Interviewing and Hiring From an Employer’s Point of View
40 New Jobs Available
I recently read an article by Monica Hesse of The Washington Post about an egg company executive who wanted to hire 40 people for a new plant scheduled to open. In an economy where folks are struggling to find good jobs, I was a bit surprised by the trouble Bernie Coyle (the company’s recruiting guy) had in staffing the new plant. I thought you might also find it interesting to look at interviewing and hiring from an employer’s point of view.
The new plant was being opened in Fort Recovery, Ohio and Coyle was looking for machine operators. Every job offered health insurance, dental insurance, good wages and a 401(k) plan with a company match.
Problems with Resumes
At the Holiday Inn Express outside Fort Recovery, Coyle set up his laptop in the breakfast room and began looking at resumes. The first one was from David who wanted to run the plant’s maintenance. David’s resume showed he was an Army vet and served from 1982 until 1985 so Coyle estimated David’s age at about 50. He also noticed that David’s last job ended 6 years ago. He looked at several more resumes and discarded them for various reasons. The former Chrysler supervisor didn’t fit the skill set. Kyle’s resume was lousy. And Steve was a no, right along with Gary and Robert.
Sifting through his stack of resumes, Coyle kept coming back to one older man or appeared to have been underemployed for 8 months, piecing together contract work since a plant downsizing. It was labeled “Dad’s Resume.” Coyle thought “Dad” was probably in his late 50s or early 60s, experienced, possibly down on his luck and maybe didn’t know much about computers since it looked like he may have relied on his kid to attach the application and email it in.
Coyle thought “Dad’s Resume” might be the quintessential story of what it means to be a job-seeker in 2014, a time when retraining and specialized skills sets are the norm. Maybe “Dad’s” skills were obsolete and maybe he had found his world upended. In his list of 4 or 5 candidates for each supervisory position, Coyle added “Dad’s Resume.” The guy may not have computer skills but Coyle wanted to give him a shot.
Problems with Interviewing
After getting through the entire stack of resumes, Coyle emailed his company’s HR chief to set up interviews with 14 of the applicants. Thirteen days later, Coyle was in the conference room of the Fort Recovery town hall with 3 piles of paper: the official employment application, an explanation of the company’s benefits, and the resumes of the people he expected to be interviewing before bringing finalists to the plant at the end of the week.
It was 10:04 and the first person was due at 10 o’clock. Coyle thought about how long he should wait, maybe 10 minutes, but at 10:10 the candidate still hadn’t shown up. In fact, he didn’t come at all. “This never happens,” Coyle thought. A few hours later, though, it happened again.
Coyle did a few sums: From the original 14 planned interviews, there were 2 no-shows plus the person last week who declined an interview, plus the 2 who never responded to emails at all. He was down to interviewing 9 applicants for 4 positions. Coyle called it a day and returned to the plant. The next morning, he came back to the town hall for a second day of scheduled interviewing.
The Right Way to Interview
The first appointment, set for 10 a.m. was already there when Coyle arrived at 9:45. She was carrying a folder filled with certificates and proofs of completion. When she saw Coyle, she stood up, smiled and introduced herself as Gloria Burns. She wanted to be hired as the SQF practitioner (the safe quality food specialist). Gloria had researched the company, brought extra copies of her resume and remembered to look Coyle straight in the eye when shaking his hand.
“Tell me why you’re special,” Coyle asked. “Tell me why this job floats your boat.” Gloria responded that she had been in quality for 25 years and was passionate about the work. She believed food safety was one of the most important things a company could give its customers. After a few more questions, Coyle asked why she was interested in the job and learned Gloria had been terminated from her last job 4 months ago. “Because the company closed?” asked Coyle. “No. They terminated me. As a person,” answered Gloria. She went on to explain it was because of a management change and that before she was let go, she had led her former plant to a 98% rating on a quality inspection.
All the Wrong Moves
After Gloria’s interview, Coyle sat through another no-show, bringing the applicant pool down to 7. He broke for lunch and then got ready for the final interview of the day scheduled for 3 o’clock. He watched the clock go to 3:05, 3:10 and 3:15. Just as he was about to give up, the door opened and an older man, wearing a checked shirt and a gray mustache, entered. It was “Dad’s Resume.”
“Did you have any trouble getting here today?” Coyle asked, looking meaningfully at the time. “No. It was a great trip,” replied “Dad” without offering an apology for his lateness. During the course of the interview, “Dad” said he considered himself a productivity and improvement specialist (a specialty he invented). He said he once saved a floundering hotdog plant by painting an office wall bright green and stenciling upon it, in foot-high letters “THE A-TEAM.” It was a way to encourage his workers to be the A-Team of the hotdog world. “Dad” said he liked to work hard and play hard and asked for a starting salary $15,000 to $25,000 higher than the salary posted for the job.
Coyle called his company’s HR rep to give her a rundown on the interviewing. He had decided to call Gloria back for a second interview for the food quality position but had nobody he could put in the production supervisor role which was the biggest job he had to offer and paid $60,000 to $70,000.
One New Hire Secured
Gloria arrived 20 minutes early for her second interview, which was held at the plant. Coyle met her there along with his colleague, Zueger, because he wanted to get another pair of eyes to observe how Gloria reacted to the job site. Leaving Zueger in another part of the building, Coyle and Gloria waked to a half-finished construction area along the side of the plant, Coyle told Gloria he made them stop work there and asked, “Why do you think I did that?” “Mold,” she answered, and pointed to a faint rim of gray along the floor. “You got it,” replied Coyle.
At the end of the tour, Coyle left Gloria for a few minutes while he went about 20 yards away to meet with Zueger. When he returned, Coyle asked Gloria, “Would it be of interest to you to run the plant?” He didn’t want to offer her the job she applied for. He wanted to offer her a better job, to make her the boss.
Gloria happily accepted the job and agreed to leave for training in the Minnesota plant as quickly as next week. As they parted, Coyle said to himself, “One more hire down. Plenty left to go. But one more down as the economy recovers.”
Improve Your Chances by Mimicking Gloria
If other companies are experiencing some of the same problems with finding and interviewing good people that Coyle did (and I suspect they are), the high unemployment rate could be caused by more than a lack of jobs.
If you’re looking for a new job, take some tips from Gloria and be at the top of your game. Don’t make the mistakes of submitting a poorly written resume, not responding to offers to interview, being late for the interview (or not showing up at all), voicing unrealistic expectations and engaging in other actions that kill your chances of getting hired.
Sue Montgomery is founder and president of Resume Plus (www.resumeplus.com). She is a professional resume writer and career coach who markets people for the jobs they want. Contact Sue directly at 937-254-5627 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.