Friday, October 26, 2007

Hire Powers

I had to do some interviewing this week. The one time I did it before, we had pretty much already decided we were going to hire her. It was really just a formality. Now, we are looking for an intern after the one who was hired quit after one day. (She got a full-time job. I did NOT run her off.) Back to the drawing board we went.

Our HR woman sent me all the resumes that had come in for the position and there I sat reading over the lives of these anonymous people, remembering to myself how it felt to be on the other end of the job search, looking for experience yet knowing that my lack of experience was a real hindrance. Or later in life, looking for a change and hoping someone had the ability to connect the dots and find I'd be a good fit after all. So in the end, what I was really looking for both times was a break and those can be hard to come by. You have to hope the person interviewing you can see past the nervousness and uncover the potential that maybe you yourself have yet to recognize.

It is difficult juggling these two perspectives - the one who remembers what it felt like to yearn for a chance and the one who has to look past all that to find the person most likely to succeed with us and stay a while. It doesn't feel fair to pass any sort of judgment on people I don't really know but how else can you choose? Big hint, youngest job seekers: First impressions really do count. Neatness really matters. Spelling and grammar mistakes make it easy to chuck a resume and narrow down the possibilities. A ton of experience in a completely different field gives a potential employer pause. It all seems so trivial and superficial but it's reality because when you have a lot of people with the same ability standing before you but only one job, how do you select? Nit-picking becomes the method of choice. As I stood with Co-workers 2 and 3 discussing it, we briefly considered a test for the real contenders. Maybe a writing test? Maybe a scavenger hunt? How about Intern Survivor!

I tell you it isn't easy doing this. It helps to be as prepared as possible with the questions you ask but also in figuring out exactly what you want a person to be able to do. After talking to one person and consulting with Co-worker 3 who would also talk to these people to get her own assessment, we realized that the perfect person would not only be a go-getter (not literally but you never know) but also have an aptitude for writing. They would be working in Editorial after all. Some creativity would also help since we are involved in a lot of visual projects. So I looked for signs of that in the people I spoke with. I admit I also looked a little for signs of myself and the others on my team. We're all very different but we have our strengths that make us cohesive and productive and you hope like will draw like. The disappointing thing was that our choices were few. I called a good number of people. The responses were less than stellar. But it only takes one right?

It's odd to find myself in a place where I can maybe help someone take their first or next step in the career of their dreams. I dread the thought of having to tell anyone, "Thanks but no thanks." I can only hope they don't take it personally because I remember being crushed by what felt like personal rejection. Of course I didn't know then that one door closing leaves room for something better to come along and came along it did. You have to learn to think that way in order to soothe your hurt feelings. I do hope that the ones who don't make it aren't fazed by it. I hope they truly have the tenacity they say they do and that they land on their feet. I hope the person who accepts the job stays more than one day.

I already know who I am going to pick - or should I say hire? After all, as I am told, it is up to me since I will be the one managing him or her the most. My boss and Co-worker 3 keep smiling and metaphorically throwing their hands up in the air, "Whoever you want" they say. Thanks, ladies!

Now I am just letting the decision gel until next week. It gives me time to at least do what many potential employers never did for me - acknowledge the receipt of the resume and give my thanks but no thanks. After all, if we never take the time to remember we were neophytes once too and make a difference for the people who come after us, then we are doomed to repeat the cycle of indifference and seeming disregard for people's feelings. It's about time more employers put a little heart in their hiring process. You may just get back the loyalty and commitment you seek.

No comments: