Your number one asset as a company has and always will be your people. Your ability to attract and keep great talent will be the difference between being a “small-time” one-person show and growing your company successfully. Until you have people you can trust to keep customers happy, you will always be your own bottleneck. Follow these key principles when finding, interviewing, and hiring new employees.
Begin by identifying what you want the new hire to do. Start with broad and general statements, but then narrow them down to specific tasks and goals. For example, you could start by saying, “I want my new employee to treat my customers like gold!” Then drill down into specifics like, “Reply to all phone calls within the same day,” or “Use a friendly and positive tone on every call,” or “Resolve each call in under five minutes.”
Think ahead of time about what specific measurements will indicate success for the position. Think about what deliverables would make you smile when you write your payroll checks each month. For example, “Get a positive review each week,” or “Generate xx amount of new revenue,” or “Save xx number of customers from canceling.” Each employee should provide obvious value to you as an employer – you won’t realize it until you identify specific success measurements.
Once you narrow down your role and indicators of success, identify what characteristics and skillsets will make someone successful in that position. You will likely start with 20 things – try to narrow it down to the 3-5 most important. Above all else, a new customer service representative must be: professional and reliable; friendly and likeable; and competent in resolving customer concerns and requests.
Prepare several questions to get to know a person and whether they have what you are looking for in an employee. Tell candidates upfront which qualities are most important for the role and then let them share relevant stories from their past professional experience or personal life, which shows they have those qualities. This type of free dialog helps you evaluate them on the merits of the qualifications and enables you to get to know them better as a person. As an added bonus, it sets the expectations upfront with them about what you are really looking for
Ask questions about specific scenarios that you know will come up in their position. Ask them to share experiences about how they have dealt with it in the past. For example, “Tell me about a specific time when you were able to turn around an upset customer and make them happy.” If the position is for a technical position, ask them to solve a problem, or explain how they would deal with specific scenarios. Put them in the hot seat, and see them in action.
Ask follow-up questions. When a candidate tells you something about their previous experience, dig for details. For example, if they say, “At my last company, I was the head technician.” Ask things like, “What specific responsibilities did you have?” They should reply with a specific like hiring, training, performance reviews, audits, etc. By asking follow-up questions, you will be able to tell VERY quickly if the candidate really had those experiences or not. You will also get a much clearer understanding of what to expect from that candidate when they are working as your employee.
Many people freeze in the hiring process and get overwhelmed to the point that they don’t hire anyone. This hurts your company’s growth and prevents you from moving forward. Also, many owners wait until they can’t wait anymore, and they end up hiring someone at random.
Be clear about what you are looking for, and set proper expectations. The perfect candidate will not exist, and most people will require some training and coaching to fill the position effectively – this is part of your value as an employer, after all!
When you find someone that fits your requirements, make an offer and get it done – you will thank yourself later!
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