Hiring is probably the hardest thing to do in any business.

There’s so much that needs to go into the interview process, onboarding, and we haven’t even begun to think about the actual job description! Lucky for us, Kim Lipari joins WP Product talk to give us all the advice we need to become better employers in the WordPress ecosystem.

If you enjoyed today’s episode, please share it on social media and say thanks to the hosts!

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Matt: Today we are talking about When and how to hire.

[00:00:05] And we’re doing that with a very special, special guest named Kimberly Lapa. Kim, thanks so much, Kimberly. Thanks. We have two Kims. Kim is Kim Coleman. And Kimberly is Kimberly Lapa. Kimberly, thanks so much for being here. Why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about yourself.

[00:00:19] Other: Ah, thanks so much for having me.

[00:00:21] Yep, my, I am, I’m gonna be Kimberly today. I usually go by anything but mom is my, is my preference cuz I hear that enough at home. I am the owner of a digital WordPress agency. We provide professional services, development assessments, audits, and all kinds of wonderful things for businesses, WordPress websites.

[00:00:39] And I have been in the community for, I think, Creeping on a decade if not a little bit over and just really happy to be involved and be an agency owner and you know, all the, all the highs and lows that come with it. So it’s, it’s really special to share today. I appreciate you

[00:00:53] Matt: having me.

[00:00:54] Absolutely. Thanks so much. And Kim Coleman, introduce yourself. Tell the world.

[00:00:59] Kim: Absolutely. I’m Kim Coleman. I am co-founder of Paid Membership Pro. We’re a WordPress membership plugin. We’ve been grinding on that for 12 years. And we have a couple other products we’re looking to grow and launch. One is focused on Black Friday sales called sitewide Sales.

[00:01:13] We have a team of 14 people, including Jason and myself around the world. It’s fun talking products with people other than Jason once in a while. So thanks Matt for the outlet. .

[00:01:24] Matt: I love talking about products with Jason. You get it all the time. It’s so great. Cool. And I’m Matt Cromwell, co-founder of Give WP Now part of the liquid web family of brands.

[00:01:34] Stellar wp I run marketing and ops for give and IMS and iconic and Cadence. And I love the freemium business model and everything about plugins and helping folks do well on wordpress.org from a business product and support perspective. Cool. And today we’re talking about when and how to hire, and the first thing we always try to do is just talk about why this subject is so.

[00:01:59] Important. I personally think hiring is one of the most important things that we do as a company because we gotta have really, really high quality people on board in order to do the work that we’re doing. The whole entire process from start to finish of recruiting and interviewing and sending out the offer and onboarding new people and then training them on the job.

[00:02:21] All of it I think is really, really vital and important to the success of any company. And. It often, I think especially for small businesses that are just getting started, it can feel like a distraction. Like, Oh, I have to spend all this time. But we really need this person. But me personally, I, I love being able to just clear my calendar and be like, Sorry folks.

[00:02:42] I, I gotta interview new people. I gotta get ready for bringing folks on board. I think it’s really important to make it a high priority for everyone. It’s just it makes a real. Real impact on the day to day culture of what you do. And of course, it’s the only way to continue growing as well.

[00:02:57] So that’s kind of my short take [00:03:00] on, on why this subject is so important. So I’m excited to dig into it. Kimberly what’s your thought?

[00:03:04] Other: I, I agree. It’s it’s a lot of weight to hire, right? You spend all your time and energy pouring yourself into a project or something that you love and you wanna grow, and you have a lot of passion for it.

[00:03:14] And so adding onto the team is a, it’s a weight in, in financial terms, it’s a weight in emotional terms. It’s a weight in cultural terms for your business. So, yeah, it’s super it’s super important. But it can be, it can be a task. What about you, Kim?

[00:03:31] Kim: Yeah, for sure. I agree with everything everyone said.

[00:03:34] One thing I’ll say waiting to hire too long is often, you know, a failing of you as a founder. You hold on to tasks that are. Repetitive that are trainable, that are things you shouldn’t really be doing at certain stages. And, and I don’t know why we do this as, as product founders, as people that create plugins and, and things in the word press space, but I see it a lot and I, I see people, you know, Not being able to let go of aspects of their business so that they can focus on other important things.

[00:04:01] And, you know, you don’t always have to be doing the highest value, highest impact work in your company, but there are people with more specialized skills than you who are gonna bring awesome things to the table if you let them in to your team and, and hire them.

[00:04:14] Matt: Yeah, that’s a really good one. Just hiring as the practice of letting go

[00:04:20] That’s, that’s really helpful and important. Cool. Well, I think everyone here is listening in, understands that it’s important in one form or another. I think also the best way to really highlight these types of things. What we call story time. We’re gonna go around the circle and talk about some examples of things we learned about the hiring process the pros and the cons, or the highlights or the low lights if you, if you’re welcome and, and feel comfortable sharing them.

[00:04:46] So let’s go around. First one up is Kimberly. Kimberly, tell us your story about

[00:04:50] Other: I, I think I have two that probably stand out the most to me. One is a very long standing hire that’s still with us. I was in the, the interview process of a second phone call and come chatting and you can only learn so much from a, a CV or a resume.

[00:05:05] And I had asked. This, this person what they, how did they define what a developer was? Because we had a you know, kind of internal cultural dialogue of how is, how that term is defined across the space and what it meant to us. And it was really important that we have someone that kind of had a.

[00:05:23] Their own innate understanding of, of what that was in, in regards to the work that we do. So, the answer we got obviously was, was wonderful and Eric’s still with us. Shout out Eric. But that was a lesson that I learned that you don’t always have to ask about skill set. And that hiring for cultural fit obviously is, is a big deal, but someone that that kind of gets it and that, that really resonates with with what you have.

[00:05:47] And the other story I have, We hired someone who was extremely detail oriented and years ago. And, and in the beginning it, it kind of ruffled my feathers, but I found after about a month I was actually adopting some of those [00:06:00] policies and, and practices that she had while working. So hiring up is a, is a big deal and I kind of, I look to do that.

[00:06:07] Somebody that can, can push me to do better not just fill a role. So probably my two most memorable experiences.

[00:06:16] Matt: Nice. I like that. Asking them how they define the role that you’re hiring for, essentially. That’s interesting. Kind of flipping the table in some ways. Do you recall a little bit of what Eric said about his, his answer there?

[00:06:28] Other: No, it was so long ago, but I, I just remember feeling like, okay, he gets that that there’s a, that there’s a deeper sense of it’s not just code, you know, it’s working with our clients and, and being able to do the back and forth and solution.

[00:06:40] Finding not so much code writing, so mm-hmm. that, that really resonated as we are, you know, very customer service heavy in what we do.

[00:06:48] Matt: Absolutely.

[00:06:50] Kim: I love how you talk about how the team member kind of changed and evolved you. Often it’s the opposite, you know, especially with detail oriented that we as a type founders were like the most detail oriented people, but, you know, seeing ways that you learn things from the people that you work with you know, it doesn’t always go from manager down and, and recognizing that there’s lots of value with hiring people and, and what you’re gonna, how you’re gonna grow.

[00:07:14] Mm.

[00:07:15] Matt: Nice. Kim, what’s your what’s your stories?

[00:07:18] Kim: Sure. I’m gonna talk about hiring our first person because it was very scary to me. It was Jason and myself for so long, and then we had some contractors that we worked with and we realized that to continue to grow, to attract the type of talent that we wanted with our team, we had to do more than give people, you know, what was seen as a temporary at.

[00:07:41] type position. We needed to offer people, you know, a competitive salary and a commitment to them and some of the features that were being, you know, pitched to them by other teams they were interviewing with. And that’s really hard. It’s really hard to get those first hires because, You have no experience to offer them.

[00:08:00] You have no one within your team that they can talk to, to say like, This is a great working environment. Or this is, these are people who care about you. You know, this is a place that you’ll have a, you know, a good career with or a good few years with however long you, you know, on average people stay with your team.

[00:08:14] So I think that those are the hardest people to hire because there’s a lot you need to sell on your side and you may not even be sold on, on the decision yourself. For us, it was a time where we were realizing we were treating people who were in contractor roles more as employees. We were expecting them to be online at certain times of the day, trying to enforce and manage a working schedule with them That wasn’t really.

[00:08:37] Legally seen by the IRS as a contractor that we wanted them more as an employee, more available to us and less like in an hourly type arrangement. And I learned some crazy things. Like we’re in, we’re in llc, we’re in Pennsylvania. I didn’t know I would have to like, start entities and all the states that I hired people in.

[00:08:55] There’s so many like weird things Yeah. That you can have a payroll service, but with [00:09:00] hiring there’s a lot that you’re still left to do yourself or left to hire. And get like an accountant or a bookkeeper or someone with expertise on hiring and understanding what those policies are. I remember being worried like, Oh, I hired someone.

[00:09:12] Like, what if it’s not working out? What, what happens then? And just thinking like, How many steps would I have to go through? What would I have to do for a team my size related to their rights as an employee? And you know, with a contractor, you can just be like we’re, you know, you’re done on Friday, but with a, with a actual employee, there’s a lot more to that relationship.

[00:09:30] So, I think this is like a cautionary story, but also, you know, once you get over that hurdle, it becomes a lot easier. The more people you. Yeah, I like that. I

[00:09:40] Other: wanna chime in and say a hundred percent the, the hiring across multiple places and locations and the logistics of actually doing it is an incredible learning experience in and of

[00:09:49] Matt: itself.

[00:09:51] Yeah, absolutely. I know, I know several WordPress companies that really started very locally and they, for a long time only hired locally specifically because of the, you know, the, the, the. Pros versus cons of hiring remote. It’s like you definitely broaden your hiring pool that way, but it also entails different types of HR requirements and, and payroll requirements and things like that.

[00:10:16] For sure. I think on my side for story stuff, one thing that I, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll focus on, on the positive. I think I, one thing I’m really proud of is the process I’ve been developing. I would say over, well, continually all the time. It in terms of doing actual interviews and, and hiring process itself because I’m in the middle of hiring right now, and the other day I, I got some really positive feedback from from one of the candidates.

[00:10:43] And essentially what what I’ve done is As I basically have just really very detail or put together the whole process of I’m going to collect applications for this amount of time, and then I’m going to put a certain amount of applications into a spreadsheet to say that these are the ones I want to invite to an interview.

[00:11:02] And I’m going to. Ask all of the folks the same questions in the interview process. I’m gonna give them all the questions in advance and I’m gonna give each of them 30 minutes to do it. And I’m gonna tell them what the next steps are, and I’m gonna keep them informed the whole way. And I mean, that’s like the really high level and we’ll probably go into some of those details a little bit later.

[00:11:21] But I, I follow that pretty. Explicitly even when I know the person in the WordPress space or whatnot, I, I still follow that really carefully. And the other day a candidate I, I always leave time for questions at the very end, and the candidate just said I, I don’t really, this isn’t really a question, but I have to tell you that this is the nicest, most enjoyable interview process I’ve ever been part of.

[00:11:45] Which I feel weird saying that out loud, but I, I do wanna share it because I feel like it, it’s gone really well, and I’m really happy about it. And it was really cool to hear, because of course they could be buttering me up, which I’ll take it . But I, I it, it [00:12:00] does feel to me like. I always see good results out of the process, so

[00:12:06] Kim: I love that, Matt.

[00:12:06] I love it. Feels like you’ve, like found even a way to almost take some bias out of things in a, in a way when we’re like starting these paths, you could end up like just, you know, the first person that you kind of have rapport with. You’re like, Okay, good. Like, we don’t have to interview anyone else.

[00:12:22] We’re good. But by enforcing a, you know, a strategy to it and following you’re kind of giving yourself all the best options and, and you’re not stuck in a position where you like mistakenly pick, pick a candidate without looking at the whole pool in a way. Yeah,

[00:12:39] Matt: I agree. Yeah, that’s the hope at least.

[00:12:42] And I feel like overall it’s working. But you know, we, yeah, there’s lots we could talk about. So, Cool. Well the next subject is when to hire. And I think there’s lots of ways to skin the cat on this one. Lots of ways to. Approach this question. So I I, I’m excited to hear from everyone on this one.

[00:13:00] So, Kimberly Kim what, what time, what, when do you actually start to recognize that, Oh, we need to start recruiting, we need to start hiring for a specific position. What is the, the metric or the situation that starts to make that go into motion for you? Let’s let’s start with Kim.

[00:13:17] Kim: For sure.

[00:13:17] So for me, this, it’s evolved over time, but something we do now is hiring before we need the person. And that takes kind of a, you know, looking into your crystal ball and saying like, what will we need in six months from now? And you won’t get an answer, but if you think about historically, you think about where you see things going, how you’ve projected revenue, how you’ve projected your own.

[00:13:39] And where you wanna be to start looking at hiring before you absolutely need to fill that person’s seat. You know, the earlier you can do it, the better because you, you know, all of the onboarding pieces, all of the learning and working within your ecosystem, you’re doing that before there’s You know, a crunch time, I guess, for that position.

[00:13:59] So for us, it’s always, you know, we have, you know, you go both ways. Sometimes you aren’t hiring an advance of need and you’re just filling a seat super quick. But if you can look ahead and know what you’re gonna need or know where you wanna be with yourself individually in your business as a founder, as an owner you’ll be in a much better position when you start the interview process.

[00:14:19] Matt: Nice. And really, how about you?

[00:14:21] Other: It’s changed over the years, I think. Kind of to Kim’s point, you, it starts out one way and then you, you kind of find a rhythm that works. In the beginning it was just when something got painful, um mm-hmm. , you know, is, is customer service suffering or do I find myself going, Gosh, I wish I didn’t have to do these things.

[00:14:37] You came at a great point about spending time on valuable, valuable tasks and when you start. Too fractured, or you realize that quality is starting to slip, which kind starts to endanger the business. In the beginning, that’s definitely a big red flag of it might be time to find someone to help share the load.

[00:14:56] And you know, as we’ve grown, it’s now become kind of a matrix. [00:15:00] Of, we get a baseline on what does a normal workload look like? You know, kind tracking, making sure if there’s an uptick, you know, is it, is it something long term? Are we just kind of diving into a temporary big project or do we have anything on, on the, the blueprints or the roadmap?

[00:15:16] For, you know, adding on another service or needing more staff to, to fill it. So just kinda keeping a pulse and, and being prepared for what might be coming down. So I think you kind of move from a reactionary hiring process into a, a preparatory one. as you, as you get, get rolling along.

[00:15:33] Matt: Mm.

[00:15:34] Kim: Nice.

[00:15:35] And Kimberly, I don’t know how big your team is overall, but who else is involved in like, the hiring process or that decision to like raise a hand and say like, Kimberly, we’re gonna need this person soon, or, We’re gonna have a role like this opening up soon, or, this would be a great position to start thinking about if you could speak to that.

[00:15:53] Yeah,

[00:15:53] Other: we, we don’t have a huge team. We kind of oscillate between nine to 12 depending on what we have going on. We’ve been as large as I think 16 at one point in time. But we have always tried to keep a lead in place for different sections of the business. And we meet periodically to kind of track what, what.

[00:16:11] What are the things that that make up your workday and how is, how is that trending? And, you know, what are you working on? What are you finding that we could, you know, explore as maybe a possible idea or higher or things like that. So it’s kind of, we’ve kind of created a culture around an open dialogue for, for those kinds of things.

[00:16:28] Matt: Hmm. Nice.

[00:16:32] Kim: I love that. I love that it, it sounds like everyone’s kind of involved in looking left, looking right and saying like, you know, this piece of my work, or, you know, we could ramp up this area of our business if we had this additional, you know, skill set in our team. That’s really cool. Yeah. And

[00:16:46] Other: Kim, I’m, I’m.

[00:16:48] Jealous to a degree. We can’t be that, like we don’t, because we do services and not product so much. We, we don’t have the, the foresight to be able to do that. But I mean, what a, what a gift to be able to look that far ahead and be able to say if you can do that. Absolutely. You know, pre prepare as much as possible.

[00:17:04] Definitely.

[00:17:06] Matt: Yeah. I’m that, I’m talking about this a couple different places. But I would love to be able to project better in terms of hiring for development or even hiring for marketing. But I do have a bit of experience with hiring for support. And I actually do kind of have. It’s very formulaic, actually.

[00:17:24] Essentially we’re tracking our support metrics week over week, all the time. And one of those metrics in particular is how many tickets we get per sale. And that to me says a couple different things. Like one thing it will say for example, like, how problematic are our plugins at the moment?

[00:17:42] Or how, how much support are they generating? And when I see that number start to be like, you know, 0.7 tickets per sale, I’m like, Ooh, we’re in great shape right now. But when it’s like one and a half or two, like that’s, that’s an indicator that something’s wrong in one way or another. But I also get to see [00:18:00] basically the monthly or the annual average of how many tickets per sale we’re generating.

[00:18:05] And of course, in business, everyone is trying to budget for the following year and we’re always trying to project growth. And so when we’re looking at sales for next year I get to essentially track that according to support tickets too. So if we’re gonna project essentially like a 10 or 15% growth pattern for our sales for next year, what does that look like in terms of tickets?

[00:18:31] And then how many tickets do I know my team can handle? And then I start to be able to say, Well, if we’re gonna have this. This many sales at by March. Well that’s, that’s about the time that we need to start hiring for support so that we can hire, have, have the workforce in place for when the flood of of tickets will come in in April.

[00:18:51] Or same thing typically happens towards the fall as well. So I try to see what the projections are for sales. Then look at the the ticket numbers and then project like if, if our projections are right, then we need to hire in March and we need to hire in September. Roughly. That’s, that’s kind of where it goes.

[00:19:09] Now. The trick is then adjusting based on actual performance. So,

[00:19:14] Other: no, but that’s a phenomenal example of, you know, creating some sort of a benchmark and, and finding a way to measure. I love that.

[00:19:22] Kim: I’m kind of jealous of your, what is it that 1.7 tickets per, I think ours is around three tickets per per sale in the first three months.

[00:19:31] But that’s cool. It’s cool to know those metrics for other product companies too. We should have one all about like, what are my weird metrics and .

[00:19:40] Matt: Yeah. Serious. I’m hope. I’m hoping we get to talk about that a little bit with Jason when he is on in a few weeks. There you go. But yeah, I, I, it’s, it’s worked overall.

[00:19:50] I think things get a little weirder when you start to scale that up a bit. It also gets weird too when you start to talk about like your your percentage of the budget for support staff compared to total revenue and things like that. I think there’s lots of room for talking about like, making sure that your, your total cost of.

[00:20:09] Of staff is a certain percentage of revenue overall as well.

[00:20:17] Other thoughts? Yeah, go ahead. No,

[00:20:20] Other: no, no. I was gonna say, absolutely. It’s kind of what we struggle with is because we, you know, we are kind an open-ended support desk and it’s, we can’t tie it necessarily to to product sales. So it’s kind of what are our, what are our busy times, what are our slow times according to, you know, some companies trying to spend their budgets by the, by the end of the financial year and, and things like that,

[00:20:38] Matt: so, mm-hmm.

[00:20:40] Yep. Cool. Well, let’s talk about how to hire. I this one is one I’m really passionate about, excited about. And you know, a spoiler alert in our show notes, we got a lot of notes here about how to hire. So, I think it sounds like you both are also excited about this one. Who wants to jump in first?

[00:20:56] Anyone have some, some quick tactics on how to hire? [00:21:00] They’d love to share.

[00:21:03] Other: I can hop in because I’m the one that made a lot of the notes. , , I’ll take the burden off of, of translating them. I know that there are a lot of. There are a lot of how-to guides in how to do interviews and things like that. So, the things that I tried to think about were the, the intangibles.

[00:21:19] Making sure that you know exactly what you’re hiring for and kind of reverse engineering the role from writing down measurable outcomes and metrics and the things that you want. Oftentimes when you hire, you say, Okay, I need a, I need a customer service representative, or I need a, a social media marketing specialist.

[00:21:36] But we don’t kind of define what, what is success for that role to make sure that this, that this hire is exactly what we needed it to be. So I’m really a big fan of what are you responsible for, kind of creating a bit of a, a scorecard or a measurable outcome for the role. And I really.

[00:21:53] Whenever you can find a candidate that wants to grow everybody wants to be a specialist and an expert, and that’s good. You wanna hire, you wanna hire up. But at the same time, you know, looking towards the future and maybe someone that has similar plans to where you wanna go is always is always a, a boon whenever you’re hiring.

[00:22:09] So I think those are two. Two really big things that stood out for me. And then also having experience that is kind of in between the lines of the CV I waited tables for, for nine years. And I, that’s has helped me far and above in agency work and customer service than any sort of technical experience I’ve had.

[00:22:28] So, those are kind of maybe some, some non-tangible standouts I think, for me.

[00:22:33] Kim: What about you, Kim? I, I would say I’m not great at. At the, at the process around hiring. I think, you know, I’ve had some not great options or not great choices I’ve made with hiring. But some of my better ones I think were people.

[00:22:48] I just saw something in a spark and something that we could work with, and just a motivation to. Learn. I will say we talked about hiring contractors last week, but when I think about either a contractor or an individual person I love your point about, you know, the growth and what else they’re interested in and seeing between the lines.

[00:23:08] Because in small teams like ours, there’s, it’s not a singular job that you’re filling every day. I mean, support is to a degree pretty specific what your day to day looks like. But when you’re hiring for roles, It could go this way, it could go this way. It’s, it’s hard to define those responsibilities because you have a, you know, a huge list of things that a person, let’s say, marketing could do.

[00:23:30] You could make video or you could write blog posts, or you could run social and there’s just, you know, unlimited amount of opportunity. So finding a person who. Is comfortable working within a little bit of uncertainty, a little bit of like, I’ll try anything is a mindset that I look for when, when I go through a hiring process and, and it’s really just building a little bit of a relationship with them while you’re talking through things.

[00:23:53] That’s the, the hardest part I think for small teams especially.

[00:23:56] Matt: Mm. What you mentioned that you feel like this one’s [00:24:00] rough, but like where do you feel like would be, like, what’s the, the felt need there for you? Like where, where do you feel like you would like to do better the most, if you don’t mind?

[00:24:11] Yeah.

[00:24:11] Kim: No, I, I think it would be in getting to a place where the roles were more clearly defined. Like Kimberly said, having a description of a role for us, it’s really broad and really vague because. You know, even our developers, like you need to know how to work with the Zap API and the Stripe API and understand all of the WordPress kind of template structure and hierarchy and hooks and all the functions that build within it.

[00:24:36] And it’s gonna take a lot of time to get to that point. and one week you might be working on a payment gateway and the next week in a small team like ours, you might be working on something completely different. So it’s the general skills you need are one list that we can give into a description of a role, but really the role is like, what is urgently needed that week, or what is in focus or, you know, we now we need people who understand the block editor and, and what does that look like.

[00:25:01] So, someone that can evolve and understand all of. You know, those are the more unique hires we’ve had and the people who’ve lasted longest in our team.

[00:25:09] Matt: Mm, interesting. Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, that is hard too when there, especially in the WordPress space, it, it’s the, the skills required now to develop on WordPress have gotten very unique, I would say a bit niche in some ways.

[00:25:26] And it does make it hard to find the right candidate for. Yeah, I think, I think on my side in terms of the how to hire, there’s a couple things that to me stand out as, as helping it all be successful. Like one of ’em, one of ’em is first like how to recruit, like, I think because. You can’t hire at all if you don’t have a pool to hire from.

[00:25:49] And so, you know, this is a shout out to anybody who I have spent hours talking to at work camps, anywhere, at any time if I’m spending tons of time with you in one way or another. I wanna hire you like . That’s just the bottom line. And that, and that’s how I operate. Like I, I’m, I’m basically, one thing, I’ve, I’ve done a presentation before, just said, always, always be recruiting.

[00:26:12] And I might not be saying outright like, I wanna hire you because I might not have a spot at the moment. But I’m always at, at all the time looking for talented folks who, who are fun to be around and seem like good team players and And I’m hoping that when I put out the the next job application or the job posting, that I can send it to you and you’re gonna be like, Oh, I would love to do that.

[00:26:33] So I think recruiting is, is always a big important thing in order to be able to successfully hire for sure.

[00:26:42] Kim: Go ahead, Kimberly. No, no. I

[00:26:44] Other: just wanted to reiterate a great point that Matt brought up is, is there’s no there’s no substitute for a really good conversation and actually taking the time, spending the time talking to someone it’s, it’s not gonna be a 10 minute phone call.

[00:26:56] It’s gonna give you the aha moment with the money. So yeah, [00:27:00] really just wanted to point out that’s a gold star suggest.

[00:27:04] Kim: I’d be curious with the recruiting and, and, and this piece like hiring within the WordPress community with people that we know who are notable people or people who’ve existed within the WordPress community that we’re like aware of, like you said, Matt if I’m talking to you a lot, it means that, you know, part of me would love to work with you in an official capacity.

[00:27:23] How has that gone in as compared to bringing in people that. You know, within the WordPress community or attending Word camps and, and WordPress related events. Yeah. Yeah. I’d be curious, especially with marketing roles. We had a recent role that I tried to go outside the WordPress community for, and it was hard because I wasn’t finding people that kind of understood open source that understood why we do how we do.

[00:27:46] What we do, and it was really foreign to them. Like, Oh, it’s free, but you know, the whole, like, how do you make money thing felt like a real roadblock. Yeah. Mentally for some marketing people in those

[00:27:56] Matt: positions. For sure, for sure. I think, I think some, like if you’re just, if you’re a really small team and you’re just starting to hire, like if you, if you’re hiring your very first marketer in the WordPress and you’re in the WordPress space, I do feel like that one, you kind of have to make sure that they are a WordPress native in one way or.

[00:28:14] Because it. You’re not gonna, you’re not gonna have the capacity yourself to, to train and teach them on all of those things. Now, of course, you can make sure that they’re able to go to a lot of work camps and they’ll just basically learn trial by fire more or less. But that’s sometimes a hard way to learn too.

[00:28:33] So I feel like having somebody there, but once you start to develop a team, once you start to build a team it’s easier to bring in folks who aren’t you know, so, indebted in the WordPress space because they, they get the culture and they get the idea daily in the work, in, in the work environment.

[00:28:51] So I think it gets easier is what I’m. . Does that make sense?

[00:28:56] Kim: No, it totally does. I think you’re right that it you can teach someone the WordPress community, but also, like you said early on, getting someone that understands it, especially in a role where they’re speaking to what you’re doing as a brand, as a product.

[00:29:07] Super important. I think even in the product space too, the people who are building and developing the decisions that you make about your product will be really strange to someone that’s not coming from open source in that world. Yeah.

[00:29:19] Matt: The question’s very different though with developers. Honestly, like I, we’ve hired quite a bit outside the WordPress space for developers.

[00:29:27] And it’s, it’s honestly because we just really wanted them to be really excellent at php or really excellent at React. And accidentally also be able to figure out WordPress. You know, I think it’s, that, that route is actually probably a little bit better, cuz I do think the developer pool outside of the WordPress pace is larger.

[00:29:47] And if they really do know the code really well it’ll just take a little bit of time for them to see the, the different types of actions and, and filters and helper functions and things like that, that WordPress has built into it. [00:30:00] So, another one though, in terms of like how to hire, I, I, I talked a little bit about recruiting.

[00:30:05] I think it’s also I, I mentioned earlier about about the, hi, the, the interview process. Love to hear some tips from you all about what do you feel like has worked well or not so well in the hiring process or the interview process yourselves, maybe Kimberly.

[00:30:22] Other: I was gonna let Kim take this one first since he

[00:30:26] Matt: Kim?

[00:30:27] Kim: No. Oh, okay. So for us, the interview process it’s been having, you know, just one person on that initial call, 15 minutes, a nice, not too long of a timeframe. We’ve done some that were just in Slack, kind of like an initial chat. , and that’s just to bridge some of the international issues that you have with, you know, people.

[00:30:46] Not as comfortable getting on a video call and, and not, as you know, first. English speaking. So we’ve done some that were just a Slack chat and then we could evolve that into a short video call. And then that was like a, the pre-screening process, then moving it on to like a next level longer interview, whether that was with Jason or myself, where that first call was with someone other than Jason and myself.

[00:31:09] And then that next call that had Jason or myself on we’re still kind of making sure that both Jason and myself get FaceTime with the people. Beforehand cuz we’re in this weird place where even though Jason recognized as ceo, we’re kind of both owners, founders, we both have the stake. So, because we’re gonna be interacting with this person, we both wanna get that judgment and get that relationship out through people.

[00:31:30] I know Jason could speak to this, but with our developers, he has some kind of coding exercises. He does nothing too rigorous and, and they’re not designed to be a trick, but they’re just designed to be a conversation. For sure. And then we do similar to automatic, we do some like paid trial periods that that can be done while that person might still be employed.

[00:31:48] And that’s been really insightful for us so that we’re able. Work together in a real way before we’re actually working together in an official, like hired position. So I wouldn’t say we have the most ironed out process, and it varies because we’re always hiring for different, different things. But it’s roughly how we’ve settled into a hiring process.

[00:32:06] Kimberly, do you wanna share what works for y’all team? Yeah,

[00:32:10] Other: absolutely. We, we, I think we kinda have a similar, a similar cadence. Whenever we are hiring, I think the person that’s gonna do the, the first fielding of conversations is the team lead that’s gonna be most impacted by the hire. So I don’t necessarily need to be interviewing a developer if they’re gonna be working very closely with services or, or a pm.

[00:32:30] And I, I kind of get the, the second round interview and we, depending. What role it is. Sometimes we introduce them to the team, we’ll invite them to a team meeting. And we do have a couple of exercises that we’ve put together as well. Some examples of support tickets or some dev tasks that same as same as yours.

[00:32:48] They’re not meant to be tricky, but they are meant to kind of uncover what’s your, What’s your eye of detail? Or how do you respond to people whenever you know, they’re asking questions and they’re potentially stressed about an issue [00:33:00] or things like that? Your, your soft skills and communication.

[00:33:03] And then we offer a bootcamp. So before there’s an official hire, we do a 90 day kind of onboarding bootcamp trial period. They, they, it, it may be that we really wanna work with them, but they just don’t wanna work with us. You know, try to, to be respectful of that, that reciprocal need for them to find a good space as much as we need to find a good fit.

[00:33:26] Matt: So. Hmm. Nice. I think. On the like, interview process for me, a coup, a couple things are really key to making it successful. The first one I would say is basically being really upfront about the role and the salary. Essentially when I’m sending out an interview invite to somebody I say, Hey, we’d love to interview for interview you for this role.

[00:33:50] Here’s what the salary is if you didn’t see it on the posting. And here’s when we are hoping that you might be able to start if you get the job. And if the answer to both of those two things is, sounds good to me, then here’s the link to go and book your interview. That way you kind of get some of those like deal breaker things out of the way, right in the beginning.

[00:34:10] And that’s been really, really helpful. The other one is when they book the interview, what I try to do is it we just, I just book them with Call Lee. And I really fill out the Call Lee event thing really, really detailed. So that when they. Get the confirmation. It actually has all the information about the interview in that confirmation, including all the questions I’m going to ask them.

[00:34:32] And I, I know that there’s a lot of different Things people think out there about interviews and whatnot, but of whether it should all be surprise or prepared or whatever. I like giving them everything possible because then I know that the playing field really is level. because they all have the opportunity to get their best foot forward and have all their answers prepared.

[00:34:55] And and it tells me that they know how to read a calendar invite. Because if they don’t come prepared to answer those questions at all, then, then they, they missed some obvious details. So things like that I feel like really help a lot. The folks who are prepared, they come and, and it’s obvious from, from the minute you start talking to them, they already know what’s gonna happen.

[00:35:15] They’re already prepared, they have really good answers. And it makes the whole thing smooth and easy and they get a, a big leg up immediately. I think those two things for me are, are some of the most crucial. In terms of, of tips

[00:35:28] Kim: and those are good tips for people who are seeking positions with your team, with any team.

[00:35:32] Just that focus on, you know, follow the rules. These, this is the outline, these are the steps. I, I’ve seen some chatter where people like berate a hiring professional for removing a candidate who didn’t follow the process or the steps or wasn’t clued into things and tried to go a different route through things.

[00:35:49] And it’s, you know, sometimes we post positions, you get hundreds of applications to something. Sometimes you get two, but sometimes you get a ton and there has to be some metric to help. [00:36:00] Weed out a lot of people and, and unfortunately sometimes that’s how people follow your, know, your process for the hiring that you’ve, that you’ve laid out to them.

[00:36:11] Mm-hmm. , I agree.

[00:36:12] Other: It’s very indicative of whether someone can be a team player especially if there’s a crunch time that comes down the bike.

[00:36:18] Matt: Mm-hmm. . Yep. Absolutely. Last one real quick, we’re, we actually have gone a little bit long, but after you make the higher onboarding, one quick tip we’ll, we’ll try to squeeze this in when you’re onboarding folks, what’s what’s the tip that you would give to everyone about getting people on board?

[00:36:34] Kimberly.

[00:36:35] Other: Spend so much time with them, everybody spend time with them. Let them talk to everybody. Let them look at everything. Invite them to every meeting. Include them as much as possible so they can get a feel for not just processes, but the team and your company and how they work.

[00:36:51] Kim: Nice. And I’ll say have them do a support role.

[00:36:55] Have them interact with, you know, customers. If you’re in a product space and they’re gonna be a developer, they’re gonna be a. Have them do the support role because you learn the customer, you learn our process, you learn our product. You learn the variety of things people are asking for and the variety of things people are doing, and you learn how we respond to people.

[00:37:11] So you learn kind of our voice in our brand. So I think that’s an awesome way, even just for two weeks, a short period of time to, for in a product company especially where they might not be doing that in an ongoing basis. Matt?

[00:37:26] Matt: Yeah, I would say, Make sure to do all of the tech sign up things in advance before they start.

[00:37:34] Like, you know, you’re gonna probably create an email for them and then you’re going to invite them to GitHub and to Asana and to G Suite, and to all of your tools. Do it all in advance if you’re, and if you’re gonna do meetings, invite them to all those meetings in advance. So, , they don’t have to spend all that time searching for all that stuff because that’s just gonna slow down their onboarding a ton and make it all like, Well, who do I ask for this thing?

[00:38:00] And where do I get this thing? And I didn’t even know I needed that thing. So I try to do all that and so that as soon as they log into their brand new email, all the invites are sitting there waiting for them. That’s, that’s my big tip. Cool. Last last thought before we sign off. Anybody who’s just a brand new WordPress business, they’re gonna do like their first or their second hire.

[00:38:19] What’s your big takeaway? What would you tell ’em today, Kim?

[00:38:24] Kim: Oh, I lost my thing. Sorry. I would say, gosh, you just have to do it. It’s, it’s scary. But as someone that, you know, I think six years ago we made our first official. It gets easier every time and you learn so much. And

[00:38:45] my phone was ringing. Yeah, I was lost. You for a I was, Yeah. My phone started ringing. How do you turn that off? Yeah, so I would say once you bake your first hire, you’ll be shocked why you didn’t do, do it sooner when you find the people that really fit well. Nice. [00:39:00] Kimberly.

[00:39:01] Other: I, I’d kind of have to re what Kim said.

[00:39:03] Just do it. Just do it. You don’t worry about doing it. You know, according to some checklist or or process that’s out there, you’re gonna have your own spin, your own way to make it work for you. But just kind of step in and, and feel it as you go. Don’t pressure yourself to, maybe you decided to start the hiring process and you decide maybe this isn’t what we need to do right now, that’s okay too.

[00:39:22] But just, just give it a go step in.

[00:39:24] Matt: Absolutely. I would say make it a priority. Make sure that you understand that you gotta set time aside for it. Don’t try to just do it in your extra time or squeeze it in in between things. Be really methodical, detailed, say no to a bunch of other stuff so that you really are paying attention for your first.

[00:39:42] Hire or your second hire. And so that also, while you’re doing it, you’re documenting what you’re doing so that you can learn more about it next time around. That would be my, my biggest. Awesome. This was a great conversation. I’m really thankful for all the insight. Real quick I wanna give a special shout out to the WP Minute who is going to be distributing this across all of the Spotifys and podcasting platforms for us.

[00:40:07] If you are not here today, right now and you’re listening later via one of those platforms, please give us a shout out and give a shout out to the WP Minute for. Their support. And I’m curious, Kim, what we’re doing next week this might

[00:40:21] Kim: be a, this will be an interesting and, and maybe controversial topic, but we have Rich Taber who’s listening here, and I hope I pronounced your last name correctly.

[00:40:29] But we’re gonna be talking about just this future of WordPress. We have full site editing, we have block editor. And how is that changing what products can do to extend core functionality? We saw with this evolution of WordPress, everything moving toward JavaScript based, a lot of plugins are PHP based and, and how do we continue to work together so that WordPress remains as customizable and extendable for products like ours.

[00:40:54] Matt: Awesome. I’m looking forward to that for sure. Kimberly, thanks again so much for being here and everyone, we will see you around next time. Thanks so much. Thank you. Bye.


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