Charles Steck

How can you be sure you’re putting qualified people in the field? Without industrywide hiring tests, many remodelers develop their own pre-employment evaluation systems. Use these tips to build yours.

Enlist the team. Surveys show that employees are highly motivated to help their companies succeed. They also appreciate having a say in who is on site with them.

Brainstorm. Invite the team to list the skills they need for each position, from entry level through lead carpenter. Determine which skills might be pivotal “deal breakers” for each position.

Create three or four tests for each deal-breaker skill. Some tests will be on paper, others will be hands-on. Ask questions that will really identify whether the candidate has the knowledge. Create simple challenges that demonstrate skills. For a framing test, for instance, give the candidate a framing square and a calculator to solve a hypothetical rafter problem. To test management skills, ask the candidate to identify three strong ways to motivate a crew to meet a deadline.

Don’t be afraid to test! If a candidate passes, chances are good that he or she will meet your expectations. If he fails, you can offer him a job at a lower level — or not hire him at all.

—Tim Faller, Field Training Services, For more of Tim Faller’s views on this topic, see Ask the Expert.