Hiring Tip No. 1: Don’t Conduct Your Interviews at an Aquarium

I moved to Ireland less than a month after my college graduation, without a job or a place to live. Why this concerned my parents, I’ll never understand.

After desperately searching the classifieds for two weeks, my friend and I saw an ad for a job selling sandwiches with “The Tasty Sandwich Guy.” That’s not at all sketchy.

When we arrived at the local aquarium two days later for our joint interview—totally normal—Tasty Sandwich Guy (TSG) asked us a series of probing questions. “Would you like working on commission?” “Are you competitive?” “How many sandwiches could you comfortably hold in a basket while walking around for four hours?”

TSG must have seen the competitive drive in my eyes because he offered me the job. Like every other employer out there, TSG had no guarantee I would be the best pick. And he certainly had no idea I would be sitting on the side of the road two months later, dejectedly eating my own sandwiches because I couldn’t sell them and was too tired to walk another step with my basket. By hiring me, he just went with his gut.  

Hiring in the multifamily industry is a little different—hopefully you’re not conducting interviews at an aquarium—but the challenges in securing top talent are the same.

In the article “How To Hire” in the February issue of units, several top executives share some thoughts and facts on today’s hiring process. Below are the highlights:

1. According to a study by Leadership IQ, 46 percent of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months—and not because they lacked the technical skills required.Surprisingly, the top two reasons were that employees couldn’t accept feedback (26 percent) and were unable to manage emotions (23 percent).

Had I know this while working in Ireland, I would have acted more calmly when the owner of a bedding store told me I was no longer permitted to push tuna wraps on her employees.

2. The down economy is one of the greatest hiring challenges. HR departments are receiving more applications than ever, which require a greater amount of time and energy to sift through. Many companies are streamlining their hiring process by putting the application, background verification and legal compliance documentation components online.

With TSG, I met my boss in a supermarket parking lot every morning to pick up the sandwiches from the trunk of his car, so I doubt his company has an online hiring system in place now. But it’s a good idea for the apartment industry.

3. Today’s candidates are more mobile, making reference checks difficult. Instead, recruiters are conducting behavior-based interviews to gather examples of an applicant’s past behaviors—a good indication of how they’ll perform on the job.

“If you had a frustrating morning, would you abandon your sandwich route and grab a pint?” is a question I hope I never have to answer.

For a full outlook on today’s hiring process, check out Kenneth J. Bohan’s article, “How To Hire,” in the February issue of units, which mailed Feb. 8. The e-version is now available.