ECN Forum

How do you find a good employee?

Posted By: twh

How do you find a good employee? - 04/06/13 12:52 AM

Preparing for a job interview, years ago, I was informed that the interviewer would ask for an example of my ability to resolve conflict. I struggled preparing for that because I couldn't think of a good example.

Finally I talked to a fellow who told me he had no problem with that question. He explained that they only ask how the conflict was resolved and not who caused it in the first place. He said that he caused lots of conflict at work, so he had many examples to choose from.

Maybe they should be asking who caused the conflict, but they don't.

Do you think it's possible that companies with professional personnel managers tend to hire people who are hard to work with?
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/06/13 06:30 AM

Quote
Preparing for a job interview, years ago, I was informed that the interviewer would ask for an example of my ability to resolve conflict. I struggled preparing for that because I couldn't think of a good example




I have been either the president or vice president of our HOA for 7 years. I rest my case. wink
Posted By: twh

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/06/13 06:39 AM

Originally Posted by gfretwell
I have been either the president or vice president of our HOA for 7 years. I rest my case. wink
Okay, that's another way to get experience resolving conflict.
Posted By: Tesla

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/06/13 10:47 AM

That's too easy: the ideal candidate always gives way to his superior, kicks AHJ disputes upstairs if they involve $$$ or timelines, and always resolves troubles with subordinates by talking them into conformance with company policies -- which are always prudent and reasonable.

The ideal employee never really has any policies of his own, anyway.

Foremen with lots of 'personal policies' have high turnover.

Posted By: renosteinke

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/06/13 09:49 PM

I will note here that most never hire the guy who started the business. Today Westinghouse would never hire George, US Steel would never hire Carnegie, and Boeing wouldn't let the Wright Brothers even fill out an application.

I was told recently that McDonalds wanted a college degree for their cashiers. Amazing, if true - as their founder did not have one, and two major competitors were founded by high-school dropouts.

Resolve conflicts? You got to love all these DIY-shrink interview puzzles ... when, frankly, they have no relevance to the work environment. Scott Adams has it right, casting "Catbert" as the head of HR, toying with employees and applicants for his own amusement.
Posted By: NickD

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/07/13 12:43 AM

Finding good employees.... now THAT'S a hot-button issue these days.

It seems that every employer/recruiter/scouter is almost deliberately asking for the wrong qualifications and hiring the wrong people, as part of some sort of morbid "game".

Almost weekly, I hear about some recently-hired employee gone bad; they robbed the place, injured/killed a fellow employee, or just turned out to be lazy and uninitiated.

A college degree isn't a sufficient qualification on its own... the person as a PERSON needs to be evaluated, too.
An ignorant but inspired and driven high school grad is better than a rude and lazy know-it-all with multiple degrees. Which one would you rather have as a co-worker?

Of course, that's where the problem is... there's no "proof" of a good person. Anybody can put on a show for an interview or two, then show their true colors once they're locked into the job.

The best people to hire, for insurance of good character, are friends... NOT family members or blood relatives. Research has shown this to be the case; crime/domestic violence is more likely within blood relations than between friends and acquaintances.
Posted By: NORCAL

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/07/13 04:51 AM

Another problem w/ finding employees is I hear a lot of prospective employees cannot pass a drug screen.When they have hot pee the employer just wasted their money, & if hair is tested it can cover a wider time span.
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/07/13 06:34 AM

My wife asked one of her employers why he didn't drug test.
He said if the person was screwing up at work it was his job to figure that out. He said drugs were not the biggest problem with employees. At least if they had a drug problem, they might be able to deal with it but you can't fix stupid.

Florida is pretty much a "fire at will" state. You may have more trouble in a state where bad employees are protected (druggie or not).
Where she is now, it is the insurance company that drives drug testing. Unfortunately they don't test for alcohol and that is really the drug that causes the most trouble.
Posted By: renosteinke

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/07/13 03:52 PM

Here are some wild thoughts:

"Past performance is no predictor of future results." We've all heard this disclaimer on ads for various investment plans. Think about it for a moment.

Now, pick up the usual employment application. What does it ask? It begins with employment history, followed by school record, and closes with references. It's completely focused on your past; it doesn't even have a space to correlate your abilities with the job requirements they posted.

Let's look at the typical want-ad. It's often a series of vague (but important sounding) claims about the company, followed by a laundry list of requirements. The name of the job often has no connection with the company's actual job title, and matters of interest to you (especially pay) are often omitted completely. (This is especially interesting, as they often insist on YOUR pay history). Often, the company name is missing.

Next is the hiring process. Verifying items on the application; background check; physical exam; drug test; batteries of tests, both 'trade' and 'aptitude.'

Finally, once you get hired, the job often turns out to be something completely different from what you expected. My current employer likes to advertise for electricians, then had them a welding rod. (Is it any surprise they have an annual turnover of 130%?)

Back to my starting point ...

At no point in the above process is there the slightest attention paid to the future- yours or theirs. At no time is the actual job discussed.

I submit the the employer is the cause of his own problems.



Posted By: HotLine1

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/07/13 10:36 PM

FWIW, when I was looking for additional employees, one source was the local County Vo-Tech. The 'past experience' was usually a non-issue, and the 'future outlook' was usually to be in the electrical field, either as a 'lectrician, or as a stepping stone toward obtaining ones license and business permit.

A second source was the local supply house bulletin board.

I can say, over 27 years in business, never placed a classified ad.

Drug testing? Had to in Spring 2001 to conform to requirements of a few clients.
Posted By: twh

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/08/13 01:14 AM

Years ago I headed a job for a contractor who refused to run an ad to hire more guys. I needed the help on my job and he just didn't see it as his problem. So, I ran the ad and did the interviews. The interviews were actually worse than not having enough help.

I need to get past that, but my experience provides more questions than answers.

I was interviewed for a job at a lumber mill. One run of questions was clearly taken from an IQ test. During a break, I asked an old union rep how the IQ testing was working out for them. The answer was striking:

He said "Not very well. Not worth a s**t, in fact."

One of the work questions they had was: If you are going for a coffee break and see oil leaked on the floor from a fork lift, do you
a) continue to coffee and clean it up after,
b) mark the spill and continue to coffee and clean it up after, or
c) clean it up and miss your coffee.

Everyone knows the best answer is c, but the real solution that no one will talk about is:
d) pretend you didn't see it and go for coffee.

Maybe you guys can suggest some helpful questions.
Posted By: renosteinke

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/08/13 02:46 AM

Well ... let's look at it this way ...

It's said you can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy. I take that to mean you can teach someone most anything, if they want to learn.

OTOH, to call up another adage, a leopard can't change his spots. I take that to mean a man isn't likely to change his basic nature.

So ... how do find the ones who are worth developing? Wouldn't it be nice if there was a 'good guy' card you could ask for, some document that would suggest a person was almost certain to be a responsible person, of good character, belonged to a group that almost never misbehaved?

Actually, such credentials already exist. Alas, I doubt many employers would welcome learning whether you had them. Does anyone care to guess what these credentials are?
Posted By: twh

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/08/13 02:57 AM

Originally Posted by renosteinke
Actually, such credentials already exist. Alas, I doubt many employers would welcome learning whether you had them. Does anyone care to guess what these credentials are?
Since I'm not an active member of any group, I may as well say, now, that you are absolutely wrong.
Posted By: Tesla

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/08/13 10:26 AM

Reno....

It'd be racist to hire boyscouts.

twh...

The correct answer is D: Tell the foreman. Wiping the floor merely hides the fact that the equipment is failing. Only a technical specialist can repair hydraulic leaks. On all our jobs such repairs are built in to the rental contract -- which stipulates that the rental firm be contacted upon first notice -- so that catastrophic failures do not happen.

Beyond that, janitorial work is a violation of craft rules.



Duh.

Posted By: Tesla

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/08/13 10:45 AM

Having hired and fired more people than I can remember...

For blue collar trades only the most rudimentary screening is required.

I always start off with a candidate's tools. They are telling.

Weight extremes are telling, too: too light/ wired indicates drug issues/ chronic heavy drinking... too heavy indicates sloth.

(I had an eighteen-year old first day hire simply squat on his can. He was seventy pounds overweight. His physical sloth was matched by his mental retardation. He couldn't even repeat a PVC floor box glue up to match the one that he, himself, had just assembled. We're talking about a handful of elbows for power and data. They were sitting side by side on the slab!)

All new hires are solely employed in structured efforts so that their performance tempo and quality are obvious.

One must discount praise and trash talk from the established crew members. High quality talent will inspire trash talk more often than slow work. Good old boys will be praised because of non-work related matters.

Terminated employees, regarless of reason, will have blame heaped upon them from those that made the very errors that are of issue.

Lastly, new employees figure that it's a liars win all contest. That's what the absurd qualifications lists do -- the ones you see on CraigsList and in the classifieds.

The one thing that's hard to detect -- but critical -- is how reckless a man is. High speed iron is the only tell that I know of. I do note that CraigsList adverts request driving records of new applicants. Such traits are carried onto the job.
Posted By: twh

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/08/13 03:21 PM

I'm told that when the interviewer asks about conflict the interviewee should never say they have conflict with their boss.

In fact, those are the conflicts that I want to hear about.

If the conflict is that he wanted to do it one way and the employer another way. I want to know all the details so I can determine who I think was right and whether the resolution was reasonable. If both people were looking after the best interest of the company instead of their egos, maybe it was a good conflict.

I'm also aware that, on average, an employee needs to lose about half the disagreements. If he always wins it might be a sign of either a dumb boss or an impossible employee. Or, if he always loses he must be doing something else wrong.
Posted By: Tesla

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/08/13 06:08 PM

Wow...

In all my days, I've NEVER met a boss who was willing to lose ground to a foreman.

The idea that you can second guess the social dynamics -- based upon what only one party is telling you -- who's trying to get a job...

That's gossip at best.

I can't imagine hiring an employee who figures that he's entitled to win half the arguments.

Whenever I ran across such players -- they had to be canned/ laid off/ put on reserve status.

We're in the pipe and wire installation business. It's not a debate club. It's not supposed to be a soap opera.

Posted By: twh

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/08/13 07:41 PM

Originally Posted by Tesla
Wow...

In all my days, I've NEVER met a boss who was willing to lose ground to a foreman.

The idea that you can second guess the social dynamics -- based upon what only one party is telling you -- who's trying to get a job...

That's gossip at best.

I can't imagine hiring an employee who figures that he's entitled to win half the arguments.

Whenever I ran across such players -- they had to be canned/ laid off/ put on reserve status.

We're in the pipe and wire installation business. It's not a debate club. It's not supposed to be a soap opera.

Boy, do we have different management styles. Too often, I've worked with guys who did things wrong because they could blame the foreman.

I think it was Rommel (tank commander) who said that you should use the battle plans of your generals because they carry them out more enthusiastically. So, I encouraged input from my guys and used their ideas that were workable.

If they refused to lose, then they must go. If they did things that they knew are wrong, they also must go. Usually, when someone thought I made a mistake, it was because they didn't understand the instructions. So, I looked at the results and asked if what they did made sense. If the answer was 'no', then they were reprimanded.

I'm a team player and my charges are on my team. We succeed or fail as a team.

It seemed like a good management style until I met a guy who insisted on running a conduit where I suggested BX. When he couldn't make the conduit work, instead of installing the BX, he said the job couldn't be done. What an idiot!

I value problem-solvers. Those people are the generals on my team. I expect my generals to keep me safe. When my employers made me the general, I also kept them safe. The last employer quit supervising me. He said that I worried about the company more than he did.

When I started with him, he had a used minivan. When I left, he was doing millions per year. He was a good businessman and electrician and let me look after him. When I left, he quit taking holidays.

Tesla, you would have fired me.
Posted By: renosteinke

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/09/13 02:17 AM

OK, I know you're wondering ... what "creds" are the best indicator that someone has their act together, and hardly ever misbehave?

Two come to mind: Conceald carry permit, and Nevada "Hooker" card.

CCW holders have a long history of being the best among us, even in matters that have absolutely nothing to do with crime or firearms. If nothing else, you can be sure that a CCW holder is neither felon not lunatic- however "eccentric" the media portrays them as.

To become a licensed prostitute in Nevada, there are but two requirements: No felonies and no drugs. Lots of 'respectable' folks can't pass those tests.

Yet, for some reason, employers don't want to hear about these documents.
Posted By: twh

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/09/13 02:57 AM

Originally Posted by renosteinke
Two come to mind: Concealed carry permit, and Nevada "Hooker" card.
I don't think my hooker card is relevant, but thanks for bringing it up.

A bank manager had a suggestion about job titles. He said when he hired a secretary, she sat at the desk because that's what secretaries do. He found office assistants would do a secretary's job and take out the garbage, because assistants do everything.
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/09/13 04:02 AM

I would include military in that "cred" thing but they may have a problem with a lack of innovation and independent thinking.
A lot would depend on what they did in the military.
We had lots of military guys at IBM. Some could take the ball and run with it, others were just great at doing exactly what you told them to do.
Posted By: twh

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/09/13 04:53 AM

Lots of people lack innovation and independent thinking. I'm not sure military training changes that.
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/09/13 05:03 AM

The guys I am talking about will do what you tell them to do and be very conscientious doing it but they don't think well outside of that box. If you are a micromanaging sort of guy or you have a mid level manager who is, it could be the perfect employee. These are usually "lifers" in the military.
The guys who do think outside the box, usually did their hitch and moved on.
The military does teach responsibility and a certain maturity that you don't see from your typical college grad.
Posted By: Tesla

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/09/13 11:38 AM

Wait a minute....

The vast bulk of our trade consists of routine craft.

Clever designs and schemes are the ambit of foremen, project managers and the head honcho -- not the journeymen.

If one is so lucky as to find a clever j-man -- then he's a candidate for foreman. (junior grade)

To use a clever man -- merely to craft his own builds -- is a waste of talent.

Such men are so rare that you can't 'hire them' -- you have to get lucky and promote them when discovered.

(Running an ad asking for for clever electricians lusting for financial abuse does not draw out talent. Such cannot be discovered in any hiring interview. Simply, talent will out, of its own nature. Whether management can bear to recognize such talent is another matter entirely.)






Posted By: twh

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/09/13 03:24 PM

Tesla, I don't disagree entirely; but, I want to be surrounded by the best. It's better than being surrounded by idiots.

Anyway, asking for examples of disagreements with the boss would at least give the interviewer an idea of how disruptive the interviewee is. How the interviewer uses that information is another matter.

There is something to be said for hanging out with ugly friends. You get to be the good looking one.
Posted By: twh

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/09/13 03:27 PM

Here is a hiring practice that eliminates the over-intelligent.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2012/01/too-smart-to-be-a-good-cop/#.UWQW1aDXZv8
Posted By: Tesla

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/09/13 09:36 PM

They were using the Wonderlic test....

You take the test score, double it; then add 60 -- to arrive at a decent approximation of IQ.

That's how a score of 22 became an 'IQ' of 104.

It tops out at 140 -- which would be a perfect score.

It works because it's timed -- and the questions get tougher and tougher.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonderlic_Test

============

As for craft smarts: they're given away by personal tools. Admittedly, it does take some smarts on the part of the interviewer to recognize whether they are poor, average, very good or outstanding tool sets.

No man treats company property better than his own tools.

As Sherlock Holmes would put it: they tell a story.
Posted By: twh

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/12/13 05:56 AM

The Science of Persuasion by Cialdini provided some ideas.

If a person who you intend to hire is told that you expect something from them, they might actually make no commitment to do that. For example, If you say, "We expect our employees to take only 10 minute coffee breaks", when they are caught taking longer breaks, they will feel no shame in that. They never said they wouldn't.

However, if you ask them if they will take only 10 minute coffee breaks, and wait for the answer, they have made a commitment to do that. Then, when they are caught taking longer breaks, they can be shamed with, "you said you would take only 10 minute breaks and you didn't live up to your promise".

Are there trade-related questions that should be asked?
Posted By: NickD

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/17/13 04:23 AM

Originally Posted by Tesla

The idea that you can second guess the social dynamics -- based upon what only one party is telling you -- who's trying to get a job...
[...]
I can't imagine hiring an employee who figures that he's entitled to win half the arguments.

Whenever I ran across such players -- they had to be canned/ laid off/ put on reserve status.


So is this your way of saying "I'm never wrong and I don't make mistakes? grin

Seriously... you're you... and you're not part of the huge clout of dumb bosses out there. One was more than enough for me, a complete clown that was only a boss because someone put him there, not because he got himself there.

My dad works in a factory where the bosses are thrown out as frequently as the employees, for one reason or another. He's seen more than a dozen in his ~15 years there.
Posted By: StevenWells

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/20/17 04:05 PM

After implementing substance screening the turnaround decreased in half, it's worth paying a bit more and not having a headache.
Posted By: SteveFehr

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/21/17 12:17 PM

Originally Posted by Tesla
As for craft smarts: they're given away by personal tools. Admittedly, it does take some smarts on the part of the interviewer to recognize whether they are poor, average, very good or outstanding tool sets.

No man treats company property better than his own tools.

As Sherlock Holmes would put it: they tell a story.
It takes a sixth sense to find a good employee, I think. If it was easy, someone else would have already hired him/her!

I really like your point about tools. I was once asked "What tools do you own?" during an interview for an engineering position and it remains the best interview question I've ever heard and one I always ask when I'm hiring. Everyone boasts about their capabilities, but is there a better check of aptitude, capabilities, and experience of an engineer or tradesman than their personal toolbox, their reaction to the question, and what particular tools they rattle off when they talk about it?
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 04/22/17 02:44 PM

Depending on the experience level of the employee you are looking for, I found the local VoTech a great source of candidates. Having a relationship with one of the Electrical Trades instructors and the guidance office keeps your company on the 'call list'.
Posted By: valewoodelectric

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 05/04/17 01:58 AM

Originally Posted by HotLine1
Depending on the experience level of the employee you are looking for, I found the local VoTech a great source of candidates. Having a relationship with one of the Electrical Trades instructors and the guidance office keeps your company on the 'call list'.



This is a great idea. Many of the students at vocational schools are looking to move into full time positions right out of high school and ones that pursue the classes prior to graduating will be far ahead of those that didn't attend a vocational school.

I've always been fond of a working interview. Electrician jobs have the potential to be high risk so it may not apply to that field. I know a few roofers who hired newbies for a tear off and after the week he never saw them again because it was "too hard." You get to know someone real quick in 90+ degree heat on a roof for a week.
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 05/04/17 09:28 PM

valewoodelectric:

Hey, welcome to ECN, and it's nice to see you posting.

Yes, the vo-techs are a good source for finding entry level guys.

As to the 'working interview' for potential electricians (entry level or others) one has to be cautious on the liability end. IMHO, someone not covered by your insurances should not be on an active jobsite.

Yes, the first week or two of a 'newbie' usually tells the work ethic. Heat, cold, mud, etc., are common working conditions; some were surprised that all jobsites are not indoor & climate controlled.

Now as an inspector, same conditions, just add rain, snow, etc. to the mix.
Posted By: ElectricianBud

Re: How do you find a good employee? - 05/27/17 02:58 PM

It's a numbers game. You need to have a set of specific questions prepared that are targeted at gauging the experience and work-ethic of the candidate. I had many employees that 'looked good on paper' had the experience and all, but the work-ethic issues started to appear after a month or two.
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