Do You Need a Formal Hiring Process?

Cover Story: Recruitment & Retention - Cover Story: Recruitment & Retention

January 8, 2018

While many seasoned recruiters agree that a formal hiring process is essential, only 36 percent of PMPs surveyed have actually put a process into place. That’s a missed opportunity for the 64 percent who haven’t, says Laura Hladky, recruiter for Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions in St. Louis.

“Adhering to a predictable process ensures that you’re comparing apples to apples — that you’re holding candidates to the same standards,” she says, adding that this is particularly important when recruits are coming in from several different sources.

Hladky shares a look into the hiring process at Rottler, a company that is always recruiting for its seven service locations and corporate office:

  • Application review. Hladky reviews applications to see which applicants meet the minimum job requirements.
  • Phone screening. She phones each applicant who passes that initial check.
  • Personality test. If the call goes well, she asks the applicant to complete a personality/integrity test that she emails to them.
  • Face-to-face interview and intelligence test. Those whose test results are favorable are invited to an in-person interview. Hladky and the appropriate branch manager conduct the interview, which includes administration of an intelligence test.
  • Ride-along or job shadowing. Those who pass the interview are invited to preview the job through a ride-along (for technician positions) or job shadowing (for office positions) to ensure they understand what the job entails and to give decision-makers an opportunity to see how the candidate interacts in this real-world setting.
  • Screenings. If Hladky, the branch manager and the technician who hosted the ride-along, or the supervisor of the shadowing experience, agree that this candidate should be hired, Hladky conducts drug, driving and reference screenings.
  • Offer. Provided all screenings are clear, Hladky reaches out with the formal employment offer.

These steps are common to many companies, although business leaders or HR directors may add to this mix. For example, M&M Environmental in New York prequalifies candidates via email, in addition to phone screenings.

“Something as simple as asking applicants to write a paragraph about why the job is ideal for them can be a quick means of prequalifying applicants,” says M&M Managing Partner Timothy Wong. “In some cases, we include a note in the posting saying that no resumes will be accepted without a cover note. This helps us see right away who has or hasn’t been committed enough to read all the way through the job posting, and how much attention they pay to detail, which is an important qualifier.”

Wong adds that an intelligence test is a vital component, and should include questions testing basic math and reading comprehension skills. “For technicians, having the ability to read and understand pesticide labels is critical. And if they can’t do basic math, then they shouldn’t be mixing pesticides. Sometimes a person can interview very well, but when you test their fundamental knowledge, you find they don’t qualify for the job.”

Terminix of the Triad, in North Carolina, adds a post-offer assessment to the hiring process. Juanita Spainhour, vice president of HR and business strategy, explains that this extra step ensures candidates have the physical capabilities to perform the duties expected of them, or that if they require adjustments or additional tools, they are given that support to ensure their on-the-job safety and productivity. These assessments also can reduce worker’s compensation claims down the road, she says, by including a historical pre-injury report that can be used as a baseline for claims.

“We began using WorkSTEPS functional employment testing in 2012,” says Spainhour. “These assessments have brought to light instances in which we have been able to improve employees’ productivity by providing modifications — equipping an employee with a smaller, lighter backpack, for example. We never want to put an employee into a situation they can’t handle.”

ALL COMPANIES NEED PROCESSES. While some smaller-business owners might believe formal hiring processes are necessary only for large corporations, Jeremy Clark of Dugas Pest Control feels that they may be even more valuable to smaller operations. “When you have — and hire — fewer employees, you have less room for error,” he says.

Clark adheres to a strict hiring process that includes using a software program to place ads, and collect and organize applications; reviewing pre-applications and resumes; conducting phone screens; requiring more detailed applications of those who pass the screens; and using formal assessments including personality profiles and cognitive testing prior to in-person interviews. “By the time we meet the candidate face-to-face, we’ve mostly made our decision and are just looking for red flags — any reasons to not hire the person,” he says.

“Our hiring process reflects the same discipline we apply throughout our business,” Clark adds. “We are intentional about everything we do, whether treating a home for termites, doing follow-up paperwork or preparing to hire someone. Consistency protects you from having things slip through the cracks.”