AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

TAG | Barter

I’m Michelle Burd, an independent consultant and have dabbled in small contracts for several years but recently garnered a major contract with a local university and national funder. Karin Samii-Shore, is an independent consultant who has built her business over the past seven years. We have worked together off and on in graduate school, at the local school district, and as independent consultants. Inspired by sessions at AEA encouraging consultants to barter, we set out to conduct work together so that Karin could hire a new associate that was a good fit with her business needs and working style: She has too much work and wants someone to challenge her ideas and bring new evaluation approaches to her business.

We launched in a café by reviewing resumes and letters of interest. We decided phone interviews with people local and across the nation was the way to go. Karin wanted another set of “eyes and ears” so that she wouldn’t make a mistake on a crucial decision with long-term ramifications for her business. Up to this point in her business, Karin had primarily hired people that she had worked with previously or knew personally.  I, on the other hand, had experience conducting interviews with job candidates as an internal evaluator and supervisor. First, with a stack of Karin’s prescreened resumes, together we uncovered which candidates really had any relevant experience, “Forget this person, he hasn’t done any evaluation” or “Wow, this person is really great, but will she move for a part-time consulting gig without benefits?” The point was not to be stranded with one’s own thoughts and to have an experienced colleague, whose opinions one knew and trusted, to help cull through words and paper and to find someone who would really fit the business.

We started one morning with coffee, notepads, and a list of pre-negotiated interview questions. We scheduled four interviews for the day so as not to burden the bartering colleague or draw out process.

Lessons Learned #1: Break up interviews: After the second one, we were fidgety and did not listen as attentively to the third and fourth candidates.

Lessons Learned #2: We compared two technology options for interviewing, a speakerphone on a cell or two handheld receivers of the landline.

Lessons Learned #3: Buy or rent telephone conferencing technology.

Lessons Learned #4: Don’t assume people read job announcements—repeat the details; after an hour-long interview, the first candidate withdrew when part-time came up.

After hours of listening and questioning through funky connections, we easily narrowed down the candidates to two. Karin was left to decide who she wants to hire and under what conditions, and I gained ideas for the future and a fruit bouquet.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Independent Consultants (IC) TIG Week with our colleagues in the IC AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our IC  TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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