Recruiting Quality People

Running a lighting showroom is no different than any other business in one key way: success depends upon the strength of our team. Here are some tips on how to identify and recruit the best people to your team.

    Years ago I started putting a homework assignment in every job application I post. This was to weed out unmotivated candidates or those that didn’t pay attention to detail. Rather than just “send your resume” in as application instructions, I added a small homework assignment that would require some motivation and attention to detail.

    Example: in an ad for a salesperson I might include…

    To apply, email the following plus your resume to *email address*. (please keep all answers to one paragraph of four sentences or less)
    – One paragraph describing your sales background OR the reason you want to get into sales if you have little to no sales experience.
    – A link to one lighting fixture you like and why.
    – A list of the three boldest things you’ve ever done in your life.
    – Your favorite joke. 

    About 70% of applicants just send along their resume. I delete those immediately. If a candidate isn’t motivated enough to do a simple homework assignment (and follow instructions) they’re probably not going to be a whole lot MORE motivated if I hire them.
    We ask people (especially warehouse staff and delivery drivers) to do a one-week paid trail run before we formally offer them the job. This let’s them see if they like the duties and let’s us see a small glimpse into how well they’ll fit with the team, how reliable they are, etc.

    Experience is valuable, but not the biggest indicator of success. I’ve usually found that my best people are those that had the right personality and attitude and we taught them lighting.

    Here’s a useful exercise:
    Imagine you’re a year down the road and the person in the role you need to fill has been utterly amazing… much BETTER than you hoped for! What made them uniquely great at that particular role? Was it an above-and-beyond ability to stay organized under stress… remarkable attention to detail… exceptional communication… ability to solve problems… ?

    Now look for that attribute as the standard.

    Hone in on whether candidates exhibit the traits you’re looking for and not too much on the answers they give. If you need someone who is organized, never ask a candidate if they’re organized (I don’t know anyone who will say “no… I’m a sloppy, disorganized mess” even if they are!). Pay closer attention to how they act. Did the candidate show up on time? Is their resume well-organized and easy to follow? Give them a handful of M&M’s and lay a bunch of clear cups out ask them to count the M&M’s… do they sort them in any way or just toss them all into one cup?
    No particular attribute is inherently positive or negative. A liability in one role may be a strength in another.

    Years ago I interviewed a candidate for a delivery driver position who had been let go from over 20 previous jobs in less than 15 years. By her own admission, she had a hard time fitting in because she was OCD and couldn’t stand to NOT try to organize things (a habit that drove people nuts in the sales and customer service roles she’d held).

    Right away I thought, “delivery driver isn’t the right fit, but I’ll bet if I put this woman into purchasing she’d use that OCD to everyone’s benefit.” I made her an offer to work in purchasing. Today she runs purchasing for multiple stores and is flat out amazing! We almost never have mistakes on PO’s, pay extra freight, run out of items we need in stock, etc. because she’s right on top of things and can’t NOT obsess about the little details.

    Be on the lookout for strong personality traits that – if leveraged in the right role – might be a big asset.

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