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Make it tough Featured

7:00pm EDT January 31, 2007

One of the biggest mistakes that a company can make is waiting until it needs new employees to begin the hiring process, says John DiJulius.

“Needing someone is a dangerous thing because you start hiring just anyone,” says DiJulius, president of John Robert’s Spa. “We try to stay six to 12 months ahead of the curve and anticipate bulk turnover and promotion and constantly be looking for people to hire. We hire when we don’t need people. If we find someone that is great, we’ll hire them. They will justify their position.”

John Robert’s Spa was founded by DiJulius and his wife, Stacy, in 1993. The provider of spa and salon services has grown to encompass more than 150 employees at six locations across Cuyahoga County.

The key to making good hires, DiJulius says, is to implement a process that weeds out candidates who don’t fit your company culture.

He has implemented a system in which only one out of every 25 applicants is hired. The new hire goes through a minimum of four interviews and can wait as long as six months before he or she is hired.

“I want it to be viewed as a difficult job to get hired at,” DiJulius says. “I want you to work your rear end off in that interview.

“We probably paint a stronger picture of how hard the job is going to be than maybe it actually is. But if you want the job after hearing that, I know you’re going to be successful.”

Candidates at their first interview will meet with the people development director and go over what DiJulius calls the company’s “nonnegotiables.”

“We want you to know that a couple times a year, we’re going to have a training session, and you’re going to have to come in,” DiJulius says. “It might be your off day, but you’ll get paid for it and you’ll know about it three to six months in advance. What we don’t want, and what can happen, is you just say, ‘Hey, you’re having this workshop on Monday? I don’t work Monday, nor will I ever.’”

The rigorous interview process does one of two things, DiJulius says.

“It either turns you on, and you’re nodding your head and you’re saying, ‘Yeah, I know, this is why I’m here,’” he says. “Or, in most cases, it turns you completely off, and you’re like, ‘Dude you’re crazy, I just want to cut some hair and answer some phones. I don’t want to worry about all the things that you’re talking about.’”

DiJulius believes his approach to hiring can work in any business.

“I can’t see what industry or what company it can’t work for,” DiJulius says. “If your culture is important and you want low turnover and people with the same vision, I can’t think how that wouldn’t apply. I don’t think enough businesses have standards. You have to look at whether they are the right fit for your company.”

Once the employee has been hired, DiJulius says it is crucial the company take steps to ensure it keeps the person.

“If you start failing immediately, you’re going to hate this job,” DiJulius says. “We have a boot camp for every department that really takes a crawl, walk and run approach with tests, service aptitude tests and different things to make sure you’re prepared before we put you out there.”

HOW TO REACH: John Robert’s Spa, (216) 839-1430 or www.johnrobertsspa.com; The DiJulius Group Inc., www.johndijulius.com