How to hire your first employee

For the past few years, my best friend Lexie Phipps and I have been co-running a company called MOVE, dedicated to #girlpower! For the past few years we’ve been giving workshops and have even ran a 5 day summer program (with 70 girls this summer alone!). MOVE focuses on issues like body image, media, self-esteem, mental health, relationships and more, and deals with them in a relatable, personal and sincere way.

In addition to MOVE, I do a lot of work under Ashley Olafsen – my name and my brand. I actually just published a book all about gender, mental health, sexualization and more – you can check out my (hopefully) groundbreaking and inspiring work here. I’m also a TEDx speaker, a Huffington Post Contributor, and do much more with my personal brand

Recently, MOVE has grown into a full fledged global MOVEment, with individuals all over the world (recently even from from Indonesia and China) voicing their support. Additionally, my personal work is starting to take off with the launch of my book.

As my work has begun expanding, I have come to believe two important things to be true:

1. We are strongest when we work together. All of the success I have achieved at the age of 19 has been 10000000 percent collaborative. I am acutely aware that I could not have accomplished truly ANY of the things that I have without immense help and collaboration from family members, mentors, and peers.

2. Outsourcing work is crucial to growth. This is a new lesson that I just learned and I am finding it to be a critical one. If you have the ability to outsource work, you should take advantage of it so that way you can play to your strengths, and others can play to theirs.

“Ashley, you need to figure out how to hire your first employee who shares this vision!”

So, with that realized, I made the decision to figure out how to hire our first employee – an intern to be exact. And for real this time – I previously had, but didn’t really go through a hiring process or commit to it in the way I should have.

After all, hiring an intern (or interns) make sense. The work that I do is extremely time consuming, and if someone can bring in their own incredible strengths and personal insights, then I will have more time to do the things I am good at and only I can do!

how to hire your first employee - interns

So Lexie and I began the process. We both made a list of the specific things we wanted to work with our interns on and she created the application (which can be found here for reference). This whole week, I’ve been conducting Skype and FaceTime interviews with potential candidates and I’ve been thinking a lot about the hiring process. I’ve previously gone through the hiring process twice with our summer program staff, as well as countless times with individuals who want to spread the message of MOVE through clubs, their own programs, and more. I’ve made mistakes, but for the most part Lexie and I have done a pretty good job of hiring the right people.

Through these experiences, I have come up with a list of notes/realizations/thoughts on how to hire for the best fit for your company. Because, after all, you should truly be looking for the best fit – there could be a supremely qualified person, but if their working style doesn’t fit with yours, it’s not going to work out. Here you are my friends:

How to hire you first employee: 4 ways to ensure that your first hire is the best possible fit for your culture and your vision.

1. Outline your expectations immediately.

Before individuals even filled out a written application, we asked them to check out a google doc. This doc was filled with a list of potential tasks each intern would be assigned. Lexie and I wanted to be extremely upfront with what the job entailed, so that way there were no surprises whatsoever.

Additionally, we wanted to be clear so that only people who were truly interested would apply… the idea of interning for MOVE probably sounds really exciting and fun to the girls who have attended previous workshops and summer programs, but the truth is that the behind the scenes work isn’t glamorous at all. We wanted people to really understand what they were  signing up for.

At the end of the day, you should express as much honesty as you possibly can throughout all your work.

2. Ask the interviewee what THEY need out of a working relationship.

It’s important to keep in mind that if you’re looking for a good match, the interview isn’t just for you. It’s for the interviewee as well – they need to know if YOU are going to be a good fit for them.

Knowing this, one of the first things I asked candidates was: “What do YOU need out of a working relationship? What does an ideal collaborative partner look like?

I listened to their answers and thought about if I could be/am what they need. In some cases, I fell short of being the kind of business partner they needed. In other cases though, I was a PERFECT match and they wanted my exact kind of leadership and working style!

That’s what you want, and with that, you’re one step closer to figuring out if the relationship will be a good fit!

how to hire your first employee - woman at computer

3. Take thoughtful notes.

When I was interviewing, I took notes on each of the candidates. I didn’t just take notes on what they said though; I took notes on how they said it, as well as my own personal thoughts/feelings about each person. For example, one of my quick notes reads, “excited” and that’s literally it. Though it might seem like a silly note to make, as I’m going through them afterwards, it reminds me that this candidate was excited, enthusiastic, and seemed willing to take on the position. All of this is a great sign, as the biggest thing I’m looking for in an intern is willingness and excitement to do the work that needs to get done.

A candidate could be absolutely perfect on paper – they could be overqualified, appear to fill in your gaps etc… but if they don’t click or connect with me, it’s not the right fit. I want someone who is great at open communication, who genuinely wants to work, and more.

Taking notes on personality as well as yjr fleeting thoughts and impressions I had during the interview make a huge difference afterwards.

4.Use your intuition.

At the end of the day, you know yourself best, and your feelings are important and valid. Don’t ignore how you feel about certain people – if you get a good or bad vibe, you’re probably right. Use your intuition to make decisions, and allow your heart to factor into your ultimate decision.

For more info about Ashley, click here