Optimism is Flowing
Itís baaaack. And it is spelled O-P-T-I-M-I-S-M!!!! It is definitely in the air. Business people are talking about having a good year is 2012. This is a big change from the last four years when all we heard was doom and gloom. More companies are planning to hire and as a result the unemployment numbers are going down.
It is great to finally see enthusiasm and confidence. This often happens when a New Year starts, but whether this is just idle hopefulness because business people are just sick of being pessimistic, remains to be seen.
If you are seeing your business increase, this means you may be hiring soon. Whenever you hire someone you also risk the possibility of making a mistake. There is nothing worse than hiring someone and later finding out it was a mistake. Some of our clients have had some trouble recently by hiring people who range from being downright toxic to being just plain lazy.
So here are a few tips that should help you with your hiring.
Make Sure Employees Complete a Professionally Prepared Application
An employment application is a legal document in which the prospective employee completes information and then signs a statement avowing that all of the information is true and correct and giving the company permission to check to be sure all is correct.
Never Hire Someone out of Desperation
Desperation causes bad hires that have to be fired soon (or they fire themselves). Then you are back in desperation mode again and make another bad hire. The insanity continues and you get nowhere fast. Planning is the key. As business starts improving, start thinking about at what level of business you will need to hire more people. Start an informal search now. Advertise on Craigís List or do a candidate search on www.employflorida.com or your stateís employment board. They are free, so there is no advertising costs associated with just taking a look at who is available. Hold on to a few resumes that look good so you are ready to bring people in when the time comes.
Talk Less and Listen More During Interviews
There are so many rules regarding what you can ask and not ask man applicant that it paralyzes many interviewers. We find that most interviewers spend more time talking than the applicant than having the applicant speak. You cannot find out anything about an applicant if you do all the talking. Be sure to ask questions that make the interviewer speak.
Instead of asking, "Can you drive a forklift?" Ask, "What types of fork lifts have you driven in the past?" Then ask about what they did to ensure the fork lift was safe to operate. In this way, you see if the applicant paid attention and has some basic safety knowledge. Ask about close calls, dangerous habits and accidents. Ask about accomplishments, customer service experience, etc. Open up the questioning and spend some time with applicants. It is important to get to know the people you are talking to.
Donít ask, "What is your philosophy regarding customer service?" Instead ask about a specific event form a previous job that went above expectations in delivering service to a customer. Or ask about a specific time when they calmed an angry customer down. Why was the customer upset and what did the applicant do to smooth things out?
If you are undecided between two candidates, bring each back for a second interview. Listen to the questions they ask which can be a good indication of their knowledge and interest. Be leery of those who do not ask questions.
Make sure you get to know the applicant well before hiring. I speak to potential employees at least three times before making a job offer.
This is one of the most important steps in the hiring process and one that is often ignored. Many prospective employers avoid this part by saying it is either too time consuming or former employers do not give out any information anyway. The first rule of checking references is to avoid speaking to anyone in the human resources department of the previous employer. HR people are very well trained to not give out information on former employees. Speak to the former supervisor directly or co-workers. During the interview, ask the applicant if their former supervisor is still employed with the company and what would he or she say about the applicant. If the supervisor is no longer employed with the company, ask if there is someone else you can speak with.
The bottom line on checking references is if you are having a problem obtaining reference information on the prospective employee, you do not have to hire this person. If the applicant has half a brain, they would make sure to give you references of people who will talk about them. It is not you job as the hiring authority to go on a search and destroy effort to try to obtain references.
Conduct a Criminal Background Investigation and Drug Test
Last, but not least, spend about $35 each for a drug test and a criminal background investigation. There are many cases of negligent hiring out there and one way to avoid this is by conducting a criminal background investigation. If the applicant states they have no history of criminal activity on the application and you find that there is such history, the applicant is disqualified from consideration for falsifying information. If employees drive for company business, make sure their driving record is also checked.
Regarding drug testing, applicants who use drugs will more than likely not get a drug test, so they will disqualify themselves from consideration. If the applicant does drugs, especially cocaine or heroin, they would be more likely to steal from you.
We cannot say how many times we have found applicants lie on their applications regarding criminal history. In many of these cases, the crime they were convicted of would not have barred them from employment.
Do your due diligence when hiring a new employee. Think of it this way, if you are going to spend $20 to $30 thousand dollars on a new piece of equipment, would you check with others using it to see how well it works? You will be investing in the same amount of money or more with an employee. You should know who you are hiring. Oh, and if you use a third party to background investigations, be sure that you are in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Happy 2012 to all of you and best wishes for good luck and success in the upcoming year. I know we are excited about our prospects.