Running a Shop Hiring Human Resources

Pre-Screening Job Candidates with Questionnaires

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When you sit down to perform a job interview, Gerry Frank says it’s to determine if the candidate has the right personality for your business. But before the job candidate even walks through that door into your office, you want to ensure one thing—he or she is an excellent candidate.

The arduous task of sifting through numerous résumés can be lightened with a simple pre-screening questionnaire. Frank, a multi-shop operator in the Cleveland area and a principal owner in Repair Shop Coach (an industry consulting group), has administered dozens of questionnaires over the past several years to determine quality candidates for open technician, service advisor and CSR positions, and it’s led to graceful transitions and low turnover rates. Frank outlines an effective pre-screening questionnaire that singles out the right people for your business.

 

There are two different ways to administer pre-screeners: through job search websites, or over the phone. Both use the same scoring system and offer the same results. Each just require a different approach.

Many websites, like Indeed and CareerBuilder, offer the questionnaire as an option when posting a job ad, while others, like ZipRecruiter, do not. You can punch in your questions, assign the scores, and then the website will return each entry with a score.

Some candidates come in through websites that don’t offer questionnaires, which is when I’ll have my assistant perform screenings over the phone. She’ll read the questions with the multiple choices just like they’re listed on the website. She knows what they have to score in order to get an interview.

 

You’ll want to determine what skills and attributes your quality candidate should have. Think about your ideal candidate—somebody you want to invest in and mold at your shop. If it’s a technician position, my sweet spot is someone with six to 10 years experience, ASE certified, currently employed, can solve electrical problems without wiring diagrams, and has used our management software in the past. 

For service advisors, I want them to have worked on an incentive-based system in the past, have experience with management systems and labor guides, and a high average sales repair order. 

For each position, you should have this fleshed out. If I can find all those attributes in a few candidates out of dozens, that makes arranging interviews easier.

 

The first questions should weed out candidates who will waste your time. I start each questionnaire with some basic qualifying questions. For technicians, some simple questions like Do you have a valid driver’s license? and Do you own your own rollaround toolbox? immediately let me know if they’re worth my time. If they answer no to either of those questions, then they don’t get to sit down for an interview.

 

Then you’ll have 7–10 questions that operate on a scoring system. It’s up to you if those questions are multiple choice or traditional question-and-answer. Personally, I prefer multiple choice, as it makes scoring easier.

From there, shape your questions around the attributes you deemed most important. Each answer will have a score attached to them, and the better the answer, the higher the score. I set a minimum score job candidates must meet, and then I’ll set up interviews with those that qualify.

Below, you can see some examples of my questions for technicians, the choices for answers, and how many points those answers earn. There are 23 possible points, and you need 16 to get an interview.

You’ll obviously want to change up the questions for service advisors and customer service representatives. For them, I’m asking questions like What was your average repair order at your previous job? and Have you ever worked on a performance-based commission? I also prefer to do those questions over the phone, if possible, as I like to gauge their speaking abilities.

 

THE QUESTIONNAIRE


1/ How many years of experience do you have as a technician?

A. 0-3 years (one point)

B. 4-5 years (two points)

C. 6 years or more (three points)

 

2/ How many ASE certifications do you have?

A. 1-3 (one point)

B. 4-6 (two points)

C. Master Technician (three points)

 

3/ Are you currently employed?

A. No (one point)

B. Yes (two points)

 

4/ Have you ever worked on an incentive-type-pay system? 

A. Yes (two points)

B. No (zero points)

 

5/ Do you have any handheld electronic tools?

A. Scanner (1 point)

B. Digital volt, ohm meter (1 point)

 

 

Here are downloadable PDFs of Gerry Frank’s questionnaire for both technicians and service advisors.

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