April 2018

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Hiring Elite Controls Talent

like the “Big Boys” – Part 1

Skip Freeman
Skip Freeman,
Senior Technical Recruiter,
BASI Solutions, LLC
(Building Automation and Smart Industry)

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Hiring and retaining top talent is no easy feat, especially for SMBs (small/mid-size business) which is the majority of us in BAS and controls.

The large companies (1000+ employees) have an advantage not only because of their name/brand, but they have “talent acquisition” resources beyond the capability of most small/medium sized businesses.

During this and the next 3 articles, I am going to provide you with real actionable items that you can implement immediately to recruit, hire, train, and retain elite controls talent as well as, if not better than, the “big boys.”

Objectively Determining a Candidate’s Cultural Fit Fast

Bottom line - as a service to the BAS/controls community, we will help you benchmark your hiring team’s culture so you will be ready when that candidate appears on your radar.

What does this mean?

If you read last month’s interview with “DC” Surface (Controls Manager of Commercial Controls Group, a division of Mingledorff’s), you’ll recall his discussion, in the last third of the article, about the criticality of cultural fit and communication. (Here’s the interview link:

“Fit” is critical anywhere but especially in an SMB. And unlike in the hit song by the Osmonds, one bad apple CAN spoil the whole bunch. There’s less room for error.

First, some “not so fun” facts about the current BAS/controls talent economy:

Question – “So how can you hire elite talent like the “big boys?”

Answer – “Move fast while simultaneously assessing cultural fit.”

When a good candidate is found, moving fast keeps the talent out of the hands of the “big boys.”

But Skip, “If I move fast on the talent, how can I assess cultural fit? Don’t I need to have at least 3 candidates so I can compare, and have 2 or 3 conversations with each to know if they ‘fit’?”

Use data! (We use data in BAS don’t we?)

Assessing a candidate for hard skills is the easy part, but “cultural fit” is too often determined by “gut feel.”

“I’ll know it when I see it,” is often the mantra for defining fit and “he/she just doesn’t feel right” is often the excuse for dismissing someone from consideration.

Admit it. We’ve all done it!

So, what do we do?

Benchmark the culture of the team.


Use a proven EEOC compliant assessment. There are several that are excellent (such as Caliper, Revelian, Predictive Index, and others). Wit our clients, we use the TriMetrixDNA (by Target Training International).

The assessment enables us to to gather objective data on a person's

This data is plotted, and a map of the team’s culture developed (see example below).

Once created, not only can this be used to improve communication between current team members, but when a potential hire is assessed, we can see where there are matches and gaps

The bottom line is this. No matter how skilled a potential new hire is, if their behaviors and motivators don’t mesh with the team, they should not be hired.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]Here’s an example of an overall hiring process.

  1. Benchmark, ahead of time, the hiring team (and we will help you do that).
  2. Phone screen a candidate for basic skills. If the desired proficiencies seem to be there, then
  3. Provide the assessment to the candidate.
  4. Use the assessment to determine appropriate questions to be asked during the face-to-face interviews.
  5. Make a hiring decision.
  6. Test the offer.
  7. Extend the formal offer.
  8. Background check/drug screen (if required)
  9. Keep candidate engaged during the all too often “quiet” period (when most counteroffers get accepted).
  10. Onboarding.

Bottom line – to hire elite control’s talent like the big boys, you’ve got to be fast and be right.  While there are no guarantees (because, after all, we are dealing with people, not bits and bytes), if you:

As a service to the BAS/controls community, we will help you benchmark your hiring team so you will be ready when that candidate appears on your radar.

Reach out to Skip Freeman at or call Skip at 678-480-4086.

Sample team plot and explanation of each segment:

Sample team plot


About the Author

As a mechanical engineer and former U.S. Army officer, Skip is now a highly caffeinated slightly irreverent technical recruiter who’s passionate about helping companies in BAS, controls and Smart Industry recruit, hire, train, and retain top talent and helping top talent advance their careers.                                                                                                                                  


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