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Three Tips for Hiring the Candidate Who Will Boost Profits

Management As16

Management As16

Homeowners are increasingly referring you to their friends and family. Sales are improving. Profits are rising. It’s time, you’ve decided, to add a go-getter to your staff. But how can you pick the right candidate?

The answer’s critical to success. Hire right and yours will be the go-to installation company for entire neighborhoods. Great employees help your business grow by working hard and smart on the job site and dealing productively with customers.

Hire wrong, though, and the story’s different. Unproductive employees gum up your operation like heart pine resin. They’ll often quit and leave you in a lurch.

It’s much more cost-effective to interview well, establish a structured orientation and maintain an ongoing training schedule, so you are continually enticing people to stay. Here’s how.

1. Make a List of Traits

Know what you want before you start looking. “The number one mistake is going shopping without a list,” says Mel Kleiman, director of Houston-based Humetrics. “Too often employers don’t have any idea about the qualities they are looking for in a new hire.”

What characteristics make a star employee? “Think about the best person who has held the open position in your business, or whom you have seen holding the same job elsewhere,” says Rebecca Mazin, a cofounder of Tarrytown, N.Y.-based Recruit Right. “Then identify the characteristics that made that person so effective.”

There’s one personality trait that likely stands out above the rest—“enthusiasm,” says Alan Weiss, president of Summit Consulting Group, East Greenwich, R.I. “You’re better off hiring someone with enthusiasm and no expertise than expertise and no enthusiasm.”

And enthusiasm is something you have to buy out of the box, not add to the mix later, Weiss adds. “Is the person passive and laid back, just reacting to you during the interview?” Weiss asks. “That’s not a good sign.”

Look instead for someone who answers your questions with a story and a laugh, and then follows up with relevant responses. Says Weiss: “The behavior you see in the interview is the behavior you get in real life.”

2. Prepare Leading Questions

Plan ahead with some questions that can uncover qualities of star employees. “Ask behaviorally based questions,” Mazin says. “Remember that past behavior is the best prediction of future performance. So rather than ask, ‘How would you handle a mistake on the job site?’ say, ‘Tell me about a time when you made a mistake and how you recovered.’” Ask for specific examples, she says.

Avoid the commonly used questions that are too open-ended, such as “What are your strengths?” Mazin says. “Any good candidate has a list of these questions and has prepared canned answers.” Try questions such as, “Have you worked with a team before?” and, “In your last job, were the responsibilities you were hired for different from the responsibilities you have today?”

And don’t just rely on one conversation. Get another viewpoint by scheduling one interview conducted by someone other than yourself.

3. Sell Yourself

Remember that you and your business are also being assessed. Make a bad impression and your best candidates will go elsewhere. “To attract the star employees, put together a 10-point list of why people should work for you,” Kleiman says. Fill in your list by talking with your best employees about why they like working at your business.

Run through these top 10 workplace characteristics with candidates, Kleiman says. Then ask, “Which is the most important to you?” The answers will not only “sell” the candidates on your business, but will also reveal each one’s key motivators.

Plan for Success

Smart hiring practices help your business grow, since motivated, success-minded employees sell more by engaging productively with customers. Draw up a smart hiring plan using the tips in this article. Then work your plan.

The right hiring procedures will lay the groundwork for success far beyond the lifetime of your next employee. “If you hire the right people and let them grow, when they do leave your business they will act as ambassadors, speaking highly about you to other potential employees,” says Richard Avdoian, an employee development consultant in St. Louis. That’s all good: “When it comes to hiring the top people, it’s much easier to be hunted than to be the hunter.”

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