We've all done it, though none of us is proud of it. Even human resource professionals will occasionally admit to doing it.
I'm talking about the fact that we've all hired at least one person for the wrong reasons. It happens a number of different ways, but the most common are:
* Your dealership is down two service personnel and a strong-looking person walks in the door seeking work. He fills the need because he meets the job's key requirement: He's a warm body when you desperately need one!
* You hire a person because they interviewed ``extremely well.'' But strangely, they are not performing well in their position. Reflecting back to the interview, you realize you spent the entire time talking about some point of common interest-like basketball or fishing-and did not spend any time really interviewing the person for the job. Unfortunately, now you wish you'd been more objective and focused on your evaluation of the person as a candidate for the job.
* You hired the person because they were either a great-looking or a very engaging candidate.
Some people are expert interviewees. I have a friend who has been offered every position for which she has interviewed. And as for looks, an anecdote will deliver my message: We once had an employee who was placing in our files the tax checks we owed to the states and instead mailing check copies to them. When the states called to complain, we talked to her manager, who said, ``But she looked so good doing it.''
Although my experience includes using many of the techniques outlined in this article, I conducted further research with Mike Wadzita, president of Psy-q-chem ([email protected]), who has been in the candidate screening business for 20 years. He states that ``the limited expense incurred screening candidates more than pays for itself in reduced turnover, reduced shrinkage and candidates who exceed the performance expectations.''
There are a number of different screening tools available that can increase the likelihood that the chosen candidate will perform well in the desired position. The following explanation should provide your management with an overview of these methods and help you choose an approach that best meets your needs.
There are four screening techniques that are used to varying degrees in the workplace. They are:
1. A candidate employment inventory-which is a tool that predicts the likelihood for an applicant to succeed in certain areas;
2. Honesty or integrity surveys;
3. Drug testing; and
4. Applicant background checks.
A candidate employment inventory is typically a paper and pencil tool that consists of 90 to 150 questions. After the candidate spends 15 to 30 minutes answering the questions, the results can help predict their potential performance, their likelihood to stay with the company and their customer service and sales ability.
Honesty/integrity surveys are questionnaires that seek to assess the candidate's propensity to steal from their employer. The theory is that if you and all your peers steal from your employer, your idea of normal acceptable work behavior includes pilfering from your workplace.
My experience with these forms has been that candidates do fill in the questionnaire with items or dollar amounts they have stolen from their past employers. However, most candidates do become ``test wise'' once they have completed enough forms which say they steal-and they realize they're not being called back for interviews.
Drug testing is now available in three testing techniques: the hair testing method; the oral saliva screen and the most commonly used urine test.
The hair testing method is the least likely to be adulterated. It typically identifies any drug that has been introduced into a candidate's body within the last 30 to 90 days.
The saliva screen is relatively new. Presently, it has limited ability to detect marijuana that has been smoked more than eight hours before testing.
Though the most common type of test, urinalysis is sometimes considered the most offensive. Also, believe it or not, candidates do go to extreme measures to get a negative test result under this method. Thankfully, most professional collection sites will alert the employer to a questionable sample. However, drug-free urine can be purchased over the Internet or from ads in the backs of magazines, and there are Web sites devoted solely to helping candidates pass upcoming drug tests.
The results of all drug tests are legally confidential. In the event a candidate tests positive for drugs, a medical review officer (MRO) contacts the employee and then alerts the employer. Negative results are typically available within one to two days, with positive results taking an additional day or two.
Background checks/examinations are extensive and can be obtained through one source. Psy-q-chem's Mr. Wadzita impressed me with the ease and quick turnaround of providing all of an applicant's background information, including:
* Identity verifications and address histories;
* Criminal records at the county, state and federal levels;
* Employment, education and credential verifications (Experts say 30 percent of applicants embellish their employment positions and educational levels);
* Motor vehicle reports;
* Consumer credit reports; and
* Civil and bankruptcy records.
The age of the computer, the Internet, faxes and the old reliable telephone make it easy to obtain the results of any of these screens.
Sometimes the turnaround times for drug test results are a bit lengthy. However, most often it's because they are trying to get in touch with the applicant (so that tells you it's a positive result). Or it's because your applicant never went to take the test regardless of what they may be telling your employee in charge of obtaining the results.
If you are unclear if your dealership's needs are met by any of these screens, many companies are willing to customize a screen to meet your specific requirements.
The last screening technique-and still the most widely accepted-is the personal interview. This is still my screening technique of choice.
However, the methods outlined above provide valuable additional information which typically cannot be obtained through an interview. I don't know about you, but during an interview I still cannot tell if a person is on drugs, has a bad credit history or has a criminal record.
``The interview'' has been around so long that in some instances a company's interviewing process can become complacent. Interviewing takes time and therefore costs money, so an interviewing plan is a good idea. The one outlined below is a minimal yet effective approach:
After the resumes or applications have been reviewed, have a person with a friendly, competent voice conduct an initial phone interview.
The person would call the applicant and say, ``Hello, this is Mary Fitzgerald from XYZ Co., and I am calling to discuss the application/resume recently submitted for our abc position.''
Typically, because the person is working full time, this call should be made after their work day and after the dinner hour. In a brief screening interview, one can assess if the candidate meets the outlined requirements of the position. Additionally, because this call is made after hours when people are not wearing their ``interviewing face,'' you will be amazed, if not shocked, by what information they offer in a quick, ``casual'' 15-minute discussion.
Review their experience before they walk in your office. When conducting the interview, know the key elements of your open position and truly interview the candidate to see if his or her experience or aptitude meets the demands of the position.
When possible, have more than one person interview the applicant. For more technical or skill-specific positions, someone needs to assess the candidate's technical skills. Another interviewer-who is very proud of your dealership and is a good salesperson-should tell the applicant about the advantages of joining your company.
Remember to interview for how the candidate's personality will fit in with peers and subordinates at your company. I've seen many terminations over the years that were attributable to an employee's lack of people skills. Sometimes, even though a manager is technically sound, his employees wouldn't follow him out of a burning building because they just don't like him. Each interviewer should have ``an assignment'' in terms of what their role is as it relates to the candidate's assessment.
The interviewers should communicate discreetly with each other while the candidate is in between interviews. For example, while the candidate is getting coffee, if there is a concern after one interview, an interviewer may want to alert the next to further question a particular topic.
After the interviews are completed, ask for references-and then actually call them. Yes, most references are positive. Also, many companies have policies wherein they only give out limited information.
However, ask the positive references to provide you with the one area they have noticed the person has made improvements (vs. one area of weakness which you may not obtain from a personal reference).
Ask previous companies if the applicant is eligible for rehire. If so, the answer is typically, ``Oh sure, we'd love to have Bill back.''
If not, the answer is usually one of hesitation and hedging and then something mumbled about how the company does not give out that information.
I'm not going to drone on with statistics about the cost of turnover to an organization. We know it is expensive, time consuming and, frankly, quite distracting from the business of selling tires and making money.
So the next time you're screening an applicant for a new position, dedicate the extra time it takes to be prepared and gather the available candidate information. This will reduce your turnover, increase your productivity and give you more time to devote to the task at hand-selling tires and making money.