January 22, 2019

A Bad Hire Is Worse Than No Hire

By Paul Bieber

Hiring is tough right now. You know that. Where you used to get 20 people sending in resumes, you now get five if you are lucky. Do you hire the best one that comes in the door, or do you hold out for the right candidate? Here are some tips to help you identify the right candidate:

  • Give the applicant an application to fill out. Nothing fancy, just what you get from your local office supply store or from a free site on the web.
  • Read it before you do your face-to-face. Is the handwriting legible? Are all the questions answered so that you can understand the answers? Is the work history clear, including wages? (If they write, ‘see resume’, that loses them a point.)
  • You should do a skills test, whether for an office job or a glazier’s position. For a glazier, go in the back and ask them to cut a piece of ¼-inch float that comes from your scrap pile. It doesn’t need to be a big piece, just cut a four-and-a-quarter-inch strip. This will tell you if they can read a tape and if they have some glass skills. Do they ask for an L-square or a straight edge? Do they ask for some coolant to dip the cutter into? Do they ask for safety glasses? This test sounds so pedestrian as to almost be insulting. Do it. Give them a caulking gun with whatever sealant you have handy. Ask for a bead 1-inch off the edge of this glass strip they just cut.
  • Next, ask them to take your truck around the parking lot, or around the block, with you in it, and ask them to parallel park it in front of your shop, or some other place on your block.
  • If they pass these few steps well, move on to the office and go through their previous jobs. Why did they leave? What prevented them from growing there? If they say that they always bumped heads with a foreman or an owner, be sure that trend won’t continue in your shop.
  • Place them at one of your computers and ask them to send you an email containing a couple of sentences. Just anything will do. Are they afraid of computers? Does your shop use computerized work orders? Can they handle texts on the phone? Give them a simple math problem—adding four numbers, all with fractions, together. Something like deciding the length of a header, when there are multiple lites of glass involved.
  • Hire the person that comes in actually looking for a job. Huh? They just came in so obviously they are looking for a job. What I mean goes this way. Is the person cleaned up and wearing appropriate clothing? You probably won’t see suits and ties anymore, but clean clothes, with no logos on them and clean shoes or work boots.

Hiring someone has a cost: training, low productivity to start, mistakes and time taken by others to train. Most management gurus say this runs from 25 percent of a year’s salary to as much as 50 percent. I think it is at least 35-40 percent. If you hire the wrong person, think what you just threw away. Invest the extra time up front, share an interview with your foreman or partner, or any other leader. Get that second opinion and you will have better hires, which makes you a better company.