For the entrepreneur who wants to scale, hiring is going to happen. Can there be good interviewers and bad interviewers in this process? In this Tough Things First podcast, Ray Zinn uses a lifetime of hiring knowledge to help interviewers and interviewees, get it right.
Rob Artigo: I’m Rob Artigo here once again, your host for this edition of the Tough Things First podcast. I’m an entrepreneur in California. It’s always wonderful to be back, Ray. I really appreciate it.
Ray Zinn: Well, good to be with you again today again, Rob.
Rob Artigo: For an entrepreneur who wants to scale, hiring is going to happen. Eventually, you’re going to hire an assistant and maybe that’s your only employee for the type of business that you do, or you’re going to have hundreds or… I don’t know, how many employees did you have at peak at Micrel?
Ray Zinn: We had 1,400 at the peak.
Rob Artigo: That’s pretty big and there are companies that have many thousands of employees out there that they have to hire, and people have the responsibility of hiring at all these different locations and levels, in different departments and that sort of thing. So I guess you can have amongst them some good interviewers and some bad interviewers.
Ray Zinn: Absolutely.
Rob Artigo: You’ve said that the traditional employee interviews tend to cover the normal skills and experience stuff for the job, but they really don’t delve sufficiently into the behavioral issues of the potential employees.
Ray Zinn: [inaudible 00:01:09] 100% true.
Rob Artigo: Was this something that you learned right away or that you developed to understand over time that your basic questions didn’t fill the gap?
Ray Zinn: Well, I think I knew it or at least had an idea of it, but obviously as I hired more people and had a chance to interact with them, I developed some better corollaries to what constitutes a good employee?
Rob Artigo: Well, you put together a list, another really good one, and I always like it when we do lists here on Tough Things First, the podcast, and I think it’ll benefit everyone really involved in the hiring process. So it could help those people hiring and asking questions, but also those looking for jobs so that they can prepare to answer those kinds of questions if they hear them. And they should be able to answer those as just a way of self-reflection. That’s what I always gather from what I hear from you on this podcast.
So maybe the best thing to do is I’ll read this, there’s seven of them here. I’ll read the list and I’ll let you comment on each one. Give us some good insight on each one of these and the reason, sort of your logic as to why it’s important to know these things. So number one here is, again, these are interview questions. So they’ll be asked as a question, do you like working as an individual or in a team? If they say individual, this is what you wrote afterwards. If they say individual, this is a warning sign.
Ray Zinn: That’s so true. And go back to the COVID era, if people like working from home, working remotely, sometimes that’s a key to the fact that they don’t like working with other people. They don’t like to be around other people. I know I’ve had some people that just couldn’t wait to get back to work. They liked working with others. They liked that team spirit, that ability to bounce things off each other and come up with ideas more. You know, two heads are better than one, as they say. So again, when somebody says they’d rather work as an individual, they’re less likely to be a team player.
Rob Artigo: I guess you want them to be able to work as an individual when they’re working on an individual project, but if they’re… They need to be team players, you want to know that they can be part of the company.
Ray Zinn: Yeah, I mean, again, being a good individual worker is fine, and even working remotely is fine, but it’s a warning sign. So you want to delve into it further to find out if they don’t like working as a team. Other words, find out are you a team player or not? And if you are, as they say, there’s no I in team, and so if they like working together as a team, then great. But if they, for example, say, “No, I’d rather just work on my own and be by myself,” or so forth, then that’s an indication that they don’t like to work together as a group and they’re more likely to want to work remotely and just be an individual player.
Rob Artigo: All right, here’s question number two. Did you love, like, or dislike your last boss or company? And your comment there was dislike is a warning sign.
Ray Zinn: Yes, that’s a very key one because if you didn’t like your previous boss, you’re less likely to your new boss. So delve into why they didn’t like their boss, and if they come up with things like, “Well, he swore,” and “He was not kind,” and so forth, you want to dig into that, maybe find another coworker that would back up that statement. So of course if you work in a hostile environment, you don’t want to, obviously you might not like working for your boss. You might go back two or three jobs even and find out, let’s say they work for three or four different companies. Just say, “What did you like about company one, two, and three and four?” and ask them about each company. And if they only had one company that they didn’t like, then that’s not too bad. But if it seemed like every time they left, “Oh, I didn’t get enough pay,” or “I didn’t like my boss,” or “I didn’t like the commute,” or they come up with some excuse, that that’s a warning sign that you need to dig into.
Rob Artigo: All right, well the next one is, number three, do you have lots of friends or few friends? I guess few, according to you, is a warning sign.
Ray Zinn: So again, this goes back to number one, which is do you work as an individual or as a team? There are people who don’t like to work with other people, they don’t have a lot of friends. So if they have lots and lots of friends, that means they’re more likely to get along, more gregarious, more willing to be compatible with the work environment. Whereas if they don’t have a lot of friends, then they’re less likely to be compatible with the work environment.
Rob Artigo: Number four is are you more concerned about salary or opportunity for advancement? Salary is a warning sign.
Ray Zinn: Again, if their focus is primarily on their income, what my perks are, what’s in it for me, me, me, me, that’s a warning sign. Of course, it can’t always be salary. I mean, salary could be part of it, but don’t focus on it. And so opportunity for advancement sounds like they like to improve, they like to continue to grow as an individual as opposed to, “Well, I’m just in it for the money.” So again, if they’re in it for the money or the perks, then you want to dig a little further.
Rob Artigo: Yeah, that’s number five, which is our company perks important to you? Is that different than that or is it part and parcel to number four?
Ray Zinn: It’s a little different. For example, salary has a little more to do with what they think they’re worth as an individual. Perks are trivia things like paid meals at work or free meals at work, I should say. The exercise gym, that means they’re not going to be a very hard worker if they’re just looking for the perks, because that reflects more of their ability to stay focused on the job as opposed to looking forward to the breaks, or the cars, or whatever else the little perks are that they’re wanting to have as part of their work environment.
Rob Artigo: Number six is do they ask questions? And if the answer is no, then that’s a warning sign.
Ray Zinn: The more questions that person asks during interview, the more interested they appear in their job, in the potential position. But by not asking questions, this says that they’re indifferent or they’re not that focused on you as a boss or interviewer. They, they’re more focused on just getting the job or being passive about what the job’s all about. The more questions they ask about the job, that shows their interest level.
Rob Artigo: And I guess it has to be the right kind of questions because if he asks a ton of questions and they’re all about perks that can’t be good.
Ray Zinn: Or about salary or about location or about advancement, yeah. The questions they should be asking that are good are “What’s my next level? What opportunity do I have beyond this?” Which could be a negative also if they’re only focused on advancing. But if they want to know about the team, about the meetings that they’re going to have and just the whole work environment, then those are good questions.
Rob Artigo: And this one’s not a question you ask, but it’s one that you glean in the process of the interview. So the last one here is were they dressed appropriately for the interview? And if the answer’s no, then that’s a warning sign.
Ray Zinn: Again as showing respect. In other words, if they come dressed as you would expect them to come, then that shows respect for the interview. If they come dressed in an inappropriate way, one you weren’t expecting, then that’s a warning sign that you need to delve into you further. So again, we don’t want to overemphasize dressing up, but we want to make sure you’re dressed appropriately for the job interview. For example, if you’re interviewing to be a lifeguard, obviously if you came in more of a sport outfit, that’d be more appropriate than you came dressed in a tuxedo as you would. So again, dressed appropriate for the job interview.
Rob Artigo: Right, right, right. Well Ray, for your listeners, I’d like them to rate this podcast on their favorite platform. And as always, those folks who are listening right now can reach out to you, Ray Zinn, with their firstname.lastname@example.org. There you’ll find the social media links, blogs, and links to information about the book, Tough Things First. Also, pick up the Zen of Zinn series one, two, and three. Three books on entrepreneurship, leadership, management, but also discipline, determination, and life advice. Just like the stuff you hear right here at The Tough Things first podcast. It’s The Zen of Zinn Series one, two, and three. Great podcast, Ray.
Ray Zinn: Thanks, Rob.