Answering Service Evaluating People
Evaluate candidates based on guidelines, not gut feelings.

Your team must see the operation in the same way you do. If you are going to be in control you are going to have to be in charge of your staff, and that means you will have to remove people who can’t or won’t deal with your vision. (Sorry about that.) You will replace them with new people who share your systems mindset.

In our search for system-oriented personalities at Centratel, here are the primary hoops job applicants must jump through. Note that clear-headedness and self-discipline are common threads. Did the applicant:

  1. Show up for the interview on time?
  2. Achieve the minimum required score on the aptitude test?
  3. Know about the business? Did he check out the web site before applying for the position? Are there questions about what goes on in your business, or is the applicant just looking for any job? Is advancement important?
  4. Smile? Seem happy? Generally, did he seem to be self-disciplined?
  5. Listen to you, or were your words sliding by unheard as she waited for the next opportunity to pitch her expertise?
  6. Carry on a reasonable conversation? Did she look you in the eye when speaking?
  7. Appear to be literate? How does the resume and any written work performed as part of the interview process look? How did the applicant verbally express himself (too many “yeahs,” “likes,” and “ya knows”)?
  8. Convey taking care of himself? If not, the raw truth is that in most cases of personal neglect, there is a corresponding lack of self-discipline.
  9. Have a stable work history; not bounce from job to job?
  10. Pass the drug test?
  11. For certain positions, pass the criminal background check?
  12. Have solid references?

By breaking down the subjective interview process into bite-sized component parts, we transform it into an objective black-and-white pass/fail test. Yes, intuition can be important, but it should never override your guidelines. Don’t confuse feelings with logic; subjectivity with objectivity. However compassionate, the “this person needs a break” gut feeling is too often a mistake. Use gut feelings to disqualify rather than to qualify people. (That’s a useful guideline to follow elsewhere in life, too.)

At Centratel, it is critical the job applicant passes through all of the aforementioned hoops. If he or she fails just one, we won’t offer the position because that one negative indicator points to a problem that can’t be neutralized even by all the other positive attributes added together. We are hard-hearted about this and don’t make exceptions.

College education? We don’t worry too much about that, although a college degree might indicate someone who can stick through long-term challenges to reach a goal and who has learned to mentally focus. Unfortunately, a college degree is no longer a reliable barometer of literate capability or of a reasonable mindset. Only three of our nine managers have four-year college degrees (in fact, two of those degrees are in political science!).

You know this already: hiring and then firing someone is not just a bad investment for the company, it’s an intense personal blow to the employee. For the job prospect, it’s infinitely less painful to not get the job in the first place. Be compassionate by creating a thoughtful (and of course, documented) hiring procedure.

Note: Centratel CEO and international business consultant Sam Carpenter has written extensively on the concepts of system improvement and the systems mindset. 24/7,  Centratel assists more than a thousand small to medium sized businesses in the U.S. and Canada such as medical clinics, veterinary clinics, HVAC operations, property management companies, cable companies, home health and hospice services, funeral homes, high tech firms, etc. throughout the United States and is, by a variety of statistics, the highest quality answering service available among the approximately 1,500 services nationwide.

Photo Credits: Mehri Doyle

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