How To Know If You’ve Hired a People Person

Debbie, Mindy, and Pat – reunited at Black Mountain Software

“The people with whom you work reflect your own attitude. If you are suspicious, unfriendly and condescending, you will find these unlovely traits echoed all about you. But if you are on your best behavior, you will bring out the best in the persons with whom you are going to spend most of your working hours.”  —  Beatrice Vincent

With hiring more competitive than ever, layoffs happening, and fewer people to do more with less, what makes someone stand out from the rest in an interview?  If you ask Pat Cook, a County Support Specialist at Black Mountain Software, she would say, “personality.”  And so far her intuition has been pretty spot-on.  Ironically, Pat saw “personality” in BMS employees Mindy Corrigan and Debbie Crippen long before they worked in Customer Support at BMS, and in a strange turn of events, all three women now reside here at Black Mountain Software.

When caught in a jam with a need to hire someone immediately while working for the DMV, Pat looked for what others often do not.  She wasn’t looking for a skill set, or a degree, rather, she was looking for a people person.  “Education is not the most important thing for me.  It’s easier to teach necessary skills to someone that is willing to learn and has a great attitude, while being able to work well with both the staff and public.”

Mindy, who at the time of her interview at the DMV was working as a bartender at a local lodge, was just such a person. Though she didn’t know about titles and licensing, she knew how to work with people.  Pat understood that learning people skills takes a lot longer than learning how to register a vehicle, and a friendly personality and great people skills were exactly what the DMV needed. Mindy turned out to be the right choice, later attracting the attention of BMS, where she currently works, for some of those same reasons.

Debbie, who was working at a children’s clothing store at the time she interviewed with Pat at the Lake County Treasurer’s office, was a similar story. Pat remembered an interaction with Debbie at the clothing store where she went above and beyond to help a customer.  That observation ultimately ended up leading to Debbie being hired to fill an open position at the County Treasurer’s office.

Good help is easy to find, if you know what you are looking for. Says Pat, “People skills are something that is hard to teach–the way Mindy and Debbie work with people is a skill set they came prepared with.” It’s also something they keep for life.  “When I worked with Mindy before, I would hear her on the phone and her attitude, friendliness, and willingness to grow was apparent.”

These people skills were the foundation for Debbie and Mindy’s career growth.  “[When I worked with Debbie] I knew she had the potential to grow beyond her initial position: to learn taxes, and move on to learn IT.  All she needed was a chance to grow.”

That growth came in numerous positions before Debbie settled down at BMS. Pat shared some observations about Debbie’s growth, explaining, “I think she has really excelled here.  She’s very good at what she does.  Her personality shines through in her client relationships.”

Pat is one of the newest hires at Black Mountain Software and admits, “Now the roles have reversed…now I’m going to Debbie and Mindy for learning and support. And they are wonderful!”

So how do you know when you’ve hired a people-person?  Pat says to look carefully at a person’s attitude in the interview.  How much confidence, friendliness, and personality do they show? How do they interact with the staff and how will they fit in?”  And if all else fails, says Pat, “There’s a probation period for a reason.  Get to know if the candidate is a good fit during this time, not later.”

As Pat pursues her latest career venture at BMS, she is glad to be surrounded by people persons.  She believes relationships are essentials for working with counties and local governments, and that is something Pat has acquired over numerous roles in government. She’s also glad to be reunited with Mindy and Debbie, whom she’s kept in contact with throughout the years. “Sharing an office with them again is great…they are very special to me.  They are participating, always part of the team.”

If she could pass one piece of advice for working with customers, she would say this: “Treat the customer like they are the one paying you.  And if you’ve done everything to resolve the problem politely and efficiently, but the problem persists then move it up the line.” Good advice from a people person herself!

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