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Departments - Hire Power

October 10, 2017

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Bud, a production manager for a Landscaping company, arrived at the yard Monday at 5:45 a.m., as normal, to ensure a good 45 minutes of preparation before his crews departed at 6:30 a.m. There was an unfamiliar car parked close to the entrance and when Bud stopped to open the gate, he noticed a young gentleman approach the passenger side of his truck.

“Good morning, can I help you?” Bud greeted the gentleman quickly. “Good morning!” responded George, the gentleman at the gate.

Bud was excited since he was down two crew members and here was a guy who was hopefully looking for work. After finding out that the gentleman was indeed looking for employment, Bud told him he needed a minute to park his truck before doing a quick interview.

“Sweet!” responded George.

The next 30 minutes played out like this: Bud “interviewed” George for about eight minutes and did most of the talking himself. Most of Bud’s questions were based on what equipment George had experience running. In fact, Bud walked him over to a 60-inch ExMark Turf Tracer and grilled George on proper operating and maintenance techniques. Even before George confidently showed his knowledge of the mower, Bud had already decided he was going to give George a chance because he was desperate to fill those openings. He offered George a job on the spot and asked when he could start.

“Today!” George responded with enthusiasm.

“I was hoping you would say that,” Bud said. Bud had already asked George if he had good papers (which is illegal by the way), so they went back in the office to quickly fill out the required paperwork. George had forgotten one of his two forms of ID, but Bud explained he had a few days to provide them. Bud then took George over to the safety cabinet for his personal protective equipment. Bud was a bit irritated because the cabinet had not been restocked properly and there was only one safety vest, which was two sizes too big for George. Bud told him, “Oh well, take this and I’ll get you the rest of the PPE later this week.” Bud had also noticed George did not have boots on, but it was 6:25 a.m. already and the crews were about to mobilize.

Bud went out to the yard and introduced George, his newest employee, to one of his newer supervisors who was one employee short. “I’ll catch up with you later,” Bud told George. “Good luck today, and make sure you wear work boots tomorrow!”

That was Monday morning. No one saw or heard from George again after Wednesday, his third and final day at Beido Landscaping. Bud was frustrated and convinced himself that you just can’t find employees that last these days. Luckily, his frustration was short-lived because on Thursday, there was another gentleman at the gate looking for work.

Bud was frustrated and convinced himself that you just can’t find employees that last these days.

The vicious cycle of poor screening, interviewing, hiring and onboarding was about to start again. I would look at this situation and ask myself: does Bud know the definition of insanity?

The point of this story is to highlight what not to do when interviewing a candidate:

  1. Do not interview a candidate on the spot. Screen the candidate and schedule an interview.
  2. Do not perform an interview unprepared.
  3. Do not rely on your gut or random questions to perform an interview.
  4. Do not focus on equipment skills if you’re not looking for a unique operator.
  5. Do not schedule a new hire without having everything ready for day one.
  6. Do not rush the hiring and orientation process.
  7. Do not just throw a new team member on a crew.
  8. Do treat every candidate and hire as if they will be your next 20-year employee.

Kory Beidler is director of training and development at LandCare.