DM Hiring Practices: Best Ways to Find Good People, Part 2
Last week, I discussed some recent trends in the catalog/direct marketing employment world. In this week’s part two, I dig into the actual hiring practice.
The H.R. Issue: My Rx For Failure
Note to the H.R. department: I’ll review my own resumes, thank you. I know this may not make some people happy, but having H.R. managers screen applicants for hiring managers is like having Dracula accepting a day job; some things are just not meant to be. Let the H.R. folks at my applicants after I’ve sorted out my top few candidates. Then, they can ask them dumb questions like these:
“Describe to me a business experience you had where you failed?” (note to applicants, the correct answer is NEVER!!!).
“With regard to your business acumen, what personality traits do you have that you feel you could improve?” (the answer… NONE, I can do my job professionally all the time!)
On some interviews I’ve been on, I’ve had to work really hard to keep a straight face when asked those inane questions. I’ve had to bite my tongue too as I tend to be a smartass, lest H.R. people hear what is truly going on in my head.
Unorthodox Interviewing Works for Catalog Businesses
The truth is, once you do your due diligence in a “normal” interview session with candidates, it’s pretty much a crap shoot whether they’ll live up to their expectations AND fit into your corporate culture.
To me, those typical “take me through your resume” interviews say next to nothing. In most cases there’s not much more I can learn other than how well they do or don’t do in an interview that I could not find in someone’s resume.
And I can tell you from first hand experience that some people are horrible interviewees (like myself for instance). There’s a definite set of interview skills that have nothing to do with an actual job description that one must possess.
How I Conduct Interviews (And You Should Too)
If you really want to know what people are made of, let them “try out their position” in an interview. When I interview people, I’ll challenge them. If I’m interviewing for a sales or customer service position, I’ll stick a catalog in their hands, give them a few minutes and tell them to sell me any product in the catalog.
When interviewing graphics candidates, I’ll give them some plain text copy, throw them on a Mac workstation and let them design an ad or a postcard. This one works great with copywriters too.
With marketing people, I’ll give them a marketing problem to solve.
Ah, now you’re beginning to get the true hiring picture. Let’s adopt some new hiring practices and see if we magically see candidates in a different light. Maybe our levels of candidate dissatisfaction have something to do with more than just lousy candidates.
Speak to you next week.
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing, a full service catalog and direct marketing agency. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-302-1719.
Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.