Lately, I have been reading about interview questions and protocol for interviews. The Landscape industry is a small close knit community of contractors, therefore if you have someone who is a job hopper chances are that calling references will point out the potential employees short comings. Calling references is always a must in small communities like Landscape Contractors, because while they may not give you all the details, most contractors don’t want to see a fellow contractor suffering the same fate they did. In fact, at certain levels it is appropriate to call the other contractor and let them know that you are discussing employment with one of their managers or key employees. It is a courtesy that should be extended to a fellow contractor.
During the interview process watch closely for employees throwing other contractors under the bus. This is a sure sign that they will do the same to you when the time comes. It s also a sign of poor attitude, which is always a key component to look for during the interviewing process. Attitudes are hard to change and almost impossible to alter with training. Skills can be taught, but attitude is something that comes as part of the package. Watch body language when interviewing, it can tell a lot about a persons truthfulness and honesty when answering questions. Observe the dress of the person, I would not expect that a laborer or technician level person to come dress in a suit and tie, but clean shaven, clean clothes and no holes in the clothes.
If you ask for a resume, check closely for spelling mistakes, if they make mistakes on the resume then they most likely will make mistakes on the job. Check the dates of employment, if there are no dates ask for them. It is a good sign that if there are holes in their employment they are not interested in discussing what was happening. Always have an employment application of your own for the interviewee to complete and make sure you ask the questions that are important to you and your customers on that application. Be aware that the government has very strict guidelines for questions to be asked on an application or during an interview. Make sure your are up to date on these restrictions, because your interviewees are.
For key positions in your company conduct several interviews of these potential employees, in fact never make a decision on the spot. Snap decisions most times will come back to bite you. At the very least sleep on your decision before offering any positions to an interviewee. It is sometimes helpful to have someone else interview a potential employee, as they may see or feel something that you missed. If your position is of interest to the interviewee, they will wait for your offer, don’t rush the process. It takes time to contact references. For key position make your offer in writing, and in all case have a job description for each position you are hiring for, whether it is laborer or superintendent.
In you job descriptions include the job duties, your expectations of the position, such as hours worked, number of days of worked per week, working conditions, etc. Make it clear that you have very strong expectations based on the level of the position. Even for laborers you want them to be on time each day, to dress per your dress code, to treat fellow employees and customers with respect, etc. Be very clear what you expect. Be clear if this is a full time job or seasonal, hours per week, days of the week they are expected to work.
This is your time to insure that you are getting employees that are going to do the job for your customers and that will represent your company to the public. Be very clear about expectations for your employees. Interviewing potential employees is another responsibility of management that can not be taken lightly, it is the face of your company that the customers see the most.