One of the most successful management hiring practices is the use of assessments to match candidates to the job.
I want to talk a bit about the importance of profiling management and sales people in our industry. I am not talking about profiling cultures or nationalities, but rather the importance of having prospective new staff members that you are considering bringing on board complete a profile questionnaire that is then graded to determine their strengths and/or weaknesses. It can and will save you thousands of dollars in the long run, not to mention the countless hours agonizing over a poor hiring decision. 

While a profile questionnaire of the leading candidates won’t totally tell you which one to hire, it sure helps determine where the candidate you do hire will need the most training and support. If you are already doing this, congratulations, you know the value; if not, please read on and take note. 

Let me tell you of a couple of personal examples we had in my own company. One cost me a bundle; the other one helped me avoid what could have been an expensive hiring mistake. 

Fool Me Once: Hiring Against the Ideal Profile
I was trying to hire a branch manager for one of our offices in the Southwest USA and interviewed this man who had years of experience in the cleaning industry with a couple of large companies. At the time, I desperately needed a branch manager because we were growing; at the time, I was filling the slot myself, and I wanted to get on with my other duties which I enjoyed much more.

In this case, he did the profile questionnaire, and I sent it on to my home office for grading with a “hurry up” request. The profile came back identifying him as a terrible candidate for the position. “This can’t be,” I said, “this guy interviewed great and understands the position. Maybe I rushed him in answering the questions, so I will administer the questionnaire again.”

This time the results came back even worse with a note from the person who did the grading that he was the worst candidate we had ever considered for a branch manager position. What! He’s questioning my professional interviewing skills? Yes, he was.

Well, I know better. Something must be wrong with the scoring tables. I hired him…and within two weeks, I fired him. The areas I was told he would not do well in, he did horrible in. But he interviewed so well! That was the last time I overrode the test results. I should have known better. Lesson here? Sometimes we are so eager to fill a position that we overlook all the red flags that appear. We feel we can overcome the weaknesses, but depending on what they are, it may just not be possible. Besides, we have been in the business for years and surely know more than a piece of paper, right? This mistake cost me a bundle, mostly in company reputation as I was much longer without a permanent manager and the customers were getting restless. 

Fool Me Twice: Avoid Hiring Mistakes with Assessment-based Profiles
My staff needed to hire a sales representative in one of our Midwestern cities. They interviewed several candidates and called me to inform me that they had decided on an exciting candidate with all the right qualifications. My immediate response was, “That’s great; send me the profile so I can review it.” I was then told that a profile had not been done and there was no need to do so because they guy was the “real deal.” 

I reminded them of our policy and with much discussion they reluctantly proceeded with the questionnaire. I waited a couple of days and then called to check on the progress and was told that the person was no longer a candidate. He was all “interview charisma,” but his actual personality and ability would not at all match what we were looking for in a person to represent our company. It took a while, but we eventually found a very capable individual. A major hiring mistake avoided. 

So, what about you? Are you taking the right steps in hiring your management and sales staff? They are your culture, image, and reputation to the public. Do you do a profile questionnaire before making a major hire? Let me suggest it is worth spending a few hundred dollars up front before committing to the hire rather than spending thousands later, not counting the damage to your company (and your) reputation.

Dick Ollek is the owner of Consultants in Cleaning, providing consulting to companies that want to realize profitable sales growth and improve staffing and administrative procedures.