The Search for Employees

The Amazing Woman Posing as a Fisher Price Toy has been hitting the streets recently looking for employment. Lucky for her, she lives in an area of the country where the unemployment rate is less than 8.9%, which is what it is here in the Frozen Rust Belt Tundra. Her chances are good for finding a job are somewhat better than a snowball’s chance in hell – what it would be here.

Her anecdotes are always fun to read, but of course then I started thinking about my own adventures in interviewing. These days, I’m on the other side, as the interviewer of office help. It’s a thankless job, one that I took over from Mr. Demonic. He still interviews our teachers, which is fine. That in itself is a major pain in the posterior. The other thing is that he is very rarely in the office at all, so he is somewhat clueless as to the workings on this end of the building. His office is located at the opposite end of the hall, and he’s often on the road. It just made sense for me to do office staff interviews.

Mr. D used to be enamored of using newspaper classified ads for jobs, but that was in the dark ages, before the Internet. He would spend three days trapped in his office, while a parade of totally inappropriate people would come in and fill out an application. Our office is small, and there would be no place to put all of these hopefuls in the lobby. It was a very inefficient way to find a replacement.

Later on, I started using our State’s free employment web site. It’s basic allure was that it was FREE, which is what attracted me to it right away. Plus, I could download the resumes and pick and choose who I wanted to come in. This is much better than to have 400 people show up for a barely above minimum wage part time job and tie up all my time. This worked well for a time, until I realized that most of these people are on unemployment, and they were coming in for interviews as part of the requirement to keep receiving unemployment benefits. They didn’t read the requirements of the position, or would phone when clearly the ad said to submit resumes by email. It didn’t matter. Most of them didn’t really want a job, making that manner of personnel culling rather an exercise in futility.

About six months ago, I decided to post my Help Wanted ad in Craigslist. Craigslist is also free, but I find that the people who respond to Craigslist ads are serious about finding work. Again, I would download the resumes and choose ten or so best resumes (from the hundreds of responses) to come in for an in-depth interview.

It’s not a difficult job, and requires very little in the way of skills. It’s helpful if you can use a computer, but no one on my staff works elaborate spreadsheets with formulas that would make your head spin. Well, besides me. This is a point and click operation. There’s an IT guy on call for the big server meltdowns or routing problems. We have a postage meter so simple in design that a poodle could operate it. The big machine that takes some getting used to is our copier, which takes up an entire room and cost more than my Prius. It’s a production machine that does it all; scans, collates, punches holes, staples, and can take paper from any of seven bins. Now if it could bake bread, do my laundry and make coffee, I’d be in heaven.

The bulk of our business is phone work, and with that being so important a component, how a person sounds on the phone during my initial call is of vital importance. Sometimes the resume is stellar, but the voice sounds like Chewbakka. In that case, the applicant’s resume is quickly buried, even if they do manage to come in for an interview. The last thing I need in this office is someone who sounds like a weird, psycho serial killer to incoming customers.

In other cases, the resume is painfully thin, but the voice is strong and professional. The person may be friendly in all other ways. In that case, I’ll take the plunge and go with my gut. I hired a very nice guy that way about three years ago. He had been out of work for four years because he was taking care of his elderly grandmother. A huge hole like that in the work experience is usually a red flag. He practically begged me for the job, emailing me several times to impress upon me how I should give him a chance. My husband, Mr. D, was concerned about where he lived (far away, other side of Funkytown). We like to have employees that are close, if only so that it is easier for them to come into work on snowy days. I prevailed, and Mr. T ended up being a great employee, and now teaches for us.

The other raw talent I hired was the high school girl after Elastigirl (the other high school girl) quit without notice. We call her A2, because there is already an A1, and it’s confusing enough here as it is. A2 is not yet 16, but she’s bright and has a happy phone personality. From having Ms. MiniD in the office, I can tell you that young, attractive, female phone voices are a plus with the high school males who call here looking for information. They are almost giddy with the attention. Using sex to make the sale, even if it is a minor child chirping enthusiastically on the telephone to some high school horn dog, is not above me. Money is money.

Although this is A2’s first job and I was taking a huge chance, I’ll hire relative newcomers for one reason: they are impressionable and have no bad habits to break. I can mold them like Playdough.


Reminiscing about the interview process makes me wish I had a position to fill.


5 Responses

  1. Heh! Yeah, I guess you need a phone voice that’s not a boner kill if you have lots of teenage boys calling.

    Speaking of, can you fly out here and teach my kid how to drive a manual? Thanks!

  2. Amazing Fisher Price Woman – Do as my father did when teaching me how to drive a stick. Take him out into the desert (in my case, he took me to an unused portion of the local Army base), show him where the gears are, and let him go. My dad lasted 30 minutes, until I almost hit a telephone pole. Then he gave me the keys and wished me good luck.

    That car your high school horn dog is getting is a tank. He’ll be fine… 🙂

  3. *snicker* That’s what I tell applicants with no experience. “No bad habits to break.” Of course, they develop them quick enough after they’re hired.

  4. I have over the years done quite a bit of inteviewing and hiring. On the whole, I did pretty well at it, though I made some major mistakes.

    Now, i mostly interview volunteers to be volunteer teachers. The trick that now works pretty well for me is that I ask them what they were like in high school. As I taught high school for ten years, I encountered quite a few personality type and personas; this question usually give me some quick insight into their personality and reactions, and starts useful conversations. Very weird.

  5. “I can mold them like Playdough.”

    Mwahh hah ha haaarrrr (maniacal laughter a la Dr Strangelove).

    I hate interviewing – I tend to make spot judgements about people (and no, I don’t want to hear what a bad idea that is: it works for me) so 45 minutes of the standard 50 minute interview are a complete waste of everybody’s time.

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