Tom Hanks in the movie “Forrest Gump” said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” The same is true when hiring a new

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employee. There is an artful science to choosing the right person. Follow these ideas to help yourself avoid problem hires and find future employee all-stars.

• Make sure you’re using people effectively. First, never hire to fill a gap where a better process is needed. A classic example is hiring additional front office staff to help keep customers informed about their estimate, schedule or job. Often using an automated e-mail system is much more efficient, leaving time-consuming calls for only those customers without an e-mail address.

• Create the position and then fill it. Sometimes it’s hard to pass on a strong candidate. Trying to find a place for a mediocre employee rather than letting them go can be even more difficult. The better practice is to create the position and its duties, then find the right person to fill it.

• Know who’s on your bench.Teams have backup players. Yours should, too. Always be recruiting. Create a buzz about your company and be on the lookout for talent. You never know when you’ll find the right person. But keep this in mind: If they aren’t working now, there is a reason. Have a backup for each position in your company. Keep them in mind and call on them if a position opens.

• Slow down!What’s the rush? It is estimated that hiring the wrong person will cost $50,000 on average. From training and lost production to infecting others and severance pay, hiring quickly will cost you. Take your time and make sure it’s the right decision. Remember, hiring is the easy part.


Where to Look

Forget the services. Monster, Career Builder, the classified section or your local newspaper and headhunters are a waste of time and money. The people you want are connected to your organization already. Offer up $100 to your existing staff for anyone who brings in a candidate that gets hired. If that candidate stays for 90 days, give the finder another $300. This will create the “pigeon effect.” Your existing staff members will take the new hire under their wing and acclimate them to your company’s culture. This is invaluable and will produce the fastest results. But there are other places to scout out future employees.

• Salespeople:Bartenders make great salespeople. They are used to listening and usually have strong people skills. Many are college educated, carrying a degree in business or communications — both perfect degrees for a sales career. What’s great about bartenders is they respond well to customers’ needs, don’t mind working more than just a nine-to-five shift and understand a sense of urgency.

• Customer service representatives:The hospitality industry has this one on lockdown. Hotel front desk receptionists are my favorite. Some of the best customer service training systems were developed by the hospitality industry. They typically are very presentable, well dressed, smile constantly, remember customers’ names and follow up to ensure the person’s expectations were exceeded.

• Administrators: This is where it’s good to go geek. Best Buy, computer repair shops and retail phone outlets are breeding grounds for the perfect administrator. They love gadgets and can double as your in-house IT staff. Administrators need to multitask; computers make that possible. Look for someone who can keep all your projects and their details in order. They can also double as an inside salesperson, upselling during the job process.

• Supervisors:Now it’s time to hire from within the roofing industry. Lead repair technicians from other companies make great supervisors. Hiring from within here can lead to a lack of respect among other employees. Repair techs are experts in tracking down leaks. They know what installation errors lead to quality defects. And, repair techs are used to working on the roof, not riding in a truck all day merely pointing out errors. Look for someone who wants to put on the tool belt and teach others the right way of doing things. They also have experience in dealing with customers. Teach them a bit of salesmanship and it will pay for itself in three months.

• Crew members:It’s best to stay out of this one altogether. Good crews are like well-oiled machines. If all the parts don’t go together perfectly the timing will be off, there will be a lack of production and resources will be wasted. Set the parameters and let the crews find their own team members. Recruit from within. Oftentimes, best friends will work on opposite crews. Putting them together will make a super crew.


What to Look For

Hire for talent, not skill. Talent can mean many things. What’s important is that they have the capacity to do the job right. Training someone how to do a job is easy. Teaching them how to be a good person is impossible.

• Conduct multiple interviews: Have your office manager weed out the candidates first. Then call the good ones back for a second interview with your sales manager. It’s important that they fit into your sales culture. After the candidate passes those interviews it’s time for the boss to have a look.

• Ask questions that make you go hmmm: The first few interviews should be about experience, skills, past positions and education. The last interview is more about digging deep to discover the inner personality that will show itself later. There are certain questions that make a candidate think. There might not be any right or wrong answers — the questions just show you how they think. This can provide valuable insight into the candidate. Go to for a list of sample questions to use in the interview process.

• Search for all-stars:Specifically look for past accomplishments. Look for association memberships, sports team positions, history playing a musical instrument, community club memberships and church affiliations. Now dig deeper. Did they just participate or are they in a leadership position within their association? Leaders will be leaders in everything they do. Look for presidents, chairmen and captains.

• Make the sale:Once you have decided on the candidate it’s time to sell your culture, goals and beliefs to them. Get buy-in and make them excited about the work they are about to partake in. Make them feel a part of your family. Listen to their ideas before they are brainwashed into your way of doing things. Reward openness and reflection. Outsiders can have a unique perspective that could help your organization.


Every new hire, regardless of position, should go through a new employee orientation. This three- or four-hour class should be conducted by the person who handles your HR functions and should include information on all the basics of your company. Examples include: safety, company history, employee manual highlights, non-compete clause and non-disclosure agreement.

After the new employee orientation, design a custom training program for each recruit based on their prior knowledge and the position they are being trained for. Here are some training examples for a salesperson:

1. Website training:Use your website and existing brochures as a basic training starter. Explain each system step by step. Be specific about the why behind the reason your company chooses to use each system, component and manufacturer. The majority of this training is done without oversight. Test at the end to ensure the recruit is clear and has completed the self-taught training.

2. Shadow training:There is no better way to teach someone how to perform duties than by having them shadow your best employee. Salesmen should not run a lead on their own until they have had at least three months of shadowing.

3. Dale Carnegie training: Often thought of as the original sales trainer, Dale Carnegie’s book is one of the best all-time sellers behind the Bible. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is the source for all the great sales and customer service trainers since the book was released in 1936. The 12-week course can be completed at night and is well worth the investment.

4. Career path: Once training is completed, set their list of duties. At that time grant them the authority to make tough decisions without approval and give them the responsibility to make good ones.

This month’s homework is to list the key positions in your company and start looking for backups. Create an employee manual, if you don’t already have one, and have each person in your company sign it. Look at each employee and create a list of training steps to ensure they are trained properly. If you come across someone who isn’t up the task, ask yourself these two questions before terminating them: (1) Is their lack of performance a result of poor training? (2) If they quit today, would I rehire them?

 If you would like copies of a non-compete clause, non-disclosure agreement, 90-day probation period agreement and/or employee manual, please e-mail me at  



Pickup Truck                                    Interview Questions


Here are some sample questions you can use when screening candidates during job interviews. Many of these questions have no right or wrong answer; they are designed to reveal how the candidate thinks. Remember, you are after information and critical thinking skills so don’t engage or debate with the candidate. Remember that tone and nonverbal cues can be just as important as what the candidate says.


A. General Questions:

• If you owned a company and were interviewing someone for a position in your organization, what would be the most important to you, the candidate’s ability to do the job, the candidates desire to do the job, or the candidates fit in your organization, and why?

• (Candidate), take the next 20 or 30 minutes to tell me about you; start anywhere, finish anywhere. [Note: Do not lead or tell them where to start.]

• Anything else?

• What has been your greatest success in life?

• On the flip side of that, what has been your greatest failure or disappointment? [Note: Remember to emphasize “disappointment.” not “failure.’]

• What would be the number one character trait that you would look for if you were hiring someone to work at your company? [Note: You are looking for honesty and/or integrity. If the response is something other than these, simply ask, “Where would honesty and integrity fit in”?]

• What is the first name of your best friend? If (best friend’s name) was to describe you with five adjectives, which five would he or she use? [Note: This reveals listening skills and how the candidate believes others perceive them. Remain silent until the candidate has given you all five before proceeding.]

• On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest, how well do I know you? [Note: Indicates forthrightness and confidence.]

• What would cause me to know you better? [Note: May solicit additional information and once again allude to ‘fit’ in your organization.]


B. Drive

• How do you determine your priorities?

• What happens when two priorities compete with your time?

• Have you ever found it necessary to sacrifice personal plans in favor of your professional responsibilities?

• How do you plan your day?

• Explain in detail the most difficult task you ever had to complete?


C. Motivation

• What motivates you to put forth the greatest effort?

• Where do you feel you need to improve?

• What is your definition of success?

• What have you done to become more effective in your career?

• What are some of the ways you have seen managers not motivate employees?


D. Communication

• What is the most important aspect of writing and sending an e-mail?

• If I ask you to make me a peanut butter sandwich tell me how you would do it from start to finish?

• What types of employees cause the most problems for you?

• At your previous job, who did you interact with on a daily basis?

• Do you prefer to speak directly with someone or send them an e-mail?


E. Chemistry

• What is the definition of cooperation?

• Have you ever worked with a team like this before?

• Describe the best person who ever worked with you?

• How do you get along with people whom you don’t like?

• Have you ever been in a dispute with a co-worker or supervisor? How was it resolved?


F. Reliability

• What is your reaction when you are late for an appointment?

• Why will you be successful at this job?

• How has your recent job changed while you’ve been there?

• What aspect of your job gives you the most enjoyment?

• What aspects of your job cause you the most problems?


G. Integrity

• For what have you been most recently criticized?

• Do you read a lot? Who is your favorite author? What book are you currently reading?

• What have you been involved with you now regret?

• What is worse than making a mistake?

• When a co-worker defies management what do you do?


H. Dedication

• How long do you anticipate working here?

• What is the most frustrating work related experience you have ever faced?

• Tell me about a time you conformed to a policy with which you disagreed?

• Why are you giving up your current job?

• What kind of things do you find difficult to do?


I. Pride

• What are you best known for?

• What are some things about which you and your boss disagreed?

• What can you do for us that someone else can’t?

• What makes a job enjoyable for you?

• If every job in the world paid the same where would you work?


J. Efficiency

• What are the three main resources people have available to them?

• Which resource is the most important?

• What do you consider to be you’re your biggest time waster?

• Tell me about something you started you couldn’t finish?


K. Economy

• Have you ever experienced financial stress?

• What is the key to managing your money?

• What is the number one motivator of people?

• What do you like most about our company and our mission statement?


L. Procedures

• Who was the toughest manager you ever worked for?

• Who is the worst manager you ever word for?

• Why should you follow a chain of command?

• Who is the best manager you ever worked for?