“How do you get the best people to your door?” In other words—how do you make sure you hire the people who fit your shop best?
Dave Ludwig, owner of the 28-employee, $4.8-million-per-year Prestige Auto Body in Manchester, N.H., uses this question first to examine how he hires new people for his shop.
For Ludwig, it isn’t simply a matter of choosing from the first people that walk in, it’s about the quality of who you find, as well. Norm Bobay, founder and president of hireMAX, agrees. The two say that quantity of applicants isn’t nearly as useful as quality.
Ludwig and Bobay explain how to get good people in your door—and how to identify who exactly the best job candidates are.
1. Define your shop’s priorities.
Bobay notes that he prefers to start business owners off with a list of priority competencies, then narrow it down from there. He thinks having a pre-established list helps businesses that might otherwise have a difficult time defining them.
“We look at the priority competencies out of 25 that are important to your business, which answers the question: What are the top seven or so competencies that a person interviewing needs to have?”Bobay says.
Ludwig agrees. He thinks the shop’s values will be evident in how you treat your employees. Similarly to how he thinks having a good organization is key, he thinks that the way you shape that organization is influenced by the values that you have, whether you’re aware of it or not.
Overall, the two agree, it becomes easier to determine who is a better fit for your shop when you know what your shop needs.
2. Market with your priority values.
Defining positive values and then actively integrating them into your shop is crucial to encouraging and inspiring your current employees, who might then spread the word to other potential hires.
A lot of people will be quick to leave their jobs if the workplace is chaotic with ill-defined values, Ludwig believes. It creates anxiety on their part and they start to look around, so he prefers to maintain a stable organization.
“Your shop’s culture reflects the type of people you want to hire,” Ludwig notes.
In other words, the shop’s values will be evident in how you treat your employees. A quality candidate will be attracted to a quality workplace.
3. Find out applicants’ priorities.
Using the right type of assessment to screen out people that could be a problem can cut down on wasting time with interviews that would otherwise clearly go nowhere.
There are a number of assessments that can be used to do this. One system that hireMAX uses, Bobay explains, is the Orion Systems Application, intended to screen out various negative qualities.
“We’re measuring their attitude toward work ethics, toward showing up to work, to being absent a lot, drugs, theft, safety, trainability, customer service… they’ve got to have an attitude of some kind toward that stuff,” Bobay says.
Assessing what an applicant’s top seven priorities are is another technique that Bobay uses, as noted above. He believes discovering the priorities of an applicant helps prevent shops from “settling.” It’s important to ensure the applicant is right for your shop, because otherwise, it can be easy to settle for a technician that is less than perfect for the position.
4. Ask good interview questions.
Ludwig likes to hire for “attitude and aptitude.” Those are his shop’s prioritized values, and the questions he asks applicants match that. His system is similar to Bobay’s concerning priorities—it’s a matter of asking questions that pertain to the values you’ve defined for your shop.
“If their attitude says, ‘Hey, I wanna do the right job,’ then I know they’ll be a good fit,” Ludwig says.
By asking applicants questions like: “What does hard work look like for you?” and “Do you like to follow procedures?” their attitude toward the position and their aptitude for it should shine through.
“When I’m talking with a potential technician, I need to find out, do they like following standard operating procedures? Do they not like following procedures?” Ludwig says. If someone says they don’t like to follow procedure because it takes too long, the procedure is too rigid, or for any number of other reason, Ludwig knows they aren’t a good fit for the shop.
5. Match the person to the position.
Finding the right applicant also depends on the position itself. Their ideals may match up with you and your shop’s, but that isn’t the full extent to which priorities are important. Beyond determining both the applicants’ and your shop’s priorities, it’s important to determine the competencies required for a specific job.
“If you’ve got a technician position, that might be more suited to someone introverted or smart that can figure everything out and fix it,” Bobay says. “But if someone’s going to be dealing with the public, potential customers, you don’t want that same person who might not be very people-friendly.”
The pre-screening process also helps Ludwig determine whether other aspects of the job’s requirements fit the applicant’s personality.
For him, attitude and aptitude aren’t enough on their own—they need to match both the shop and the specific job for which they’re applying.
Only you know the exact details for the position for which you’re hiring. What, exactly, might an applicant need in order to be the optimal fit? Just because an applicant’s priorities seem like they would match the “normal” position, does that necessarily mean they will conform well to your shop?
6. Engage in a real conversation with the applicant.
Defining your shop’s values, pre-screening applicants, and figuring out their priorities is all well and good, but what it all comes down to is the actual interview. When you talk with this person, can you make an honest, positive connection with them?
Ludwig feels it’s good to ask honest questions, but not simply for the sake of asking them. Questions like, “What job did you enjoy most? What job did you enjoy the least?,” are fantastic, Ludwig says, but that shouldn’t be where you stop.
“Ask them why they enjoyed those jobs or didn’t. Through casual conversation you start to understand more about them. They start to reveal things they wouldn’t otherwise and you can really get a feel for the person,” Ludwig says.
By immersing yourself in a true conversation with the applicant, the truth of their priorities will be unveiled. That’s where you can really figure out whether or not this specific person is going to match with the culture of your shop.