PROVE IT We have tested all our potential field employees for years. We administer a written test, and, in addition, we ask oral questions about their construction knowledge. The written test consists of 30 questions that are related to general construction knowledge, math, problem solving, and reasoning. First, our office manager administers and scores the written test. Then our production manager grills the potential field employee with construction-related questions that are specific to the anticipated position.
The test and the questions provide us with a good idea of the potential employee's level of construction knowledge. The test also allows us to properly match them to an appropriate job description and level on our company pay scale. Job descriptions include the details of what the field employees are expected to know and be responsible for, what tools and items they are expected to have, items furnished by the company, and minimum qualifications for their remodeling level.
WEED OUT “MIS-HIRES” Without the testing information, we could end up paying someone too much to start. It's easy to increase an employee's pay rate, but taking money away once it has been given is not easy. We start new hires out lower than they might want, then increase their pay quickly and frequently once they prove their worth. Without the testing, we could more easily make costly mistakes.
Of course the proof of an employee's knowledge and worth is always born out in his or her performance on the job. But testing can potentially weed out a “mis-hire,” and mis-hires waste everyone's time, energy, and money.
Kent Eberle, CR, CKBR
Eberle Remodeling, Sacramento, Calif.
TEST ANXIETY In our area, labor is in demand, and good laborers are all too rare. While technical skills are important to a project's quality, a good employee means much more than just his or her technical capacity. Presentation, work ethic, professionalism, general demeanor, and, in some cases, leadership skills are key to their fit as team members.
Instead of testing, we would rather have an interview at a job-site or at our office about the prospective employee's work on past projects and companies from which he or she has learned. We throw various scenarios at the prospects to see how they would handle those situations. We look for team players, people who seek solutions over credit and blame. We need our employees to know how to deal with each other, as well as with clients.
Checking references is the other way we get a feel for the nature of someone's abilities. There is always a reason someone is looking for a new job. It could be an acceptable one, but it might be the lack of personal or technical skills that forced them out of their last job. Prior employers and coworkers are often the best source for the truth.