June 28, 2022

Insider Secrets to Help You Interview with Confidence

Insider Secrets to Help You Interview with Confidence

The interview process for online business owners can be challenging, but with the hiring tips in today’s episode you’ll be ready to interview with confidence. PLUS, you’ll get the inside scoop on how frequently you should be hiring and what you need to consider before making a hiring decision!

Is your current interview process allowing you to bring the best people onto your team?

Online business owners often struggle to find and use the right strategies and processes for the unique nature of virtual interviews.

That’s why today I’m sharing the interview and hiring tips you actually need as a digital entrepreneur to land your dream team.


  • Essential hiring tips — including the step-by-step interview process that’s helped us build our amazing team
  • The exact steps online business owners need to set up an effective virtual interview AND what questions you should ask in an interview
  • What a test project is and why you should have every candidate complete one before interviewing them

PLUS, you’ll discover what to do when you’re ready to make someone an offer, and what to do if you don’t want to make someone an offer.

If this episode inspires you, leave a review and share your biggest takeaway with me. And while you've got your phone out, make sure to follow me on Instagram @thecourtneyelmer for more quick tips on how to streamline your business systems and spend more time in your zone of genius.

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© Copyright 2022 | The EffortLESS Life®


Courtney Elmer 0:00  

Welcome back. This is the Simplot, I can't even get the words out today, clearly, I did not have enough coffee. This is the System's Made Simple™ Podcast and you're listening to Episode 128. 

And this is the fourth and final installment of this four part episode series that we've been doing on hiring tips that I've designed for you and online entrepreneurs specifically, to help take the overwhelm and confusion out of the hiring process and give you that confidence that you need to hire right the first time. Now, in the previous episodes, we've talked about hiring tips on how to know when you're ready to hire, the true cost of hiring, and hiring tips on what not to do and the hiring tips that you need to have in place before you even put together a job description or open up applications.

 So I want to make sure that if you haven't listened to those hiring tips episodes, that you pause this one, and you go back and listen to those first. Because today, we're covering hiring tips steps three and four in the interview process. And I want to make sure that you have that foundation in place, because that will make today's hiring tips episode make a whole lot more sense. Because today, I'm going to walk you through the hiring tips on exactly what you need to do and say in an interview so that you can interview with confidence and have clarity on whether or not the candidate you're interviewing is a right fit. the hiring tips are coming up next. So stay tuned.

Courtney Elmer 1:25  

Globally ranked among the top shows in business and education, we're known for one thing, helping overworked entrepreneurs like you learn how to run your business like a true visionary leader, because when you get the right hiring tips, systems support, and structure in place, you can spend more time in your zone of genius. So if you're tired of listening to today's business influencers teach this same old worn out marketing strategies that aren't making you any money, it's time to take a look under the hood of your business and fix the engine itself. Because the truth is, you don't have to work as hard as you are right now to scale beyond six figures, and create the greater influence income and impact that you deserve. The secret to scaling starts on the back end of your business. This is the system's made simple podcast.

Courtney Elmer 2:10  

So if I were to tell you the number of times that in the early days of my business, I hired out of desperation, you would laugh, it is truly embarrassing. And that's often the position that we find ourselves in as online entrepreneurs, right? We get into business, we reach a point where we know we can't continue doing everything ourselves. And we're so desperate to get help in the door that we tend to hire very quickly. We hire whoever we can get for a good rate to start working for us. 

We have no plan, we have no onboarding process, we have no training setup for them, we just begin throwing tasks their way, and hope that they catch on and that they can keep up as quickly as we move. Problem with that is every single time in my business that I took that approach, it never worked out. And there's no surprise there. And chances are maybe you've been there. Maybe you've experienced that where you've had that moment of desperation, where you're like, I've got to get some help. Let me just get someone in here to manage my social media. Or let me just get a VA in here to help me with all of these little day to day tasks or someone to answer emails or someone to manage my calendar.

Courtney Elmer 3:23  

And so what happens is, we often just try to fit whoever we can fit whoever's available whoever's at a good price into that role. And we forget or maybe we don't even know to think about the other components that will really make or break your relationship with any team member down the road. And so a lot of those key hiring tips components we've already covered in the previous episodes, which is why in the beginning of this episode, I told you go back and listen to those hiring tips episodes if you haven't already. Because today, we're going to be covering the step by step interview process that has helped us land our dream team members. 

And I've revealed a bit of those hiring tips to you already, so that by the time you get here, by the time you are ready to sit down with someone on an interview, you already have a very good sense of whether that person is a potential fit for your company. That way, you're not wasting your time. You're not just interviewing anyone and everyone, but you have a very select pool of people that you're interviewing, and now we're just looking for the best fit. I'm also going to walk you through the hiring tips today of what a test project is, and why you should have every single candidate complete one before you sit down on an interview with him.

Courtney Elmer 4:39  

I'll also give you hiring tips to set up an effective virtual interview, what questions you should ask in an interview, and what to do next. If you're ready to make someone an offer, as well as hiring tips for if you don't want to make someone an offer. Plus, I'll give you hiring tips on how frequently you should be hiring within your business, and what specific hiring tips you need to consider before making any hiring decision. So let's roll the tape on that hiring tips training right now.

Courtney Elmer 5:23  

So from here, we're going to move into hiring tips step three, once you review the applicants, we move into the test project phase. This is the most critical piece of this whole hiring tips process. Most people don't use these hiring tips, when they go to hire, this is not something that's even on their radar. This hiring tips is going to be the thing that really helps you determine who's worth bringing in for an interview.

Courtney Elmer 5:48  

So you're going to send your three star applicants a test project. Now, the Test Project is a project that you've identified that will help you get to know these applicants better. And to see how they solve problems. This is what we're looking for, are they an initiative taker? Are they going to be the type who passes responsibility back to you, whenever problems arise? Hint, you want an initiative taker that you absolutely want someone who takes initiative, and these test project answers are going to be very revealing. 

But you have to know how to craft the test project, because each project is going to be unique to the position. So I will give you some hiring tips for crafting your test project based on the role you're hiring for an include some examples in your portal, there's three things that you're looking for in a test project. But there's three things that you're looking for in a test project. hiring tips number one, how they solve problems. hiring tips number two, how well they manage their time. And hiring tips number three, how well they take initiative. So ideally, you want to structure your project to reveal all three of these things. So the best way that I found to do this is by giving them a hypothetical scenario, a real world scenario, it's hypothetical, of course, but it could be a problem that could potentially come across their desk if they were in this role.

 And they have to come up with a solution for it. So each project is unique. So for example, the test project that we created for our customer success champion, was different than the project we created for an online business assistant. So once you create the project you are the person in charge of the hiring process is going to send it out to your three star applicants give them a very specific deadline by which they need to submit their response. And then you're just simply going to wait for their responses. So one of three things is going to happen here, they will either submit their response early, which could indicate good time management skills and show desire and initiative

Courtney Elmer 7:49  

that either submitted at the last minute, which could indicate a lack of desire, or it could also indicate they might not have the greatest time management skills, or they don't submit it at all. And I've had all three of these scenarios happen. If they don't submit the test project within the deadline that you've given them, roll them out, even if you like them on paper, roll them out. What you're doing here, again, is looking for how well do they take initiative? How well do they manage their time? Can they get something back to you within a deadline that has been specified. All of these are important things to show their work tendencies and how responsive they'll be if they were a member of your team. So once you have your responses, you're going to want to review their answers. And again, which one stands out to you the most, because these will be the candidates that move forward to the interview.

Courtney Elmer 8:44  

So from here is where you'll move into hiring tips step four, the actual interview. So for the candidates that you want to interview, you're going to email them to set up that interview. And you're just going to let them know, hey, Calendar link, we'd love to invite you on to the next step in the process here. Congratulations, you've made it to the next step in the process, right, there's a number of ways you can say that, you simply set up a time to interview them. Now for those who didn't meet the criteria, maybe they submitted later, they didn't submit at all and you're still going to email them and you're going to let them know that you're moving on with other applicants.

Courtney Elmer 9:21  

So hiring tips wise, you can use the same swipe copy here that you've used with your one star applicants the same email, you're just letting them know you're moving forward with other applicants. From here, you'll host the interviews and your only goal isn't interview is to see how that person's values align with yours. Here's my interview secret. This hiring tips has never failed me. Once I figured this process out and actually started interviewing the right way. This hiring tips has never failed me. I keep it extremely casual. A lot of times I'll show up without makeup. There have been times when my son has walked into the room. He's climbed up on my lap. He's sitting there like tuck

Courtney Elmer 10:00  

To the person waving at them asking me a bajillion questions. There's other times where I've been in my office, and he's been in the background with my husband melting down, I'll never forget, there was one time I was doing an interview, and he just did not want to take a nap that day. And so there was wailing happening in the background. And I allow all of it on purpose. Because one of my values is family first. And if my only goal in an interview is to see how that person's values align with mine,

Courtney Elmer 10:29  

that's what I'm looking for. I'm looking to see how they respond to distractions, I'm looking to see how they respond to the fact that I work here and my family is very much a part of my work environment. I'm also looking for me personally, because one of my values is communication, clear communication, I'm looking to see how well that person communicates. I'm looking again, for how they handle distractions, like my son walking into the room. I'm actively listening for what they're saying how they're saying it, and noticing how attuned they are to the little details, because I'm a detail person. And that's something that I value.

Courtney Elmer 11:07  

They have no idea that I'm setting all of this up on purpose this way. For me, the people who think that that's on the professional aren't the right fit. And hiring tips, I don't care because they're not a right fit. For the people who are right fit, whose values do align with mine, it's actually endearing for them, they love it. And the people that I've interviewed that I've since brought on my team have always been the ones that are like, that was awesome. Like you were just so I felt it was felt so real, and your son is so cute. And like, I love that you're living your mission. And, and those are the kinds of things that you hear from them, you know, at least in my scenario. And so me living my mission really resonates with them. 

That's something that they value. So not only is the person on the other end, getting a sense for my family, and I'm getting a sense for what they value, they're also seeing that I'm real, and I'm down to earth. And if they don't like it, it's going to naturally feel misaligned, they're going to naturally self select, and they will back out, I've never had that happen. Most people because they've gotten to this point in the process, I already know their values are pretty aligned with mine. By the time we've gotten here. Most people it's like, this just makes it that much better. This is great. I would love to work with you and support you. 

And so this is not like a formal interview, like you're getting him on a witness stand and all of a sudden, you're gonna start interrogating them, we're gonna ask you this question. And now we're going to ask you this question and like, what about this, and you're grilling them about all of these things, not that kind of an interview at all, if you choose to do it that way, that's that's you, that's fine, you do you. 

But for me, I keep it very, very casual. I'm just sharing with you my process and hiring tips for this. The key hiring tips thing here that I want you to remember through all of that is that your only goal in the interview is to elicit their values. So again, in the interview, you're going to want to ask specific questions that elicit their values, then usually what I do in the interview, is I had the job description with me. 

And I just go through it point by point. And I have their application with me. And (hiring tips) I just ask them some of the same questions on the application in order to hear a verbal answer from them. And again, a little bit of time has gone by between the fact they applied, and then now that you're sitting on an interview, usually a week or somewhere around there, because the test project has happened in between there. So by then asking them the same questions doesn't feel like you're just asking them the same questions, it's you asking them the question and getting more context for their answer.

Courtney Elmer 13:38  

So one of the the best hiring tips that I can give you while on an interview, is to trust your gut. Maybe that's not the politically correct of hiring tips. But it one of my hiring tips that has never steered me wrong. You will get an immediate sense of someone when you have a conversation with them. You know what I'm talking about when you sit and talk with someone, I don't care if it's a podcast guest if it's a potential new client, you're sitting on a sales call, if you're in an interview, if you're meeting a new friend for the first time, and you just vibe with them, you just get a sense of connection, you'll know if you click or not. Here's a hiring tips word of caution .

Courtney Elmer 14:16  

Even if you really, really, really, really, really, really, really love the person on the interview, no matter what don't make an offer on the interview. There's a reason for this now explain it in just a moment. Again, all the only purpose of this call is to determine who's the best fit by saying whose values are most aligned with yours. Even if you only have one candidate who's made it that far, which this has happened to me sometimes I've only had one candidate who's made it through all of that. You still won't make an offer to them. And you're not going to mention salary either.

Courtney Elmer 14:51  

This is again you do you but this is my hiring tips strongly recommending that you wait to make the formal offer. There's a lot of reasons for this. There's some psychological reason In some ethical reasons, but the bottom line is you're the visionary leader. And so you're in control of this process, and you are allowed to take some time to process things following the interview, take a night or two to sleep on it, so that you can make the best decision for you. 

So at the end of the interview, at this juncture, you're simply just going to let the person know, okay, here's what's going to happen next. Thank you so much for making the time today to meet with me. Where we're going to go from here is that we're still in the process of reviewing other applicants, and you can expect to hear from us within the next 72 hours. If we decide to move forward. At that point, we will send you a formal offer via email, which we'll have a chance to review and decide if you'd like to move forward from with us as well. 

And you're simply just outlining the next steps in the process. People like to be informed, they like to know what's going on, there's never the worst feeling than being left hanging at the end of an interview, right, they're like, I don't really know what's supposed to happen. Next, you're simply just going to let them know, here's what's going to happen. Next, you'll hear from us one way or another within 72 hours. And then you take 72 hours to process. Another one of my favorite Hiring tips, after all the interviews have been completed, give yourself that space.

Courtney Elmer 16:10  

And once you've given yourself that space, and you've decided who you would like to hire. From there, the interview process is very simple the rest of my hiring tip in this process, either you're going to choose to make the person a formal offer And you'll let all of the other applicants know that the position has been filled. Or if someone didn't rise to the top, or if you just didn't really get a good feeling based on the interviews, then option one, you can circle back to your two star candidates who are in queue. And at this point, repeat steps three and four, test project to interview. Or take these hiring tips and start this whole process back at step one, and bring in a fresh round of applicants. So you have many hiring tips and options there.

Courtney Elmer 16:58  

Because think about it, when you follow these hiring tips, what's the worst that can happen? You sit down with a few people for the interviews, you don't find anyone you like, and you save yourself hours and hours of wasted time and resources training the wrong person. If all else fails, maybe you wind up with no one at the end of the process. 

No one who seems to be a right fit are the best fit based on what you're looking for. So then all you need to do at that point is go back to the application, maybe tweak a few things and put it out there. Again, these are my hiring tips. Now, again, you have the option to go back to your two star candidates here and certainly see if one of them makes the cut. Personally, I like to just go back to the application and start fresh. Because again, I'm looking for the best fit here.

Courtney Elmer 17:53  

Be slow to hire, Make this your mantra, it is okay to go slow and use all of these hiring tips more than once in this process. Think about any time if you've ever worked in corporate, or if you've ever worked in just a much more traditional job. And you went through a hiring process, there was a span of weeks there usually that all of this takes place. Sometimes you didn't hear from the place for a while I remember when I was right out of college, and I was like desperate for a job. 

And I would set up all these interviews and just like never hear back or would take weeks to hear back. So this whole process is designed to really be a couple of weeks total two to three weeks, maybe at the most. So it's not like you're leaving people hanging for four months or something like that. But there have certainly been those scenarios where you know, interviews and all that takes longer than three weeks. And so again, just remind yourself, it's okay to go slow and use all these hiring tips with this process.

Courtney Elmer 18:47  

And at this point, if you do decide to make a formal offer to someone and hire them, congrats, well done, because that is the point of this whole process and all of my hiring tips, you can check that off of your list. And then from there, we move into onboarding them. But always remember, slow to hire, quick to fire. That's the old adage. And the reason is, is because the right person is out there, there's no mistake about it, it just may take some time to find them. 

And you owe it to yourself and your company to take that time. Just to be clear to to reiterate all of my hiring tips, by the time by the end of this whole interview process. You should have notified all the applicants just as a courtesy, that you're moving on to other applicants or that the position has been failed just to make sure that no one has been left hanging, you never want to leave anyone hanging. 

And I will say as my final hiring tips note here about frequency. I recommend hiring quarterly or less frequently. Because the onboarding process which I'm going to teach you next is 90 days. And so this gives you ample time to focus on training someone until you have other people on your team who are responsible for training them because that

Courtney Elmer 20:00  

training period will take a bulk of your time, it will take a bit of your time to train them. So another one of my hiring tips is not going any quicker than hiring every 90 days, that's already pretty quick as it is. Because again, it's okay to take this process slow and use all of thsese hiring tips. And you don't want to suddenly hire people to get support, to get your time back, only to spend a lot of your time training them kind of defeats the purpose, right. So that's another reason why going slow here is really important. 

Okay, so in these episodes, we have covered a lot of my hiring tips. And part of that was on purpose, not with the intention to overwhelm you, because you know that my mission is to take the overwhelm out of the process to help you simplify to help you streamline, and to help you get the processes in place in your business that you need in order to operate effectively. But right now, at the end of this four part in depth series, you might be feeling still a little bit overwhelmed. 

Because maybe all of these hiring tips felt like a lot, maybe I have opened up some things that you've never considered before hearing all of my hiring tips. And now you recognize that you need to sit down and think about these things. Gosh, what are my values? What is the role we're hiring for? What are those metrics that this person is going to be responsible for? Who specifically are we looking for, for this role? If you're feeling that way, it's totally normal. And the reason is, because you just haven't followed this process or heard my hiring tips before. 

So just like anything new, there's a bit of a learning curve. So what I encourage you to do is to keep these episodes and my hiring  tips handy. Download them, make sure you have them saved on your phone, so that you can come back to these hiring tips time and time again, whenever you're ready to make your first or your next hire, and that you can follow these hiring tips as outlined. Now.

Courtney Elmer 21:53  

I wanted to put together a little something here for you for making it through these four episodes, because that was a lot. I know, that's a lot. We dug deep. I shared a lot of information with you. And so I put together a really simple checklist for you to follow a hiring an interview checklist, so that when you go to theeffortlesslife.co/interviewchecklist, you'll get a copy of that in your inbox, you can print it out, or if you want to save some trees don't print it out, but you can refer to it and use it every time you go to hire. Now here's the thing. The natural next question from this point is okay, I've hired someone. Now what. And so the next step from here is onboarding them.

Courtney Elmer 22:37  

And that's a whole nother process in and of itself. So inside of our visionary leader incubator program, we teach you how to onboard your new hires step by step, including what that 90 Day onboarding process should look like. And more importantly, what to do. If you find out during that process that someone isn't a fit, that they're not the person that you thought they were, and that you have to let them go. This is something that very few online experts are talking about. In fact, no one, I have never seen anyone talking about how to let someone go and how to do it well, and how to do it legally, and how to do it above the board.

 And because our high level coaching program is like getting handed an instruction manual for running your business. We teach this to our students along with the four other key systems that every online entrepreneur needs to scale to seven figures. So if you'd like help with in your business, to get these systems in place, so that you can run your business effectively, you can check out our website at the effortless life.co and get on the waitlist for that program so that you can be notified whenever we open the doors again.

Courtney Elmer 23:46  

Alright, so coming up next week on the show, we have got a special guest joining us who is going to help you streamline your marketing efforts and develop a very strategic plan that creates consistent, recurring revenue. If you're sick and tired of shouting your message to the void on social media, just hoping that people will finally one day start engaging with you. You're definitely going to want to join us for next week's episode. I will see you back here next time and until then, go live your EffortLESS Life®.