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CEO Adam Camras's Hiring Tips For Your Private Investigation Company

CEO of ServeNow, PInow, and AboutBailAdam Camras is the CEO of Lawgical, the parent company of PInow, AboutBail, ServeNow.

Hiring is a time-consuming and expensive process for everyone, and investigators can adapt our process of careful testing and elimination to weed out potential candidates that aren’t a fit for your vacant position. Our approach to hiring is this: just because we have a job to offer in this challenging economic climate doesn’t mean that we treat our candidates any differently. We think we have a great company, great products and a great culture, but we only want to work with people who want to work here.

There’s nothing more important than having the right people in the right role, and we take hiring very seriously; therefore we want to do everything we can to get the right candidate. Our process is extremely involved, but it gives us a concrete understanding of who we should hire.

Here’s what we do:

  1. Run an ad: The first thing we do is run an ad with detailed, specific descriptions about the company, the culture, specific details that are important to the role, and a compensation range. In this ad we’re also setting the foundation for testing, which helps us filter out applicants who are sending resumes to as many places as possible and find the ones who are applying specifically for our opening. To test this, we ask for them to complete three specific tasks to measure their qualifications and ability to follow directions.  If they don't complete these tasks then they don't move on to the next step in the hiring process:

    1. A description of why they would be a good fit for the role.  
    2. Their current or past compensation.
    3. A phone message.
    We want to see if they can follow directions, if they sound professional, and whether or not their compensation is in line with what we’re able to offer.
  2. Digest the resume: There are a lot of red flags in resumes: typos, bad formatting, incomplete resumes, but if there's no cover letter we don't even look at the resume. If they don't take the time to write a response that is tailored to our ad then we don't even consider them. There have been so many times when I couldn’t believe a candidate submitted what they did, but we’re so focused on finding the right candidate that those candidates who make mistakes fall to the side.
  3. 10-15 minute introductory phone call: If they pass the initial tests, I schedule a phone call. The first question I ask is, “What do you know about our company?” because I want to test their preparation. If they haven’t taken the time to understand who we are and what we do on their own, then my assumption is that they’re going to take that same approach when they’re assigned projects or tasks. If they haven’t, the call is over. If they have, then I ask them very high-level questions about their experience as it applies to the position. For example, investigators should make sure potential candidates have a similar ethical approach, are familiar with technology, and are a good investment for your firm.
  4. 30-60 minute phone interview: This is where I get into background, values, and more details about their career history. I ask very, very specific questions and score their answers from 1 to 5, 5 being the highest. The scoring is important because you may talk to 30 or 40 candidates and it’s very easy to forget them. That’s why they’re all scored based on these important elements of the role.
  5. Face-to-face interview: I like to bring them to the office because I want them to see the culture, meet their potential colleagues, and also see if they are on time and prepared. It seems basic but if they can’t get it right in the interview process when they’re on their best behavior it can be indicative of how they will behave as a member of the company. In the interview I ask some of the same questions over again to make sure their answers are consistent. It’s a little more digging to find out what they can do for us. I also ask hypothetical questions like, “What will you do in this situation?” We’re looking at body language and listening to tone along with the words. That’s why the face-to-face interview is so important.
  6. Check references: We technically only want references from prior managers, but I’ve found that sometimes personal reference can give you the best information. It’s about validating how long they were employed, what their compensation was, and getting some insight into the person’s strengths and weaknesses.
  7. Make an offer: If we make an offer, it’s always contingent upon reference checks and a pre-employment screening. We also make sure our paperwork is drafted carefully so there’s no chance an employee can leave with equipment or sensitive information. We’ve had some great candidates until we checked their references and discovered that the information was inconsistent. Someone we were ready to hire was providing false information, and these aren’t the only instances where our process has saved us from training someone who probably wouldn’t have worked out.

The whole hiring process is about saving time and weeding out the wrong candidates. The great thing is that in the past we would get 500-plus applications and we would have to look at every resume. Now, I only look at the ones who leave a phone message, which is a fraction. Testing is the single most important part of screening a candidate. It’s absolutely crucial that you invest time in finding the right candidate for your investigations firm. It’s an extensive interview process, but there’s nothing more important that I can be doing with my time than talking to new candidates to see if they are a fit for our company and culture.

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