Workspaces: At the Interview

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Tom Gillespie, a partner in Illinois-based Kennedy Homes, just wants good people. He’s not asking for much, is he?

June 30, 2001

Tom Gillespie, a partner in Illinois-based Kennedy Homes, just wants good people. He’s not asking for much, is he? But in a tight labor market, that simple request can seem impossible. When one bad hire caused serious damage to employee and trade relations, the 1997 National Housing Quality winner used some of its NHQ experience to develop a hiring strategy.

"We needed a process ... to move beyond a single person’s intuitive feeling after looking at a résumé," Gillespie says. Kennedy developed a multilevel, cross-company team approach based on several standard questions. Four to five team members identify if there is a cultural fit in the first interview by asking questions aimed at gauging value alignment. During the second interview, another team tweaks some of the questions to learn the candidate’s specific skills. The final interview team includes the people with whom the candidate will work closely; a prospective manager might meet with purchasing, accounting, mortgage and so on.

The team approach works, Gillespie says, because each member is personally responsible for hiring the right person for the job. "We’ve gone against what the team recommended - and it never works out."

 

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