7 Tips for Hiring Great Employees
Originally published: 1/1/10 by Garrett Miller
The ‘WHIM’ approach ensures key attributes aren’t overlooked.
The HVACR industry — along with many others — will find itself on a hiring frenzy this decade as scores of skilled technicians reach retirement age. This makes it imperative to revisit your hiring processes. Are they rigorous enough? Even if you think they are, it’s worth it to tighten your hiring processes even more so that you don’t waste valuable time and money.
A recent survey of small-business owners by SurePayroll Inc. found that poor hiring costs about $10,000 perhire. And according to a recent study by Leadership IQ, nearly half of all new hires (46%) fail within 18 months — mostly, managers admit, because flaws were overlooked during the interview process.
So how can hiring managers identify the qualities that make great employees and avoid costly hiring mistakes? Here are seven tips, which combined I call “hiring on a WHIM”:
“Listen” to the resume. Resumes tell a story. Look for overlapping activities and jobs — signaling strong work ethic and an ability to juggle. Find patterns — length of employment, work settings, and job structures they gravitated toward. Note any gaps, and ask about them.
Assess their Work ethic. Ask candidates to describe their college or work experience in detail. Listen for signs of motivation, intensity, and excitement. For recent grads with little or no work experience, were they just busy, or busy with a purpose (i.e., doing activities to grow and develop)?
Discern their Humility. Ask the candidates to describe the last process they had to learn. Good signs are willingness to ask for help and seek coaching. Find out their preferred work style — the need to work alone could signal trouble. Ask what they learned from their most humbling moment.
Determine their Integrity. Ask candidates about their biggest disappointment or failure, and see if they took the appropriate level of responsibility for it. Look for moral conflicts in the decision-making process, and ask candidates how they handled these.
Evaluate their Maturity. Ask them to describe how they picture themselves five years from now. Also ask them to talk about one of their greatest regrets. Listen for bitterness/complaining versus maturity.
Throw in a wrench. Knock them off balance to see how they react. For example, invite them to the cafeteria and see how they chat with you while waiting in line. New settings create stress and illuminate personality traits.
Heed your gut. Every candidate must have at least one strong example for each WHIM quality, above. If one seems weaker than the others, ask targeted questions in the follow-up interview. If you’re overly enamored with one or two qualities and ignore a gap, you’ll regret it. Listen to your gut.
Once you understand the WHIM ideals, here’s what to do with them during the interview process:
- Write down each of the four WHIM qualities — Work ethic, Humility, Integrity, and Maturity — leaving space for notes.
- Have at least one example for each quality that you observe in the candidate. If one seems weaker than the others, make a note to follow up with targeted questions in the follow-up interview.
- Take some time to review the candidate with a respected colleague. Ask him or her to “quiz” you about each of the four qualities. Encourage your colleague to “push” you.
- Even if you like this candidate, honestly assess whether he fulfills the skill sets your team needs or other non-negotiables for the position.
- What if you feel the candidate may lack a certain quality but has “potential” and are willing to work with him? If you believe that the WHIM qualities are not teachable and nonnegotiable, why take the risk?
- In the second or third interview, meet the candidate in a new setting to knock her off balance and see different sides of her personality.
- If you have any lingering doubts about the candidate, probe the area until you are thoroughly satisfied. You want to see if he is easily frustrated or uncomfortable.
- If you gave the recruit feedback or advice during the first interview, check to see whether he listened and acted on the suggestion.
- If your gut is telling you something isn’t right, listen!
- Finally, let the recruit know you’re not certain this is what she wants. Try to sell her out of the job enough to examine one last time whether she thinks it’s right for her.
Garrett Miller is a workplace productivity coach and trainer, keynote speaker, and author of Hire on a WHIM: The Four Qualities that Make for Great Employees (2010, www.HireonaWHIM.com). Known for his extensive experience in hiring, training, attracting, and retaining top talent, he is president and CEO of CoTria, a company that provides time-saving solutions to help clients manage more efficiently.