January 27, 2018

At Black Velvet we are always evolving and having been around the industry since 1989, it would be an understatement to say I’ve seen a few changes over the years.

After an extremely long period of time waiting for planning permits, we are finally on the verge of opening another store in Melbourne. The fact that a planning permit for a 17sqm store can take over a year to be finally granted is simply unbelievable but is also a story for another time.

As most business owners are aware, one of the biggest challenges we face is selecting the right team. We’ve been extremely fortunate over the years to have employed some great people and therefore have never really suffered from the issue of staff turnover. I wrote a blog some time ago about my thoughts on finding the right people, and wrote that the best people are not walking the streets looking for work but are currently employed elsewhere. It was line I heard many years ago from former Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett and as brutal as that may seem, headhunting for the right people to fit with your business was the only way to go.

Fast forward to 2018 and we are searching to fill positions in our new store. This time however, we are also going through the traditional method including an advertisement and interview process and that is what brings me to be writing this today.

I’ll never forget the words of my parents when I was about 14 or 15 years old. I was still at school and was looking for part time work. Their words were simple. They said that a job interview was more than just turning up and answering questions. It was an opportunity to present ‘myself’ in the best and most professional way possible. An interview was planned in advance so there was no excuse for me to be unprepared and above all, ALWAYS look the part, ALWAYS. That, for a young man, meant a shirt and tie. It didn’t matter whether I was being interviewed for an office job or if the position was to flip burgers at McDonalds. A shirt and tie was non-negotiable. End of story.

Now before you all start jumping up and down about how times have changed and how old fashioned I sound. Let me tell you this. First impressions count. Still. The positions for which you are applying are also being targeted by countless other people. You’re in a battle with many, many people and sometimes it’s for just one place.

I’ll also tell you this. At Black Velvet, and I’m sure at many other companies, we hire on attitude, presentation, preparedness to do whatever it takes, personality, drive and ambition. THEN we look at your level of skill and ability. The last 2 things can be taught. The rest is part of your make up. It’s what makes you, you. And it’s what makes a great team of people, which in turn help grow the business.

We’ve conducted a string of interviews recently and I’m staggered at the different ways people present. Some make appointments and simply don’t show up. No phone call, nothing. Apparently respect for other people’s time is not high on their agenda.

Others arrive late, looking like they’ve just come from the beach and start by asking ‘how long is this interview likely to take?’ Fortunately for them the interview was over in a matter of seconds.

We’ve had people who check their Instagram feed during the interview! Staggering.

Which brings me to this example.

I met with a young guy who arrived 10 minutes early. He introduced himself to our team and announced himself as having arrived for his 3pm interview. He was immaculately dressed in a freshly ironed white shirt and pale blue tie straight out of the packet. Bingo!

This 23yo young man had done his research into everything relating to Black Velvet Coffee. He’d read our blog posts, he’d checked out our website, he’d been in prior to the interview to taste our coffee and watch how we operate. He was the most well prepared applicant I’d ever seen.

He said he wanted full time hours and when I asked him what number of hours he thought constituted full time work he said ‘Minimum 45 hours per week. Most will probably say 38 but in my view, the extra 7 hours a week calculated over months or years, is what separates the best from the rest.’

This young man has only been making coffee for 2 years. He’s desperate to learn and determined to forge a career in the coffee industry. It was an honour, he said, to simply be in the running for a position at Black Velvet.

The moral of this story is simple. A job interview is your time to advertise YOU. It’s your time to let a prospective employer know exactly what they get when they offer you the opportunity to be part of their team.

We saw a group of people with much more knowledge and experience than this young guy. None of them, however, had the attitude that he possessed and none of them had prepared for the interview like this applicant.

Young man, you’re hired. Welcome to the Black Velvet Family.

For further tips, see Jackie Silverman's interview with ABC Life here...





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