Job applicants are more plentiful, as are the risks of hiring people who think their experience framing tract houses, or hanging drywall, or just having construction experience of any kind means they can remodel kitchens and baths. To avoid hasty hires, Darius Baker hammered out a systematic process for winnowing down applicants to those who are best qualified for the job and most realistic about their abilities.

“I got tired of guys with the attitude of ‘Not only do I know how to do it, I invented the process,’” coming onboard, only to quickly fail on the job, says Baker, co-owner of D&J Kitchens & Baths, in Sacramento, Calif. His process, which also shows applicants how they might grow within his business, has two major components:

  • Résumé drop-off: “It starts with applicants having to make an appointment to drop off their résumé and show up in their work vehicle with their tools,” Baker explains. At drop-off, applicants learn that Baker and co-owner John Scofield will invite top candidates back for an interview and the completion of a detailed self-assessment.
  • Self-assessment: At the interview, applicants rate themselves on a scale of 1 (“never have done it”) to 5 (“can do it and instruct others how to do it”) on 242 skills that “I feel a well-rounded ‘remodeler’ should either know how to perform or at least know about,” Baker explains. The skills range from interpreting drawings to demolition specifics to the specialized trades to working with others.

On its first use, Baker deployed this system to fill a field position generically labeled “remodeler.” More than 40 candidates stopped by in 15-minute increments over the course of a day. The owners selected six candidates, each of whom appreciated that the self-assessment would be a benchmark for their six-month review, should they be hired, Baker says. “They liked that they could see the possibilities within the company.” As it turns out, the first hire under the system went AWOL after his first day on the job. On the bright said, Baker notes, five other great candidates had already been screened, and one is working out really well a few months later. Baker plans to develop additional skill lists for office applicants.