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Recruiting positive employees

Recruiting a positive and effective team

Business | June 1, 2024 | By: Lauren Vasquez, Made in the Shade Tent Rentals

Lauren and TRD Steering Committee director Kevin Vasquez. Photo courtesy of Made in the Shade Tent Rentals.

As the recruiting manager for Made in the Shade Tent Rentals, I embody the first hurdle on the road to employment. If 100 people apply for one job, close to a quarter will make it to the first interview with me over the phone. Of that quarter, less than half will make it to an in-person interview. So the phone interview is extremely important, to say the least. After the initial greetings, I explain how the process will flow, followed by a brief statement about how Made in the Shade came to be. But as the interview begins, the two most important questions I ask new applicants may not be what you’d expect.

In a world that is becoming increasingly less human and more digitized, it is easy to forget how stressful the job market can be. By nature, applying for work is a uniquely human experience, and usually I can hear the anxiety in people’s voices. So, I always start with the same question: Can you tell me a little about yourself? Why do you want to join this team?

Answers vary greatly and sometimes it’s the only question I need to ask. Everybody is living a life that I know nothing about, and I’ve yet to hear the same story twice. I’ve heard from people who are trying to rejoin the workforce after becoming a victim of gun violence, people who were laid off after 15 years of service to their last job, or people who are just ready for a change and want to try something new.

Without fail, I’ll have at least one person answer the first question by telling me how much they love the tint on their car, revealing they think they are applying to a tint company and not a tent company. They either misheard what I said or didn’t read the job description before clicking, “Apply Now!” As a recruiter, this demonstrates to me that this candidate lacks attention to detail, and when it inevitably happens, I always politely take the time to explain what it actually is that we do. Even if someone is clearly not a good candidate for employment, anyone could someday become a customer. 

The next most important question is toward the end of our interview. After I’ve asked specifics about what the job entails, questions about past work experience, and questions about ethics, I get to ask this: Do you consider yourself a lucky person? 

I’m not looking to hire only lucky people. That’s irrelevant here. What I have found is that people who consider themselves lucky generally have a better outlook on life, a better attitude, and bring better vibes with them to work. It’s a surprise question that often catches people off guard. I have spoken to people about winning jackpots at casinos or surviving horrific car or motorcycle accidents. When people feel lucky, it shows.

I had someone who once loudly exclaimed, “Yes! Because I went fishing yesterday and I caught the biggest fish!” And then he emailed me a picture of said fish after the interview to thank me for my time. Can confirm, it was a very big fish indeed. 

Some of the people I interview tell me that life is 50% luck and 50% hard work, and I like that answer. When I get someone who tells me that luck isn’t real, that life is just spiraling from one random moment to the next and they’re just along for the ride, it’s usually a good indicator that they’re not a great energy to have around. Either way, I lean in. Tell me more. 

Everyone who schedules a phone interview gets a score between 1-5 (1 being a no and 5 being a yes). Anyone who scores a 3 or above is scheduled for an in-person interview with the supervisor of the corresponding job. After that interview, if the supervisor approves, I get the honor of letting that applicant know they will be our newest employee. 

I also take the time to personally follow up with any applicants a supervisor passes on. I let them know we’re choosing not to move forward with their application, thank them for their time and wish them the best on their journey. Even though it wasn’t a good fit, it’s important to leave a lasting good impression. 

My advice to people applying is simple: At the end of the interview, when asked if you have any questions, ask! Pay is important to talk about, but there are so many other important things to consider before agreeing to spend 40 hours a week together for the foreseeable future. 

Some of questions I’ve been asked include, “What is the work culture like?”, “How long have you been working there?” and, “What is the attitude like toward safety?” I remind myself constantly that I am under just as much scrutiny as they are. An applicant should also be interviewing an employer to make sure they want to work with us. 

My advice to employers is this: Treat people with kindness and respect. With some patience, and a little luck, building your dream team is possible. After all, how are you going to catch that really big fish if you never cast the line?  

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