8 Ways to Hire Better

March 13, 2015
How much does a hiring mistake cost? The numbers, while all over the map, are all high. Hiring mistakes cost a lot. Here’s how to avoid them.

How much does a hiring mistake cost?  The numbers, while all over the map, are all high.  Hiring mistakes cost a lot.  Here’s how to avoid them.

  1. Never Hire Anyone You Cannot Fire

Hiring friends is always risky.  If the friend doesn’t perform and you value the friendship, you might hesitate to take appropriate action.  This will not make the eventual decision easier or the damage to the friendship less, though it will lengthen the agony you and everyone else in your company feels.

Hiring family may be worse.  I worked for a person who had strict rules about appearances, including a prohibition against facial jewelry.  The owner’s son showed up with a piercing and was immediately dismissed.  The next day he showed back up after the owner was overruled by his wife.  The rule book the company lived by was out of the door.

  2. Hire People Who Share Your Values

Identify your personal values and those you want for your company.  Contractors often struggle to identify their values, but they are important.  Values govern behaviors.  Behaviors, in turn, drive performance. 

Identify the values that matter to you and the type of behavior that results.  For example, one of the Service Roundtable’s values is integrity.  It sounds like corporate blather, right.  After all, who doesn’t value integrity?  But when we associate behaviors with it, it becomes more tangible.  After integrity we clarify, “We do the right thing.  We do the right thing naturally, without being told to do it.”

We want people to do the right thing without being told what to do.  They should know what to do and act on it, on their own.  So in an interview, we ask questions to identify if a candidate behaves consistent with the value.  We might ask, “Tell me about a time you acted on your own initiative.”  This is followed by probing questions to understand why the candidate took action, what he or she was thinking at the time, and so on.

  3. Define Jobs Before Searching

Think through the qualifications, duties, and responsibilities of a position before hiring.  You are hiring because you have a specific organizational need.  Make sure the candidate can fill that need.  Otherwise you risk hiring on personality and try to force the organization to accommodate the new hire.

  4. Really Check References

No one likes to check references and no reference should ever be a bad one.  However, since hiring managers rarely check, candidates sometimes do not vet references as closely as they should.  Even with a good reference, you will gain valuable insight into the type of person a candidate is, work habits, and other traits if you ask the right questions.

  5. Conduct a Background Check

The first background check should involve an Internet search engine.  See what is returned on the candidate.  Check out the candidate’s social media pages with an eye towards identifying behaviors consistent or inconsistent with your company values.

Tell candidates you will conduct a criminal background check and ask them if there is anything you will find.  If there is, the way the question is answered can be revealing in itself.  Remember, some of your hires will be entering your customers’ homes.  As your employee, you are responsible. 

Anyone who handles money or credit cards should undergo a credit check.  Someone with very poor credit might find the potential to doctor an invoice and reduce the company’s take a little too tempting if facing collections companies after hours. 

  6. Get Multiple People to Interview a Candidate

Different people will identify different things in an interview.  Screen candidates over the phone to save time.  Invite the best candidates for a face-to-face interview, but have different people perform the interview.  Always include one woman interviewer, especially for people who will be in a customer’s home.  Some men have an “ick” factor with women that other men are oblivious to.

  7. Never Hire in a Hurry

It’s hard to be picky with an idle truck and full job board.  Nevertheless, hiring in a hurry is a recipe for hiring mistakes.

  8. Listen to Your Gut

If something bothers you about a candidate, don’t hire the person.  Your gut feeling reflects your subconscious, which is picking up clues and signals. 

When your gut feeling towards a person is positive, it may be wrong, which is why you do your due diligence.  When your gut feeling is negative, it’s almost never wrong.  Listen to it.

For a free copy of the Service Roundtable’s Values, call 877.262.3341 and ask for it.  Or, visit  Be sure to take a look at the “free stuff.”

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable ( The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Service Nation Alliance is a part of this overall organization. Matt was inducted into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame in 2015. He is now an author and rancher.