By Kevin Bledsoe
One of the greatest costs a self-storage owner faces is that of finding, interviewing, hiring and training new facility managers. The time and energy associated with hiring the wrong person for the job can set back a self-storage operation at least six months. You want to get the decision right the first time or you will pay!
To ensure youre choosing the best candidate, have a strategic process in place. This should include choosing the best places to search for qualified candidates, a process for reviewing applications, the qualifying phone interview, face-to-face interviews and, ultimately, offering the job to the right person. Lets take a look at each step.
To find the best candidates to fill a vacant position, start with employee referrals. Ask your best managers if they know of anybody they would personally recommend as a good fit for a manager position.
Next, post your open position on popular hiring websites such as Craigslist, Monster and Snagajob. Its important to outline the educational requirements, areas of expertise and job skills needed when placing these ads. A detail-focused ad will help reduce the number of résumés you receive from people who arent qualified.
Lastly, spend time in the market where your facility is located. Visit retail locations, restaurants and apartment complexes to find people performing their current position at a high level.
Evaluate the Applications
The next step in this process is résumé evaluation. Start by reviewing the submissions of each applicant.
What do you look for when reviewing 70 to 80 applications? First, make sure each candidate meets most of the requirements you outlined in your job postings. This will help you weed out many of them. Second, review their length of time in each position on their résumé to ensure their work history is stable. Next, review the skill sets candidates use in each position and their level of expertise with each. Following these steps will help you eliminate 70 percent to 80 percent of the applicants who fail to meet your job criteria.
Conduct Phone Interviews
Once youve thoroughly reviewed all the applications and résumés to narrow down the list, youre ready to conduct phone interviews. This is the step in the hiring process that will help you save time and energy. Be prepared with a standard set of questions to ask each candidate. The goal is to be fair to each person you interview and make sure youre not discriminating from one to another.
Ask questions that are high-gain and behavioral-based, and avoid those that could be answered with a simple yes or no. Focus on questions that will tell you about the persons work pattern, customer-service skills, sales abilities, education, ambitions, attendance/punctuality, problem solving/analytical skills, ability to learn, flexibility, organization and attention to detail, interpersonal communication skills, cooperation and management skills. Take notes about his answers to each question and use a correct or incorrect methodology or a number scale when reviewing the answers. If candidates arent capable of answering questions in a manner you deem acceptable, eliminate them from the next step in the interview process.
Typically, its better to end the call, review each candidates answers and take a few minutes to determine if this is the type of person you want managing your facility. Once youve completed the phone interviews, schedule face-to-face interviews with the top candidates.
Meet Them in Person
At this point, youve reduced the original 80 or so applicants to a handful of candidates to meet in person. Its good to set up the interviews verbally, but also follow up via e-mail to confirm the date, time, location and any items youd like them to bring.
For the in-person interview, be prepared with another set of behavioral-based questions and inquiries that ask for more detail about job history and skills and personality traits. Take note of the level of preparation for the interview including questions the candidate has for you. In general, stick to the 80/20 rule, allowing the candidate to speak 80 percent of the time and the interviewer speaking 20 percent of the time.
Once youve completed your interviews, determine which candidates youd like to consider hiring. You will then need to check references, speak with former employers, conduct a background and credit check, and perform any other pre-employment tasks you require.
Its important to have standard forms for checking all references including prior employers. Each candidate should be evaluated on the same platform so the entire hiring process is equitable.
The hiring process can be detailed and time-consuming, but can be well worth your time and effort to ensure you hire the right person for your facility. The right hire can become a partner in the success of your business. Follow these steps to make the right decisionthe first timewhen hiring your next self-storage manager.
Kevin Bledsoe is a district manager of York, Pa.-based Storage Asset Management Inc., which provides full-service management, consulting and website-development services to self-storage owners on the East Coast. For more information, call 717.779.0044; visit www.storageassetmanagement.com .