PHCP/PVF distributors and wholesalers I consult find this “Seven-Step Method to Hire the Best” helps select applicants who become “superstar” employees — who are both highly productive and are loyal to the company (low turnover rate).

When you use these seven steps, if you rate the applicant:

A. “Excellent” on a step, then proceed to the next step; and

B. “Average” or “below-average” on a step, then you could stop considering that applicant.

Recommendation: Focus on hiring applicants you rate excellent on all seven steps.


Step 1: Brief initial screening interview (BISI)

If a person’s application or resume looks suitable for your business, then conduct BISI, a 15-minute phone or in-person interview. A BISI quickly reveals if an applicant has biographical data (bio-data) similar to your company’s “superstar” employees.

Important: Make the applicant do 90% of talking and you do 10%. Also, do not tell applicant qualities you want in a candidate you will hire. That is, do not tell applicant answers you hope to hear.

For example, at one HVAC distribution company, I discovered its superstar sales reps had similarities before working for this company:

Work: A) Two previous sales jobs; B) Kept jobs 2–5 years; and C) worked during high school.

Education: Earned business degree from local college.

Pay: Earned less than this company would pay.

Vocal style: High energy.

So, that company’s BISI screened-in applicants with similar work, education, pay and vocal style – and did not waste time on applicants who lacked similar bio-data.


Step 2: Pre-employment tests

If you rate an applicant “excellent” on the first step, make the applicant take pre-employment tests. For jobs such as outside sales rep, showroom sales rep, branch manager and office jobs — use two pre-employment tests:

Work behavior test: Interpersonal skills, personality and motivations.

Mental abilities/intelligence tests: Abilities in problem-solving, vocabulary, math and handling small details.

For jobs such as warehouse or drivers, use a dependability or responsibility test. Such tests forecast honesty, work ethic, impulsiveness, stealing and substance-abuse concerns. You also should test for job-related mental abilities — to see if the applicant is smart enough to do the job.

Importantly, make customized “benchmark scores” for each job in your company. Benchmark scores are exact scores your superstar employees get on the tests. With benchmark scores, you instantly see if an applicant got the same scores or different ones than your company’s superstar employees.


Step 3: In-depth interview

If you rated applicant excellent on both the first and second steps, you conduct an in-depth interview.

 Important: Create a customized interview guide form for each job, including 6–9 crucial job talents and questions to ask.

You must train managers how to use your customized interview guide forms. Without such training, interviewers will not know how to conduct insightful in-depth interviews.


Step 4: Roleplay or work simulation

If you rated the applicant excellent on the first through third steps, then do a roleplay or work simulation.

Example: With sales rep applicants, do sales roleplay. You play the role of the customer, while the applicant plays the role of the sales rep trying to sell you something. During roleplay, you evaluate applicant on sales skills – e.g., making a good first impression, developing rapport, uncovering buyer’s needs, presenting product benefits, asking for the order and overcoming objections.

Example: With warehouse applicants, do a work simulation. Have the applicant do some work your warehouse workers do. For instance, you might have the applicant find correct products, use warehouse equipment and do other job-related tasks.


Step 5: Realistic job preview (RJP)

If you rated the applicant excellent on the first four steps, then do a realistic job preview. For the RJP, the applicant spends a half or full day watching an employee doing the job. RJP must be a minimum of a half-day so the applicant has sufficient time to see what the job is like. For example, have a sales rep applicant spend a half or full day observing one of your sales reps or have a warehouse applicant observe a warehouse worker.

Terrific benefit for you: Applicants who accept the job offer after RJP are less likely to turn over. The reason? The RJP assures applicants see what the job entails so they can decide if they want the job.


Step 6: Reference, background checks, drug tests

If you rated applicant excellent on the first five steps, then conduct reference and background tests and drug tests. If results are positive (negative for the drug test, of course) and do not send up any red flags, proceed to the seventh step. If the results do send up red flags, then you could stop considering the applicant.


Step 7: One executive must approve all hiring

If you rated the applicant excellent on the first six steps and the hiring manager recommends bringing the applicant aboard, then it is important for one executive to approve or disapprove hiring that applicant. The executive must be the president, a VP or the owner. That one executive must determine if the hiring manager was lenient in ratings on steps 1-6.

If that executive approves the hiring decision, then hire the applicant. But if that one executive thinks the hiring manager did not use the steps well, then the executive must tell the hiring manager to be more careful in future applicant evaluations.


How much time?

Many managers are busy and ask how much time these seven steps require. There are two answers: First, if you gave an applicant excellent ratings on the first through seventh steps, you invested two or three hours of your time.

Second, ask yourself how much time and money did you waste when you hired below-average or average employees? You wasted a lot more than two or three hours of your valuable time. Plus, your company did not earn the financial ROI that an excellent-related employee would give you.

Recommendation: Invest only two or three hours of your time to do these seven steps. That is a small price to pay for your company to hire the best.