Video Transcript

00:09 Allison Fass: So, Katie, what do you do when, you know, the unemployment rate has been really high in recent years. What do you do when you're inundated with just a ton of resumes and little time to spend on each one? How do you go through it? How do you find the best applicants in there?

00:25 Katie Morgan: Yeah, you know, there's not a silver bullet. So I wish I had the silver bullet answer for that for sure. You know, there are certainly some online techniques as well that you can use, especially through social media. A lot of the resumes that I suspect you receive or we receive are through LinkedIn and other kind of social media venues. A lot of keyword searches, so if you are, again, culling through, you know, hundreds if not thousands of resumes and really looking for certain skill sets or certain qualities and can do that through a keyword search, that will very quickly narrow in on, you know, a resume stack that is much more manageable as one technique and that will oftentimes really enable you to get to something, you know, that you can certainly get through relatively quickly.

01:15 Morgan: I will go to, though, the stacks and stacks of resumes, you know, oftentimes you certainly can find some talent that way. But the referral network and the way that you can really be able to find that talent through the connections that you have and investing time in that network of connections in the local markets to your point. Wherever you may be, you know, the diversity of the markets is also, you know, quite interesting and also a challenge at times. But that is the way that, you know, again, I think we'd find the most valued and strongest candidates that way.  

01:50 Sharon Virst-Mozer: We actually do, we call it the friends and family program (inaudible) we pay referral fees to clerks that recommend folks that come in. And if they make it past a certain date, six months on the job, doing well, they get paid a bonus on top of their normal income for referring that good worker. We find that a lot of those friends and family folks are a much better fit because the folks doing the referral will want to work with them, understand the environment, you know, down the guys in the mailroom.

02:20 Morgan: Yeah, and it works at every level. So, I mean, I think it's just at the most senior levels, but also to your very good point, Sharon, of really all throughout the organization for those roles. But there's no doubt about it, as you said, I mean, the market is ripe with very talent individuals. And so to the extent that you also can be very specific on what you're looking for, so, you know, more specific profiles, more specific job descriptions and ways that you can, you know, look for and attract that talent, that will also help hone in the resumes.

02:52 Fass: So my next question is for all of you. We'll start with Selena. I'd like to know what your biggest hiring mistake was and what you do differently now as a result.

03:02 Selena Cuffe: So back in 2010, we experienced a tremendous amount of growth and then within a period of three months a tremendous amount of shock because one of our largest national customers virtually-;they went under in a period of about 12 months. And at the very onset of our relationship, we had begun to do a ton of marketing programming and it was very clear that we needed to hire someone who had sales experience calling on large corporation grocery chains. And so through our network search, we came across an amazing woman who had called on a ton of both grocery chains, as well as large, bulk restaurant groups like Outback Steakhouse and Ruth's Chris Steak House. And there was just an amazing fit. The problem surfaced in that her--the cost of compensating her was more than I was compensating myself at the time. But we really realized very quickly that we needed the coverage. And so the biggest mistake and the biggest regret that I had at the time was hiring a sales manager that we really-;we just-;we weren't ready for yet. We couldn't afford her. And usually the life cycle for corporations, whether that be through the programming or even just getting one, signing them up and getting them onboard to be a client can take anywhere from 14 to 18 sometimes. And even when you do have them, the programming could be out a year.

04:42 Cuffe: And so really, what we found ourselves in was a very cash-flow-precarious situation where we just really could not afford to have her onboard even though she was fabulous, but she was not bringing in the sales at the rate that we needed her to cover her own compensation. And so what really sucked about that was just three months later one of our national accounts laid off 8,000 people, cut back on all of their marketing, and here we were in this situation where we really couldn't afford her and we had to lay her off. And I think that the big a-ha moment out of that that we now very much adhere to no matter how wonderful the candidate is is if we can't afford her or him, then we just don't hire them. And I think in this situation that happened in 2010, we were just very, very optimistic and hopeful that she would bring in well above her compensation. And sometimes that just doesn't happen and it's better to be more cautious and plan out that maybe this person doesn't, you know, help the return on investment for a good 12 to 18 months and make sure that you have enough of a reserve to be able to support having them onboard to really build for the long term.

05:53 Fass: Sharon, how about you?

05:54 Virst-Mozer: How many do I get? We've had-;with 1,500 people, we've had a lot of mistakes. But I can tell you the two that sort of strike me is one is at the executive level or at the leadership level. Hiring someone that's referred from someone else that you trust and know that says this person is great, I worked with them ten years ago, they do a great job, we need them, I think someone said earlier when you have a couple of glasses of wine, you know, you said (inaudible) you know, and you get to meet them over interviewing, you like the personality, and then you hire them and you really didn't vet them. You really didn't look at what they've done since that ten years the other person knew them or what they've done recently and you didn't vet them with your own team. And we've done that a couple of times, one in HR actually, and then some other positions.

06:43 Virst-Mozer: Secondly what we do is we promote people from the clerk level because they're great clerks to supervisors to managers. The next thing you know, you've got a clerk with no leadership skills running an office, running a site, and that'll get you into trouble. And we often hear well, if not this person, then who? And the answer is it's better for it to be vacant than to have a bad leader. So it's really, really great to vet and make sure you do the right kind of things to develop your leadership. That's my biggest sort of lesson learned from hiring mistakes.

07:13 Fass: Your first one is very interesting because like many people say that a good way to determine of somebody is a good fit is to check their referrals. So if your-;even your referral isn't necessarily reliable, you know, an entrepreneur only has so many hires and can't, you know, pay for for the expense of recruiting, onboarding, you know, how do you find the right fit if you can't rely on referrals?

07:33 Virst-Mozer: We--what we did in that case is that we did not interview hard. You know, we took this individual's recommendation. We had a quick discussion. We brought that person into the job. We did not panel interview. We did not really put him through the test and didn't check recent references to really find out what they had been doing. May have still gotten it wrong. You're going to get it wrong. You're not always going to get it right. I mean, it's better to get it more right than it is wrong, but-;more often. But it's a tough process. But I, you know, if you have a board-;we have board members interview them outside of my own interview process, have other peers in the organization spend time with them and ask them really tough questions, what-if questions, scenario questions. And you may not get it right, but if your gut's screaming at you that there's an issue, listen to your gut.

08:22 Morgan: And there's another, you know, the diverse, you know, set of interviewers I think is extremely helpful because each of them will bring a different vantage point and perspective to the interview and asking the tough questions. The other element and sometimes it's quite difficult to do, so it may not be relevant in every situation, but especially on a more, you know, expensive hire, the reference sheet oftentimes is not worth the piece of paper it's printed on, right? Those are their handpicked references that I want Sharon to call these three people on me because these are my buddies. I've worked for them. I know what they're going to say. Sharon really needs to call the folks who are not on the piece of paper that you need to find through the back door. Again, oftentimes if you're using a recruiting firm to help you, which I know oftentimes is also not possible, but even, again, your network of who do they know do they know, it's the six degrees of separation. There are ways you can find connections. And make just quick, passive phone calls to say hey, we're interested in John Doe, think you worked with him back five years ago, would be very interested in your perspective, and that's the way you may find some references that would be more meaningful to you to really understand what that person is bringing to the table, so.

09:32 Fass: So, Katie, what was your biggest hiring mistake?

09:34 Morgan: I've got plenty of mistakes to offer.

09:37 Virst-Mozer: We're going to write a book, Lisa.

09:38 Morgan: Yeah, we did say last night we're going to co-author a book. And you would think it was fictional, but it's actually nonfiction.

09:44 Virst-Mozer: It's going to be called "We couldn't make it up."

09:45 Morgan: We couldn't make it up.

09:46 Virst-Mozer: We couldn't make it up.

09:47 Morgan: That's for sure. And it would be about 5,000 pages. But I'll give you one quick example, which hasn't been mentioned here, but it was where all of the facts lined up. It's similar to maybe a couple here. All of the facts lined up. This person was-;this woman was highly, highly competent, I mean, very qualified, fantastic experience, did a broad, diverse set of interviews, lots of different folks, came in a couple of different times, looked at the cultural fit, all of those things. But my instincts told me do not hire her. And I don't know why I didn't follow them. Everyone else thought we should hire her. And so I followed the path. But it was my hire at the end of the day. It was my budget. And about six months later, we ended up terminating her for not performing. It wasn't that she was a bad person. It was just simply that she did not have the skills truly to do the role. And my gut told me that. And, you know, while we'll often, you know, again, at our company, we are very fact-based. We lead with a lot of analysis as corporations do. But we, you know, your gut matters. And it is a piece of the equation and component that you do need to listen to. And not just go with your gut, though, also. I mean, I think there's also a failed strategy if you just constantly follow guts and instincts and don't have any facts and data to support that may be a failed strategy over time. But that would be my one example.

11:09 Fass: So I'm going to ask my last question, but invite you all to come up to the mics to ask your questions while we're answering this one. So my last question is what's your favorite interview question and why? Tony Shea likes to ask what's the biggest misconception people have of you because he likes to see how self-aware candidates are.

11:25 Cuffe: So for me, I like to ask the question where do you see yourself ten years from now because it gives them enough time to not feel necessarily wedded to being an employee of our company, but at the same time I also want to get an understanding of how entrepreneurial they are as people. And that's not to say that I want them to answer and say, you know, I want to start my own business, but the reality is that when you do have a small organization, you need people that are not going to wait for the next assignment and that are going to have a slant towards entrepreneurship in their daily activities. And I find that in-;or getting that question answered, I do get a sense of who they are as people and what their long-term vision is for their own personal future.

12:08 Virst-Mozer: My personal favorite is who's the worst boss you ever had? And if the person sounds like me, they're not coming to work for me.

12:18 Morgan: I’m going to adopt that one. I’m pretty sure. Mine is about failure, so tell me about a time when you failed and what you learned from it and what you did about it. You know, I have multiple failures every day, things that I did wrong I wish I would've done differently. And how you own that, how you've learned from it, and how you move forward and take that forward I think can be very insightful, again, for all levels because we all make mistakes.