How to tell if they’re serious or not

Want a pro tip on how to tell if someone is going to be a go-getter, whether a student qualifying to be a specialist or a business qualifying to be a client?

Response time is key.

When there’s something simple to do– to forward a thread, perform a task that actually does only take a minute, or reply to a basic question, do they put it off?

Even though they may take a couple days to reply (doesn’t seem like much time, does it?), across many messages, this can add up to months.

Watching their ability to iterate also gives them a chance to evaluate their understanding and organization.

Do they skip direct questions we ask them or specific tasks?

Are they able to pull out answers from the training we provide or Google simple things (what is CTR)?

What we’re not saying here is that people should be working nights and weekends.

Nor are we advocating that people reply to emails immediately, which creates noise from switching costs.

We want to know if they have a bias for action– which is rare.

Most people are comfortable and used to letting time pass on the clock because it’s not due yet, there’s no emergency or any variety of reasons.

Our buddy, Michael Stelzner, founded Social Media Examiner and owns Social Media Marketing World.

He is the dominant player in social media publications and conferences– and told me nobody knows how he did this or even cares to ask him how he did it.

The answer is his screening process.

For example, people who apply to his company have a series of exercises to complete (as you’d imagine) that are due in one week. Anyone who waits to submit their materials in one week is immediately disqualified.

He is looking for folks who start right away, which means they get back something in the next day or so.

See how this is intentional and why we must learn to filter for the same reasons.

FancyHands and Uber do the same thing.

Remember: response time is key—  FH expects a task to be done within 4 hours of accepting it unless it’s more than 20 minutes of work.

And Uber is even more strict, as you’d imagine.

Both networks require people to work on one task at a time to overcome switching costs, as we do.

But we’re more lenient, as we don’t monitor tasks and we allow up to 24 hours TAT (turnaround time) to reply.

Managing and scaling operations is something few people understand or have experience with, but think they can give advice on. In the same way, I’ve flown over 4 million miles on airplanes, but I’m not qualified to pilot one.

If someone is slow at responding or can’t follow directions, you can expect them to consistently behave this way.

One of my favorite ways to screen candidates when I was at Yahoo! and American Airlines was to ask them about qualities they admired in friends and co-workers.  I was looking for examples of getting things done and being resourceful.

Asking about their friends is the cleanest read into what the candidate values.

Their ability to solve problems is important.

Being able to follow a script of rules is good but Jeremy Miller, Founder of Inspired Blue Media, talks about something more important than just being able to follow a script. He hires employees who have the ability to solve problems; not just follow a script.

“When working with clients, rarely do things always go the same. The majority of client work is problem-solving and diagnosing.

To determine a candidate’s ability to problem solve, you can start by asking them creative questions that have no absolute right or wrong answer. For example, you can ask “What are all the possible uses of a brick for our business?” and see how many different uses people can come up with.”

Are the people you’re working with being serious? What tips do you have to promote a positive bias for action? Let me know in the comments!

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