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The tight labor market and steep competition make it tempting to jump at the first potential hire you recruit, but it’s important to spend time vetting your candidates before making them an offer. 

By effectively screening, interviewing and identifying the best candidates in the landscape hiring process, you’ll spend less time interviewing, firing, and finding replacements. Putting extra time and effort into selecting candidates will also strengthen your landscaping business profit by improving your team’s skill sets and increasing overall productivity, not to mention helping to avoid accidents, broken equipment and poor results due to unqualified or uncommitted crew members.

Here’s how to properly vet your potential hires:

Pre-Screen Candidates

Start by sending applicants a pre-interview questionnaire. It expands your reach, allowing you to screen more people in much less time, and helps you determine who merits an interview. Sample pre-screening questions include:

  • • What skills have you gained and developed in your educational or work experience that relate to this position?
  • • What tools, equipment, or other resources have you used in the past that relate to this position?
  • • What personal qualities do you possess that would ensure your success in this position?
  • • What would you do if you couldn’t complete an assigned task on time? 
  • • Describe a time when you’ve had to deal with a really difficult customer. How did you handle it? 

You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn from a simple questionnaire. It will quickly weed out candidates with poor attitudes and insufficient experience and allow you to turn your focus to those who are better qualified, engaged and motivated. 

“Using a pre-screening questionnaire quickly zeroes in on top-notch candidates, saving time and eliminating a lot of waste in the landscape hiring process,” says Bradley. 

Mastering the Interview

Once you’ve screened and selected top candidates, schedule in-person interviews. Remember that a face-to-face interview is your time to shine too. You want to impress the best candidates by being well-prepared and ready to talk about your company and what you’re looking for in a new hire. Show candidates that you are invested in their development and career and offer an attractive place to work.

You can give candidates a chance to show off their skills and expertise by setting up a field test or working interview. Some companies offer probationary employment, such as a two-week working interview where supervisors can continuously test and evaluate the candidate’s problem-solving, practical learning, work pace, adaptability, and mechanical aptitude. If a candidate does not perform well during their working interview, you can terminate the relationship immediately, turning your attention to better candidates.

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