work under pressure, bring best practices to the table, and who we can then teach how to transfer their incredible skills to the home/family environment.
What this means is that when we hire someone, we care more about their philosophy and ability to fit within our culture than the specific skill set they bring to the table. The old adage is true – you hire for the person, not the skill.
But that can be a tough thing to tell for sure during an interview. So our solution was to establish our own set of values first. In many companies values are nothing more than a few superficial mantras on the wall. But for us it literally comes down to the language that we all speak. When we were deciding what was most important to us, we created a language–a group of phrases that describe what we care about most, and that we use to communicate with each other. For example, our value touching on transparency is one that we use often.
“We are transparent and not afraid to address the elephant in the room.”
We draw on that value when providing feedback to each other and when working through difficult situations with our clients – crafting an excellent experience requires 100% transparency across the board. Using our values as a form of shorthand communication in the office and in meetings is a way for us to constantly check ourselves and remind one another that this is the bar by which we measure our behavior and success as a company.
So how do we tell if candidates are a fit for the role and company? We’ve broken down our interview process into three phases and include several members of the team in the process:
Interview 1: Values / Culture
We ask each candidate a series of questions from which we are able to assess whether or not they align with and internalize our core values. In their answers, we look for traits like self-awareness, and the ability to be self-reflective and self-critical. Do they display tendencies to be creative and innovative, or are they just giving us a canned answer? Do they display an ability to be empathetic with team members as well as with clients?
Interview 2: Conceptual/Critical Thinking
The questions we pose in this section of every interview are broad-reaching and often controversial (for example: “should we continue to fund the cost of space travel given the other pressing problems our country is facing?”), and their purpose isn’t to determine where a candidate stands on the issues; it’s to discover more about how they think, how they formulate arguments, and how they go about engaging with someone in a discussion. Are they inflexible in their thinking and unwilling to consider other viewpoints? Or do they listen to the person they’re having the conversation with and respond in a productive way that moves the discussion forward? At OneVision, we’re not afraid to challenge the status-quo and blaze our own trail, but everything we do should be data driven and supported by a logical (not emotional) train of thought.
Interview 3: Technical Acuity
This area focuses on the candidate’s particular skill set depending on what kind of position we’re hiring for, and is by far the most traditional part of the interview. In essence, we want to know how well they know their own particular field.
Those three arenas of an individual’s personality and professionalism are crucial to how we continue to build our team here. Getting to the heart of who they are gets us a much better hit rate in hiring the right people, and afterward saves us enormous amounts of time in working together to make clients happiest. What’s more, we almost never stop the process, because we know we need to always be hiring above our demand to make sure that our service never suffers.