Graduation weekend is now behind us. Thousands of parents, grandparents, friends, and family watched as five hundred and twenty-two students closed the gap between childhood and adulthood. Some of these newly formed adults will go off to college or tech school, while others will venture out, unprepared, into the workforce.
They have spent four years surrounded by, interacting with, and learning beside a group of their peers. They were thrown together based on physical address and curriculum choice. They didn’t have to work together day in and day out, as the bell rang they were able move onto the next group of classmates. They didn’t have to like each other, or even work well together, they simply had to coexist. There was an end in sight whether it be the end of the semester or the coveted graduation day. As they enter the workforce they are crossing into a world where they can decide what building they wish to spend their days in, which post to click the “apply button now” on, and what interview to accept. But again they can not choose their teammates.
As a hiring manager the responsibility is yours to equip your teams with like minded, compatible, competent people.
Look around your office space or shop floor. Does your team enjoy each other’s company? Do they consider each other friends, maybe even extended family? Are there after hours impromptu hang-outs? Beer garden anyone? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you have succeeded.
When we hire for the sales and service positions at ETE, we go through the basic candidate selection. Scouring resumes, selecting the best potential people to be called for a phone interview. Here we get a feel for the person, ensure they can communicate well, describe the position and evaluate the basic skill set. If this individual passes they will move on to an in-person (yet virtual) formal conference where there is a deeper dive into their experience and ability to do the work we need them to do. While I refuse to diminish the work that our reps do, as the job can be tough at times, basic computer skills, fantastic customer service ability and the desire to learn while having a great attitude will get you to the next step. This next step is where the magic happens. If your company doesn’t take the interview process one step further, I highly suggest you keep reading.
Our final step is what we call the culture fit (newly back to in-person) interview. Here we get to know the candidate on a more personal level. What drives them, what interests they have and of course what dish they would bring to our infamous potlucks. We hire, fire, live, and breathe by our core values. Our core values are the base of our culture. This phase allows us as an interviewing team to make sure that this person “fits”. Noah Rickun, President of Sales and Distribution, has said, “But would you have a beer with them?” If the answer is yes, and we are confident in their ability to get the job done, expect an offer to be made.
We have been wrong. We have hired under the pretense that the answers received during any part of the process were authentic, when in fact the interview was just a charade. The truth will rear its ugly head sooner than later as our culture and core values drive us and that is one thing that can’t be simulated.
My advice to fellow hiring managers: Hire for a combination of talent, personality and fit. Strive to make the additions to your team the full package. One that will work hard, but also mesh well with the existing team. Have that beer. Or in the case of the new grads, grab a couple root beers.
To those entering or reentering the workforce, or just looking to make a move: Do your research. Know what the company stands for, not just what they produce. Make sure that your values align. Go into the interview with confidence and be yourself. Save your masks for Mardi-gras.
And to our hiring team: I propose instituting a sliding scale for when we are torn between two candidates. One beer or four?
Too early to indulge so I’ll stick to coffee, water, and maybe even a soda until I can graduate to beer time.