Today’s podcast features Jessica Rhodes from The Interview Connection a firm that focuses in finding podcasts for guests to be on and guests for podcasts. I met Jessica while we were talking about podcasting at Socia Media World.
During our conversation, we started talking about how to get the right person for her firm doing the right thing. (Thanks Jim Collins) I ended up talking with her about a super simple hiring system I’ve been using for years. Being the great podcaster she is, she immediately took out her phone put a microphone on it and started to record what we were talking about.
In this episode, I’m taking a little different tact. Instead of my interviewing Jessica about her company, we’re talking about how to hire great people for your company. During this podcast you’ll learn some of the following things:
- What the can do, will do, fit factor method of hiring is.
- Why you always want to start with fit and just use can do factors as a screening tool.
- What a brilliant jerk is and why you want to avoid them at any cost.
- Understand the fact that there should be no difference in your hiring between W-2 employees and virtual ones.
- How to ask open-ended questions and how that affects the quality of your interview.
Narrator: Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful.
Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.
Josh: Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick and you’re at The Sustainable Business.
Today, we have a guest. Her name is Jessica Rhodes. I met Jessica at Social Media World. I was wandering around looking for a place to join a conversation group and sat down at a podcasting table. And lo and behold, Jessica and I started conversation. She told me what she did and we ended up somehow rather getting on the topic of how to hire effectively. She was looking for some key people in her company and I said, “Oh, I have a really simple methodology for hiring. I’ve been using it for about 40 years. And as a result, when I do use it, which I do all the time when I hire, my success rate for hiring is really high.” So she pulled out a microphone, plugged it into her phone and interviewed me for about 25 or 30 minutes, about our strategy between hiring.
And recently, she sent me an e-mail saying, “Gee, I used your system that worked really well.” So I said, “Ha, what a great topic for us to talk about” because as we all know, if we don’t get good people – and using Jim Collin’s terminology – the right person in the right seat, it’s pretty much impossible for us to create a business that’s a good one.
So let’s bring Jessica in and we’ll talk about what her challenges were with hiring before she tried our system, and how it worked out, and what she found was good, and what she would like to see done differently.
Hey, Jessica. How are you today?
Jessica: Hi, Josh. I’m doing well. Thanks for inviting me onto the podcast.
Josh: It’s my pleasure. And I forgot to say that you’re the CEO of InterviewConnections.com. And what you do is you provide either guests for podcasts – people like me, or you find people to be on podcasts if you’re looking for guests and are having a hard time finding them, is that correct?
Jessica: Yeah. That’s right. We are a guest booking agency. So, about three-quarters of our business are guest experts that we find shows to place them on. And we also work that podcasts hosts to find guest for them. So we are connecting entrepreneurs together for podcast interviews.
So let’s talk about the hiring system that you learned from me. And what were your challenges first with hiring people?
Jessica: Well, you know, my situation is a little unique in that when I met you, I was like just beginning to hire employees. I was at the very beginning of my journey hiring W2 in-house employees.
I’ve been in business for about four years. But up until two to three months ago, I had all independent contractors who worked from home. And so, I would still go through a process of meeting with people before I would contract them for their services. But it was a lot easier with a contractor, if they didn’t work out, you just say, “Okay, I don’t have any work for you.” But with employees, it’s just, there’s a lot more at stake. There’s got to be a computer for them. You don’t want to have any wrong for termination, you know, lawsuits. So it’s like you really want to make sure you have the right people like in the right seats when you hire employees.
So when I met you at Social Media Marketing World, I was basically right in the beginning. I believe, if I remember the dates correctly, I had hired my first employees two weeks before that. And they were independent contractors before I hired them so there wasn’t really a big interview process with them. But we were just starting to reach out and interview brand new people.
So I remember we were sitting at lunch and I just was asking for your advice and I recorded it and tried to take as much of your input and implemented it as much as possible. I took notes. I sent it to my general manager here and we kind of worked together on that.
And the biggest thing stuck with me, that you talked about, was Fit Factor and kind of evaluating what things you interview about that are the most important. And that really hit home.
I remember changing the questions around so I could figure out what people’s values were and what they wanted to get out of the job. So it definitely helped us learn more about people’s personality and their values. Whereas, before we were focused more on what their skills and experience was.
Josh: And by the way, that is not unusual for almost every private business owner or any person I’ve ever known who’s hiring, is too often we focus on the technical skill. And that’s often the easiest thing to hire for because they either have it or they don’t.
But the other stuff, we break it down as, you know, Jessica, the Can Do which are “the technical skills you bring to the job”. Will Do which is, “Are you willing to do the activities that will make you successful on the job?” And Fit Factor which is, “What does it take to fit into your company?”
And as you correctly identified, Fit Factor is where it’s at.
Jessica: Oh yeah, completely, completely. And the other thing that we saw with Fit Factor, I remember our employee, Zac, is the first person we interviewed after I met you and learned about your method. And I remember asking— I don’t have my notes of that interview. I’m not sure if I still have them or where they are but I remember asking him a question. And what he said was– he kind of alluded to I’m not married with kids yet but that is something that I want and it’s great to know that this job is day schedule, I wouldn’t be like working at night until 2:00 in the morning, because he used to work in a restaurant. So by getting that answer, I could see that he valued family and stuff like that which was something that was important to us as well.
So how did you end up deciding what Fit Factors are important in your company?
Jessica: That’s a good question.
And our Fit Factors– I think we’re still working on defining all of our values and personality. It’s kind of hard putting it into words. But when Margy and I did the interview, we wanted just to make sure there was a natural conversation that could take place.
You know, if we felt like we were pulling teeth– and I did do an interview recently where I felt like I was just pulling teeth and I wanted someone that was going to be talkative. I remember when I asked Zac the question, I think I got this from you. If you were to walk into a room of strangers, what’s the first thing that you do? And he said like, he would go up and talk to people. He loves talking to people. He’s a total extrovert. And that was something that was important to us.
Now, that speaks a little bit to the Can Do because of what the job is. But just learning about what kind of personality they have, how were we able to laugh with them. Like, that was another thing that we looked at is how much did we joke around during the interview? And the employees in the other room could overhear us like, “Wow, you guys were really laughing the whole time” which was perfect because we want to have a light and friendly working environment because there’s a lot of pressure in the deadlines so we want to make sure we have people that have a good sense of humor. So that was something that we definitely thought of.
Josh: So have you written down what the values are for your company?
Jessica: That is on my list of things. I want to do an exercise. And maybe you have ideas for me.
Now, I certainly have values in mind that I’ve thought of in years past. But I want to go through an exercise with my staff now that we kind of have– we had just one employee turnover who used to be a contractor and she left. So now our current staff of seven people, including myself, I want to go through an exercise where we figure out like all of our values. So I haven’t written it down but that is something that I want to do with the staff now that we’re all kind of settled in and everyone’s trained.
Josh: So I’m going to make a suggestion to you. And my suggestion is you don’t want to make your values exercise a group activity.
Jessica: Oh, okay.
Josh: And here’s why, this is your company. When people come to work, they’re designed to join your vision. You’re not joining their vision.
Jessica: Got it.
That’s really good input because sometimes I struggle with how much of a democracy versus – I don’t know what the right way to describe it as. But I want to get all this group input, but at the end of day, I think, people also just want to be led and not have to always be providing input around systems, and what we’re doing, and what our values are. So that’s really good advice.
Josh: You know, when you try to take everybody’s input into putting together values, I also believe the same is true around mission statements, you end up getting this mishmash which really doesn’t mean anything. And it often gets too long and too complex.
Jessica: Right, right, right.
Josh: So in the values—
I mean, here’s a simple way to figure out your values. Take out a piece of paper and write down 25 things that you value.
Josh: And from that, start crossing things off until you end up with five core values.
Josh: And from those five core values, those become your value statement.
So for me, for example, some of my values are simplification is a really big deal. Rights and respect is a really big deal for me. Personal responsibility is a really big deal. Being referable which means you do what you say you’re going to do. You show up on time and you say please and thank you is a really big deal. And anybody that’s going to work at any of my companies, you better be pretty good on all those four things or you’re not going to be successful.
And I’m going to assume that your values will be different. Maybe, some will be the same but some will be different. And it’s really about what your dream is for your business. It’s not about what our dream is for your business.
Jessica: Okay. I like it.
Josh: And in that way you get to have an opportunity to really build a business that’s in your vision.
Jessica: Right, right, right.
Josh: And, frankly, if you to take a look at the really successful businesses, they tend to all have that in common when they’re still run by their founders.
Jessica: Mm-hmm. That’s makes a lot of sense. I will definitely take that advice.
Josh: And the other thing that you want to be careful about is like when you’re talking about being able to walk into a room and mix it up right away, that’s more of a Will Do activity. That’s an activity you have to be willing to do to be successful in a particular job versus a technical skill.
And many people, when they’re first trying to use this system, the “Can Do, Will Do, Fit Factor system”, they get confused between can do’s and will do’s. And they’re actually very different things. Will Do is the activity. Can Do are the technical.
In other words, to be in your business, do you have to have good Excel skills or good CRM skills? That will be a technical skill. Or have you had to have had experience where you book people on shows before?
Jessica: One thing that we have observed and realized is when we started interviewing and hiring employees, we thought we needed people with really good sales skills and sales experience because when you’re booking podcast interviews there is an element of being persuasive and asking for something and getting it which is essentially sales. But then, we realized that we had somebody who was great at sales but because her grammar and her ability to write good e-mails was so poor, that really affected the performance. We thought, you know, I think we actually need people that have good grammar, and good writing abilities, and are detail oriented. And then we can teach them around how to be persistent and have the other sales skills that you use when you’re writing as opposed to being face to face with somebody.
Josh: Another way to take a look at Can Do is, “Can you test for it easily?” For example, you could test to see if somebody can write grammatically correct sentences.
Josh: So that puts you into the Can Do world.
Yeah. And that’s actually, when we posted the job ad online, people were instructed to send a letter of interest, send an e-mail. And the applicants who had poor grammar and typo’s— or maybe it was just a one sentence e-mail, “I’m applying for this job.” I mean, they were eliminated immediately.
We really focused on the people that had good grammar. That the e-mail was formatted correctly, it wasn’t like typed up on their iPhone with like all lowercase letters or something like that. And so, that’s something that we could definitely test for immediately and that we took really seriously right up front.
A lot of times, I call the Can Do which is what you’re screening for immediately, table stakes, meaning that I’m not even going to talk to you unless you technically can do the job. But that’s not going to get you hired. That just gets you a conversation.
Josh: And from there, then you want to be going down to Fit Factors to say, “Is this is a person I want to be spending a lot of time with? Do they exhibit the values I have and my company has? And are they going to probably follow through on these values, how strong are they?”
Jessica: Right, yeah.
Josh: So when you were interviewing and you were trying to interview around Fit Factors, what kind of questions were you asking?
Jessica: I know, we asked people what do they like to do outside of work. We asked them what kind of podcast they listen to, what kind of television shows do they watch, or books do they read. Just kind of what do they like to do for fun.
Now, I don’t know if this would count as Fit Factor, but I know we asked people how long were they at the job that they’ve had for the longest amount of time. How long were they there and why did they leave? And then the shortest amount of time.
And so, we kind of learned a little bit about their personality based on the answers. One person, for example, that we hired, the minimum amount of time she was at a job was nine months or more. So we saw a lot of commitment there.
We asked people if they liked to travel to learn a little bit about their personality but at the same time knowing that if there’s an opportunity to a conference and get out of the office and kind of be out hitting the pavement for the business, would they be willing to do that? So that was really helpful.
We asked people, do they liked being a leader more or a supporter more? So, do they prefer to support or lead? And that was really telling of some different personalities.
Josh: So what did you learn from that question?
Jessica: So I wanted to know, am I going to be hiring somebody here that is going to be really ambitious about becoming a leader, and a manager, and moving up in the company? Or somebody that wants to settle into a job and be really support of the team around them?
Josh: So were you hiring a team member or a team leader?
Jessica: Right at the time, we were definitely hiring team members. We needed really strong booking agents, people that would come in and do a really good job. In fact, and even though I do think there are people in the staff that are motivated to move up, I needed people that would be really excited and happy to do a really good job at this job.
And in fact, the one person who was super motivated about moving up, she was so focused on being promoted and moving up to positions that weren’t created yet and, quite frankly, didn’t need to be created. She was so focused on moving up that she was not focusing on doing a good job in her current role. And she’s someone that ultimately isn’t here anymore.
So that, definitely, we learned that the supporter role was actually a really good person to have because we needed someone that wants to support the business and support their team members instead of focusing on moving up.
Josh: By the way, that’s one of the big mistakes that smaller businesses often make, is they hire people who are looking for promotion opportunities, not people who are going to be happy in a particular job.
That’s definitely something that I am learning a lot along the way of how fast is someone looking to move up. Are they going to be someone that is just if a better job or a higher paying job comes around, are they going to jump to that one? Or are they going to be really happy where they are with the current job that they’re in?
And we did talk to people about how there, hopefully, will be opportunities to move up. And the business will grow and new jobs – like, new positions will be created that people can advance into. But, as a small business, a new business, there aren’t a ton of different positions that they’re going to immediately climb into. They’ve got to be really good at their current job in order for potential new jobs to be created.
And the backside of that is, this often happens in sales, by the way, where somebody who’s a really good salesperson is made into a sales manager and becomes a total failure because, just because you’re good at booking, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be a good manager of bookers.
Jessica: That’s very true. It’s a very different skill set to do one job really well as opposed to managing people that do that job. Yeah, it’s totally different.
Josh: So, again, this kind of gets into the will do thing – what does somebody want to do. If I’m hiring a manager, I’m probably not looking for a good booker because they’re not going to be doing a lot of booking. Unless, the company is very small and you have one of those organizations where everybody wears every hat in the world.
Jessica: Right. Right, right, right.
Josh: And in the beginning of companies, you have to do that. But at some point, you have to start getting some sort of specialization.
Jessica: Right. Right, right, right.
Can I ask you a question, Josh?
Jessica: I’m curious. What do you think about the apprentice style like leadership track where you always promote people from within versus hiring people from outside to become a leader or a manager? Because you make a really good point, someone that’s a good booker might not be a good manager of people who do booking. But at the same time, isn’t it important that the manager, or the shift leader, or what not understands the day-to-day work that the people are doing that they are managing?
Josh: Oh, absolutely. I mean, if I’m supervising somebody booking guests on a podcast, I’d better know what’s involved in doing their job. And I probably also sit at the phones once in a while and actually try to do it. I don’t have to be great at it. I just have to know what makes somebody successful or not successful because, frankly, as a team member you’re not trying to help people become better, you’re trying to help yourself become better. And as a team leader, my goal is to actually become a servant to the people who work for me to help them become better. Or at least, in my opinion, that’s how it is.
Jessica: Right. Yeah.
Josh: You know, Jessica, unfortunately, we are just about out of time. And you have a really interesting service. We’re on a podcast. You book people for podcasts.
Can you tell our listeners how to find you and what would be the easiest way to do that?
InterviewConnections.com is where you can get to learn about what we do for both entrepreneurs that want to be booked as a guest expert. And also, you can go to InterviewConnections.com if you’re a podcast host and you need guests for your show.
And thank you for having me on. I think this is cool to be kind of a case study in the middle of everything. So I hope the stories and questions were helpful to your listeners.
Josh: I hope so, too. And in fact, it will be.
And if you want to visit our websites, we have a free e-book which is called Hiring for Unique Abilities. And the website you would that out would be www.Stage2Planning.com.
And I have a 1-hour audio CD which I would like you folks to get. And it’s called Success to Sustainability: The Five Things You Need to Do to Create a Sustainable Business in Your Life. To get it, it’s really easy, you just take out your smartphone. If you’re driving, please don’t do this while you’re driving. But take out your smartphone and text the word SUSTAINABLE to 4422. That’s the word SUSTAINABLE to 44222.
And, Jessica, thanks so much for your time today.
You’re at the Sustainable Business. This is Josh Patrick. And I hope to see you back here really soon.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around 100 years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802‑846‑1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com, or you can send Josh an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.