If you are like many professional horsemen, finding the right people to help you in your business is one of your biggest challenges. That’s partly because candidates with horse experience are limited, the rate of pay in the equine industry is low in comparison to other industries and much of the work is unsupervised requiring employees with good work habits.
A resume, job application and a short interview will you tell you only part of the story about an employee candidate.
You know what I mean if you’ve ever had your promising new hire show up for work on Monday morning and you find out that not only did the name on the job application and the face from the interview show up, a whole person came along as well with a life history and assorted baggage.
There are many books and articles written every year on the subject of hiring. Read one, or skim several to expand your skills. But, like most things, experience is the best teacher on the practice of hiring good people.
Experience has taught me that the following points are important to consider in your interview process. They’re in random order and may seem blatantly obvious. But, like a mare with her ears pinned flat on her neck, the obvious is still worthy of your attention.
- Does the applicant show up early, on time, or late for the interview? Late arrivals are often backed by good excuses: “heavy traffic, difficulty finding the place, drop children off, etc.” These are the same excuses you’ll probably hear every day from the applicant once hired. If you expect punctuality every day, lack of it at the interview is deal breaker.
- Is the applicant dressed in a way that is acceptable to you for your business image? If unconventional body piercings-offensive tattoos and sloppy general appearance don’t bother you or your customers, no need to worry. If they do, keep in mind you are probably seeing the best image of the candidate at the interview.
- Does the candidate have reliable transportation? You know what happens when a worker is a no-show. You either find a way to pick up the employee to get him or her to work, or you go through the day running on one less cylinder.
- Look for life in the eyes– good eye contact, enthusiasm and energy. And while the following is not absolute, it’s worthy of your careful observation. When someone is remembering details, their eyes move to the right (your right). When someone is making something up, their eyes move to the left. It’s usually opposite for left handers.
- Bad mouthing and negative comments– past employers, industry, relationships, family, excessive bad luck. If you hear too much of it in the candidate interview, you’ll be forever hearing it from the employee.
- How many days off, benefits, what’s the pay ? If too many questions like these come early in the interview, you know that Johnny is all about his Paycheck.
- Lack of enthusiasm for horses and or animals in general. Captain Obvious says this could be a problem.
- Messy car – no science or research backs this up, but I got in the habit of walking a candidate to his vehicle to have a peek at the car. Back seats littered with adult beverage cans and fast food wrappers, duct taped door handles and turn signal lenses and out of date inspection stickers tell part of a story.
- Poor listener-Even though you will only be doing twenty percent of the talking at an interview, the candidate should show signs of coherence and listening carefully to what you say. After all, carrying out your directions is a key job requirement.
- Lacking good manners-you’ll never be happy apologizing for your employee’s crude behavior and impolite habits. Even though it’s not you being rude, his reflection tarnishes your silver.
We both know there is no perfect employee. But, as a profitable business owner, screening for bad habits and attitudes makes good sense. Good attitude trumps work experience.
People with good attitudes, but weak on work experience and skills can always be trained for business. People with bad attitudes, but strong on work experience and skills are often train wrecks for business.