A good 20% of Anthony Cucciniello's new field employees last just two days, and he likes it that way.

“We put them through a two-day training course, and see how they do,” says Cucciniello, president and CEO of 4V Corp., in New Rochelle, N.Y. In interviews, candidates “say they know how to do this and they know how to do that. We tell them that they need to show us their capabilities,” he says, before making any commitments. “The proof is in the pudding.”

Michael Connelly, 4V's director of business development, says that in two days “you can get a good feel for what the person's skills are. When customers are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars with your company, you want the job done right.”

This basic construction refresher course is conducted in 4V's warehouse facility. Candidates are given an hourly stipend, daily breakfast and lunch, a short written test, and a small hands-on project. Tile layers might be asked to tile a 10-by-10-

foot wall to certain specifications. Carpenters might frame out and finish a small wall and install a window.

Some clearly qualified hires get through the course in less than two days. Others show they're not up to the job. The training period “gives us both an out,” Cucciniello says. “They might not want to stay. But they'll see that we're organized and that we have a system in place.”

Some candidates resist the notion of the trial period, he adds. “But you know what? Not one person has refused it.” The biggest complainers turn out to be the least qualified.

The program may eventually be expanded to two weeks and opened to other construction companies.