Here is the scene:
This week, my hubs and I were on a travel jaunt and after 3 hours in the car I was desperate for a latte’ (unsweetened almond milk with lots of cinnamon and Splenda on top). Since we were somewhere in the middle of “where the hell?” and “did we almost run over a possum carrying a skoal can?” country, we stopped at a very recognizable fast food establishment that does indeed serve latte’s (alas, no almond milk, hipsters or paper straws).
The drive-through line wasn’t moving and so began my wait. After hitting the tipping point where one must decide if they are gonna wait-it-out or bail, in my latte’ desperation, I chose to stay. I had nothing better to do in BFE, but naturally it was kind of annoying.
When I got to the window, the first thing I noticed was a homemade sign taped to the glass that read:
All Shifts. All Positions.
Applications and Interviews
I looked at my husband and said, “OOOhhh, that’s why the line is so slow”. After he gave me a side eye look that was between, “huh?” and “whatever”, the cashier opened the window and stuck out his head to take my cash. In return, I rolled down my window, stuck out my cash, and after looking me in the eyes, the cashier promptly ignored me to talk to another employee. After a few minutes, my hand realized it had gotten “stood up”, and retreated back into my car. When the guy finally decided it was the magic time to take my money – he summoned my cash.
From there I rolled up to the 2nd window, and because I was now in-it-to-win it, waited in this new staging area to receive my desperation latte’. After another long wait, I rolled up to the window, where a very mellow, extremely chill, employee slooowly handed me my latte’, and through barely opened, red eyes said, “Beautiful, have a verrrry nice day”. She certainly was having one.
To break it down, in desperation for a latte’, I waited for 20-25 minutes in 2 “fast” food lines, was ignored by a guy who didn’t know whether he should “scratch his watch or wind his butt” and given a fare-the-well by an extremely nice yet extremely high employee. In other words:
I was the victim of efficiency hiring.
I’ll bet the cinnamon on my latte that these two employees, after a late night and in dire need of some 3am sustenance, rolled up to this very drive-through window as customers. They saw the crusty NOW HIRING sign and based on what could only be discerned as an extremely easy, low-brow interview process thought, “ Hot Damn! This is the place for someone like me!”
They smelled the desperation oozing from the taped-up NOW HIRING sign and took advantage of a win for them.
I’m sure the handful of “efficiency” interviews, that were crammed in an hour, went something like:
“So, you’ve eaten here before?”
“Oh, you know Sally?”
“Can you work 20 hours a week?”
“Yep, we’ll train you on the ice cream machine. But it’s broken a lot, so no worries if you don’t get the hang of it.”
“Yep, we pay minimum wage, BUT, you should know, we don’t do pre-hire drug tests, so that’s a plus…”
“What size uniform do you wear?”
“Can you start tomorrow?”
“Wonderful…see you tomorrow. I won’t be here to train you, but your friend Sally, who started last week will show you the ropes.”
I’ve been a manager and a recruiter so I get it. I’ve worked fast-food and retail, so I get it. Hiring for hard-to-fill, evergreen roles, that pay minimum wage, and require late hours is a bitch at best. And managers, who are forced to handle large demands with skeleton crews want to block off pre-scheduled interview times to be efficient. However, rather than resulting in efficiency, they perpetuate desperation. And if I can be blunt, employers, you attract the vibe you give off.
“Efficiency” interviews do result in filling needed positions, but obviously don’t get to the meat-of-the-matter. That seems obvious, but too many interviewers, desperate for the short win, lose sight of the long-play. And not just in fast-food or retail. Tech, healthcare, education, enterprise companies, small companies, high-growth companies – all default to this at some point.
So… if it makes sense to do efficiency interviews, go for it. But don’t confuse efficiency with “lazy”, or worse, “desperate”.
If you must do efficiency interviews:
- Plan ahead
- Don’t skip the hard questions (open ended please)
- Have more than one person interview the same candidate
- Schedule plenty of time to get through a full interview “process”. This could include some kind of on sight tour or live assessment. In my example it could be, “Show me how you can make the perfect ice-cream cone.”
- AND > Don’t hire on the spot! I’ve done this in my career and it never turned out good. Never.
So — I am really glad my 25 minute latte’ wait was at least worth a small recruiting lesson. And in case you are wondering, yes, I did drink the latte! I’m very happy to say, I’m still alive to tell the tale.
Dawn Burke, VP of Talent Consulting at Kinetix and founder/advisor for Dawn Burke HR, is an HR leader, speaker, and writer specializing in new HR practices, engagement and workplace culture. Her HR/recruiting/leadership career has spanned the last 20 years, with past gigs including a foundational role as VP of People for Birmingham, AL’s award-winning technology company, Daxko (And yes, Kris Dunn and Dawn are making Bham the HR capital of the world! Who knew?). You can also check her out at DawnHBurke.com and a variety of other interesting places. Google her, it’ll keep you posted on what she is up to.
Most importantly: She is addicted to TV, knows most of the lyrics to Hamilton and West Side Story, loves to cry at movies (check out Cinema Paradiso for a cry fest!), thinks wine, a wheel of Brie and Milk Duds make a well-balanced dinner, and sings in her car daily. Her husband and cat are the Yin to her Yang.