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Hiring Good Managers

(January 2006) posted on Thu Jan 05, 2006

Assembling a core management team can determine your business success.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Marty McGhie

Recruiting firms"?a.k.a. executive-search firms, placement
firms, or "headhunters"?can also be helpful when trying to find
a specific fit. These can be expensive"?sometimes up to 25%
to 33% of the employee's first year salary, payable as a onetime
fee (by the employer, not the employee). In spite of the
expense, some employers prefer recruiters because they can
save valuable time by doing a lot of the searching and screening.

Some firms do specialize in graphic-arts placement: Print-
Link (, PrintStaff (,
and PrintQuest ( are just three examples.
You can find more of these listed on the Graphic Arts Information
Network website (GAIN,, which also has its
own Job Bank.

One more thing: Make sure you also post the job opening
internally. Regardless of whether or not you believe that anyone
internally is qualified, allowing your current employees
to apply for management positions is good business practice.
Even though they may not get the job, the opportunity to apply
and to be considered can keep good employees interested in
remaining with your company.

The screen

Now the word is out, and the resumes begin pouring in. There
isn't really any magic to reading resumes, it just takes time and
perhaps a little luck. We all know that some applicants overstate
themselves on their resumes (perhaps the majority) while others
may understate their experience and qualifications.
When attempting to filter through the resumes, I recommend
the following approach:

  • Have at least two people go through them and classify
    each as either A, B, or C candidates.

  • If you don't find what you want after interviewing the As,
    evaluate the Bs to see if perhaps there is a sleeper there and
    begin interviewing some of them.

  • Ignore the Cs"?your original hunch when reading their
    resume was probably right.

When determining who gets an interview, give people the
benefit of the doubt. In other words, over-schedule the amount
of candidates that you believe may be qualified. Bring in some
candidates whose applications may not be that strong, but have
some of the qualifications you are looking for. Again, you may
find a sleeper.

The interview

If you follow my advice and over-schedule the number of candidates,
you will now have a seemingly overwhelming amount of
interviews to conduct. Not to worry: Your first round of interviews
should be considered just that"?an "exploratory" interview, not
an in-depth one.

Schedule each of these 15 or 20 minutes apart. You know
from experience that within the first 5 minutes or so, you will
typically recognize whether or not the applicant has a chance.
Since you control the interview, you control the time. If they
don't qualify, be polite but don't waste time with them. Get
them out of your office, put them in the "No" pile, and move on.
Note: As a matter of courtesy, you should let the candidates
know in advance how much time they should anticipate spending
in these early-round interviews.

When you find someone that may qualify, spend a few extra
minutes, then reschedule them to come back for a second,
more thorough, interview. This procedure will help you move
through a lot of potential candidates quickly and narrow your
search to the few candidates with the most potential.
Once you have winnowed the field to the few best candidates,
then spend quality time with each. Take them on a tour
of your shop. Have different people in your organization interview
them and give you their feedback.

You should also get them out of the formal interview process,
and find out what they are really like outside of work. Take them
to lunch or invite them and their spouse or partner to dinner. Sell
them on your business. Share with them your ideas about what
you expect and ask them in turn what they expect out of the job.
Be deliberate at this stage of the process, and don't feel
badly about spending what seems to be too much time with
any one candidate. It's an important decision for your company,
and you want to make the right choice. But don't move
too slowly"?the good managers may get away.

Hiring good managers is a tricky business. Even if you
decide to follow my suggested steps, there is still no guarantee.
Sometimes, we just get it wrong"?it's that way with any
personnel decision. But if you go about the hiring process the
best way, your chances of landing the best person on your
management team will improve significantly.

Marty McGhie ( is VP finance/
operations of Ferrari Color, a digital-imaging center with Salt
Lake City, San Francisco, and Sacramento locations.