GLENDALE, Ariz. — Your employees are literally the “face” of your business, and can make or break it. So naturally, you want to hire the friendliest employees who offer quick service with a smile. Employees who are honest, reliable, hard-working. People who have high integrity. Easier said than done. But it all starts with the hiring.

There are different ways to attract applicants and each has its pluses and minuses. Here are some options:

PUT A SIGN IN THE WINDOW

This age-old technique is the easiest way to find crew members who live in the surrounding neighborhood.

The good? If your mat employs local people, you will find it easier to have them show up in bad weather. And you will also find it easier to coax a crew member to come in for extra hours when you get busy, or to fill in when another one takes a day off.

People who live nearby are more likely to want your job, because it’s much easier for them to work locally near their homes.

Additionally, even when you are not hiring, people in your neighborhood will remember seeing your window signs and come in looking for a job even if you are not hiring at the moment. It can be helpful to collect and save their applications for a time when you do need to hire in the near future.

The bad? When you put a sign in the window, you will attract locals, including your own customers who you may not choose to work for you.

Let’s say you put a “Now Hiring” sign in your window for two weeks. It’s entirely possible that you attract 25 candidates or more for just one position. Some of the candidates you reject may resent you for not hiring them. Some could be customers who may choose to not patronize your mat anymore.

You may think that you are saving money by just putting a sign in the window, but it could cost you more in lost business.

PLACE AN AD ONLINE

There are many job search sites for you to sign up with, such as Glassdoor.com or Monster.com. Too many to list here. Just Google “job search sites” and you’ll see what I mean.

The good? You will be getting lots of calls and applications from people who are searching for a job. While these people often do not live near your mat, they tend to be a little more motivated because they are already in job-seeking mode.

The bad? The trouble is screening out all the applicants who are not really serious about the job, or not good for your business needs, which could get overwhelming.

ASK YOUR OWN EMPLOYEES IF THEY KNOW ANYONE WHO NEEDS A JOB

What’s the best way to get recommendations from your current workers? Answer: Treat great employees great, and get rid of the ones who consistently give you trouble.

I’ve found that no matter how good a manager you are, if you have someone who doesn’t want to be a team player, they have to go.

If you treat your employees fairly, with kindness, respect, competitive pay, and even a little humor, life will be better for everyone at your mat. Sincere compliments about their work goes a long way in starting and building positive energy.

If you come in as a dictator, then you will unwittingly create resentments and increase your worker turnover. You’ll always be scrambling to find new ones. Why? Because it is you, the boss, who sets the mood and tone.

The good? Not only will you find it easier to find someone who has already been somewhat “pre-screened” by your employees, you will have far less turnover. I rarely had to put a “Help Wanted” sign in the window, or advertise online for help. Just the opposite. We had a waiting list of people looking to work for us, recommended by our current workers.

The bad? Not much. unless you think that taking the effort to be nice to your employees, or to be fair to them, is too much effort. If you believe that paying a decent wage is not in your budget, remember that the job market is competitive right now and you get what you pay for.

THE HIRING PROCESS

Begin the hiring process with a job application form that suits your needs. You’ll find plenty of them by searching “job application forms” online. Some of them allow you to insert your store name and logo.

Give a good look at candidates who come in on time for the interview; I find it incredible how some people show up late, or not at all.

Look for people who tend to smile. Look for people with a job history of no more than one or two jobs a year.

People who call back to remind you they are still interested after the interview would always get a second look from me.

I’ve found that people who are happy at home tend to bring that happiness to the job, and vice-versa.

Ask why they want your job, and why they left their last two jobs. Pay attention to their body language when you ask questions, including eye contact. How are they dressed for the interview? Appearance should be casual but neat.

People who come in with a friend or two standing right next to them, as well as people who let a friend speak for them, could be a red flag (yes, I experienced that a few times — big turn-off for me). Biggest red flags, if you can detect them, are gamblers and people addicted to narcotics.

Before you hire anyone, try scheduling two interviews per applicant, with your manager or best employee present for at least one. Two heads are better than one. Your manager may see something that you may miss.

After initial interviews, I would rate my impression on a 1-to-5 scale, with 5 being great and 1 being not likely. From there, call back your highest-rated candidates for second interviews and work your way down the list.

A second interview is important. Some applicants will not show up a second time. Maybe they found another job or just didn’t like what you have to offer. That’s fine – they probably saved you a lot of grief. The ones who do show up for a second interview are serious about getting hired.

For the second interview, I would ask your applicants to allow an hour to take an integrity test, aka “honesty test.” I’ve found these tests to be a helpful tool when you’re narrowing down your list of candidates. There is no foolproof way to determine what’s actually going on in the minds of your applicants but a good integrity test can be helpful in screening out the bad apples. You shouldn’t base your decision entirely on a test, but use it as a tool that helps confirm what you’ve already gleaned from your interviews.

Again, you can find websites that offer these “integrity tests.” I’ve used The Reid Report for years, but it’s gotten a little pricey recently.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion!