It takes me longer to hire someone for my staff than it does to design a custom home. My policy is to make the applicant work to get the job. Yes, that takes time. But my success rate with this system is 90 percent, and when I failed to follow it, I have regretted it. 1. Clearly define the job you’re trying to fill and be specific. Ask yourself, “What problem am I trying to solve?” Write an eight to ten sentence description. Ask your staff for help. I have made the mistake of starting to recruit for a position, only to discover later that my staff had better ideas for a job description.
2. Ask friends, subcontractors, suppliers and employees to recommend candidates. I find 10% of my new hires this way.
3. Post help-wanted ads in the newspaper, on CareerBuilder.com and on Craigslist. Include as much of your eight- to 10-sentence job description as possible, and reveal your non-negotiables. For example, if the candidate must have three years of experience and his own tools, say so. Do not include your phone number in the ad--just an email address.
4. Weed out resumes with spelling errors, lack of experience or the wrong kind of experience for the job. Look for education and training that will help them succeed.
5. E-mail candidates in your “maybe” pile with about five questions about why they want the job, their primary skills and strengths, and their salary range. Only candidates who are truly interested will bother to respond. Follow up with those who reply by asking a few more questions and, if their answers satisfy you, offer a telephone interview.
6. Before that interview, I ask each candidate to complete a Myers-Briggs and a DISC personality inventory, which indicates whether his or her personality type will fit the job. For a sales job, for instance, I’m looking for an extrovert.
7. During the phone interview, pinpoint whether the candidate has the critical skills needed for the specific job. I ask carpenters about their tools and press bookkeepers about how well they know construction accounting.
8. From there, I select candidates for a 15-minute face-to-face interview to determine if their personality will fit with my staff and company culture. I ask them about their experience and their career path, schools, and prior jobs. Pay attention to their appearance and body language.
9. If that goes well, I immediately ask a few staff members to join us for a few minutes. This generates further evidence of a good or poor fit.
10. Next, I leave the room and staff members interview the candidate while I’m out of the room. Interviewees will reveal things to peers that they would never say to a future boss.
11. Once I decided on a candidate, I address salary with the candidate and send them a written offer--contingent on the results of a drug test and background check. I don’t let the new hire start work until I see those results.
Most remodelers say they don’t have time for a process like this. But I figure it costs $3,000 to $10,000 to hire the wrong person, once you consider training and having to start the process over again. To request a copy of my interview questions, email my design assistant at email@example.com. —Jeb Breithaupt is a third-generation designer, remodeler, and builder and is the owner of JEB Design/Build, in Shreveport, La.