Ok, raise your hand if you have been properly taught how to determine who / what you are potentially hiring? Ah, only a few came up. Ok, raise your hand if you have hired what turned out to be a complete “dud”. Hey, lots of hands that time, including mine.
“When I meet successful people I ask 100 questions as to what they attribute their success to. It is usually the same: persistence, hard work and hiring good people.” Kiana Tom
The reality check is that few and I mean “few”, automotive professionals have been taught how to analyze (dissect) the people they are considering to employ. The new gig (say, expense) is to hire a human resource professional; but frankly, after working with quite a few, dichotomizing (cool word, huh) is not their strong suit either – in fact I haven’t met one who had been taught any significant science related to figuring out who the hell they are really talking to. Not their fault, it isn’t in the HR curriculum as far as I can tell. Yes, I am aware there are so-called “tests” for this product for a fee, and I have used many only to determine that I could essentially accomplish the same for no charge, and often more accurately (say body language and appearance).
“The reality check is that few and I mean “few”, automotive professionals have been taught how to analyze (dissect) the people they are considering to employ.”
Screwed, blued, & tattooed
Meeting a prospective employee for the first time is like a first date. It starts with the perfect face, hair, shoes, clean underwear (ok, sometimes), and more importantly attitude. Everything gradually begins going downhill from there, but only slightly, until the ultimate “total comfort” moment begins to encompass their relationship. I refer to it as the “I’m in syndrome”, where property ownership becomes the predominant piece of the association. How many times have you encountered a technician who has determined in no uncertain terms that the stall(s) he/she/it works in are absolutely his/hers/? and no one else’s damn it? Try moving one of your established techs and you will get likely get the gist quickly.
After your associate, we will call him Sid-2, has determined ownership and its related comfort, another level (usually lower) creeps into the said employee’s performance. Suddenly the so-called honeymoon is over and the real Sid-2 begins to surface. The Sid-2 who begins coming in later, disappearing during the day, and friendly Sid-2 now finds the ability to cop an attitude if the circumstances don’t fit his current desire – even with you! I am certain you are inserting another name here as you read.
Now, thanks to the acquired HR pro, who actually knows (hopefully) the rules, regulations, and related laws of the locale, state, and big brother, it’s hoop-jumping time. To blow out Sid-2 and find Sid-3, becomes a significant task. And who knows if the next Sid isn’t Sid-2 too, since you got rid of Sid-1 in the first place for basically the same reasons? And all of this in your unending spare time – yeah, right.
A start at least
All this being itemized and after getting bitten numerous times, I began developing interviewing questions as the years passed, in an attempt to discover the real creature underneath the façade of the normal hollow interviewing process. As you have likely already experienced some candidates interview well and yet turn out badly, while others interview terribly, yet they become superstars. Where’s the rhyme and reason here?
Calling past employers is nearly useless in these times, and in fact, getting inaccurate information helps make the absolute wrong decision seem right (“Jamey was the best employee, we hated to lose him” -not). Most past bosses state positives because they want ex-staffers to be off their unemployment roll, or working somewhere so they won’t try to find their new income from a lawsuit. Can you blame the employer for their response?
I have determined that the interviewing procedure, especially for what appears at first to be a prime candidate, needs to take up important time and include a lot of intimate questioning. These develop discussions which help identify the genuine motivations, energy, goals, and ultimate performance the prospect would be contributing. Getting good peeps to talk about themselves is smart. Marginal peeps have less to say or offer, and I have found most ultimately shoot themselves in the foot during this process. Just recently while assessing a manager; I discovered excess imbibing after some intimate questioning beginning with how much I like a nip after work – turned out he was nipping in mid-day.
Since most of us aren’t in a position to monitor brain waves for deception versus the truth of our interviewee, the next best thing is to study responses, body language, facial expressions, and emotions (especially attitude). The trick is providing the right stimulus in order to make these judgements, and that is where effective and operative questioning comes into play.
So, I will provide you with a list of sample questions you can make your own (four pages). If you have an HR guru, take a few and review them together to finalize your overall approach. Every manager in the joint might want to use at least some of them and probably should. Send an email to Ed@NetProfitGroup.com and put on the subject line “Interview Questions: Cutting the BS” and like magic I will send you my queries. If you can’t use what I send you, line someone’s bird cage with it and the bird might learn a thing or two.
Author: Ed Kovalchick
Ed Kovalchick is the CEO and founder of Net Profit Inc., Alabaster, AL, an international fixed operation consulting and training firm located in Alabaster AL. Mr. Kovalchick and his firm have assisted hundreds of dealers and manufacturers, and conducted workshops throughout the world for thousands of students since 1979. He has written columns for Dealer Magazine since its inception.