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5 Rules for Minimizing Bad Hires

Originally published: 09.01.13 by Jim Johnson

How to be a more effective recruiter

Hiring right is the first step in the ongoing process of developing people and molding an effective team for your business or department. However, sometimes things are not as they appear. And when things are not as they appear in the process of hiring, the negative results can be around a lot longer than the tenure of the person who winds up being terminated.

Certainly, entire books are available on the subject of seeking and evaluating employees: from how to advertise to deciding what type of application to use in order to be in compliance with the law to how to scan resumes and more. Those resources can help someone who doesn’t fit the profile of a formally trained HR person (such as many HVAC contractors and service managers) gain a much better understanding of the hiring process. But here are five simple rules you can follow to help you hire the right person and minimize those bad decisions most of us can admit we’ve made.

Rule One: Ask good questions during the interview.

Make a list of your questions and remember, “Tell me about yourself ” is not on the list. It’s not a question,

and taking that approach can be a tremendous waste of time.

The best way to know what an applicant’s profile is really about is to ask a detailed, story-style question about a specific situation you’ve encountered. For example: “About two months ago we replaced an outdoor fan motor for a customer and everything checked out okay. Last week, she called and said her air conditioning wasn’t working again. She was mad and loud and demanded
we come back at no charge. How would you handle this situation?”

If you’re interviewing someone for an office position, their answer would probably be along the lines of making sure the customer understands the warranty on their repair would be honored and that a technician would be dispatched as quickly as possible. If you’re interviewing a technician, the best response should include details about not only finding out whether or not the repair would be covered under warranty, but, if it wasn’t, that every effort would be made to explain things to the customer in a manner they can understand.

Rule Two: Make your hiring decision after two interviews.

The fact is, when we take the time to think and recall everything, we make the best hiring decision possible after multiple meetings. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed. If the applicant is pushing for a commitment right then and there, maybe even mentioning that they have other interviews scheduled, it’s possible you just got all the information you need to make your decision.

The procedure here is simple. Let the applicant know that you use a multiple interview process to make hiring decisions and that you’ll be contacting them to set a follow-up appointment. Taking this approach sends a signal to potential employees that you run a first-class operation. And, they should be happy to know they’ve ‘made the cut’ to a second interview.

Rule Three: Follow-up interviews should not be done alone.

Having others present during the interview to contribute to the evaluation process is another way of showing a potential employee that your company is a quality operation. In addition, someone else may see or feel something you missed, good or bad. Another bonus of the multiple-person interview is that it protects you from possible complaints or legal action by someone you don’t hire.

When the initial interview is finished, let the applicant know you will get back to them by a given deadline, then make sure you keep your promise. This is important for two reasons. First, it’s fair to the applicant. If you let them know you’ve decided they aren’t a fit for your organization, they can move on to focus on other prospects. Second, it’s another way of reinforcing the idea that your organization is one people want to work for.

Rule Four: Understand different personalities and the various methods of human communication.

Google or Bing these terms as a group: Relator, Director, Socializer, Thinker. If you haven’t had the opportunity to study personality traits and the different ways people communicate, prepare to be enlightened about people in general and why they act and react the way they do in different situations. Also be prepared for some ‘aha’ moments with regard to your current employees. After a quick review of these subjects, you’ll be putting names to the different traits and habits you’ve read about. Studying this subject will give you valuable insight into an applicant’s traits and how they might – or might not – fit in with your current employees.

Rule Five: Start out on the right foot by letting your new employee know why they were chosen.

A statement such as, “The reason I hired you is I know you’re the kind of person who can handle things without coming to me to get confirmation about every little thing,” is a powerful technique in building an employer/employee relationship and instilling the kind of pride in a person that won’t allow them to do less than their best.

In the end, that’s all we can really ask of the people we hire. But the process of helping employees motivate themselves to maintain a strong work ethic and do a good job doesn’t start on the day they are officially on the payroll: it begins when you meet them for the first time. Follow the rules outlined here and you’ll set the right tone at the onset, and make better, more effective hiring decisions.

With four decades of industry experience, Jim Johnson has facilitated hundreds of training seminars, workshops and classes in the HVACR, electrical and refrigeration areas. He has written four textbooks for the HVACR industry and ten technician handbooks. He has developed and presented more than 75 video training programs. He has also written more than 500 feature articles for trade magazines and is a regular columnist for several. His Tuscon, AZ-based company, Technical Training Associates, provides technician training videos and presents workshops on both technician and soft skills subjects. Contact Jim at jim@techtrainassoc.com


Articles by Jim Johnson

5 Rules for Minimizing Bad Hires

These five rules will help you hire the right people and avoid making bad decisions with potentially negative consequences.
View article.