This post, on the surface and in the details, is specific to employers. But the fundamentals are absolutely germane to employees or anyone who operates a one-person show. In fact, the more important message is the illustration of the “work the system” approach to any work-related task.

Presuming the leader can provide a terrific work situation, the next challenge is to find good people who will appreciate the opportunity and who will do everything they can to become great employees.

In Part 1, in which I gave a quick listing of the “ten hoops” that must be negotiated in order to land a job at Centratel, I mentioned that failing to negotiate just one of these hoops will disqualify the job applicant. It sounds harsh but let’s admit it, the world can be – mechanically speaking – less than a picnic. In hiring, it’s not that the world isn’t fair, it’s that an employer has the right to select the best qualified people – and for the best companies, the parameters are going to be tough. Of course, the flip side is that a prospective employee can decide not to submit a job application in the first place. And for that matter, an employee – in America at least – can walk out the door anytime, never to return and for no reason at all. This is as it should be.

At Centratel, the job interview is conducted as a process of elimination, not as a beauty pageant. Here I go into more detail about each of the ten hoops of the interview process but as you read, see that there is a larger message: Many leaders are stuck in the rut of constantly killing the fires that are the result of unmanaged internal systems. Climbing out of this rut is achieved by seeing, isolating and then intensely managing these internal systems in order to create the desired results. I call this, “working the system.”

  1. Did the applicant show up for the interview on time? A new job is a big deal. It’s where one will spend a considerable amount of his or her time, not to mention it will be the source of survival for that period. A serious applicant will be on time for the interview. Not showing up on time strongly suggests the applicant doesn’t care or isn’t paying attention. (Is the applicant late because of something beyond his or her control? If so, we should receive a phone call.)
  2. Was the minimum score achieved on the aptitude (IQ) test? I get a lot of raised eyebrows on this one. Does the individual have the reasoning capacity to perform in the position? On both sides of the equation, it’s an incredible waste to hire someone who can’t perform the job. The brutal reality? One half the population has less than average reasoning ability and so it is easy to find people who won’t be able to perform. It is both unfair and illogical to place a person in a position that he or she can’t handle. We never share test scores with the applicant.
  3. Does the applicant know about the business? Did he or she check out the website before applying for the position? Is advancement important? Are there questions about what goes on at Centratel, or is the applicant just looking for any job? The applicant who can’t find the time to look into the situation that will occupy forty hours of their time every week is probably not going to work out if awarded the position. If they’re not interested, neither are we.
  4. Does the interviewee smile? Seem happy? Of course someone can be having a bad day or is incredibly nervous. Notwithstanding those possibilities, we assume that if the applicant really wants the job, and is to be a contributor to a pleasant work environment, a smile will be there.
  5. Does the applicant listen to you? Or are your words sliding by unheard as he or she waits for the next opportunity to talk? Is the applicant absorbing what you say, or preoccupied with self-promotion in an effort to “win” the position? We are quick to sort out those personalities who aren’t serious about the job but nevertheless have a strange desire to land it.
  6. Can this person carry on a reasonable and pleasant conversation? At Centratel, the paramount skill – the skill that is used 100% of the time in the course of a shift –  is to pleasantly communicate with strangers.
  7. Does the applicant’s appearance convey that personal physical maintenance is important? Is he or she well-groomed? This is about caring enough.
  8. Does the applicant have a history of bouncing from job to job? This is a bad sign unless there is a good reason, for example being the spouse of someone in the military.
  9. Did the interviewee pass the drug test? No-brainer.
  10. After the interview, a subjective analysis: How much did the applicant want the job? This is critical and goes back to a couple of previously mentioned points. Why is the applicant in the interview? Does he or she really want the job?

Conducting a proper job interview is a skill and an art. The interviewer wants to be fair and at the same time doesn’t want to subject someone to a situation that isn’t going to work out over the long term. As mentioned in the first part of this series, firing someone is a devastating personal blow and our first defense against this possibility is to hire people who are not only qualified, but who don’t carry baggage.

Because we exactly follow the above guidelines in every job interview, Centratel’s employee retention rate far exceeds the average in our industry. Here, the root of our success is in spending our time constantly improving (“working”) the documented hiring system instead of endlessly killing fires caused by unqualified or unsuitable personnel.

Our staff is, simply, awesome.

This “work the system” methodology is typical of what we do with the hundreds of other documented systems that comprise Centratel. We make each one perfect and the results are exactly what we want.

Here at the end, a qualifier: The above hoops may give wrong answers sometimes. We’re not mind readers. But over the long term, they have been tremendously effective in finding good people who stay with us a long time.

Oh, and the hitchhiking girl? She’s a reminder that in the midst of the interview, be careful not to swerve from the ten hoops just because an attractive person needs a ride…or for that matter, you are having a bad day, are in a hurry or are overly-desperate to fill a staffing gap.

What about your situation? Do you have employees, or are you an employee? Stepping back, can you punch holes in the above reasoning? Does the process seem fair – or unfair?



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