Learning to hire and hiring to learn
Saturday, October 8th, 2005
As Blogads grows, we’re refining our technology and processes. Growing, happily, also means hiring people. Over the last nine months, I’ve found that though it yields far fewer candidates than Monster.com, CraigsList returns the purest crop of folks who are on our wavelength. Craigslist applicants have technology skills, think outside the concrete box and are active participants in the new age of DIY. That’s one lesson.
Another thing we’re learning is how to interview. Since reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, which documents how our long-term impressions of people actually are formed (often very inaccurately) in our first five seconds of seeing them (no sound necessary!), I’ve been pondering how to overcome this handshake bias. Yes, how someone shakes your hand IS important, but that’s maybe where the judgement process should conclude, rather than begin.
Aren’t most of our transactions these days virtual? Don’t bloggers always say, on meeting each other for the first time, “you are just like your blog!” So our evolving strategy is to respond to interesting resumes with a few innocuous e-mailed questions. You can learn a lot from the response: speed, fluency, humor, sense of self, love of language. You also see how most of YOUR customers will see the person — not face to face but in a few fragments of written words and ideas and perhaps a phone call.
Next comes the standard reference check. (Though it seems that lots of employers skip this step these days?) Is the resume accurate? Is the individual outstanding? Do candidates stick with jobs and projects? Do they make good choices in navigating a career path? Next, another detour from the traditional hiring schedule: an IM interview. An hour’s spontaneous typing reveals a lot. Finally, a conventional handshake and some pizza.
Last week, we filled these two positions. Once we can move out of our current office into something bigger, by next month I hope, I’ll post another ad for more people to help us relate to bloggers and advertisers.