Great community association maintenance workers are a major asset in so many ways. They bring a huge sense of pride to their supervisors and the community they work for and are often referred to as “gems.” This comparison to valuable merchandise is accurate, and that is exactly what great maintenance workers are: a precious commodity. So how do we increase our chances of finding that “gem” when in the market for a maintenance worker? Patience is the key.
It is important to be patient during the search process. All too often, a lesser candidate is “settled for” because of our busy schedules and the immediate need to fill the position.
Desperation can cause a lowering of standards that can have long-lasting, negative effects. Dealing with an unqualified worker will cost much more in valuable time and money than taking the extra time needed to find a good worker. If several interviews do not turn up that “gem”, don’t settle. Keep looking. If possible, set up more interviews and keep trying. The more interviews conducted, the better chance a great worker will be found.
Most interviews will address previous work history and education level. However, finding a great maintenance worker requires more. The first place to start is to identify the skills needed for the position and preparing the documents to use at the interview. Keep in mind that excellent customer service is a required skill for community association maintenance positions. Here are some important steps when preparing for the interview:
Know what you want and what the community can afford. Be realistic in what you expect the person to do. Based on these requirements, create a job description listing all the duties and requirements, as well as the reporting hierarchy. Knowing the exact job description helps develop questions and a checklist that can be used during the interview.
Create a checklist for the prospect to fill out that lists the job skills and allows them to rate their knowledge and skill level for each category on a scale of 1 to 5. For example, if irrigation is an important part of the job, then it would be important that the prospect has a high score in that area. The interviewer should use this same checklist to rate the skills based on how the questions are answered.
Create a checklist for the interviewer that lists important customer service-related issues, such as:
- was the prospect on time;
- was the prospect presentable and well-groomed;
- is the prospect’s body language and speech friendly and non-threatening; and
- is the prospect’s demeanor such that he or she will be able to deal with a broad spectrum of demanding residents?
These completed checklists are used later as an important comparison tool to identify the best candidates. In addition to these documents, prepare a list of questions to ask the prospect. These questions must be consistently asked of all candidates who are interviewed to ensure that the interview process is based on bona fide requirements and that all candidates are treated equally. Also, these questions should be intended to bring out the prospect’s personality and ability to interact with residents. Here are some examples of questions:
- Do you prefer to work alone or in a group?
- Give me an example of a difficult situation at your last job and how it was overcome?
- What kind of people do you find most difficult and how do you deal with them?
- How would you handle a situation where you have made an obvious error?
- When you have been told about a problem with your job performance, or discovered it for yourself, how have you dealt with it?
Finally, make sure to involve the person who will be the supervisor, such as the community association manager, in the interview process. This step cannot be overstated. The relationship between the worker and the supervisor will likely be long-term and so it is imperative that it be a good fit. The supervisor’s impression of the prospective employee should be given priority when deciding whether or not to hire the person. Once a successful candidate has been found, the interview process turns into the hiring process and such things as the level of pay, benefits, and the necessary documents required by law are discussed in earnest.
Patiently applying these key interview elements will vastly improve your chances of finding that valuable “gem” of a maintenance worker.
Jeff Gourlie, AMS®, PCAM®
Kramer-Triad Management Group