Best tips for finding, hiring, training, and people who do not suck.

Best Tips for Hiring People

Ever wonder what are the best tips for hiring? More times than I care to admit, I have had to listen to managers and leaders complain about their people. They tell me about how their people can’t do this or that. They lament about how their people will not do this or that. They talk about how their people fail and barely deliver what is needed to sustain the business. In short, they tell me their people suck.

My immediate response to this is always the same. Who interviewed them? Who hired them? Who trained them? Who leads them? Who works with them? This usually elicits the same response- a blank stare and an angry retort.

I guess sometimes the truth hurts, but it never lies. The truth is the truth. The good news is; we can change the truth. The followings are the steps to finding, hiring, training, working with, and having people who do not suck.

Step 1. Employment Ads- Step one begins before the interview. What do your employment ads say? Are they attracting the type of applicant you desire? For example, if you are looking for an advisor, your ad should be more of a sales position ad verses a customer service rep ad. My advice would be to do what I routinely do, if an ad stops drawing the right person, do the research and rewrite it. Recently we discovered that by changing and adding a few key words in an ad, we went from getting very few applications to being nearly overwhelmed with applications. Like most aspects in life, things get stale and need to be spruced up every once in a while.

Step 2. The Resume- What does their resume or application look like? This is an area where I find employers are too lenient.  You should be looking for imperfections and reasons not to request an interview. Things like misspellings, poor grammar, and improper layout should be reasons not to request an interview. There are a myriad of ways to ensure that a resume is perfect. In my opinion, if the applicant can’t take the time to get that right, they probably will not take the time to deliver perfection to the customer either.

Step 3.  The Interview- Who is doing the interview? How are they conducting the interview? This is one of the most important steps.   All too often, we are so desperate to hire someone that we do the interview from the standpoint of, “How can I change this person to be the person I want?”  The proper perspective should be, “Why should I not hire this person?” Again, just like with the resume, if the applicant is not perfect in this area, they certainly will not be after you hire them. These people are going to be the face and voice of your company. You need to be very specific in defining what type of person you are looking for and you cannot settle for less.

The formula that I use for the interview is three-part. It starts with a telephone interview. This should be kept to fifteen minutes in length and never longer than thirty minutes. In this part of the interview, I look for how the candidate sounds. Do they sound passionate, excited and enthusiastic, or like a dead fish? This is the part of the interview where I explain the position in great detail, especially the parts that might prove most objectionable to them. I tell them the positive aspects of the job, but I clearly define the challenging aspects of the position as well. I do not hide the expectations regarding the hours, the rules, and the high standards adhered to. I explain what will and what will not be tolerated.   I believe in getting everything out in the open so that everyone knows the expectations. This keeps confusion at a minimum.

The next step in the interview process is to schedule an in-person interview with the candidate. This interview is conducted with a co-worker in attendance. The co-worker is either a high ranking manager or someone who is currently in the position that the candidate is interviewing for. This is where all the toughest questions are posed. These questions are the ones that help define the applicants character and work ethic.  If the candidate looks like they may be a good fit, I then schedule a follow-up final interview three days later. I inform the candidate that during the three-day period, I will be checking their references, work history, and doing a general background check. This is an important step that will ensuring that you are offering the position to the right person. You should always contact every personal reference provided. Even if you know that the references are going to be people that are likely to provide positive comments about the applicant, call them. The same should be done with past employers.  Taking the time to conduct this thorough investigation shows the potential new team member that you are diligent and that these things truly matter. Also, do a background check. In the world of the internet, background checks are pretty easy to do. Make it a point to check their Facebook page if they provide access.

If everything checks out, follow through with the third interview. This is where you can discuss what your investigation has revealed- the positive and the negative. If your final decision is to move forward with this person, set a start date, and give the new team member a copy of your employment agreement. It is fine at this time to have them start any pre-training you deem necessary.

Step 4. The first day. The first day is where the tone will be set for how you operate. This is the time where you define your expectations. Your calendar should be clear on the day the new hire arrives. You must give your new team member your undivided attention. Your first duty will be to revisit the employment agreement. This will be one of the most important things to take place on the first day.  An employment agreement is a fancy term for job description. This document will spell out exactly what the job entails, exactly how it is to be performed, exactly what standards are to be met, and exactly what happens if the standards are met, exceeded, or missed. You probably gave the new hire the agreement when you hired them, but it is imperative that you discuss it with them, line by line, upon their arrival and have them sign it. I believe this is a crucial step to be taken on the first day with a new hire. All too often, people are hired and then just told to follow someone around to learn the job. This agreement should be as detailed as you can make it without it being too overwhelming. If you want a sample of one of these documents, contact me. I will be more than happy to send you one.

Step 5.  Training Train your new employee. Not having some type of formal training in place is to set your new employee, and yourself, up for failure. You need to have a detailed training plan. The response I typically get from this suggestion is, “Who has the time to do that?”  Champions, that is who!  This does not have to be a step that has to be delivered solely by you, or by you at all. As a matter of fact, I think there is great value in involving other employees in the training process. The secret to making a training program work is to be organized. Have a daily schedule with definite time lines and stick to that plan.  This will go a long way in keeping the new employee engaged and in showing them that you and your company are serious about your business. I do not have the time or space in this article to completely outline what your training and training schedule should look like. But, I would be more than happy to supply you with a plan. Contact me. This step will prove invaluable to helping you to get the results you desire.

Step 6. Lead.  Lead them! Too many times I see managers hire great people but fail when it comes time to effectively lead and manage.  Every successful team that becomes and stays successful has a leader. Webster’s dictionary defines leadership as “having the power or ability to lead others.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson, essayist, poet, and philosopher said,

"Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be."  As I stated at a recent workshop, the most consistent questions I get, revolve around how attendees can become effective leader. For more on this topic, I would encourage you to attend one of my upcoming workshops where I will be introducing leadership tips. You could also contact Dave Anderson of Learn to Lead and sign-up for his training. It is great stuff.

Step 7. Work with the new employee.  This is a close cousin to what we discussed in Step 6. If you expect your staff to follow you, you have to be willing to show them that you can do the job yourself. You have to demonstrate that you are willing, at any time, under any circumstances, to perform the job that you are asking them to do. This is one of my trade secrets. When your employees see the leader not only able to, but willing to flawlessly do the job they are being asked to do, it breeds a level of confidence rarely delivered in any other way. You must be willing to spend time with the new hire and give guidance even if they do not ask for it. Our trainers get their highest marks when visiting any service department by doing this one simple step. We are repeatedly told that the trainers knowledge and willingness to share that knowledge is what our trainees love most. Fear of change is bread by the unknown. When you step up and do what you are asking the employee to do, fear vanishes and productivity begins.

Throughout my lifetime there have many people who have helped to make me the person I am today. Of course I have to credit my parents, brothers, sister, wife, and friends. But here, I am talking about people who made a profound difference in my professional life. My uncle Carl, Bev Nelson, Bruce Benson, Jim Sperandio, Buzz Sands, and Howard Hubler are some of the people who, at critical junctures in my career, made a profound difference. I owe them a lot and will never forget their kindness, their guidance, their time spent with me, or their willingness to be frank and honest with me. It was through their nurturing and caring that I have been able to experience the career I so much enjoy today. These names are likely to mean very little to you, but they mean the world to me.

On the flipside, there have also been many people that I have worked with that have had very little effect on my career or, at times, were actually detrimental to my career. Beyond presenting an opportunity to work, they were little more than contacts or people I worked for. They hired me, I worked for them for a given period of time, and then I moved on. I remember very little about them or my work experience with them, other than the fact the they were unremarkable.

Depending on the type of manger or leader you are or wish to be, will largely depend on your commitment and dedication to your employees. Showing by example and going the extra mile will directly affect how well your employees perform and more to the point, whether your people “suck” or not.   How well will you be remembered? Investing in iPads, technology, and shop equipment will only take you so far. Investing in the time and energy to hiring the right people, train them, and leading them by example, will produce outstanding results. When your people see that you are willing to work side by side with them, they will see you as committed and this will create loyalty. They will take ownership in the outcome. This will transform the “job” in a “career”- A career that will deliver for them a lifetime of benefits that will provide a lifestyle they may never have had without you. Not a bad way to be remembered. Or to put it another way, it certainly doesn’t suck.

About the author: Jeff Cowan, in his 29th year of Service Department Sales Training, is recognized as the creator of the modern-day, walk-around and selling processes for dealership service departments and after-market auto service repair shops. Jeff is the nation’s authority when it comes to training service advisors and service support staff. You can see him on a weekly broadcast of CBT News and read many of his published articles on various automotive publications. Currently partnered with NADA, EasyCare, NCM, Marellen, Elead1One and other vendors and manufacturers.

Visit his website at AutomotiveServiceTraining.com get info on On-Site Training, Public and Private Workshops, DVD Training Program, Webinars, and a FREE trial of Virtual Training! For more great tips and advice, follow Jeff on Twitter at@JCowansProTalk. He’s also on Facebook, and Google+. You can also watch Jeff Cowan’s videos on YouTube! 

For more information call (800) 248-2931 or from outside the U.S., call (949) 713-4469.

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