5 Must-Ask Interview Questions

Interviewing employees can be quite the challenge. How do you find quality individuals to do a consistently outstanding job for you? I’m a big proponent of hiring for values before skills. So, how do you get to the heart of somebody? How do you determine whether that individual has values that align with your business’s core philosophy?

InterviewQsHere are…

5 of my favorite interview questions:

1. Share a time where you went above and beyond for the client.

This question is one of my favorites because I believe that service is important regardless of the position. Even if you have an employee that’s behind the scenes, this person should still have a team mentality. And, a team mentality requires that every employee, serve one one another. I want to make sure that this person knows what it means to go above and beyond… whether it is for a client, or for me, or for a coworker of theirs.

2. Tell me about a situation where you faced a huge challenge (in a work situation). How did you solve the problem?

I want problem solvers. I want people who can think out-of-the-box. I want people who are resourceful and creative. Again, regardless of the position, I want people who are thinkers. In my stationery business, I hired assembly workers. Even though this wasn’t a highly analytical job, I needed to be confident that an employee would be able to do damage control in a time of crisis. This didn’t change the fact that I still needed to TRAIN my employees. But, knowing that employee of mine is a good problem-solver is going to make my job a bit easier so that I don’t have to hover over them while they work.

3. Tell me about a situation where you made a mistake in your job, and how you fixed it.

Again, I want to get a better feel for how this potential employee solves problems. I also want to make sure that, if a mistake is made in the job, this personal takes responsibility for it. Mistakes do happen. How do we move past them?

4. How do you deal with tedium and repetition(insert your situational description)

This is a very specific question that I used to ask people that I was interviewing for invitation assembly. When you’re constructing thousands of invitations that are all the same, you can get extremely bored. But some people really love the rhythmic nature of putting something together repeatedly. (I found it to be incredibly cathartic, personally.) I want to know that they will thrive in that situation, or have strategies to push through.

This question should be tailored to the nature of the job for which you’re interviewing. Basically, you want to get a question that addresses the worst aspect of the job that you’re asking for. If it’s invitation assembly, it’s tedium and repetition. If you’re interviewing for a wedding planner associate, you’d likely want to ask how to deal with difficult people. A good question might be: “How do you deal with people yelling at you?” The goal is to put that candidate in the position that they might face in the job (a worst-case-scenario) and find out how they would react.

5. How would you benefit by having this job?
(In other words, what sort of experience are you looking to gain? What motivates you to work for my business?)

I’m a firm believer in being a mentor to any of my employees. If I know upfront what motivates someone to work for me, I can determine whether this job is a good fit for that person. You see… hiring an employee is more than just filling a role in my business. I really want to know if this job is going to help somebody out in terms of their future. It could be an entry-level job for somebody who’s in college… and I want to know what sort of experience this will give that person in their “real job.” Or, it could be somebody that is looking for a secondary job to just pay the bills… and that’s fine. If I know upfront what motivates this person to apply for this position, it makes it so much easier for me to customize their job a little bit more so they have more job satisfaction. I have found that this gives people an incredible amount of loyalty. If I’m invested in this employee’s future and career, then they are going to be a lot more invested in my business.

What do you think? What are your favorite questions to ask in an interview? Please share and comment below.

If you want to know more about hiring, training, and managing employees, make sure to check out our human resources toolbox, The People Plan: www.thepeopleplan.biz .

Learn to Delegate: Which Tasks Should You Relinquish Control Over?

When you run your own wedding business, it can be a challenge to keep track of all of your clients and their individual needs. No matter how organized you are, no matter what kind of notes you keep, something is bound to fall through the cracks sooner or later. When that moment comes, you will realize that you simply cannot do it all by yourself — you need help.

checklist-150938_1280Why Delegation Is Important

Would you label yourself a control freak? No? What about your friends and staff members — they might have a different opinion. (Sorry – just using my years of observation to call you out! HA! ;) )

Small business owners have a tendency to try to control every aspect of their businesses. You’ve built your business from the ground up, after all, and you’d hate to see it flounder in the hands of another. The key to success for some of the most lucrative wedding businesses out there, however, is delegation — creating a division of labor and assigning the right people to the job.

Rather than putting an average level of effort into all aspects of your wedding business by yourself, why not delegate a few things so that every task gets the attention and level of expertise that it deserves? You still need to provide some oversight and guidance, of course, but letting someone else handle the details will take a great deal of stress off your plate, and it will yield better results.

5 Steps for Learning to Delegate

There is a right way and a wrong way to implement delegation in your wedding business. You cannot simply make a list of tasks to be completed then hand them out willy-nilly. You need to think carefully about which tasks you should keep for yourself and then draw from your pool of staff members to find the right person for the rest of the jobs to be completed. Follow the steps below to determine which tasks you should delegate and which you should keep for yourself:

  1. Make a list of all the tasks that need to be done — this list could apply to a certain client’s wedding, or it could apply to your business as a whole.
  2. Review the list and circle the tasks that you do not enjoy doing — everyone has different gifts and different fields of expertise, so if you do not enjoy keeping track of your business’ finances but one of your staff members has a history in accounting, hand it over! (Or – outsource this to a bookkeeper. You can delegate to people OUTSIDE of your business.)
  3. Start small by choosing three tasks from the list to delegate — select three tasks that are important to get done and that you do not mind handing over to someone else. (That’s it! THREE!)
  4. Assign these tasks to the people you think are best qualified to complete them — it also helps if those people enjoy the type of work required for the task.
  5. Take a deep breath and let it go — once you’ve assigned your tasks to the right people, you need to step back and let them work. Make sure you’ve trained them adequately, make yourself available for questions, and check in now and then for progress reports, but do not micromanage.

Now that you have a good idea what it means to delegate and how to go about choosing the right people for the job, you can take some time to think about which tasks you should relinquish control over for your own business. Do you have a staff member who is gifted with website design or maybe someone who loves to speak with clients over the phone? Perhaps one of your staff is eager to take on more responsibility in the company. The options for delegation are endless — it all depends on what tasks you enjoy doing, those you do not, and what kind of skills and expertise your staff members have.

Remember, it is more important to have the right person assigned to the job at hand than to try to handle everything yourself. That is the best way to grow your business.

How have you managed delegation? Share your success tips in a comment below.

Creating Cohesive Relationships with Your Coworkers

Today’s guest post is written by Amy Green & Melanie Marconi of ‘Where Will They Stay?. These ladies have some wonderful tips for how to keep things fun, supportive, and positive amongst team-members in your business.

Taking a company to the next level requires careful planning, informed decision-making, smart growth – and the ability to keep peace even under the extreme pressure of pursuing success. At our company, there are four partners, and a growing number of employees. Even after 10 years in business, creating cohesive relationships in the office is still a daily challenge. Of course, these relationships are further taxed by the necessity of conducting off-site client meetings, constant travel, and weekly hotel site visits. If it all sounds overwhelming, never fear. We have developed several strategies to help you create cohesive relationships in your office.

Creative Commons: flickr.com/photos/aroberts/

Creative Commons: flickr.com/photos/aroberts/

Weekly Staff Meetings

In the past, we used to cancel weekly staff and partner meetings when one or more of us were out of the office. However, a few years ago, we implemented a policy where weekly meetings happen no matter what. Hopefully, all of us can either be there in person, or call-in, but even when someone is absent, we don’t cancel the weekly check-ins, which are invaluable to keeping us moving forward.

Respect the Time of Others

Another way to endear yourself to your coworkers is to respect their time. In a burgeoning powerhouse of a company, no one can afford to waste time, or lose precious minutes to disorganization or off-task behavior. Start by ensuring that each of your scheduled meetings has a recognized purpose, then set agendas that are accurate when they are released. Announce your meetings in advance, be clear about your expectations, and use your meeting time very wisely. Everyone will leave your meetings feeling more accomplished and ready to work together to make a true difference.

Out of the Office Retreats

Nothing is better for bonding than taking a day or two for an internal retreat. Retreats allow employees time to bond away from the office, and learn more about each other as individuals, and as future leaders. If budgets are limited, do a 1-day staycation –inspired meeting, where a full day is spent off-site together brainstorming big picture planning. Check local hotels, country clubs, or even park recreation centers for some off-site meeting room inspiration. Take advantage of the time together to learn what makes each person tick.

Third Party Advisors  

When conflicts inevitably arise, or when the path forward isn’t clear, we have a trusted business coach to advise us. Small business coaches are trained to identify strengths and weaknesses, and to help move a group forward despite the odds. They may act, informally, as mediators when two partners argue, or they may encourage one to talk in order to resolve conflict.

You will find that creating cohesion among your coworkers is a rewarding way to let them know that you appreciate them, and that they are quite valuable. It also results in a harmonious work environment that requires very little care, but allows for so many milestones to be achieved. Make conscientious efforts to discover what makes each of your coworkers tick. This will pay off in love and support many times over.

AmyGreen&MelanieMarconiAmy Green and Melanie Marconi are the founders of BDI Events, a full-service event planning company based in Los Angeles, with offices in Portland. They recently launched Where Will They Stay?, a free service which offers custom room block procurement for event planners and event venues.

Hire the Right Person for the Right Job

You hired Sally to do invitation assembly but you’re disappointed that she doesn’t answer the phone.

You hired Jenny to be your office manager but you think that she’s maybe made a lot of mistakes in your Quickbooks.

You hired John to be your photo editor but he hasn’t written a blog post in weeks.

Does this sound familiar?

I see this challenge every day… Overtired and overworked business owners who want more from their employees.

Creative Commons: flicker (Yoel Ben-Avraham)

Creative Commons: flicker (Yoel Ben-Avraham)

But here’s the rub…
No one is good at everything. And you have to accept that everyone has limitations to their talents. (You aren’t good at everything are you?)

So that employee who is so very artistic and creative and detailed… Have her focus on assembling wedding invites. She isn’t your superstar sales person. That’s ok!

The office manager who ultimately doesn’t know accounting probably shouldn’t be managing your books. (Unless of course you invest in some Quickbooks classes for them.) [This thought totally stresses me out. I don’t know how many wedding pros’ accounting I’ve looked at in recent years with huge errors because this job was handed to the wrong person.]

Make sure you have the RIGHT person in the RIGHT position. Focus on making the most of that person’s strengths. (And if that means you have two 10hour/week employees instead of one 20hour/week employee… in an effort to have everyone in the right role, then so be it.) You’ll be happy with their results and they’ll be happier in their job.

What do you think about this? What’s been your experience? Share in a comment below.

Here’s another post on why you should avoid hiring a ‘catch-all’ employee.

Need more help with hiring and training? Check out The People Plan.

 

What Are Your Employees Posting on Social Media?

Do you have a social media policy for your staff? If they’re an employee of your company, they may be instagramming, facebooking, tweeting, snapchatting, texting, and whatsapping images of your events. This could be awesome if it’s done with your company’s branding and marketing strategy in mind. OR, it could be detrimental if there has been no guidance given to them about what is not appropriate.

Instagram-logo1.gifHow do you create a social media policy for employees? We have a few thoughts on this…

  1. You should have an employee policy handbook. (We talked about this here and provided a template for purchase here.) An employee handbook is a guide of company rules, protocols, and standards. It goes beyond just the social media policy… discussing everything from how to dress, how to deal with conflict, vacation/sick policy, and so on.
  2. If you already have an employee handbook in place, you’ll want to add a social media section. You’ll want to describe:
    • What is the employee allowed to put onto social media?
    • Does the employee need approval before each post?
    • How should the employee talk about the company on social media?
    • Are there any branding elements that need to be portrayed on social media? (eg: all images are shot in natural daylight against a light background)
    • Who owns the images? (If the employee leaves the company, you’ll want to make sure they aren’t passing them off as their own. OR – if they had active ownership in the event, maybe it’s fair to have them own the images with an explanation that it was work they did for your company.)
    • How should the employee refer to the event? (“My wedding”, “The Company’s wedding”, “This wedding we all did as a team”?)

Keep in mind – these guidelines are for EMPLOYEES, not contractors. A contractor does not work for you. They work for themselves. You have less control over what a contractor shares online. HOWEVER, you can safeguard your business by ensuring that your contract with your contractor (yes – you need a contract) has terms for brand representation.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you have any good or bad stories to share on this topic? Share in a comment below.

Need more help with hiring, training, managing? Do you need help with interns, contractors, and employees? Make sure to check out our human resources toolbox: The People Plan.