Interviewing Basics For The Cleaning Industry

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by Tom Watson on June 29, 2010

Hiring people is a tough business. Finding the proverbial “needle in a haystack” can be a real chore. It’s difficult to see through the facade of the applicant at times.

They are obviously going to try to show only their best side (and suppress the “other” side) during the hiring process. This is to be expected. So your work is going to be cut out for you.

The stakes are quite high.

Making poor choices during the hiring process will lead to headaches down the road. So the goal then is to try to have a system in place that allows you to get the highest quality person hired more often than not.

This process starts with the application itself. Look for the following telltale signs.

  • Was the date filled in? Sounds simple, by not completely filling out an application may suggest a deficiency right off the bat.
  • Is the handwriting legible? It they can’t take the time to make it readable they may not be a good choice. Rushing through an application may indicate they “rush everything”.
  • Does the starting wage seem workable for the candidate? Many times an applicant will have a much higher starting wage requirement than you are offering? Are you compatible?
  • How does their work history look? Giant gaps in employment are not a favorable trait in most cases. Also look for any jobs that overlap in a way that does not make sense.
  • Are they a job hopper? Do they have an inordinate amount of jobs for a given period? Going from job to job quickly indicates no long-term stability.
  • Is there any career progress? You may not be hiring them for a lifetime but their progression in life (as seen through the responsibilities they take on in a job) is a good indicator when it shows an upward trend.
  • Study the reasons for leaving past jobs. Do the reasons they provide seem reasonable to you in the larger context? Also use caution when many past employers are out of business.

After reviewing some applications a few will stand out. This group will be the ones you call in for an interview. Set the appointments then begin preparing for the big day yourself.

Pay attention to the following details on “interview day”.

  1. Make the applicants feel very welcome.
  2. Make your office (or wherever you control the surroundings) look as good as possible.
  3. Be mindful of the image you project.
  4. If you have staff there as well pay attention to what image they project as well.

Next up on the agenda is the questions that need to be asked. Here are some suggestions for you, along with some advice on what the responses reveal.

  • Question – Tell me about your current job. You are looking for details and specificity. Does their answer show any clues to their work ethic? Also…Do the skills they use now match up with what your position requires?
  • Question – Talk to me a little about the company you work for (or last did). The answer may reveal their “attitude”, and if that fits in with your company.
  • QuestionWhat kind of employment interests you? Reading between the lines, does the answer match what you are offering?
  • QuestionWhat constitutes a good attendance record? Does the response seem reasonable and match yours?
  • QuestionTell me about your relationship with your last supervisor. A strong one indicates a good attitude.
  • QuestionIf that supervisor was sitting here what would they tell me about you? Do any conflicts crop up? How about problems with performance? This question can reveal much about their perception of how to get along with others.
  • QuestionTell me about one problem you had with a supervisor, and how you handled it. Did they accept responsibility or blame someone else?
  • QuestionWhat, in your opinion, is something important about you that I should know ? Are they open and honest with their answer? Did they put some thought into the response?
  • QuestionAre you interested in this position? You are looking for a firm “yes”.
  • QuestionWhy should I offer you this position in my company? Look for compelling answers that are given with conviction.

Taking the time to think through all the details of the interview process will help you “tilt” the odds in your favor. Remember…how well your company runs in the future depends greatly on how successful you are at finding the “needle in the haystack”.

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