By Wendy Steinway, JVA Consulting
At JVA Consulting LLC, our hiring process has been defined as thoughtful, intense, enlightening and torturous by both the job applicants and the staff selected to participate in the hiring process. But all I can say is that it works! The latest applicant that went through it but didn’t get the job thanked me for the process and said that, by the end, it felt like there was a door opened where one was once closed.
Here are some key steps in our process that any organization can use in a hiring process:
1. ASSESS WHAT YOU NEED
JVA staff starts the hiring process long before writing the job description, typically having a conversation that begins with, “What are we missing? What gaps need to be filled? What qualities and talents do we currently not have at JVA?” This last question is especially difficult because our staff is one with so many talents!
2. MAKE SURE JOB DESCRIPTION REFLECTS CULTURE
We select JVA staff members to provide input for a job description that not only addresses what we need, but who we are as an organization. This gives the applicant an idea of what he or she can expect as far as work schedule and how JVA has effected change in the world. Once the job description is complete, we decide where to post it in order to attract candidates that work hard, have the right attitude, are highly intelligent and coachable!
3. DEVELOP A CUSTOMIZED SCREENING TOOL
JVA staff develops a personalized screening tool or matrix that helps us determine the top candidates by how many of their skills and strengths line up with what we are looking for—using their resume, writing sample and cover letter. If a candidate makes it past this step, we call to set up an interview. The candidate’s response to this call is also part of the hiring process. We rate his or her enthusiasm during the call on a scale from one to five.
4. MAKE SURE YOUR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS REFLECT YOUR CULTURE AND THE POSITION
During the scheduled interview, candidates must answer a timed series of questions that focus on attitude and coachability. There is also a writing exercise required during the interview. Using the four different screening methods (the matrix, the call, the first interview and the writing exercise), we narrow the candidate pool.
5. TEST ON WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOUR ORGANIZATION
We then bring in the final few candidates for personality testing through Mountain States Employment Council’s guru Brandon Young who takes our job description, knowledge of our organization, and what it takes to be a great consultant, and develops a series of tests that determine not only who will be most successful but who will be happiest in the position.
6. DON’T STOP THERE
In the final interview, each applicant does a presentation. The presentation in combination with the writing sample is important because here at JVA, everyone writes and nearly everyone presents. A candid conversation about what is needed and expected takes place after the presentation.
Throughout the process we encourage questions, and we make ourselves available to answer them in a timely manner.
What I’ve learned from the many years I’ve done this for JVA, as well as for our clients, is that our process truly makes the candidate either want to work for JVA or want to run as fast as they can from us, but by the end we are certain that we are hiring the right person. The JVA hiring process is definitely strenuous, but the results are always the same—we hire the most intelligent change makers in the state.
JVA has done this same process for dozens of our clients. Our last Executive Director search process for A Little Help (formerly known as Washington Park Cares) was described by their board member Bill Hummel as follows:
“We turned to Wendy and the JVA team to assist us in recruiting and hiring a full-time Executive Director (ED) with two, often competing, demands: quality and speed. She delivered on both counts. We have hired an extremely dynamic and qualified ED with deep ties to our target area and deep commitment to our mission. Furthermore, this was done quickly and efficiently, giving us great return on both criteria.
Our hats are off to Wendy!!!”