AFP 19: Interview Funnel – Screening Qualified Employees

Justin Cooke

April 24, 2012

We’ve spent the last several years interviewing hundreds of potential employees and assistants, both in the US and abroad, and we’ve learned a ton through our experiences.  Much like sales, there is a funnel that potential interviews must go through that helps to qualify or dis-qualify them to work for you.  In our experience, the best thing you can do is limit your involvement on the front-end when qualifying new candidates and reserve most of your time and energy for those that have made it through the gauntlet and have passed all of the mini-tests you have put in place.

How to Screen Qualified Employees

This episode is critical for anyone that is looking to expand their team through either onshore or offshore hiring as it will step you through a systematic process of disqualification that will save you a ton of time trying to find the “right” employees or VA’s.  There’s no guarantee for success here, but we can assure you that this process will focus your time on those that are well-qualified and give you a better opportunity to build a super-sharp team of people.

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Justin:
Welcome to Episode 19 of the AdSense Flippers Podcast. I’m your host Justin Cooke and I’m here with “Hot Money” Magnotti. What’s up buddy?

Joe:
Hey everybody!

Justin:
Got a great episode lined up for you this week. We’re going to be talking about the interview funnel and how to specifically screen qualified employees. First we got a bit of news and updates. First thing we’ve got is a new five start iTunes review men.

Joe:
Hit me up!

Justin:
It’s from Snail Mailman says, “These guys rock! I’m new to buying websites and your podcast has been very helpful. Your material’s fresh and not filled with a lot of fluff. More importantly, you guys don’t waste my time.” Thanks!

Joe:
That’s great. I hope you go from delivering snail mail to building niche sites and getting out of the snail mail business.

Justin:
Definitely! We’ve got a couple thousand downloads every episode. It’s really exciting. The podcast thing is going very well. We’ve got a good listener base going.

Joe:
Yeah. Speaking of downloads, we got a whole bunch of downloads in the new guide, right, building a niche site empire.

Justin:
Yeah buddy! We got 2,408 downloads and counting. We did just started WSO or Warrior Special Offer. That’s in the Warrior Forum. And basically, that’s kind of a place where people pay 18 bucks for eBooks or info products. We’re offering it for free, no opt in, nothing. We’re getting some good results there already and we just put it up a couple of hours ago. So, I’m really excited to see what we can do there, bring some new people to the brand.

Joe:
Yeah. 2,400 downloads in 6 days is no joke.

Justin:
Not too bad buddy. So tonight we’re doing an interview for the Niche Pursuits podcast with Spencer. That will be pretty cool, huh?

Joe:
Yeah. We had him on our first podcast. Now, he’ll be on his second podcast.

Justin:
Yeah. Yeah. I’m not sure what episode he’ll be on but yeah he’ll be coming out here soon. I’m really excited. He wants to talk to us a bit about outsourcing. So we’re getting some nitty-gritty there and we can definitely talk about some of the problems that he’s had recently with his AdSense account which is just horrible, right?

Joe:
Right.

Justin:
So, another thing we’re doing is we’re having an interview. We’re interviewing Joseph Archibald for the AdSense Flippers Podcast. We’ll have that on a few weeks. But basically, we want to talk to this guy. He’s the guy that created the back links strategy for Pat Flynn. So, the back link strategy with the two tiers where it happens to got a ton of attention about that. It’s a really great back linking strategy. I want to talk to him and see if we can do something similar for our niche sites, maybe a little less in depth that’s a little less expensive but that’s just as effective. So it’d be great to have him on the show.

Joe:
Yeah. We always need help from link building especially from a white hat perspective.

Justin:
Yeah, definitely! And this guy, he is a super sharp guy. Gets a ton of traffic in his blog and really puts out some interesting content. You should check it out, josepharchibald.com, really interesting.

Joe:
So we’ve hired some few people for the content manager position we’ve gone through several interviews. So we’re building up the team.

Justin:
Yeah. Here’s the thing I really love about the content manager position, we’re hiring people with good English, right? They’ve got good communication skills and that’s really important here in the Philippines to fill any role whether its link building with content we need or just some of our other outsourcing positions, being able to communicate effectively is extremely important.

Joe:
Yeah. And those kind of employees that are flexible and we can use them in multiple positions, it’s really important.

Justin:
Well that’s a pretty good lead in Joe to the heart of this week’s episode which is all about the interview funnel and screening qualified employees.

****The Adsense Flippers Podcast****

Justin:
So I got to be honest with you Joe, as much as I love hiring like great employees, I really hate the interview process men. Not a big fan of that.

Joe:
It’s critical though, right?

Justin:
It is men. You have to make sure that you’re saving yourself time. What you don’t want to do is spend a whole time in the interview process and you’re like dealing with donkeys, right? That’s not cool. You don’t want to waste your time with people that you never would have hired in the first place. So part of the goal is to try to weave them out, get them out of the process before they even get to you.

Joe:
Yeah. I think we developed a good process after having a lot of experience in U.S. and here in the Philippines. We’ve interviewed more than 400 people back in the U.S. and probably at least 250 people here. So, we have a lot of interview experience under our belt.

Justin:
Yeah. This is something we know extremely well and kind of like reading the first page of the Google like the matrix, I mean.. I’d say interviewing is kind of that way, I can look over at you and we’re like, “Ah, this person ain’t going to cut it.”

Joe:
Right.

Justin:
But we need to really like speak through that in this podcast. And that’s what I really want to do is kind of give away those tips or tricks that we know like we know automatically that some other people don’t because they haven’t hired as many people as we have, right? But even with all the people we’ve hired, we’ve made some pretty major mistakes. I mean even now, right? We’ve hired people that we shouldn’t have or we reached, that type of thing.

Joe:
Yeah. The last round of content manager is we forgot to put that it was a full-time job and we got a whole bunch of applicants that were looking for part-time project work.

Justin:
Yeah. Yeah. You still make mistakes for sure. But I think we’ve got a lot better at it and we don’t waste as much time with people that we wouldn’t have hired in the first place.

Joe:
Yeah, And the way you do that is by using the interview funnel and number of steps meant to disqualify potential applicants, an easy way to get no’s and say you’re not going to use this person.

Justin:
Yeah. I love no’s when it comes to interviewing, right? When someone comes in and they say something or make a mistake, I love no’s, okay? I know right away, we’re not going to do, we’re not going to be hiring this person. They’re gone. That’s great because that’s an easy answer.

Joe:
Or even before the interview, you’re going to know.

Justin:
Yeah, even better, right? The worst is when they’re kind of like on the bubble or on the fence, right? You’re kind of like, “I don’t really know if I want to get this person. They’re kind of qualified.” Those are the worst.

Joe:
Yeah. But if you have a couple of those, that’s alright. But if you have a whole bunch, that’s where the decision process gets really tough.

Justin:
Well the purpose of the interview funnel really is to help let them weave themselves out while not wasting your time. So before they even get to you, they are already weaving themselves out and we do it through a number of speed bumps and roadblocks that they have to get through before they even get a chance to speak with us and waste our time potentially. So Joe, if they get to us, they’re really motivated, they’ve met all our qualifications and they’re a pretty good interview. We’ll get into that in just a second. So we’re going to get in to this in basically three phases. The first phase is the pre-interview prospecting, the second phase is the actual interview, and the third phase is the greeting and selection process. First with the pre-interview stuff you need to decide where you’re going to try to find people that are going to be working for you. Now, I’ll tell you, the best way to do that is through virtual staff finder, they take out all of the early staff trying to dig through who’s going to be good enough, who’s not going to be good enough, they’re going to get you qualified people to interview.

Joe:
And that’s not us just selling our service either Justin. I’ve been through this whole process of doing the HR behind this. It’s a real pain in the butt and honestly if someone can just handle it all for you, it’s much easier.

Justin:
We do these interviews ourselves and we do the other routes, we’re going to talk about that but virtual staff finder makes it so much easier and it doesn’t take up as much of our time. And this can be really time intensive. Didn’t you have like the secondary services like Odesk or Elance and the good thing about this is that they do provide some additional information. Now, you don’t want to spend all your time researching them before you meet with them. We’ll talk about why not in just a minute. But basically they give you things like, “Whether they’ve passed this test or that test. Give you some ideas into their personality which you won’t get from some of the other resources.””

Joe:
And they help you stay organized where the other services won’t you’re going to have to figure out how to track all your applicants.

Justin:
Contacts!

Joe:
And all the test scores and everything, Odesk, Elance, they have methods of doing that for you, right in the user interface.

Justin:
Yeah. I’d say the next level down would be like Jobstreet.com or like OnlineJobs.ph. It’s great. They have lots of people looking for jobs. The problem is that you have to do a lot more than the process of finding them and qualifying them. I’d say kind of the bottom in the barrel but does have a lot people is Craigslist, right?

Joe:
Right.

Justin:
We’ve used Craigslist in the U.S. for other companies. We’ve also used it here in the Philippines and you can get applicants but the range is tremendous. So there’s a lot more pre-qualifying that needs to be done when you use a service like Craigslist. It’s free but, you know.

Joe:
Well, it’s free for some cities, right? Some cities it’s not.

Justin:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s free here in the Philippines of course. So let’s talk a little bit about what the job ad should look like. Now, it needs to be fun or interesting and engaging but needs to be direct to the point as well, right? So you do want to talk about your company and how interesting it is, what you guys are doing, it’s kind of exciting, get them fired up a bit but then you want to get right into like the requirements like what does this person have to know, have to be able to do for the job and you should also talk about the responsibilities, what were the average work day for this person look like, what would they be doing on an everyday basis and you also want to talk about some extras, like the things that would be nice to have like these are the things I’m looking for not you have to have but these are the things that would really be a bonus to me and then you want to make sure you’ve mentioned the hours that they’re going to be working. Are you expecting 20 hours a week, 60 hours a week, what’s the work schedule like?

Joe:
That’s especially important for virtual assistants because a lot of them are going to be working multiple jobs, working on different projects, and they have to know how much space in their schedule to open up for your job.

Justin:
Yeah. I read this several years ago. I can’t remember where but it’s a really good piece of advice I think is to use a qualifier. So we put in things like, I need you and your response’s to say I love Manny Pacquiao here in the Philippines, right? He’s a famous boxer here. And so, if they don’t put that in their response, in their initial response, we know they didn’t even read the job ad, they weren’t paying attention.

Joe:
And I love this because it makes it so easy to sort through the people that are just spamming us and the people that actually read the job application, the job posting and said, “Yes, this is something I’m interested in. This is something I know I can do.”

Justin:
Well remember to, the whole point is to disqualify people, right, to like knock them out. So, if they didn’t pay attention to the job ad, they’re not the kind of people that are detail oriented enough to work with you and you don’t want them. That’s an easy no, right?

Joe:
Yeah. And so the people that do respond and have a positive response, they followed the directions, they did everything you said, you should have a template response for that but you should have an objective test included there. We use a grammar test. And again, you’re going to lost a few more applicants here based on scores and what not but some won’t even take the test and won’t even get back to you and that makes you easy to eliminate those, right?

Justin:
Yeah. Again, that’s great. If you send back a template response saying, “Okay. Here take this test” and they never get back to you with the test and the test is pretty intensive. This will take them anywhere from an hour or two hours to finish. But if they don’t do that and get back to you, great they’ve disqualified themselves. That’s perfect, right?

Joe:
Yeah. And I love the idea of an objective test too because over time it allows you to judge future applicants on the scoring. So you can say, “Okay. My best applicants get more than an 85% on this test and therefore you know anyone under 85% is not even worth interviewing.”

Justin:
Yeah. We’ve done this a lot. We’ve had so many people take the test. And if they get under an 80 for the content manager position, most of the time we won’t even bother interviewing them, right? It’s just not high enough.

Joe:
Yeah. So make sure to keep the results in a spreadsheet that over time you have this kind of averages.

Justin:
Yeah. Because then you could judge them against future employees, current employees and get a real feel on that objective test on whether or not they’re even qualified to interview with you. The other thing you should do is when you’re scheduling the interviews is you make sure you give 2 potential timeslots, right? And you don’t want to leave this open, you want to be very specific, “Okay, this time or this time” and you want to make sure that those times are convenient for you. There is a chance they’re not going to show, that they’re going to cancel, that they’re going to flake, so be doing something else right up until the interview. If the interview comes and goes and they don’t show up, no big deal, great, that’s an easy no again, right? They’ve disqualified themselves.

Joe:
Right. And don’t leave it open ended because that will make for a scheduling disaster. That’s a rookie mistake to make when you setup hiring. Give them a couple of options and that’s it.

Justin:
Yeah. Right now we have our HR manager putting it into Google calendar and so we just kind of know, “Okay, great, I guess we got an interview coming up” right?

Joe:
Yeah, she checks our calendars for availabilities, if we have any other meetings and if we do she doesn’t schedule during that time and if we don’t then she looks for something that fits for both of us.

Justin:
Here’s another important thing too. If it’s offshore agents you’re talking about, you want to make sure they test their mic and headset before the interview. That’s something you need to let them know that they need to do before you even get on.

Joe:
Yeah. Try to get most of the tech things out of the way beforehand because you never know people say, “I don’t have a mic, I don’t have a headset working” and then the interview has just gone to crap.

Justin:
Yeah. The interview can be a little sketchier in the Philippines anyway because the internet’s not so great sometimes but you want to make sure they don’t have technical problems that they could have fixed beforehand, right? Alright Joe, so we’ve done our pre-qualifying. We’ve written our ad copy. We’ve gone back and forth. We had them take the grammar test. We’ve scheduled the interview and it’s interview time buddy.

Joe:
Interview time!

Justin:
What’s our rule? If they’re late make them wait.

Joe:
Yeah. I love this. If they show up 5 minutes late, they show up 10 minutes late, you make them wait. If you have a lobby, if it’s virtual, whatever they have to do, you make them wait as long as they made you wait.

Justin:
Yeah. And there’s a good chance, if the person’s more than 10 minutes late, more than 90% of the time, we won’t end up hiring that person. It they can’t be on time, but I know in the Philippines, you know, Filipino time and everything, but really it doesn’t matter if you’re going to be working with us. So, you can’t be late.

Joe:
Yeah. We’re sticklers about that and I think we have to be because that’s the kind of business we run.

Justin:
We had a girl show up like 2 hours late, she got in I was like, “Yeah. Why don’t you come back in 2 months? We can talk again in 2 months.” Johnny in there was laughing at me for that one.

Joe:
Yeah. Well that said, it’s fine to be a hard ass about that but sometimes for technical issues especially for virtual type of interviews, talk about being, having them prep their technical stuff, their mic, their headset, whatnot, but if they do have a little bit of technical issues in the beginning, internet problem, something sporadic that can be fixed, try to be a little more lenient there.

Justin:
And this is for interviews anywhere, whether in the U.S., you interview someone on the Philippines, but you want to start off and be a little light hearted. So maybe chitchat, “Where are you from? How long have you been there? Where have you been?” – These types of things, just to kind of break the ice a little bit. Especially if you were working with someone that is offshore, they maybe a little nervous interviewing with you and it’s great to kind of like get them opening up a little bit.

Joe:
Yeah. How many times have we seen that, the people that are bringing their hands together because they’ve never been in the same room with an American before and they’re very nervous with 2 Americans talking to them?

Justin:
I hate to lose out on a really talented person simply because they’re too nervous to interview with us, right? So it’s really important for us to make sure we kind of breakdown those barriers and let them know we’re just kind of regular guys. We’re just asking them questions. It’s not a big deal.

Joe:
Yeah. And that leads perfectly into your back story. That’s the next thing you have to talk about is your company, where you’re coming from, how you got here, that kind of thing.

Justin:
We spend a good probably 5 to 8 minutes kind of let them know about TryBPO, letting them know about what we’re doing here in the Philippines, how long have we been in business, and kind of what our team does and then we actually get into the position and what they’re going to be doing for us, right? So we’ll lay out the position and like what their responsibilities are, how it’s going to work for the first week, second week, third week, fourth week, and then we’re asking them questions all along.

Joe:
Yeah. You’re going to rehash a little bit of what’s in the copy probably of the job posting. But yeah, it’s important that you do that I think and make sure you establish all those responsibilities. So if there’s something that perks their interest and they say, “There’s no way I can do that” or “You know I hate doing that.”

Justin:
Yeah.

Joe:
If they’re honest enough to say that, that’s the kind of person, that’s the kind of thing you want to get out right away.

Justin:
Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. So here’s the other thing too. So now you’ve gone through your back story. You’ve explained the position to them, right? You’ve checked with them and make sure they’re following along the whole time. Now, you can start disqualifying. Start asking them questions about what you just talked about. “So how long have we been in the Philippines? What’s our company like? How many employees do we have?” – These types of things. In that way you know whether they were paying attention or not.

Joe:
Yeah. It’s funny how many times, how many interviews we’ve had where people just, you could say a sentence before and then ask them a question right after that and they have no idea what you’re talking about.

Justin:
I think that some these people are like they’re trying to be polite so they don’t, they’re not paying attention to you they’re just being polite and nodding, and this a good way to know if they’re the type of person that will do that to you or not, right?

Joe:
Yeah. That said, there are other good disqualifying questions, right? You have to be a little careful when you’re going into people’s backgrounds, there are certain restrictions depending on where you are in the world like the U.S. is very prohibitive about what you can ask, I mean, you can’t ask about their family life or anything like that.

Justin:
How old are you, or like when did you graduate high school, none of those questions.

Joe:
Right. Here in the Philippines, basically anything is fair game but

Justin:
There’s still things that we kind of shy away from because we’d be like uncomfortable or like as Americans it’s like it’s uncomfortable for us to ask those questions but you can get away with a lot more here. I’ll say a really good question is asking them why they left some of their previous positions, are they bad mouthing their old company, their old boss, right? Do they give like some kind of like sketchy reason where it just doesn’t seem to jive? Did they abandon their job and what was the reason like what happened with their job, why did they leave? And you get some really interesting answers. And it tells you a little bit about their personality and what they think is right to talk about, what’s not right to talk about, you may start hearing some excuses or problems and these are really good things to know right out the gate.

Joe:
Yeah. And the other thing is gaps in work history, right? Do they have a reasonable explanation for a gap in work history? Do they even know about their work history?

Justin:
Yeah.

Joe:
Sometimes you ask people about their resume and they’re like, “I have no idea. I can’t explain that.” Those are the kind of people that you know, either they’re something not cosier on the resume or

Justin:
They copy and pasted from someone else’s resume or something. Yeah. That’s not even a company they worked for. They don’t really remember working for them. Yeah. We’ve seen that. It’s problematic obviously.

Joe:
Right. And then I would say you got to get in to a little bit more of the open ended questions and these are some of the traditional questions you probably have heard off before if you’ve done any interviewing, asking about strengths and weaknesses. Are they unable to answer that because they think they have no weaknesses or they think that their strengths are actually weakness, that kind of thing? You’re looking for them to be able to communicate closely with you here and you want a good explanation of their strength, of their weaknesses and a reason for them to say no.

Justin:
Is their weakness really bad? Like do they say, “Oh well, I have a problem working with people that are younger than me, right? I don’t like young snot-nose punks that are my boss.” Well that’s problematic if their boss is younger than them, right? So, these are, you want to know their weaknesses. And if they’re honest with you, it’s great but it’s another quick and easy way to give them a no, right? And our whole point here is to disqualify. I like to ask them about how well they work with others. Give me examples of times where you had to work together as a team to get something done, I mean, do they say anything there that like allows me to weave them out there, right? Well, I worked with this one girl and she was horrible because she wasn’t doing it right and I had to take over for her and blah.

Joe:
Yeah. It’s a sign of a cancerous person, right? Not the sign of the person that you want in your organization. We have a pretty tight nit group of assistants here, of agents here and we don’t want those kind of people coming in and being a cancer in our group.

Justin:
I like this one too. What do you like to do for fun? So after we’ve kind of smacked them with these, what are your strengths and what are your weaknesses, ask them what they like to do for fun gives them a chance to really talk in kind of like freely explore their English-ability and their thought process. Like, okay here’s what I like to do, what’s their personality like, would it be a good jive for you organization, can you dig it, do you like what they’re talking about, is it interesting to you or not, right?

Joe:
Especially if they’re going to work closely with you, you probably want to make sure that you have a good handle on their personality. And then something that I love asking especially about virtual assistants is do they have a quiet place to work from? What is their work environment like? If you got a person that you interview on Skype, try to video Skype call with them and see where they call you from. If they call you from an office with a desk and they’re obviously like at a computer, that’s a sign of a person that has a qualified place to work from.

Justin:
Or if they’re on their own room or something in they’ve got a computer in there, that’s great. If they’re on a room with like 5 other people and they all sleep in that room, that’s probably not going to be so great. If there are chickens and roosters and dogs in the background

Joe:
And babies.

Justin:
And screaming babies, yeah, yeah, it’s not going to be conducive for a work environment for a virtual assistant.

Joe:
Yeah. I remember one time we had a guy doing an interview from his bed.

Justin:
Yeah. I remember that. That was great. He’s lying in bed with his girlfriend I think actually, right?

Joe:
Yeah. It’s very interesting.

Justin:
So another thing that we can do to like kind of test their technical ability is ask them simple things like what’s your favourite browser, right? We’ve got some pretty interesting responses for that.

Joe:
Yeah. The web browser and search engine questions. I love these. It’s very easy. It’s not technical but it gives you an idea and a feel for if someone who’s had use a computer, someone who’s had used the internet and anyone under the age of 30 should easily be able to tell you what browser and search engine they use.

Justin:
Yes. As soon as you get some crazy answers, so you ask like, what’s your favourite search engine and first off someone might say yes, yes, yes, and then you’re like, well you don’t really understand what it is I’m trying to ask. But then if you ask them and they’re like, “Oh, my favourite search engine’s Yahoo. I used to use Google but blah, blah, blah.” You know that they’re able to search for things, right, figure stuff out.

Joe:
Yeah. Or you get the apples and oranges right, where if you say, “What’s your favourite search engine?” and they say, “Internet explorer.” You know they really don’t understand what you’re talking about.

Justin:
Exactly. And here’s like kind of an overall arching kind of thought process here is do they give you excuses, do they ask excuses for anything or everything.

Joe:
I love this one because these are the type of people that you don’t want working for you. It’s awful to have someone, “Oh, I can’t work today because my mom got sick. I had to take the dog to the hospital and this thing happened and that thing happened.” If they’re already coming up with excuses in the interview process or before the interview process, that should be a big red flag, a big reason to say no.

Justin:
I really tried to be here on time but the Jeepney was running late or I had this problem or that problem. I love those, right? Again, I love it. They’ve disqualified themselves, fantastic. I can move on to the next person and not waste any more time with this donkey, right?

Joe:
Right.

Justin:
So we’ve gone to the entire process, right? They’ve done the interview, you’ve done the interview. What’s the next step Joe? The grading and the selection process, right? We need to find out who we’re going to choose.

Joe:
You need to rate the interview right away. Right away it’s fresh in your mind. Give it a score. Put that on the spreadsheet along with all the other information that you’ve collected about these candidates. You should be collecting this information on a spreadsheet so that it’s very easy to see side by side who’s better than who.

Justin:
The worst thing you can do though I think is wait and try to like, at the end of the day I’ve interviewed 6 or 7 people and normally they all kind of blend together, right? They all kind of seem the same. I’m not really sure. So definitely rate them right away, right after the interview before you sit down with the next person. One of the reasons you’re going to rate them at all is so that you can compare them to other applicants, right? But you don’t want to just compare other applicants, the problem is, let’s say that I interview 4 people in 1 day, right? And I may compare them just to each other and someone’s going to get a higher score, right? But they may be worst than all my current employees if I’m not rating them against current employees too. So, you want to make sure that all interviews are rated against each other but also against your current staff or previous staff if you don’t have any staff right now, right?

Joe:
Yeah. I would also say that you need to take it a step further than that, right? Give them a rating on 1 to 10. Here in the Philippines we just use 1 overall category, we just say, “Okay. They got an overall 1 to 10.” And make that stand on its own, you say that this person is a 1, this person is a 10 meaning the best, don’t say that compared to the other 3 interviews I had, they’re better than them so therefore they have to be a 10. Don’t do that kind of thing.

Justin:
Yeah, exactly.

Joe:
As good as they do for that particular job. For more complex situations, for more complex positions like the interns, we had multiple categories and I love the idea of breaking down very subjective skills or feelings you have during the interview into objective scores.

Justin:
Yeah. When we were in the U.S., we had a couple of different grading mechanisms and we would grade them on each of those and every interview we give them a particular grade. We went even further with the interns. This is somebody that’s going to be living with us, working with us day in and day out. It’s not just about their like capability but like, “Are they a good fit? Could I have them around my house every day, right?” So we had a lot of different grading criteria. You know what we should do, we could take our spreadsheet that we use for interns and we’ll put a link to that in the show notes, people can take a look at it. So if they’re looking for interns or looking to hire like a more complicated position, they could take a look at some of our grading mechanisms for the interns, I think that’d be useful.

Joe:
Yeah. I think that’d be very powerful for a lot of people especially because when you get these feelings during the interview, you want to say, “Okay. Well, I felt okay about that but you need to objectify that.”

Justin:
Absolutely. Well that’s it for the heart of this week’s episode. Let’s get right in to our ninja marketing tips, tricks and our plans for the future.

****The Adsense Flippers Podcast continues****

Justin:
So our first tip for you today is hive desk Joe. Let’s talk about that a bit.

Joe:
Yeah well, of course we’ve mentioned hive desk several times before but there’s a neat trick. You can enter hourly wages into hive desk and therefore you can track how much of particular task or project it’s costing you over time. And I really like this feature because hive desk gives you daily updates, daily reports automatically emailed to you and it computes this hourly time for you and based on how much people worked.

Justin:
Well, it works really well for us as we have a bunch of agents but even with less agents, right? So let’ say that you have one agent that does some content for like your link building and also some content for your sites, right? You can have them change projects in the middle so you know how much your man hours are costing you for contents on the site versus your man hours for link building. So you can actually break it down project by project in hive desk. It’s frustrating men. That’s the company that got away. We should have bought those guys men.

Joe:
We really should have.

Justin:
Now they’re blowing it up too. It sucks.

Joe:
Another thing we’re working on is our niche theme we’re getting some code done, building the basic structure, hope to have an alpha test release to our own sites maybe in the next 30 days or so.

Justin:
Yeah men, I know. People are asking me about that, they’re saying, “Hey, when are you guys going to have your niche theme coming out?” I was like, “I don’t know. You know these types of projects.” They’re like, “You know, it’s going to happen in June.” And then all of a sudden September’s rolling around and we’re still working on it. So, I can’t really say. Hopefully we’ll have something that we’re working on June, July kind of timeframe, I hope. I don’t know men. I’m not a coder. I don’t really know. Those guys kind of like get lock in a room and just do their thing.

Joe:
I think we have a basic layout of how long this stuffs going to take right now. We’re hiring some extra programmers to help us get us there a little bit faster but John the intern is taking up the charge and I’m going to meet with him and have a better schedule out later this week.

Justin:
You got him locked to the desk, right, chained to the desk. The next thing I want to talk about really quick was the niche keyword newsletter. So, I’m going to be putting that together over the next couple of weeks and I’m going to be sending an email out. But basically, what we’re going to do is kind of give a breakdown on why we would have purchased these keywords and they will be available. So if you want to pick them up and roll out a site with that niche keyword, then you can do so, last thing buddy. Let’s talk about a little Swag, huh?

Joe:
Yeah. I’m drinking coffee out of my AdSense Flippers coffee cup.

Justin:
That’s ridiculous. That’s cool. I like it. It’s pretty, the logo looks sweet too men. It looks really good on that.

Joe:
It does. They really did a great job. So I was wondering if any of our readers would be interested in this kind of stuff. Would they be interested in buying AdSense Flippers Swag?

Justin:
Sweet Lord! I don’t think so. I don’t know men. We can put it up there anyway. We’ll take a picture and we can show off a little bit.

Joe:
Yeah. If you guys are interested, let us know in the comments and we could put up a link and let you guys buy it.

Justin:
Sweet! So that is it for Episode 19 of the AdSense Flippers Podcast. So great you could join us! Make sure to check us out on Twitter @ AdSenseFlippers. Hit us up there. Make sure you get on our email list as well. We’ll be emailing you crops so that you can sign up for it and make us money.

Joe:
Buy our coffee cups.

Justin:
See you guys.

Joe:
Bye bye everybody.

 

Topics Discussed This Week Include:

  • Stats on our recently release guide, “Building A Niche Site Empire”
  • Upcoming interviews and guests for the AdSense Flippers Podcast
  • Why we like people that disqualify themselves in the Pre-Interview process
  • A critical step in your advertisement that will save you a ton of time avoiding applicants that don’t pay attention to details
  • Using objective tests as a comparative metric for pre-qualification
  • Exact disqualifying questions we use to separate the winners from the losers
  • Grading scales based on the intensity of the position

Mentions:

  • Our Guide – “Building A Niche Site Empire”
  • Niche Pursuits Podcast – Congrats to Spencer on his first podcast episode…now let’s hear it in iTunes! :-)
  • JosephArchibald.com – The guy that created Pat Flynn’s backlinking strategy…we’re interviewing him for a future podcast.
  • Virtual Staff Finder – The best resource for saving time on pre-qualifying potential Virtual Assistants
  • oDesk and eLance – Balanced options between saving time up-front and service cost
  • JobStreet | OnlineJobs.ph | Craigslist.org – Cheapest for staff, but most time-intensive platforms for hiring VA’s
  • Intern Evaluation Spreadsheet – Spreadsheet we used to grade and review our Intern applications
  • Grammar Test – Objective test we use to pre-qualify applicants
  • HiveDesk – We use this to track actual manpower expenses across a wide range of projects
Did you enjoy this week’s episode?  Let us know in the comments below and be sure to stop by and say hi on Twitter.

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Discussion
Leave a comment
  1. greg says:

    Is there another link to the grammar test sheet? That one isn’t working.

    Thanks

  2. supriya says:

    Thanks for sharing this valuable information to our vision. You have posted a trust worthy blog keep sharing.

  3. Tom says:

    I’m not able to link up to the Intern Evaluation Spreadsheet. Is it still available?

  4. Kate says:

    Hi Justin and Joe. This was extremely helpful. I am just in the process of hiring my first full-time VA and I was wondering if you have a sample contract available anywhere? Hoping to not need to completely reinvent the wheel re: writing a contract. Cheers and thanks so much for your awesome podcast! I’ve listened to at least 15 episodes in the last couple of weeks since discovering it.

    • Kate, I just tried to email you a copy of our probationary and regular contracts, but I got a bounce back. Can you contact us directly so I can follow up?

      It would probably make good content for a blog post here, something to consider.

  5. Great episode, guys. I listened when it came out and am re-listening now as I just placed ads for 2 Phil employees. The hiring process takes so much time, so these hacks are huge! I’d love to see more on this type of stuff on the AFP. Cheers.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Awesome, Joseph!

      If you’re ever looking to hire a programmer, make sure to check out our Intern’s site:
      http://whatthedev.com/

      He’s been helping us a ton with finding developers, designers, etc. and has some useful content for hiring remotely as well…

  6. Dan Norris says:

    Hey guys this is why I love podcasts like yours. It’s just the real stuff… that you don’t learn in business school (I can confirm I have a HR degree and they never mentioned eliminating ‘donkeys’ like this ha ha).

    One thing I always do whether the staff are Filipino or local Aussies is I give people a paid trial. In fact I hate interviewing so much that I don’t do it and instead I just bring in good candidates and pay them for a 4 hour trial (for locals I screen over the phone). Super cheap with Filipinos and this is really the only way for me to know whether they will work out. I’ve mostly hired developers so I just give them a typical job, some of them fail, some of them never turn up, some of them start and I’ll never hear from again but the good ones talk and they get through the work. This is the best way I’ve found and most people can spare 4 hours.

    I’ve also used VSF for a few staff members and that been real easy.

    • Thanks Dan, glad you liked this episode.

      I like the trial approach, but I wonder if it could be exploited by less than ethical “professional trainees”. Call centers in Manila are having this issue now — candidates who come on board with the intention of never working, just to take advantage of the free training, start-up salary, and even the complimentary snacks (no, I’m not joking). When the training is over, they fail to show up for their first day of work and already have a new training program started.

      Although hard work, I think a viable screening option is the right way to go if you are hiring for low level positions. A trial period might work for those higher up the food chain though — developers and designers come to mind. For your virtual assistant though, I would avoid such an approach.

  7. James Tolf says:

    I want a mug

  8. Where can I get one of those mugs!?

  9. Hi, the download link doesn’t work.

  10. This is a very important topic for those who can take their business to the next level. It’s so important to weed out the bad workers before hiring them. I always give my employees a test job before I hire them. I also give them video training so that they can see each step and they’re able to review the training when they have questions.

  11. Watsonovedades says:

    thanks for this podcast, it really helped. Guillermo

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