49: Hiring in Support with Alyssa Percell

49: Hiring in Support with Alyssa Percell

Alyssa Percell talks about the interview process, and how she tries to get the most out of candidates during those precious few interview sessions.


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 49 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 to the podcast, Alyssa Percell. Alyssa, Would you like to introduce yourself?

Alyssa Percell 0:38
Hi, absolutely. I’m so happy to be here. My name is Alyssa Purcell. I am a current manager on a customer support team based in New York City. I’ve been in support for about five years and my focus is really around people management, training, development quality assurance process, all of that. So quite a bit of big experience, but still, definitely keeping an open mind on different strategies and support. So love the podcast, very excited to be here.

Charlotte Ward 1:09
Thank you so much very excited to have you. So Alyssa, the topic for this week is hiring in support.

Alyssa Percell 1:16
Absolutely. So my first advice to everybody is make sure you have a very clear and accurate job description. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re never going to find the perfect candidate. So being able to be clear about the scope of the job, the responsibilities and maybe the vision for what it can expand to in the future is really important before you start your research. Think about the strengths and qualities you’re looking for in an agent. I think before entering into the interview phase, it’s really great to understand the panel that is interviewing for this responsibility. I love a mixture of leadership and peers in an interview panel because it allows different perspectives from leaders, but peers are very important to just understand the culture fit. And to get that extra bit of insight, it’s, it’s great to not only elevate those who are current team members, but build a bond early on with potential candidates

Charlotte Ward 2:18
Culture fit is one aspect, skills assessment is another. Do you think that peers in an interview should spend too much time on skills assessment? Or do you think that should more come from, you know, assignments and things like that as part of the hiring process?

Alyssa Percell 2:34
if you have an assignment as part of your hiring process, I don’t think it’s necessary for the peers to focus on the skill set, because you’re going to have a fair way to assess it. I think it’s great to elevate the peers who are going in there and coach them prior to the interview. You should never send an agent in without any kind of coaching or interview prep, you know, and you want to make sure that you’re giving them the confidence needed and some focus needed to really maximise that time in the interview. But I love to set up one agent to kind of focus on the skillset and another to focus on the culture. And you could call it kind of a good, a good cop, bad cop setup. But really what it does is it allows a more fair balance and some direction to kick off the interview.

Charlotte Ward 3:20
Yeah. And also as part of that framework, you’re setting some levels of consistency across all potential candidates as well. So those don’t just become conversations where you can’t draw any meaningful conclusions, right. Other than he was nice. She was nice.

Alyssa Percell 3:36
Yeah, I think you need quality feedback from that time, you only get so much time with a candidate, but it also helps to reduce any unconscious bias.

Charlotte Ward 3:47
What’s your biggest challenge with hiring?

Alyssa Percell 3:49
Well, it depends on the role, right? For an agent position, the biggest challenge is weighing experience versus potential. Especially for us, an entry-level support role, you’re often getting candidates who don’t have a lot of experience. Right?

Charlotte Ward 4:07
Yeah, yeah, you, you don’t have the skill set, necessarily, you know, or story around loyalty and around even kind of softer stuff, just, you know, the ability to stick at something and learn for example.

Alyssa Percell 4:20
Yeah. Can I tell you my one secret tip I love to do in an interview?

Charlotte Ward 4:26
Please do, please do!

Alyssa Percell 4:29
Regardless of the level of role, I love to pause a candidate during an interview and offer them some feedback. Let’s talk about as an easy example. So sometimes you get candidates who speak a lot. And sometimes you get candidates who have very short answers. So about halfway into the interview, I like to say, Hey, I just want to stop things for a minute and provide you with some feedback. Are you open to some feedback, and I provide them just a little bit of feedback like we have X amount of time left, I really want to get through the next questions for somebody who maybe speaks a lot. And then for somebody who’s not giving a lot of examples and is shorter with their answers, I give them feedback like, Hey, I would love to hear some more examples from you. And not only does that help shift the kind of interview that you’re conducting, it also allows you to gauge how they receive feedback and apply it. It’s not to overly criticise them, it’s really more of an exercise to see, can they learn in that moment, you know, and apply that right and then you get a little bit more out of the candidate than the interview.

Charlotte Ward 5:38
I think that’s a really excellent tip. I was scared where you were going to go with as you as you were building up that story towards you like to pause the interview and I was thinking this is just going to be really mean and I don’t ever want to be interviewed by you!

Alyssa Percell 5:56
I promise I’m not scary.

Charlotte Ward 6:00
You’re not scary. But actually that’s a really interesting thing to do. And also what you’re doing there isn’t that personal? It’s not like, here’s some feedback that’s really specific to you. Yeah, you know, which is just criticism, right?

Alyssa Percell 6:15
Yeah. Yeah.

Charlotte Ward 6:16
That’s a nice, gentle but actually, I would imagine fairly fruitful exercise in the middle of an interview.

Alyssa Percell 6:24
Yeah. And I think I’ve made some of my best hiring decisions because of what that resulted in. Which is great.

Charlotte Ward 6:34
I’m going to try it next time. That’s it for today, go to customersupportleaders.com/49 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.