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What Does “Great” Look Like in Your Company?

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How many times have we heard this? However, when we need to hire people, especially in a crunch, we tend to lower our standards. Worse yet, some contractors even hire on the spot. When this is done, how do you know whether this person is a good fit for your culture? Have you checked their criminal background or driving record? Do you test for drugs? Do you call past employers to verify their work record? These are all things that should be done to minimize hiring errors. There is some real cost to these checks, both direct costs and administrative costs.  However, if done correctly it will drastically reduce turnover and, considering the exorbitant cost of turnover, will save your company money in the long run.

How do you know whether a candidate would be a good fit for your culture?  Admittedly, this can be difficult to measure. Some people may say a candidate who has been a service technician for years should know what makes a good service tech. However, the fact remains that being a service tech or installer at your company is different than being a service tech or installer at the company down the street.  Some differences may include the on-call rotation, how you track performance, how you talk to a customer, what types of calls your company specializes in, etc.  A great service technician at another company may not be a great service technician at your company, and vice versa.  Therefore, if you do not already know, you need to learn what great looks like in your specific company.  How do your top performers talk to customers?  What is their personality like?  How do they interact with co-workers?  Most likely, you will find quite a few similarities in your top performers.  Once you know what great looks like in your organization, you now know what to look for in the hiring process and can build your interview questions and testing around it.

The best way I have found to measure culture fit is through a personality test.  Many personality tests measure things like sociability, manageability, assertiveness, and independence.  In our company, we had the top 3 service technicians take a personality test and then analyzed the results for similarities and differences.  As you can imagine, there were much more similarities than differences.  We then came up with a benchmark for where our top performers scored in each category.  Now, once the candidate takes the personality test, we are able to compare their scores to the range of scores produced by our best performers to see if a close match exists.

There are a number of tests in addition to a personality test that should be done in the hiring process to help minimize hiring errors.  Those that your company probably does include a driving record check (for those doing any driving for the company, even if they are not assigned a company vehicle) and a background check.  Other checks that can be vitally important include a technical test, an honesty/integrity assessment, and a reference check.

Have you ever found that a candidate inflated his or her technical credentials and over-sold themselves?  If so, a technical test most likely would have helped you avoid this hiring mistake.  There are a couple good ways to test a candidate’s technical ability.  For service technicians, one way to do this would be a hands-on test in a controlled environment.  For example, if you have live HVAC equipment in your training room, a service manager could rig the unit and ask the candidate to diagnose the problem.  However, the best way to test a candidate’s knowledge on a broad subject matter is a written test.  When possible, avoid multiple choice tests and opt for questions that require the candidate to write out the answer.  Although the grading process will be more time-consuming, you should be able to find out more about a candidate’s expertise this way.

Another test I have found to be valuable during the hiring process is an honesty/integrity assessment.  This test measures a candidate’s attitude toward theft, honesty, and substance abuse.  Although this test may appear straightforward, it is not.  Intelligent candidates are going to disagree on the “correct” answers to the questions contained in the assessment.  Therefore, there are no right or wrong answers per se.  Each company will have to decide which answers may be “deal breakers” and which answers are acceptable.  There is a scale designed in to the assessment which measures whether or not the candidate is answering the questions honestly, and this scale is vital for any honesty/integrity test to have merit.

One of the most important checks of all is the reference check.  After all, the best predictor of future performance is past performance.  However, I would caution the employer to shy away from calling the references the candidate has provided for you.  For a more accurate view of your candidate’s past performance, I would encourage you to contact the candidate’s past employers.  More specifically, try to contact the person the candidate reported to.  Most likely, you will find the manager is more honest and less guarded than an office manager or a human resource person.  If you find that very few companies want to release any information, consider adding a statement on your application that releases their past employers from any liability for furnishing information to you about their past employment.  Once the candidate signs the application with that clause in it, I have found employers are more willing to open up.  When I do receive information from the candidate’s past employers, often times there are inaccuracies with regard to dates of employment, position, and reason for leaving.  If we find that a candidate has lied on their application, they will be disqualified from employment for falsification of their application (if the inaccuracy is not discovered until after employment has begun, the employee would be terminated).

These are just some of the measures you can implement at your company to help improve the quality of each hire and, as a direct result, reduce turnover.  Yes, there is some upfront cost to most of these recommendations.  However, it should lower long-term costs with the reduction in turnover.  Ultimately, who do you want representing your brand?  Remember, the people you hire become the face of your company!


Online Extras

[raw][tabs names=”Sample Reference Check Form,Ask the Experts,IE3 Audio”]
[t]Download a sample of a form to have potential candidates sign to send to former employers for reference checks.[/t]
[t]ACCA members can read answers to frequently asked questions about labor issues, including overtime, at the ACCA website here. You can also submit your own general questions for our experts to answer![/t]
[t]Join us for a special audio conference with Greg Benua of Atlas Butler Heating & Cooling on April 5 at 2pm: “What Does Great Look Like?” Learn more and sign up.[/t]


Greg Benua
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Posted In: ACCA Now, Management

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