Thursday, May 03, 2007

"Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow." Jeff Valdez

"Dogs have owners, cats have staff." Johnny Martin

Congrats & cheers:
CBS programming ace Mark Edwards makes history. After 31 years and 125 books in a row of being #1 in St Louis, KMOX shares #1 for the first time. Mark's KEZK matches KMOX's Winter 7.6, well deserved bravos to Mark and his team! 2006 finalists for The Livingston Awards. The honor goes to journos under the age of 35. Wireless noms include Charles Michael Ray, Guy Raz, and Laura Sullivan. From the wired world Brian Rokus and Will Evans. The complete list of finalists here.

Good reads: Highly recommended additions to my current reading. Fiction - Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Amazon info here. Non-Fiction - David Weinberger, Everything is Miscellaneous. Review by Cory Doctorow here. Amazon info here. James L. Baughman, Same Time Same Station. Creating American Television, 1948-1961. Amazon info here.

On references: From emails concerning my previous posts on hiring. The best, most valuable, references are a mix of supervisors and subordinates. In my experience actually talking with references provided by candidates is a good starting point. Ask the candidate their reason for using each person as a reference. Align these with the work history. Is each job covered by a reference? Understanding these to be the most positive we can still gain valuable insight by asking the right questions. Use a mix of open and closed ended questions. For example, using Ed as the name of our candidate. What four words best describe Ed? Let the reference provide you with the four words and then ask them to explain why they used each. What are Ed's greatest strengths? What things should Ed focus on to become a better (insert job title)? Ask supervisors if they would hire Ed again and why, ask subordinates if they would work for Ed again and why. Ask why should we hire Ed? What should we know about Ed that he is probably not going to tell us? Why did Ed use you as a reference? Using your ideal candidate description create a list of ten attributes key to success in the position. Ask the reference to score Ed for each attribute using a scale of one to ten where ten is the best score. End the call by asking the reference to provide the names of two other people you can call about Ed. When interviewing those two ask for the name of one more reference. Keep handy an alpha list by last name of the references. If a name is given to you more than once make a note of that and ask for another until you get one not on your list. Take careful notes. Look for patterns.

On interviewing: Before the interview have the candidate provide you with a detailed work history. On the first interview allow the candidate to do 80% of the talking. Do not use the first interview to sell the company or the position. Use the first interview to get as much information about the candidate as possible. Let the candidate talk. Use your time to ask questions and probe to get more detailed answers. Ask the candidate to tell you about their greatest success. Should this be something personal (spouse, kids, dream home, etc) follow up asking about their greatest career success. Do frame the question. Tell me a success story, one that if I checked it out and talked to everyone involved, everyone would agree that you played an important role in the achievement? What did you learn? Tell me about your biggest failure? What did you learn? What are your greatest strengths? What areas do you need to focus on to be a better (insert job title)? Tell me about your favorite boss. What do you respect about them? Tell me about the best job you've had in your career. Tell me about the boss that disappointed you most. We've all had at least one bad job, tell me about your worst career experience. Have you ever been fired? If yes, what did you learn? Using the work history ask the candidate to tell you about each experience. Ask the candidate why they left each position. If they tell you they were fired ask them to tell you about how and why that happened. If I were to talk to every boss you have had what three words would they all agree best describes you? If I were to talk to every subordinate that has ever worked for you what three words would they all agree best describes you? If I asked the person closest to you to describe you in one sentence what would they say? Whom do you respect or admire most in our industry? Why is that? Why do you want to work for us? What do you know about our company and our situation? What makes us a good fit? Again, take careful notes.

In sum, the best counsel is listen more and talk significantly less. Listen critically during the interview and reference checking process.