Tips for Hiring the Right People for Your Firm

For any kitchen and bath firm, people are the number one asset. That means learning to hire the best, train the best, motivate the best, communicate the best and compensate the best will help you become the best!

Hiring the best people begins with the screening process. Hopefully, when you advertise an open position, you’ll get a number of resumes and job applications. To efficiently screen and assess candidates’ skills and prevent stars from getting lost in the pile of submissions, you must establish a process for evaluating resumes.

The resume remains an essential tool for employers for screening candidates: It should allow you to begin the process of determining if the candidate is a good fit for the position and deciding whether this is someone you will want to interview.

We all know that resumes only tell you what the candidate wants you to know. And, we know that there are professional resume writers out there who are helping folks do their resumes. However, resumes still are one of the main tools to work with.

The visual presentation of the resume is key. Is it clean and concise? Is it organized or sloppy?

When evaluating resumes, look for stability by evaluating how long the candidate has stayed at each job. Three or four years at the same company usually shows stability.

Progress and promotions in previous jobs are also a good sign. Look for words like “led,” “planned,” “coached,” “coordinated,” “collaborated,” “motivated,” “negotiated” and similar action words that might highlight accomplishments.

Of course, just as a resume can show strengths, it can call attention to possible weaknesses.

Here are some resume “red flags” to watch for:

  • Typos.
  • Misspelled words.
  • Grammatical errors and poor punctuation.
  • Outdated information.
  • A non-chronological organization or lack of dates, which could be an attempt to disguise either a history of job
  • hopping or a long period of unemployment.
  • Use of vague titles or descriptions
  • Irrelevant personal information.
  • A job history that indicates a lack of progress or promotions.
  • Frequent job changes.
  • Missing standard information – such as educational or experience history.

On the other hand, following are some resume hot buttons that will indicate you’re on the right track:


  • Has the candidate done this job somewhere else?
  • Does the person have skills you require?
  • Has the person augmented the skill set with on-the-job or outside training?
  • Has the candidate made a contribution with previous employers?


  • Will the candidate be a good cultural fit with your team?
  • Does the candidate seem to have the confidence to do the job?
  • What evidence is exhibited that the person will be conscientious, hardworking and determined?
  • Did the candidate stay with previous employers for a long period of time?
  • Will the person be easy to manage?

Salary Expectations

  • Is the job salary range appropriate to the job history?
  • Is the salary what the person wants to earn?
  • Will the benefits meet the candidate’s needs?
  • Can the firm afford the person?

The Iinterview Process

While resumes and cover letters present only the information the candidate wants you to see, interviews allow you to find out about qualities and shortcomings that are not revealed on paper. Specifically, it is an opportunity to ask questions that will help you access how the candidate will perform on the job. To help in the screening process, you may want to do a phone interview first.

The goal of every interview is to assess the candidate’s specific skills, to get a sense of how the person will fit in with your organization and to judge the candidate’s enthusiasm for the position. Having two or three people within the organization interview the same candidate gives you a much broader perspective on the applicant.

When interviewing a candidate, keep your questions open ended. Encourage the candidate to talk. Be a good listener. You won’t learn much if you do the bulk of the talking.

Here are some of the basic questions that should be asked:

1. Why did you leave your last place of employment? Was it the environment, the boss or the team?
2. What were your specific job responsibilities?
3. What is it you liked the most – and least – about your past jobs – and your current job?
4. What is your current compensation and benefit package?
5. Why are you considering changing jobs?
6. Are you aware of the job responsibilities for the position you are applying for?
8. What is the greatest strength you would bring to this position?
9. What things do you find appealing about the company?
10. What specific training have you had that might increase your ability to perform this job?
11. What are you looking for in terms of a new position?
13. When deciding whether or not to join us, which factors would be most important to you: Compensation? Benefits? Work hours? Job security? Opportunities to advance? Work environment?

Assessing Attitude

Many employers believe that people can be taught skills, but that their character is “fixed.” Thus, they specifically look for people with the attitude and/or personality that will mesh with their company’s culture. There are some great personality aptitude tests available for you to use with your top candidates. The one I’ve worked with the most is DISC, and you’ll find them at

Here are three other attributes you might look for: a caring spirit, creativity and pride in achievement.

You also need to be aware of what questions you can’t ask by law. In general, if a question does not relate directly to the individual’s job history or his/her performance of the job, don’t ask it!

Here are some questions you should never ask:

  • Are you married?
  • What is your spouse’s name?
  • What is your maiden name?
  • Do you have any children?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • What are your child-care or senior care arrangements?
  • What is your race?
  • What is your country of origin?
  • What religion do you practice or which church do you attend?
  • What religious holidays do you celebrate?
  • Do you own or rent your home? Who resides with you?
  • What is your birth date?
  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • Are you a U.S. citizen?
  • Are you disabled?
  • What is the nature or severity of your disability?

Be sure you’ve given the candidate every opportunity to ask questions and/or add anything they believe would be important. If the candidate is a strong contender for the job, you may want to “sell” them on the company, opportunities, etc. You may want to give them a tour of the business.

Tell the candidates what the next step in the hiring process will be and give them a rough time frame for making your decision.
Finally, I would suggest that you leave plenty of time to do a thorough interview (at least one hour), always start and finish with a friendly statement or comment to the applicant and do it right the first time. Making hiring mistakes is costly in time, money and morale.