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How to Hire the Right Person from the Start

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One mistake cost Elizabeth Mayoral $7,000 out of pocket and ruined a number of her shop’s relationships. That mistake was hiring the wrong person. The estimator that she hired ended up not being who he said he was and was, in fact, stealing business from right under her nose.  

Since that bad hire, Mayoral, owner of JC Collision Center USA in Bakersfield, Calif., has overhauled her hiring process. Here are her tips for finding the right candidate.


Check References Up Front.

One of the biggest mistakes Mayoral made in her previous hire was not checking references—a mistake she does not intend to repeat. When a local body shop closed, Mayoral took advantage of the opportunity and asked around about the staff. The woman that she eventually hired on as the new estimator came highly recommended from local adjusters and a member of California's Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR).


Set Clear Expectations From The Start.

When Mayoral walks into an interview now, she’s not empty handed. With her, she has a list of expectations and goals for the job that she’s hiring for.

“I go over every single line and let them know what’s expected of them and explain what the goals for each position are,” Mayoral says.

If an employee is struggling or mishandles a situation, Mayoral will bring that employee into her office and pull out the job description. She then has the employee brainstorm what they could have done differently according to their listed expectations.


Find A Good Match.

Mayoral doesn’t start her techs at a high rate anymore. Instead, she pays mid-level and uses incentives. She says this has helped her weed out people who are not team players.

“I’m looking for visionaries,” Mayoral says. “I want them to see long term. When they come into an interview and start asking what the pay is like right away, that raises a red flag.”

When someone asks that, Mayoral now asks them what they think they should be paid.

“If they say $1,000 per week, I’ll tell them that they write their own paycheck in a way and if that’s what they’re worth, all they have to do is prove it to me,” she says.

Mayoral and her husband, who is co-owner of the shop, now make it a point to both interview the candidate and to thoroughly discuss after.

“I remember there was one candidate that I really liked, but my husband wasn’t as thrilled,” Mayoral says. “We make the decision as a team now.”


Trust Your Gut.

In hindsight, Mayoral says there were things that should have tipped her off that the former estimator was being shady.

“He was always texting, coming in at odd hours,” Mayoral says. “I noticed a lot of things but I never checked in. I felt like it was too personal.”

Now, Mayoral makes it a point to know what’s going on in her staff’s lives. She advises other shop owners to take note of changes in behavior or appearance; it could mean that something else is going on.

“If someone comes in late, I pull them into the office and figure out the reason,” Mayoral explains.

If something seems off, she makes sure she asks. If a staff member is struggling at home, she’s happy to help out. She’ll give time off, even if it means the shop is shorthanded. In the long run, it pays off for her employees to take care of themselves and helps her retain them.

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