Tim French takes his time when filling an open position, because hiring quickly can have disastrous results.
When the CEO of The French Co. needs to fill a spot on his roster of more than 100 employees, it takes him months to assure a good fit. And to make sure he gets it right, those he hires have usually survived several interviews and undergone tests analyzing critical thinking, skills and personality.
“Someone who is a great worker, with great skill sets, can be very disruptive if they don’t fit with your culture,” says French, who co-founded the retail maintenance service company with his wife, Donna.
Smart Business spoke with French about how to choose the right employee to fit your business.
Q. How do you determine whether a candidate is a good fit?
You can look at their resume and ask very specific questions to figure out whether or not they are misleading you in the resume.
If they’ve alluded to a grade point average from college, I’ll ask for verification of that. Most employers don’t do that, but I figure that’s a great place to start to see whether or not they’re misleading.
The other thing that we look at is, history repeats itself. If the applicant has done a great job in the past and it can be proved through results, then they’re most likely to continue that with your company. If that isn’t the case and you can’t prove what they’ve done in the past, it is likely they won’t deliver results.
Q. How do you verify a job candidate’s past performance?
It can be exhaustive. It goes down to in-depth interviews with past supervisors, and we’ll go as far as we can, interviewing customers and vendors they have interacted with. We start with the resume to try to qualify what’s on the resume, as well as what they’ve told us in the interview.
Generally, what we find is if there are some exaggerations or misinformation in one area, we’re going to find that in all areas. If there is total trustworthiness, it generally will play out through all of the research that we do.
It can take several months to hire a new staff member. They’ll go through as many as four or five interviews with senior management and the hiring manager, and we put them through a series of tests, including critical thinking tests and skills tests.
What our employees who have joined us have told us is it’s the most exhaustive interview hiring process they’ve ever seen, but they’re really glad we do it because it produces really good hires.
Q. How does testing help in the interview process?
The critical thinking test is a test of whether the applicant can think deeply, can think strategically and can problem solve. It’s a series of questions that results in answers that they give and produces a report back to us it’s a third-party test that we use.
We also do skills testing. For example, we’ll test for grammar, we’ll test for proper letter writing, we’ll test for Excel and PowerPoint skills, depending on the position they apply for. We want to make sure we don’t have to spend significant time training in these basic areas.
We’ve had some wonderful people apply who can’t write a business letter, and unfortunately, that speaks to who we are as a company. A poor business letter reflects very poorly on the company.
Many of these are computer-based, so we sit them down at a computer and let them go through and either take the test online, or we’ve got some internal things that we’ve done.
The DISC [dominance, influencing, steadiness and conscientiousness] analysis is really a personality profile that helps us understand how this person will operate within a specific environment. For example, there is a different profile test for management than there is for sales. It gives you really a full view of who this person is.
The way we use it for applicants is to figure out if there are some glaring problems here that we can’t get over. It also helps to support theories that we may have come up with during the interview process. Then, once hired, it helps us support them in areas they may be weak in.
Q. What questions have been successful for you in understanding the candidate?
One of the questions that I like to ask is why have they specifically selected our company, and how does it fit with their life goals? I can quickly determine whether they’ve spent time researching the business and have some reason that they want to work for us versus those that are just sending out resumes for a job.
An applicant, whether it’s higher level management or a staff employee, they are delivering their very best performance in an interview, and they should have done their very best prep work in advance. If they haven’t done that for their next career, then I’m not interested in hiring them, because if they don’t do it for their career, they’re certainly not going to do it for our employees here and for our customers.
How to reach: The French Co., (800) 321-8875 or www.thefrenchcompany.com