We are in the midst of hiring a new Director of Operations for the Community Engagement Center, and since I have been asked a lot of questions about our process, I thought I would share the process as it generally happens, with annotations. Our Core Values are inherent in what we do, so I thought I would point out where they come into play – they are highlighted in bold italics. The process also tells you something about my management style and our corporate culture.
You submit a resume and cover letter. Not a resume attached to an email. We will judge you on your communication skills.
One advantage to this is that about 20% of applicants don’t follow the instructions, which always gets them put in the trash immediately. Seriously – I don’t even see their resume.
The practical reason for this is that one of our Core Values is Mutuality, which, in this instance, means that we value the input of all our team. So, we print off copies of resumes and cover letters and examine them as a team, and we all vote on who gets an interview.
Our job is to Bear Witness. We talk and write about our work a lot. If you aren’t able to communicate effectively and clearly, you will struggle here. Notice I didn’t say you have to be a good writer – we can always edit you. But it is really hard to edit someone who isn’t a clear thinker, or who can’t construct a narrative.
We invite you in for a conversational first interview with a member of our team.
This might be with me, or another member of the team. The purpose of this meeting is a first pass to see if we would be a good fit, to answer questions we have about each other and to show you around. A recent applicant said it was like the first date at a coffee shop with someone you met on the Internet – you are making sure they are legit.
But it also tells us a lot about people. Because we do it here at the Engagement Center, the environment is always chaotic. We don’t have a waiting room, so you are often left to stand around until we get to you. Because you are probably one of the best dressed people in the building, guests will think you are important, and may ask you questions. How you react to guests matters.
The woman who was physically repulsed when she saw a guest who appeared homeless, but was effusive to me and the rest of the paid staff didn’t get a call back. Ever.
Another Core Value is Hospitality, and hospitality involves both giving and receiving it. We are also watching to see how well you accept our hospitality, because people who are good at receiving it are often good at offering it.
About 50% of the people we interview don’t get past here.
You are invited for a second, much more formal interview with multiple members of our team.
This meeting is much more like a traditional interview. Two or three of us and you, sitting around a table. We take turns asking you questions, and we take notes. It is usually me and at least one other staff member and sometimes a board member or two.
We have 10-12 questions that are designed to tell us about how you think – are you empathetic? Dogmatic? Others-centered or egotistical? Organized or slap-dashed? Are you relationship oriented? Since Relationships are one of our Core Values, that is a big deal to us.
Everyone gets asked the same questions, so we can compare notes later about, say, how the applicant responded to question three.
The team aspect of the interview does several things.
It protects you from my biases – having other team members in the room means they see things I don’t, and believe me, if you connect with them, they will advocate for you when we are discussing who to invite to go further in the process. Having other people to advocate for you is also part of Grace.
It is also worth noting that our part-time Admin Assistant, who has been on payroll for less than a month, has a large role in picking who her supervisor will be. This is an example of Downward Bias.
It also gives our less experienced team members experience in interviewing and helps prepare them for future roles they may play with our organization. By exposing them to multiple situations outside their normal roles, they have new matrixes to organize their ideas by, which makes us stronger as a team.
But the biggest thing it does is give us access to their genius. All of us have a genius – a thing that is ours and ours alone. If I am the only one doing the interviews, our organization only has access to my genius. If, however, we bring the rest of the team in, we have access to all of their genius. Which makes us strong indeed.
As a team, we meet and discuss the applicants, their qualifications and their probability of success here. We also begin background checks and reference checks with people who we want to continue with in the process.
This is where we find out if you lied to us. Don’t lie to us. We hate being lied to.
We invite you to hang out with us.
By now it is usually pretty obvious who we should hire. But we always make sure we have several people in this stage (in other words, the number two candidate is also here, even if they are a distant number two) because of Grace, and also because sometimes, we are wrong.
We are going to invite you to have dinner with us out in public. The whole paid staff and you will have a long (2 hours or so) meal, where we just hang out and talk.
The main thing we are looking for here is fit – do you mesh with the team? Are you kind to the wait staff? Are you standoffish? Open? Do you overshare? Monopolize the conversation? Are you interested in us as people? Do we know you better after the meal?
We meet as a team and discuss how the meals went. We each get time to advocate for our preferred candidate. If there isn’t consensus, we take it very seriously, and if we are evenly divided, we have been known to call candidates back for more meetings.
We don’t require consensus to hire someone, but we usually get to consensus pretty quickly. If we don’t, it is a very big red flag for us.
We invite you to be part of our team.
And that is it. It generally takes a couple of months, because having all the team this involved takes a lot of coordinating. But we think it makes a huge difference.
As I look back over this, I see I have touched on every one of our Core Values except Agency – the right of people to exert power in their own lives. But it is inherent throughout the process.
In the posting, we tell you creativity and good grammar is important to us. Many people choose to not be creative, or, for that matter, even check their email for typos.
In the first email from us, we invite you to read our blog, come tour our facility or to come worship with us. Most applicants do none of this.
I have said nothing in this blog post I don’t tell applicants in the first interview, when I describe the process. It amazes me how they still ignore the other team members in the second interview, and try to butter me up, as if I am the only person making the decision.
We tell you what we are looking for. If you choose to not use that, it is on you.
We are a team, and if you are invited to be part of that team, it is because the whole team wants you there – not just me.
Because all of us are better than any of us.