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your first time hiring someone

July 22, 2020

written by
Bri Martinez

I’ve interviewed people in the past for volunteer positions, but I’ve never really been involved with taking the entire hiring process by the reins at a job, let alone my current company. So when my bosses told me that I would be hiring for a new intern, I was stumped.

In my research of trying to figure out how to go about it, I came to discover that there aren’t many useful resources for how to start the hiring process. Some of this might sound really simple to people who have a lot of experience with hiring, however for a newbie like myself, the challenge was initially really daunting.

There are dozens upon dozens of articles for people LOOKING for work and what to expect on their end, but nothing ever for the employer’s side. I didn’t know what kinds of questions to ask in an interview, what the job description should be for the posting, how to handle curating the applicants or being responsible for rejecting ones. So if you’re ever in a position like me and have to start hiring people that you’ll inevitably be responsible for, here are some tips for what to expect and how to prepare.

 

ask your higher-ups.

If you’re still working with the people who interviewed you at your current job, they are your biggest resource for knowing where to start. I remember not knowing where to post the job listing, so I had to ask and figure out which websites were the best for what we were looking for. According to my boss, usually when hiring for interns, submitting job positions is usually best done through schools that have qualifying applicants instead of places like LinkedIn and Craigslist.

They’re also an incredible resource for reviewing the job posting that you write up and can provide a lot of insight on the more nitty gritty details (the fine print). I tried to look at it as a project that I was working on, and would consult with them in order to get feedback before I sent it out. They’ll also most likely (hopefully) be involved at some point during interviewing. It’s important for their input on whether or not an applicant could fit in with everyone, so don’t be afraid to ask.

 

use your experience to write the job description.

This sounds silly, but it’s really the easiest place to start. I started working at 300FeetOut as a design intern, so I know first hand what my expectations should be with an intern. It wasn’t always glamorous, but it also wasn’t just making coffee, and those are important things to mention. Make a list of all the things you can remember having to do in the position that you’re applying for. Not only does it help applicants understand what your expectations are, but it’s practically a blueprint for yourself to know how to best lead them.
get used to rejecting applicants.

If you work at a company where someone is looking through applications manually and not by machine, you’re also most likely going to be the one responsible for reaching out and saying whether an applicant can move forward or not. I didn’t have too many people requesting feedback, but of those who did, I did my best to give them objective feedback beyond a “you just weren’t the right fit”.

 

the interview: representing your company

I did a first round of interviews via phone (old fashioned, I know). This is actually very useful, as it helps show how well applicants communicate through something beyond text/email. I also consider it more of an introduction interview; I want to get to know the person interested in the position, why they were interested, and what they were looking for at a company. We hold our values at 300FeetOut very closely, and I think that’s what is so attractive to many people. It’s just as important for me to hold what I appreciate about working at the company as it is for applicants to express the same level of energy and excitement.

A follow-up interview for us is still casual, but much more “buttoned up” (I think you can say that our work culture is professionally approachable). I ask applicants to come in to interview, meet the rest of the team they’d be around/collaborating with, and have them walk through some of their work. It gives us the opportunity to hear more about what kind of work they’re expecting, and also setting the standard for what they SHOULD be expecting.

I remember when I first came in to interview at 300FeetOut, it felt just as much like a conversation as it did an interview. I was nervous, but I wasn’t intimidated. I liked everyone I talked to and really enjoyed seeing them talk passionately about their work. Everyone was really clear about the position and what kind of learning I would have, so it’s important for me to make sure I provide the same thing to applicants.

Hopefully these tips will help anyone who might be struggling with this for the first time. I can understand that it’s terrifying to be doing something new on your own, but hopefully you can help find and influence people that you end up hiring to not be afraid of doing it too one day!