A Mountain Bike, Hiking Poles, Yoga Mat, Ball Gown… and a Hiring Manager.

What do these things have in common?  All the items (less the hiring manager) were in the back of my Subaru this afternoon – and the combination made me laugh as I returned home this evening.  I have clearly become the quintessential Coloradan.  The combination also reminded me of Bob*.

Bob was a hiring manager and had just finished leading a panel interview with a promising candidate for a marketing position (I participated in the panel as an HR consultant working on evaluating and redesigning their hiring process).  Rather than walk her to the lobby, Bob escorted the candidate all the way to her car in the firm’s parking lot.  They continued talking as they walked, he shook her hand while standing beside the car, and then he returned to the office.

As we debriefed the interview I asked if he always walked candidates to their car, or if this was a unique event.  He proudly exclaimed, “Oh, if I have someone I believe to be a strong candidate I do that – it gives me so much more information!”  How so?  “I position myself so I can look into their vehicle and see how clean and organized it is, what things they have laying about - you can learn a lot about someone by studying their vehicle”. 


There are several challenges with this scenario – and anyone reading this who is the parent of young children has probably already imagined the first!  Mom and Dad-mobiles are regularly strewn with Cheerios®, car seats, booster chairs, etc.  <Red Flag:  Family Status>  It’s also possible that the vehicle belongs to a friend or family member who lent the candidate their car for the interview.  The candidate could have traded cars with a friend for the week because someone was moving or need a more fuel-efficient vehicle for a road trip.  The vehicle that you’re peering into could also be a rental.  There are so many scenarios that could be in play!

Today as I looked at the collection of items in the back of my vehicle, I tried to imagine what stories Bob might make up about the combination of a mountain bike, hiking poles, yoga mat, and ball gown in the back of my mountain-dirt-covered-Subaru!

The bottom line … for a position of this nature - an internal marketing position which would not require driving anyone around, visiting client locations, etc. – the kind of transportation someone is using to get to/from work, or the current condition of their personal vehicle falls solidly in the category of Nunya Business.   

Until next time.. don’t be like Bob*!   Respect the privacy of candidates and let’s stay away from their vehicles when not directly relevant to the job.

Go be brilliant, and make your workplace and the world a better place one positive interaction at a time!

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.


Mountain Bike Hike Poles Yoga Mat Ball Gown and a Hiring Manager - Nora A Burns - HR Expert - Blog.JPG

Looking to Hire Customer Service Employees? Go Shopping!

What?  I don’t have time to go shopping --- I have 17 jobs to fill!  --- hear me out. 

Bebe is the most recent in an ever growing list of retailers who have announced that it will be shuttering stores. 

Bebe joins Sears, J.C. Penney, Macy's, and Kmart - all are closing either all or a large number of retail locations - and all have staff that are currently looking for their next job, or will be soon.  

Don’t wait for these employees to come looking for you --- go to them.  It’s the ultimate customer service simulation --- because it’s not one!  It’s real.    

Tell me about a time when a change has been introduced at work that has had a negative impact on you and how you responded to it. 

BAM--- your answer is right there, in the Macy’s housewares, clothing, and jewelry departments, and in Bebe, Kmart, J.C. Penney, and Sears stores nationwide.      

Years ago my track coach taught me to “run through the finish”. Don’t slow down because the finish line is in sight, keep powering through until that stripe of paint is solidly behind you.  Employees who continue to serve customers with a smile, work hard to solve their problems and answer their questions with energy, even though their organization has announced the closing of their store are “running through the finish”.   Those are the employees you want to recruit, and hire. 

Go shopping.  buy a coffee maker, winter coat, or pair of pants --- but mainly, watch for the exceptional employees who are running through the finish.  When you find them --- hand them your card and share that you are always looking for employees with skills like theirs, and  this is really important while you want to respect their commitment to their store through closing, you’d be interested in talking with them about the possibility of working with your organization after their store closes

Why do I recommend honoring their relationship with Macy’s, Sears, etc.?  Because the employees you are looking for are also loyal.   If an employee is willing to drop everything and walk away then and there, they will likely to the same to you down the road.  This is much the same as when a potential employee says “oh, I’ll tell them I quit tomorrow and can start with you the next day”.  YIKES!  Those words set off alarm bells for me. 

We wouldn’t want employees to leave us in a lurch – so we shouldn’t ask them to leave other employers in a lurch, lest we teach them how to interact with us. 

While it’s obvious that these employees would be a fit for retail jobs, I think it’s important to note that there are transferable skills here that would benefit those of you hiring in hospitality, recruiting for health-care, and looking to fillservice-sector jobs in nearly any specific industry. 

Now go shop --- and don’t forget a stash of business cards!