Hiring Decisions Based on Your Gut
By Jenna Oltersdorf
It’s taken years to fine-tune our hiring process at Snackbox, especially after we moved our firm’s headquarters to Austin, Texas where the PR talent pool is much smaller than Chicago. We quickly discovered the best way to develop the team for our Austin PR firm is to focus in on the emerging stars who will do amazing things with the right instruction and nurturing.
That realization ultimately led us to building an incredible apprenticeship program that is structured, but also allows candidates to learn at their own pace. In order to find a great candidate for such a tremendous opportunity, you have to be careful in how you interview them. Here are my top tips for interviewing candidates that will help change your organization for the better!
Cast a Wide Net
By marketing the position you’re looking to fill across many channels (social media, job posting boards, colleges and universities, etc.), you’re casting a very wide net that will bring many different types of candidates. Your job description needs to be specific in the type of person you want and the skills they need to bring to the table in order to be considered for hiring.
Screen Before You Screen
Our interview process is a team-based effort and, because so many resources go into interviewing, we want to carefully screen candidates on paper before we bring them into our offices for an in-person interview. Over the years, we’ve determined that a college senior is best for our apprenticeship program. At that point in their college career they’re certain that PR is the professional path they want to take and, in a few months, they may be looking for full-time work. If the stars align with budgets, client needs and more, we can potentially add them to our permanent team. We also look for community involvement, ability to form complete sentences (seriously) and how they illustrate their personal brand. Further, we do some online searches to scan social media channels to get a better feel for personality (we love social media tracking).
Sitting in the Hot Seat
For Snackbox PR candidates, it’s a tremendous honor to be invited for the in-person interview. We have plucked you from hundreds of resumes and determined you are most likely a good fit for our firm. We typically invite candidates to come in and meet our decision makers all at once (which is a test in itself). For out-of-state candidates, we encourage a video conference.
After each in-person interview is completed, we sit as a team and evaluate the person. We talk very specifically about the pros and cons of adding the candidate to our team, concerns we have about their ability to blend with the Snackbox family or whether or not they can fulfill the requirements of the job. Sometimes the team is in total agreement in terms of a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’, but at times, one or two team members see something positive that others do not.
Hiring on a Gut Feeling
Candidates are expected to be good writers, and have the ability to organize details or information. That goes without saying. But the thing we look very closely at is personality. Does the candidate show signs of being outgoing? Will they ask questions? Will they treat this apprenticeship as the “golden ticket” of their career? Will they suck the marrow out of this opportunity? If your gut says ‘yes’ to questions like this, odds are you’ve found a unique candidate that may not have much experience on paper, but will jump through hoops in order to have a chance at the opportunity and, more importantly, will build on what you teach them to go on and do amazing things.