My friend Kirk Layton is the Founder and CEO of Eservus Online Concierge Services, a 13 employee firm that provides online concierge services, including discounted ticket services, to tenants in office buildings. Kirk started Eservus in 1999 after working in the commercial real estate industry for 10 years. Over the past 10 years, he’s grown Eservus to 13 employees in Toronto and Calgary, with annual sales of $4.5 million.
Today, Kirk’s sharing some employee hiring tips and tricks that he’s learned on the path to growing his unique firm.
1) What’s the best advice you’ve ever received regarding hiring employees? Why was it the best?
- The advice was: You need to do your best to hire people with almost an innate commitment to service.
- It was the best advice for me because in the past I wasted too much time trying to train employees to be customer-centric who simply didn’t have the capacity. Most of the skills one needs to work at Eservus can be taught; however, an innate commitment to service, which is arguably the most important skill our employees possess, cannot be taught.
2) What’s the most effective interview question you’ve ever used in employee hiring … and what was the outcome from using it?
- One question I love asking is: Give me an example of a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty and exceeded the expectations of a customer.
- For people who don’t have any good examples, it’s tough to make up an answer on the spot. For people who can give three or four answers off the top of their head, chances are we end up hiring them because we’re confident that they know how to make people happy.
3) When it comes to hiring a new employee, what is the best time/money-saving tip you know? Can you quantify your savings?
- It might be obvious, but the best time/money-saving tip I can think of is to ask your current employees if they know of anyone who would be good for the job.
- It’s unlikely that they’d make a bad recommendation, because it would look bad on them, and they’d be able to give the prospect the inside scoop on the company and the position, so if they prospect doesn’t like the sound of it they’ll take a pass and you can eliminate some of the tire-kickers.
4) What’s your best advice for avoiding hiring mistakes in the hiring selection process? Why?
- I would avoid hiring anyone who doesn’t come armed with some thoughtful, intelligent questions about the position, the company or something.
- When they do ask good questions, it shows that they’ve prepared in advance, have done their homework and/or possess some creativity. If they DON’T ask any good questions, it shows that they’re at worst lazy and at best unimaginative.
5) Where (from what source) do you tend to find your best small business job candidates? Why is it the best source for you?
- Similar to #3 above, the best candidates are usually found through current employees because it is quick, efficient and, more often than not, effective.
6) What question do you think I’m missing from this list, and what’s your answer to it?
- Maybe one question would be: What do you tend to look for in a resume, and why?
- I think some people are a lot better at finding good prospects by seeing things in their resumes that others might miss. I know I’d be interested in hearing what other business owners look for in resumes and whether there’s something consistent in the resumes of their successful hires.
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