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Heidi Tillmanns

3 Things Sign Managers Must Do in Hiring Interviews

It’s not just the candidate who needs to make a good first impression.

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YES, YOU ARE GREAT at making signs. You are a rock star. You know your stuff. As a result, you and your amazing signage are now in high demand.

Now that you have more work than you can keep up with, it’s time to hire. It’s possible you’ve never done an interview. Sure, you may have hired your sister’s kid to help during school break, but now you need to hire outside of your comfort zone. So, let’s prepare for that.

Once you’ve attracted candidates from posting the positions, it’s time to have those sit-down, face-to-face conversations where you can see into their souls and find one perfect for the job…

Sorry to say that is not going to happen! From the beginning, know it’s unlikely the person you hire will check all the boxes of the perfect employee. In the past, I have hired based on a candidate’s attitude and skillset I knew I could develop. Some experienced employees came with bad habits, and those fresh out of school came with “well my teacher said” attitudes — don’t even get me started on that one! I found I had to mold each hire into the employee I needed them to be.

With that in mind, here are a few key factors to remember during the interview process.

Relax

On interview day, be as natural as possible. There’s nothing worse than an uptight owner or manager, reading off a list of questions. Remember, this person is going to ideally become your right hand. A relaxed rapport needs to happen and far better if that is established right from the beginning.

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Outside of your list of questions, reserve time to have free-flowing conversation. This can remain on the topic of signage. There’s no need to ask if they are a cat or a dog person. This is a good time to tell a bit about your experience and provide a confidence marker that you know what you’re talking about.

This is also a good opportunity to review body language. If they can’t wait to leave, or are unengaged, they are not right for you.

Ask The Right Questions

Many online resources list sample questions, strategies and agendas, but take time to revise questions to suit your needs. Then become the candidate. Think about the answers you are looking for — how would you answer your own questions?

During the interview, you may get some responses that take you back. That’s half the fun and you may learn a lot from those moments. However, some answers will provide a very clear yes or no on whether this person is right for you, your mission and your company’s growth. You may also get some insight for the future into the questions you are asking.

Posing hypothetical questions about task-related situations is important. You need a glimpse into the candidate’s problem-solving mindset, which is critical in the sign industry. Daily, individuals in a signshop or on-site will be faced with circumstances you will not be able to manage. It will be on them to think on their feet.

Take Notes

Ideally, there will be more than one candidate you will interview. You do not need to write down every answer word for word, but jot down phrases, impressions and expressions that impact you.

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Unless something really sparks you during the interview, you likely will not hire on the spot. During reflection, review your notes to revisit the conversation and feelings you had. In the end, I have always gone with my gut, and it always paid off.

This should not be a dreaded experience for you or the interviewee. Do not beat yourself up if questions are forgotten. Take it in stride and as a learning experience. You have a lot on your plate, rock star. Keep practicing and next time you will be that much better.

She is the director of trail and infrastructure for the Trans Canada Trail in Dundas, ON, Canada. Contact Heidi at [email protected].

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