Hiring Right the First Time Around

The economy is fantastic! Inflation is at a minimum, and unemployment is at its lowest in decades. Yet finding (and keeping) good people is still one of the toughest parts of our jobs as kitchen and bath owners/managers. So when you do make that hiring decision you want it to be the right one. Turn over of people is a "killer," both in employee morale and customer service.'

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to locate the most highly qualified candidates for your job opening. You will have a wide range of tools at your disposal, but your budget has limits. You'll have to be cunning and resourceful, and keep your wits about you at all times.'

Once you've located your candidates, your task is to narrow them down to one person.'

It's then your job to ensure that the person is successfully brought into your firm. You must succeed in your mission the alternative is too expensive.

Qualities to look for when interviewing potential employees include:'

  • Hard working In the long term, hard work can make up for lack of experience or training. You want to hire people who are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.'
  • Good attitude 'People who are friendly, positive, enthusiastic and willing to help will make everyone's work life easier and more enjoyable.'
  • Experience Generally, the more experience, the less training you'll have to do.'
  • Stable There usually are reasons people change jobs a lot. You don't want your company to be just another stop.'
  • Smart Smart people learn quicker! They will often find better and quicker solutions, too.'
  • Responsible You want people who are (and will be) responsible, both personally and professionally.

Hiring the right people is one of the most important tasks a manager faces.'

Unfortunately, too many kitchen and bath dealers don't or won't take the necessary time to properly prepare for the interview process. Since people are your most important business asset, and you'll only be as successful as the employees working for you, it behooves you to do this all-important job successfully.

Is this a new position, or are you filling an existing one? Either way, before you start the recruiting process, you need to know exactly what standards you're going to use to measure your candidates.'

Draft a job description that fully describes all the tasks and responsibilities of the position, and the minimum necessary qualifications and experience. The more specific you are about the responsibilities, the better your chances of weeding out the unqualified applicants.

List the necessary characteristics, and assign a wage range for the position. Try to be the best-paying company in your industry for your area. Earn this reputation, and good people won't leave you. In fact, they'll seek you out!

Everywhere I travel, business owners ask me, "Where can I find good people?" There is no easy answer. Demand is greater than supply right now. At our business, our best employees were "grown" from within. We were willing to hire folks that were short on experience, but long on the characteristics from the list above. Sure, it took longer to train these people, but they were the "keepers."'

Always look within first. If you do good job training and developing your employees, you should have someone ready to step into your next job opening. This is cheaper and easier than going outside and it makes for happier employees.'

Ask co-workers, friends, neighbors and relatives for referrals. Who better to give you a lead than someone whose opinion you already value and trust?'

Temporary agencies can be good sources for filling short-term openings, or for hiring "temporary to permanent." This way, you get an opportunity to evaluate the person before making a hiring decision.'

If you have a good relationship with your reps, they, too, can be a good source for referrals. Referrals through NKBA, ASID, NARI, etc., can be a good source, as well.'
Every day, companies are discovering the benefits of using the Internet as a hiring tool.'

Web pages let you present almost unlimited amounts and kinds of information about your firm and your job openings. Your page(s) work(s) for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.'

Traditional help-wanted ads are relatively inexpensive, and they're an easy way to get your message out to a large cross section of potential candidates.

Weeding out
Once you've accumulated extensive list of candidates what's next?'

1. Review the resumes. The resume can be a revealing road map as to whether an applicant is right for the job. Watch out for demotions, inconsistencies, conflicting dates or too many job changes.'

2. Become familiar with the job description. Be sure you know all the duties, requirements and characteristics of the job.'

3. Draft your questions before the interview, and select a comfortable and private environment.'

5. Structure the interview. Set aside plenty of time, and be a good listener.'

6. Ask the right questions (both general and specific), and ask plenty of open-ended questions.'

7. Take lots of notes. Don't rely on your memory. If you interview more than a few candidates, you'll forget who said what. Your notes will not only help you remember the interview, but will help in your evaluation process.'

8. Evaluate your candidates. Review the resumes and your notes narrow the list down to the very best candidates and check references. Don't assume you won't learn anything because of the laws limiting what a former employer can say. Many former bosses don't know the law, or don't care.

9. Conduct a second or third round of interviews. Bring other supervisors or work associates into the process. You'll all be working together, and teamwork is important so get their input.'

10 . Hire the person most qualified for the position keeping the job description foremost in your mind. Then make your offer 'in writing.'

11. Stay legal. Be sure you know what you can and can't ask in an interview.
People are the heart of every business. The more qualified the people you hire (and keep), the better your business is going to be.

This is not a mission impossible!