ALTI's Apprentice Boardroom Report For 5/05/05 (Episode #16)

Practical Lessons From The Apprentice
How To Hire With Confidence

Donald Trump's reality TV series, The Apprentice entered its 16th episode where the final 3 candidates are interviewed by top executives. One candidate is fired to leave a head-to-head battle for a position with the Trump organization promising a $250,000 salary.

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This weeks episode didn't provide much depth or insight into the interview process of four top CEO's whom combined employ over a half million people with sales in excess of $17 billion dollars. However, I have observed several practical interviewing and hiring strategies that you can apply to your business today.

--- SIDEBAR ---
Listen to my brief audio analysis that explores why the this weeks candidate was fired and a brief discussion of interesting interview questions you might want to add to your next interview. 

HOW TO HIRE WITH CONFIDENCE
While producers of the Apprentice edited down what was a half day of interviews into less than 15 minutes, there are actually several clues we can take directly from the show to improve your hiring process.

The Team Interview
Mr. Trump make extensive use of people he knows and trusts. The team interview is a great way to leverage different personalities, different styles and unique talents to help you identify quality candidates. The key is to know your teams personalities, styles and talents as to properly frame their input. Should you decide to use the team interview approach in your organization, here are a few tips to help you implement this process with confidence:

1) Start with a team that is larger than what is really needed.  You may observe some people you thought would be great interviewers are simply not so great. You'll also want more potential interviewers for other reasons, perhaps you may desire greater diversity amongst your team, or a certain interviewer may offer greater depth and value to the process.

2) Identify why each person sits on the team, what unique perspective does that person bring, what interests do they represent. You should strive to bring several complimentary and diverse perspectives to the process to aid you in finding that perfect candidate. If your not sure, then proceed to step 3 yourself only, and then set up a few interviews for you to observe your team candidates in action.

3) Purchase several copies of a popular interviewing book for job seekers. Request your team review the material and develop a mock interview for observation. (I recommend the book "Power Interviews" by Neil Yeager and Lee Hough).

4) If your organization lacks sufficient size, but you'd still like to utilize a team interview approach, consider asking partners, suppliers, vendors, alliances and other business people you know, respect and trust to help you interview your "short list" of candidates.

5) Convene with your interview team together to discuss your potential candidates. The first part of the meeting should focus on two questions; who NOT to eliminate, and who should be eliminated. If there is unanimous consent, your decision is easy. However, if your team is divided, encourage them to talk, discuss, and debate the candidates strengths and weaknesses and observe. Watch for extreme passion by anyone on your interview team to sell of filibuster a candidate. Remember to ask your team to substantiate their claims on behalf of a candidate.

6) In the end, the decision is yours and yours alone to make, take in all the feedback, and use it to help guide you toward making the best hiring decision but be careful not to let your team coerce or hijack the ultimate decision from you.

 

Your Turn... Do you have any out-of-the-box interviewing practices that have helped you identify potential new hires?  
I'd like to hear your feedback. Just call the Apprentice Feedback voice mail line (800) 598-1338 ext. 9915 or email
If you make a good point you could be featured in this newsletter. 

Start Your Own Apprentice Program
While you might have difficulty getting a major television network to air another reality television series surrounding an extensive interview "game" like Donald Trumps, there is a concept you can borrow that will work wonders.

Depending on the position, you can either create and intern program or hire several top candidates as contract labor to work on a task or project, look at it as taking the top candidates for a "test drive". The objective is sneak a peak past a candidates "best behavior" and "polished interview persona" to get to the real individual that would be interacting with your team. Observe your candidates skills, talents and personality and how they interact with your staff. While the candidate will try to shine on the task, its its imperative to see beyond the performance and into the process. Here are seven key evaluation factors: 

1) Assertiveness and Enthusiasm - Look for an excitement and commitment to the project. Is the candidate eager to apply their skills, are they willing to go the extra mile?

2) Communication Skills - What skills are needed for the position? Consider all communication skills; listening, public speaking, report writing, letter writing, creative writing, debating, summarizing, networking, selling, negotiating.

3) Rational Thought - Observe the candidate to determine if they can think critically and are mindful of details. Does the candidates decision bear a rational explanation? Can the candidate clarify problems, evaluate alternatives, generate solutions, test ideas and determine outcomes?

4) Maturity - Does the candidate think and act responsibly? Does the person accept responsibility and accountability or do they "blame-shift"?  Observe the candidates maturity level in their work, family and social lives.

5) Planning & Organization - Can the candidate plan and monitor their work?  Does the candidate have a method for analyzing problems, setting goals and objectives, creating strategies to solve problems, implement plans and evaluate results? 

6) Reaction to Pressure - How does the candidate react to pressure in general, Is the candidate paralyzed or motivated by pressure? Can the candidate deal or manage stressful situations? 

Inclusive Versus Exclusive
Many HR professionals treat the interview process as one that eliminates a candidate for the silliest of reasons. I've heard of HR people dumping stacks of resumes because the envelope was addressed by hand, or that the stamp was not a plain, simple flag stamp. I've seen HR draw imaginary boundaries of what they would consider to be an "ideal" candidate that include educational GPA minimums and the lack of a certain number of extra-curricular activities. 

While these practices help to hone down potentially hundreds of resumes into a stack of 30, you'll probably be surprised at what might have gotten away. Therefore, always request that you get the original envelope with each resume. I also always ask how HR defines "ideal" and request that they remove any unreasonable qualifications. Lastly, ask HR to create a "wild card" pile, these are candidate that fail to meet all of their ideal criteria, but may have other noteworthy experience worth a second investigation.


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