I give everyone a test, and if they score 100 I continue the interview with questions. If we like the answers, we have a shop try-out day. We've developed different tests for different positions. This has worked well for us.
When I used to get lots of applicants, I handed them an application and a math test. If they protested the test ("I didn't know there would be a test!"), I told them they could take it home and return it later. Most often it came back in a different handwriting. Sometimes it was two or more styles of handwriting. Often wrong answers, even with the outside help.
If they asked for a pen or pencil for the application, their fate was sealed. I would happily hand them a pencil and tell them I had never hired a person that applied for a job that did not think to bring their own pen or pencil. Proving my point, they would take the application and fill it out.
I have learned over the years to never settle. Attitude and aptitude and intelligence are required. I can teach, but I can't abide the basic shortcomings. The people I have worked with since adopting 'the best I can get' are all excellent employees, good people and very competent and productive woodworkers that I am proud to spend my time with. Really ups the quality of life.
This is all music to my ears! (in a text format sort of way)
So I'm definitely agreeing with the math test. Our job is math--I've been digging through high school geometry basics often enough to make it count. Let alone the constant arithmetic.
Side question--I've been put to the challenge to find a good set of resumes, being told that not many people apply with the necessary skills in our area. I figured they weren't selling it well enough, but I'm starting to eat my words. Put an ad up for our town--one single resume. Put an ad up on the Vancouver website, knowing a lot of people commute from here to the city to work--nothing at all.
Wondering if the pool is actually that small? Or if I need to get more creative in finding people?
We start out with a math test. Very basic - I guess 6th grade? I haven't been to school for a while so I don't really know. Fairly simple add, subtract and multiplication of whole numbers, and some addition of fractions with different denominators. We also have them do some basic measuring to ensure they can read a tape measure.
We used to get tons of inappropriate applicants until we added "Pre Employment Drug Testing Required". If you show up, you passed the test...
Once all that is done, if the work history looks decent (and checks out) we interview to try to get a feel for what they're like. I'd rather hire an unskilled person with a good attitude than the Craft Ninja who's a know-it-all.
Continuing the interview while doing a tour of the facility gives you a good idea about ones' mental abilities because of the conversations that will develop. It doesn't matter if they're skilled or not, you will be addressing situations that come up in a real world situation rather than those staged scenarios the gurus promote.
Just remember, once you've found the right person you've just begun. And don't hesitate to make the cut quickly if things don't work out.
"I'd rather hire an unskilled person with a good attitude than the Craft Ninja who's a know-it-all "
We have one of those ninjas. It results in stubborn resistance to SOP and interrupting others for tidbits of "knowledge" sharing. High rated annoyance factor for sure! Luckily no one indulges him for too long.
The pool of woodworkers is shrinking, at the same time that the pool of people who could benefit from stable employment with good wages, doing satisfying work with their hands, grows ever larger. Reaching these two populations involves different tactics. For woodworkers: classified ads will produce some resumes. Pay attention to the information you put in your ad. Are you specific about the working conditions? Wages? Are you willing to train? Can you identify local trade schools with suitable training? Can you ask your current workers for recommendations (this can work very well if your workers are happy, not so well if they aren't.) For the general public: you will have to be willing to train. You will have to be willing to announce that you are willing to train. Then you will have to train. Can you do that? Who will do it? What will they do? You'd better have an answer ready, or all the resumes you get will be wasted.
I've been lucky enough to have access to a good local trade school (Stevens Tech) and have picked up some excellent workers through recommendations from current employees. Craigs List has been more of a crap shoot - I got resumes, and many of the workers were probably trainable, but fortunately I always found a good applicant when I advertised.
Just for chuckles, I've put a copy of the ad I run below.
Click the link below to download the file included with this post.
BTW, we require that the test be done on the premises, no calculator. We also ask that they show their work and let them know that the correct answers are not necessarily required as long as they did the problem right and demonstrate basic math comprehension.
What the test shows you that a reference doesn't, is the actual comprehension skills they have. I'm sure we've all heard about the person with dyslexia who worked for years in a library, or magazine publishing company, or some such placed where reading is a requirement, and nobody knew. They had found ways to get by. Kudos to them for working around their disability, but think how much lost productivity there had to have been.
Yes, we have a bar code scanner to cut our frames. But there are situations every single day where you have to be able to read a tape measure. And that calculator? It only works as well as the operator. You need to recognize that when you thought you added 24.25 and 36.125 the answer is NOT 38.55. It's amazing how many people think it's right because the calculator told them so...
The problem with references is how few people will respond with accurate information, or any information at all. Lawyers, liability and all that stuff. I stopped providing anyone any information on any former employee over 30 years ago. You want a reference? Sorry, we don't give them. The only thing I can do is provide starting and ending dates of employment. Other than that, there's nothing I can tell you.
Anyone who will actually give a reference has probably been instructed to say nothing negative, which makes the reference worthless. Making any comment at all is nuts.
It's just not worth the potential legal trouble should negative or less-than-positive or even neutral words that can be attributed to you become an issue. And once you say the words, they're out of your control.
Your comments will likely get noted (accurately or not) in someones file. If an unsuccessful applicant sues the guy you gave the reference to and his lawyer subpoenas the guy's records, then there you are -- a potential additional defendant in some BS suit that will cost you thousands to get rid of. No thanks. It never happened to me because I didn't give references, but it has happened to thousands of employers over the years.
Anyone who can't add those two numbers in their head with no calculator and come up with the correct answer wouldn't receive any further consideration from me for any job, woodworking-related or otherwise.
It's amazing how many mathematical illiterates there are out there. Thanks, NEA. Wonderful job. Good thing most checking accounts are on-line and they don't have to balance their accounts themselves -- they couldn't do it.
Speaking generally, there are a lot of court cases over the last 20-30 years that deal with employment testing. You have to be very careful lest you become the object of some discrimination lawsuit because some moron was rejected due to whatever test you happened to use. In general, as much as I hate lawyers, I'd recommend consulting one who specializes in labor/employment issues before using ANY test at all. It's a veritable minefield.
I hear you, but even the fact that they lasted more than 3 months tells me something.
Cabinet shop owner are more amenable than bigger companies in this regard. What I used to do was call after hours as there is no secretary there. In which case the owners are more open about giving information.
Not to mention that they are sympathetic to this problem as they have the same problem.
I wonder how many of these sort of things actually turn into lawsuits? As usually a lawyer wants to go after deep pockets, to which the cabinet shops have cleverly got shallow pockets.
At any rate thanks nanny state for protecting us on this too.
BTW from what I read the NEA has been around before Carter and was actually brought into full bloom under a dubious character named John Dewey. Who has been making America illiterate since the late 1800s.
The articles Tim Schultz posts from the machinist magazine of the late 1800s shows an amazing literacy rate. Today we have infinitely better tools to communicate, yet the literacy rate appear to be much lower. What's up with that?
Regarding math and literacy: I once had an applicant that complained about the math test. His remark was "If I knew I would ever need math for a job, I wouldn't a cut so many math classes. It ain't my fault for not knowing no math, they never done told me at school."
This is a small town, and I knew the match teachers, and I knew they do all they can to communicate to all their students the need for good math skills.
The applicant wound up the interview by stating that I should hire him since he was "cheated" by the schools, and it was my job to make up for the problems the schools created. He was dead serious. I told him he could keep the pencil he borrowed.
Concerning the math thing, I have met several people that thought 1/8 was bigger than 1/4 because the number on the bottom was bigger and when you added the two numbers together (1+8=9) you had a larger number.
I solved this problem by posting for each assembly a example of the screw with the steps of the job. So they have an actual screw to compare it to when they start. In my area, Ferguson, there are many people who do not know anything about tools, measurements and math. So I have figured out how to change my instruction processes by having a book with the instructions for each assembly. Once they have repeated it a few times, they have learned what to do and no longer need the instructions.
Same with my CNC operation. I have examples of the different bits posted with what they are used for and examples of the different woods used. When I have someone new, they have to check the chart as well as their instruction book till they learn. This has reduced the mistakes made while they are learning and when they are starting to go on their own.
Yup that is an ostensible answer, but that doesn't quite fly. By virtue of the fact that we still had to do well enough to graduate. As did our parents. Graduating today is considerably easier than in the past, even then those that don't graduate are around 20%. In some cities it is pushing 40%
I am not buying your theory.
Seriously what was the time period that magazine was from.
One other thing about this subject. When hiring for attitude hire up beat people. Angry people do angry things, cheerful people do cheerful things, nervous people are filled with anxiety, bored people don't focus. IOW hire the cheerful people. They produce more are more honest, learn quicker, try to make things better.
Not to say that is easy in my experience it is fewer than 5% of the people who apply but I have always found them to be gold.
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