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Recruiting: Hire For Attitude As Much As Aptitude
The simple act of asking the right question can open a book about a company’s potential hire.
That’s why Angie Snow says Western Heating and Air in Orem, Utah, goes well beyond ducts and air flow when recruiting new employees.
“We hire for attitude before we hire for aptitude,” Snow says.
One question she may ask a potential hire: What did you do the last time you saw a broken process in your job? (She called them “experiential” queries.)
“If they’re bad-mouthing a company, you can tell that they’re somebody who likes to blame and likes to complain instead of taking ownership and accountability, which is part of our values,” Snow says. “Their answers and the way they answer, their values shine through.”
That is one of several best practices for recruiting offered by Snow, who also works as ServiceTitan’s Senior Manager of Product Adoption, and Chris Hunter, ServiceTitan’s Director of Customer Relations and founder of Hunter Super Techs and the Go Time Success Group in Hurst, Texas.
Both agree that active listening is vital. Hearing and reacting to the candidate opens up the possibility of unique questions for each candidate and is far more valuable than sticking to a checklist of questions. Snow and Hunter also suggest personality tests and DISC assessments as well as questions that reveal how the person communicates and whether they will fit in the company culture.
Included in the best practices suggested by Hunter and Snow for recruiting the right people are:
Don’t just talk about company culture, emphasize it. “Your culture is a magnet,” Hunter says. “People want to work for winners.”
Know who you want. Don’t go in blind. Recognize, understand and write down the qualities and values you want in potential employees. Stating your values online will draw applicants who share those same values. Hunter and Snow share the same vibe; a key tenet for Hunter is ‘Hire for attitude, train for aptitude.’
Write out a career path for techs and installers. Show them that with work, advancement is possible. Give them a goal to shoot for, challenge them to aspire. One page of bullet points can say a lot.
Make your website special. This often is the first place many applicants or interested workers go. Be sure to have a career page and link to it from the front page. On the career page, explain the company’s vision, purpose and values. Stated values attract the kind of person you want. A video explaining those values also helps.
Remember mobile. It’s the chosen method of obtaining information for the younger generation.
Use social media, especially LinkedIn. A tech at another company may be curious about your company. Give them an online behind the scenes look at the facility (Its cleanliness will sell applicants), a tour of the office, a brief training video. Put the business on LinkedIn; it gets the word out.
Community outreach. Community work is not done for this reason, but it does open the hiring pool to people with similar values and interests. Snow regularly visits and speaks at schools, and hired a young man whose wife heard Snow speak two or three years earlier. “That’s one of those long-term investments,” she says. Snow says the company’s partnership and work with The Emily Effect, which supports mothers experiencing postpartum depression, is a key part of Western’s culture. A new employee told Snow he had chosen Western because of that engagement. “People want to be part of something bigger than themselves,” she says. “Especially millennials. They want to have that purpose that they’re connected to.”
Highlight the career path. It’s consistent across many trades: Owners are frustrated that young people do not understand the trades pay well and provide a career in a necessary business. Don’t sit back on this truth. Sell it.
Host a job fair in your office. This gives you a chance to show off and attract applicants. Make it fun and informative. You never know what kind of excellent candidate you’ll draw. Market the company with branded pens or fun items. Snow cautions, though, not to hire someone just because they walk in. Going through the process and asking the right questions verifies the hire.
Establish a process, and follow it. It could include any or all of the following: Accept applications on your website or through job-sites such as indeed.com. Peruse an applicant’s social media. Do background checks. Conduct phone and in-person interviews—or in this era even through Zoom. Give a technical test and personality assessment. Do a second interview. Consider having a lunch or dinner that includes the applicant’s partner or spouse. Be consistent with the process. The people you hire represent you and the company every day in every place they visit.
Snow cautions that Western has made the mistake of occasionally hiring “whoever comes in.” She talked of hiring someone, then seeing the employee arrive late and sometimes fall asleep at work.
“I had to ask myself: ‘How did I miss that in the interview?’” she says.
Preparation and taking the extra time in advance avoids mistakes.
Hiring: Job Descriptions
Proper job descriptions set clear expectations for employees. They can protect contractors in wage and labor disputes, and give a first look into your company’s culture. Are you extremely performance driven? Are you a laid back company? What does your job description say about you?
Here is a sample job description that you can use for your company: Follow-up Coordinator Job Description
• READ MORE: How to recruit like a start-up
• READ MORE: Closing the technician gap with Tech Up