It seems that hiring is often a crap shoot. Some work; some do not.

Here are three simple questions you should ask yourself about every potential employee that will increase your hiring success rate dramatically.


Does the candidate have the “Want to”?

“Want to” is desire. Even though you are recruiting the candidate, does he or she want to work, want to work in the position you are filling, and want to work in your organization? Of all of the questions you can ask, this is the most important — of all of the traits you should consider, this is top of the list.

A person with lots of “want to” can overcome many other inadequacies. Think back to the start of your business. You, your father or someone else was filled with “want to” or the company never would have launched in the first place. In this sense, the “want to” is perseverance. The candidate is determined to succeed, no matter what.

“Want to” is also attitude. A person with “want to” necessarily has a good attitude. The candidate does not need to be all smiles and sunshine — just positive about the trade, the work and the company mission.

People with “want to” are less likely to be corrupted by the grouches and the slouches who continually and consistently gripe about the lousy conditions of the company, community and world in general. People with “want to” do not listen and do not make their own negative contributions.


Does the candidate have the “How to”?

“How to” is knowledge and skills. These can be taught. In fact, everyone starts out life with a complete lack of “how to” and learns along the way. Most plumbing contractors want unicorn hires who have great “want to” and complete “how to.” If such an individual applies with your business, ask why he or she is available. People like this are usually already gainfully employed.

Does this mean you should be suspicious of the person who seems too good to be true? Yes. Of course. People who seem too good to be true usually are. However, perfect people who worked for a horrible boss, worked for a company with a horrible culture, or who recently relocated might come knocking.

Usually, this is when your trucks are filled and your plans to expand lie in the future. Make the hire anyway. After all, these people are unicorns. You do not reject creatures of myth and legend when they show up at your door. You make room for them.

There are some jobs where a lack of “how to” is a complete non-starter. Unless the organization is large enough to shepherd someone along, it seems rather important for an accountant to know accounting before starting work for you. Conversely, “want to” is far more important than “how to” when it comes to a customer service representative (CSR). Phone skills and procedures can be taught on the job.

When it comes to putting butts in trucks, look for “want to” over “how to.” Teach the willing candidate the “how to.” This means hiring raw apprentices and assigning them to work with journeymen or master plumbers. It means sending the right candidate to schools like “Ultimate Tech” in Arkansas. It means investment.

Build it into your pricing. You cannot grow faster than you can fill trucks. Since unicorns are rare, this is the only way to ensure long-term, steady growth. Grow your own service force.


Does the candidate have the “Can do”?

“Can do” is the ability to do the job. Some people may have all of the desire in the world and may somehow pop out of the local vo-tech school with an associate’s degree, but are nevertheless unable to turn a wrench. They simply do not “get it.” They lack the “can do.”

Unfortunately, when there’s a lack of “how to,” the only way to discover whether someone has the “can do” is to take a chance. Still, all of the “want to” and “how to” in the world cannot overcome a lack of “can do.”

You can improve the odds of selecting someone with “can do” by utilizing basic mechanical aptitude tests. In the end, someone either can do the job, or cannot.

Asking yourself these questions is not a substitute for recruiting. You must still recruit. However, these questions will reduce your hiring mistakes.

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