I’ve had an interesting experience here in my little business. I’m hiring 4 associate photographers and have been going through the interviewing process. I started with 35 applicants, narrowed it down to 20 in the first initial cut. Then after reviewing the applicants work, I selected 12 applicants that I wanted to interview. After the initial interviews I had selected 8 people I wanted to watch shoot in a hands on family session where I had the photographers book time slots in 15 minute increments and set a timer to make sure they stayed within their time slot. They took control of the session and I stood back and watched. By the end of today’s hands on interview, I have had some very thought provoking insights. Take a moment to ask yourself these 6 questions. It’s quite eye opening.
- Do I follow instructions? When I announced that I needed to hire photographers, I posted instructions on how to communicate interest. I’m sad to say that there were 5 people who got eliminated before I even evaluated their work because of the inability to follow basic instructions. When I am instructed to do something, do I follow those instructions to the most minute detail? I commit to try harder to follow instructions.
- Do I arrive on time? I’m actually pretty darn good at being punctual. If a session starts at 9:00, I arrive at 8:50. I don’t want a client to have to wonder if their photographer is going to show up. Even if it’s only for 2 seconds. I arrive before the client. Period.
- Do I exude confidence? You know those times when your gear acts up, or your newborn client won’t relax. Maybe – Heaven forbid – you drop your camera DURING the session. What do you do? Do you fret and worry and vocalize that to your client? Do you pick up your broken camera off of the cement floor at the grand hall in the train depot (not that it’s happened…okay, it’s happened), put it back in your camera bag and pull out your back-up camera without missing a beat? In our hands on interviews tonight, we had sun, then clouds, then lightning, then downpour. My clients heard things from their photographers that put their minds in a state of worry. At the end of the interviews I sat and chatted with the client. I asked them their feelings about each of the photographers. The client expressed concern that there wasn’t a single good picture because their photographers expressed worry over blurred images, dark skies, underexposed images and/or gear malfunction. We need to scream confidant even if our guts are crying inside. Our clients need us to be confidant.
- Do I know my gear? Can I adjust the settings to my camera without the client knowing I’m adjusting settings? Fiddling with camera settings too much in front of a client makes them think we don’t know what were doing. Are you examining your LCD screen after every single shot? As part of the application I asked the applicants to rate how well they know their gear. Some of them said 4 some of them said 8. What would you rate yourself? My newest little family member the Canon 5D Mark IV arrived in the mail yesterday. Last night and today I have been reading the manual from cover to cover. Most of the information is basic especially coming from shooting the Mark II for 3 years prior. I want to answer that I know my camera at a level 10. I’m close, I am very close.
- How well do you treat your clients? I have been told that I treat my clients too much like family. It was said to me as a negative critique. How can being kind be a negative thing? When you go to bed each night, ask yourself this question: “Was I as kind as absolutely possible to every person I came in contact with today?” (Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port) if not, fix it tomorrow, do better tomorrow. Be kind to every single person you come in contact with. If you’re kind to someone who doesn’t deserve it, you will not regret it. Be kind, be interested, be involved.
- Do you take responsibility when something goes wrong? None of us are perfect. If you’re a day late getting a session edited, take responsibility for it, apologize for it, learn from it and don’t repeat the mistake. Make it right. Customer service is key when something goes wrong.
1 week of interviews has opened up my eyes to things I need to do better as well as things I do right. Take a minute to assess where you’re at with these 6 questions and then take the time to get where you want to be! I promise, it will be worth it!