47: Hiring in Support with Kristina King

47: Hiring in Support with Kristina King

Kristina King has a regular stream of incoming talent through her intern program, and works with a local organisation to hire… well, listen and find out! 

I’d love your thoughts on this episode! Comment below, and like/love/share/support if you found this inspiring, thought-provoking, or useful!

Charlotte Ward  0:13  

Hello, and welcome to Episode 47 of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward. The theme for this week is hiring. So stay tuned for five leaders talking about that very topic. Today I’d like to welcome back Kristina King. Kristina, the topic for this week is hiring for customer support.

Kristina King  0:41  

Yes, I love this topic. So happy to go over it. So I’ll start by saying first off that my career in tech began as a technical support engineer, tier one, and I had been in finance before I’d been teaching before. So I didn’t have a CS degree. I didn’t have a lot of technical experience. And so when I started it was a pretty new world for me. And luckily, I was starting at a company, still Jama, that was much smaller than and had a really small support team. So the world was almost my oyster in that I got to define my own role. And then I stayed with the company as it grew, and I got to grow along with it. And with that experience, it made me really want to try to provide experiences like that for other people, which has really influenced how I hire and even how I try to use my influence sitting on hiring committees for other teams. 

Charlotte Ward  1:37  

It’s a good place to be.

Kristina King  1:39  

Yeah, exactly. I love it. It’s so it’s, you know, it’s fulfilling in a way but also gratifying. You think wow, me, you know, seven years ago, I was working with some miserable financial services job and now I get to, you know, sit on for director of product or whatever, you know. My big thing is really providing opportunity for people who may not have that opportunity and I was talking with my boss one of the things that we really solidified in the past month is that what really has been paying off for us is hiring weirdos and I say…

Charlotte Ward  2:19  

Are we more officially calling this culture-add?

Kristina King  2:24  

Yes, I am I am a huge proponent of the culture-add verbiage instead of culture-fit. You know we want to get along with the people we hire. We want to work with people we like because your work relationships especially if you’re not remote you’re spending most of your time with your team rather than you know at home with your partners or kids or whatever you might have pets. And so for us it’s definitely a culture add definitely looking for those weirdos. You know, it starts when we screen resumes like is there any sort of personality coming through? Is there any sort of passion coming through if you’re if you don’t have any interest in us, we really aren’t interested in you. We want to hire people who, you know, maybe are interested in tech support as a career, or maybe they are looking to do tech support for a year or two and then move into an engineering role. So it’s it’s really paid off for us to start at the very beginning with this business support specialist internship that we started, which we had some creative headcount. And so we’re like, let’s do this for six months. Let’s see how it goes. And so we went to this place called Worksource Oregon, and they work a lot with like, veterans and parents who are out of the workforce for 20 years or people who are looking to change careers because maybe they were, you know, working in a paper mill and it shut down. And so our first internship, we offered to an army vet named Dana, who had been a bricklayer for a long time and hurt himself and couldn’t do manual labour anymore. And so his only experiences were like, you know, physical or, you know, in the army in Afghanistan. So nothing directly applicable to tech, he went to like a short code-school programme. You know, he applied for this internship. And you know, it’s been almost three years. And Dana’s still here. So we were able to keep him on the team promote him to technical support engineer. And since starting that programme a few years ago, our community manager started in that one of our tech support engineers, who recently left for the job, that’s a better fit for her. And then our current permanent business support specialists, they all started in the internship role. And none of them had had a tech job before it was like one of them had just done service industry, but had a lot of good customer experience. 

Charlotte Ward  4:50  

Right? It’s often the case, right?

Kristina King  4:52  

Yeah, exactly. So it’s like starting with with the lower tiers and those people who just have that experience that isn’t, you know, computers computers, but they’re like, I want to get there because that’s the future.

Charlotte Ward  5:05  

And how long is that internship that you run?

Kristina King  5:08  

Six months, it’s a revolving like, okay, five months in, you’re going to start ramping up the next person

Charlotte Ward  5:15  

Well, that works really well for both parties, right? In one way or the other one, they end up with you or not, it’s good all round and, and really gives them a lot of exposure. A lot of relevant experience. I think those kinds of opportunities the, you know, extended trial periods or the internships often as just to kind of really long interview process somehow, but it works.

Kristina King  5:41  

And it’s good too, because then the rest of the company can get to know them and know that they’re learning and then they’re excited to share with them. They don’t see them as this person who comes in as like, I don’t need your help. I’m a professional. I got this. They’re like, come in wide-eyed and like, What can I learn about this is so new and interesting and cool. And then so usually people, you know are happy to, you know, talk about what they do in case it’s something that that intern is interested in.

Charlotte Ward  6:11  

And they get truly invested if you hire them after that they’re really truly invested.

Kristina King  6:16  

Yes, definitely. So yeah, I guess it’s you know, a third of our team came through from that programme, so it’s definitely worked out well.

Charlotte Ward  6:25  

That’s it for today. Go to customersupportleaders.com/47 for the show notes, and I’ll see you next time.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai


A little disclaimer about the podcast, blog interviews and articles on this site: the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text and podcast belong solely to the author or interviewee, and not necessarily to any employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.