AKRON (Sept. 30, 2002)—Tire dealers who get accurate background information on prospective employees will save themselves and their businesses untold embarrassment, aggravation and possibly legal entanglements.
Experience shows that performing several simple checks can avert most hiring disasters.
I believe two common factors increase the risk of hiring blunders today. The first is the fact that so many bosses I meet are so desperate to find good help. The cruel truth is that some service shop owners will hire anyone with a pulse who has any mechanical aptitude. You´re lucky if these bosses even attempt to contact the prospect´s previous employer(s).
The second factor is the relatively lax approach to hiring and firing that is commonplace in so many auto service facilities. When I was younger, I don´t ever remember filling out a job application for an auto service facility. Many of my contemporaries had the same experiences. They´ll also agree that it´s only fairly recently that many employers have required them to complete a detailed job application.
Many bosses in the auto service industry are former technicians or service managers. If they´ve never been exposed to thorough hiring procedures, they´re likely to continue hiring the same way they were hired years ago-the minimal-effort, minimal-hassle way.
To my knowledge, bosses are legally required to get at least two pieces of evidence (for example, Social Security number and a valid driver´s license) proving that a prospective hire is an American citizen. If this person isn´t a citizen, he or she is supposed to have a permit to work in this country. How many employers ever meet this obligation?
What´s more, experience shows that simply talking to the previous employer may not reveal any meaningful information. The reason is that some bosses are so egotistical and/or sensitive that they´re reluctant to admit a hiring blunder to anyone-especially to another tire dealer or service shop operator in the same town or city. So if a fellow boss calls about a prospective new hire, the previous employer´s attitude is: ``I had to figure this loser out for myself, so my competitor is welcome to figure him out, too!´´
Fear of physical retribution may be another reason a former employer won´t bad-mouth your prospective new hire. The previous employer may not want to risk any kind of physical confrontation with a hulking, hotheaded tech who (thankfully) went looking for greener pastures. When this guy left, the entire dealership´s staff breathed a collective sigh of relief.
A prudent boss should do at least four things before taking on a new worker. First, have the prospective hire fill out a detailed job application. Clearly state on the application that lying about or omitting any criminal record is cause for immediate dismissal.
Next, phone as many former employers as possible to get the best overall picture of this prospect´s real personality and work history.
Third, give the worker´s name, address and Social Security number to your local police department and ask them to run a background check. I sincerely doubt the police will mind doing this because this is a potential opportunity for them to track a bad guy. Experience shows that this step alone probably would have flagged the guy you ultimately wish you had not hired.
There have been cases where the cops nab a guy because he has a criminal record and a crime committed in the neighborhood matches this fellow´s old modus operandi. Then it´s all over the local media that this convicted sex offender or whatever-an employee of ``Such and Such Tire Centers´´-was picked up for questioning. Talk about the wrong kind of publicity!
Fourth, verify that the job candidate has a valid driver´s license. Then pass this prospect´s information on to your dealership´s insurance company. It´s not uncommon to learn that although the job applicant presently has a valid license, his driving record is so abysmal that he´s uninsurable. For example, a buddy of mine couldn´t hire a promising young tech because the kid´s driving record was so bad that the insurer wouldn´t even cover him while moving vehicles around on shop property.
The bottom line on hiring is that an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.