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Interviewing Potential Employees

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Sean Adams, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. Sean Adams

    Sean Adams LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,597

    For every lawn and landscape company that conducts a legitimate interview with a potential new employee, there are 10 that skip right over this process. Many companies in this industry will hire someone if they have a drivers license and a little experience. These are also usually the same companies that you hear complain that they can ever find good help and they experience constant turnover when it comes to their employees.

    The interview process is not just for the suit and tie jobs. The lawn and landscape companies that take the time to conduct a legitimate interview usually end up hiring the best employees.

    Here are some questions you may want to ask the next time you are conducting an interview for a potential new hire and why you should ask these questions:

    1.) Tell me about yourself. This is a good way to find out about the person. Will they talk about how wonderful they think they are? Will they tell you about their personal life? It’s always interesting to see what people will say. Some people will eliminate their chances of being hired just from answering this question alone. Bottom line, is this the kind of person you want working for you?

    2.) What are your strengths? Weaknesses? If they ramble on about how hard they work and how they are never late and how they are the ideal employee, this is probably a red flag. If they tell you they have no weaknesses, another red flag. A good answer is humble and honest.

    3.) Why do you want this job? If they say they couldn’t find anything else, this is not a good start. If they tell you ow they love the industry, enjoy working outside and working with their hands and have always preferred this kind of work to sitting at a desk, they are moving in the right direction.

    4.) Where do you see yourself as far as your career is concerned in the next 5 years? This question is interesting. If they respond and tell you somewhere else besides working for your company, why are you even considering hiring them?

    5.) Why should we hire you? This will reveal quite a bit as well. Is it becasue they work hard, enjoy the industry and want to grow with the organization or is it because they think they are better than anyone else you are going to interview?

    6.) What did you like LEAST about your last job? If you get answers like “working with other people” or “My boss was a jerk” you probably know the kind of perso oyu are dealing with.

    7.) What do you kow about our company? It’s 2013 – everyone has access to the internet. If their answer is “not much” it means they weren’t even willing to take a few minutes just to Google your company to see what you offer, where you offer your services, etc…

    There are millions of questions yu can ask, but these are good questions to start with. If you get the wrong answers or worse, you know you don’t have to ask too many more questions.

    Obviously there are other things to consider as well: Did they arrive on time? Were they dressed presentably? Were they polite and professional?

    Don’t be so quick to hire. Remember, these people are representing you and they are the key component to your company being able to grow and make a profit. Hiring just anyone will get you disappointing results most of the time.
  2. McFarland_Lawn_Care

    McFarland_Lawn_Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,394

    Again great post.....I actually ask some of these exact questions already when hiring. Thanks again for a couple new ones!

  3. GreenGuysLC

    GreenGuysLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 325

    I am currently seeking A supervisor level. Everyone thinks they are a leader.. so I add in some specific questions... like what is the most common grasses to our area? What does the numbers 13-13-13 represent. Show a pic of some plants and identify proper trimming. And of course... how will you handle a bad employee?
  4. McFarland_Lawn_Care

    McFarland_Lawn_Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,394

    By the time you start hiring a supervisor or a leadership role, you really need to have something on paper that tells the supervisor how to handle "bad employees" or a problem situation. Otherwise, he may handle it one way one time and a different way another time - or when you get two supervisors they each will do things differently. But it definitely doesn't hurt to ask him the question to get at his feelings and manner of conduct.
  5. JR's Lawn Service

    JR's Lawn Service LawnSite Member
    Posts: 48

    I will add in my two cents. The questions Sean listed should obviously be asked in every interview. I have sat on hiring boards in the past and interviewed probably over a hundred potential hires and here is my insight:

    1. If they can't look you in the eyes when talking to you, something is wrong. I won't elaborate, but this is generally true. Could be a personality thing, but I look at it as a negative.

    2. Understanding the interview in this case is for Lawn care, if they dress like a slug for the interview, their attention to detail traits are probably not that good and anyone coming to an interview for a job, regardless of what the job is for, should take special care in their appearance.

    3. Look at their vehicle if possible, inside and out. Are there stale burgers from 2 weeks ago inside? Does it appear they live in the vehicle? Don't care what people say, this says something about the person. I said this a while back in a previous post, but an old cop buddy told me that his father, who managed a multi-million dollar company, would send someone out to look at an interviewee's vehicle while he was being interviewed and if it was a mess, that person would not be hired.

    4. Ask them if they have ever been arrested. This person will have access to homes and businesses on a regular basis. How detrimental would it be to your business for them to commit a theft? I would run a criminal history as well.

    5. Ask them who is their favorite person and why? This may reveal something positive or negative.

    6. Ask them what accomplishment during their life are they most proud of and why.

    There are many more things you could do regarding a potential hire. I realize this is lawn care, but when you deal with the public, if you are not professional, you will pay for it in one way or another, sooner or later.
  6. snomaha

    snomaha LawnSite Senior Member
    from midwest
    Posts: 896

    "How would you rate yourself as an employee on a scale from 1-10?"

    Now ask them for the supervisors name from the last employer - write down the name and ask how to spell the last name - then ask for that persons phone number.

    "when I call _____ from your last job, how is he going to rank you"

    If the answer is a 7 or lower - don't hire.

    I also like "tell me about a time when you had to deal with a upset customer and what was the outcome"
  7. lawnpropm

    lawnpropm LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 579

    I wonder if making applicants bring in their own background check would be a good idea??

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