October 2020

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Hiring Managers

 Oh No! Not Another Article on "Interview Tips"

skipSkip Freeman,
 Senior Technical Recruiter,
BASI Solutions, Inc.

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(Yes, but you're not going to want to miss this one! And download your 1-sheet interviewing guide below)


As a field mechanical engineer (hardhat/steel-toed boots, crawling through the mud drum of a boiler, working to protect the campus from Legionnaires disease, or trying to figure out why the chiller is losing efficiency), I personally know how we like to hire people.

Here's the process:

        Do they have the skills that I need?

        Do I like them?

        Do my colleagues/boss/employees like them too?

        If so, let's get an offer in their hands, onboarded, and working. We don't have time to waste.

And sometimes, this process proves successful, frequently mediocre, and occasionally, it doesn't work out.

At best, for most firms, hiring is a 50-50 proposition - you have your 20 to 25% above average/top performers, your average 50 to 60%, and the bottom 10 to 20%.

It wasn't until I became a recruiter that I learned both the art and science of interviewing.

BUT…BUT…in the meantime, if you are running a Controls Contracting firm or department, you have customers to take care of, daily fires to put out, day-to-day personnel issues to deal with, budgets to manage…bottom line…never enough time.

Given these realities, how are you going to find the time to learn the art and science of recruiting?

Good news – you don't have to.

Below are 3 immediate steps you can take to improve your hiring starting today.

But first, let’s define what is meant by a better hire. No matter what, there is always going to be that middle group of "average" performers. But if we have made the right hire, with training & coaching, they will get better (upskilling.)

Therefore, if we can just weed out the candidates who aren't open to training & coaching, improvement is made in the hiring process.  

Next, by reducing the number of hires who are below average and increasing, even just slightly, the number of hires who are above average, the overall performance of the team goes up NOT linearly, BUT EXPONENTIALLY.

An entire article can be written on the preceding three paragraphs, but that isn’t the point of this month’s article. This month I want to provide 3 simple and actionable takeaways that you can implement NOW with your very next hire.


1.      Confirmation Bias


Accept that confirmation bias is one of the Laws of Human Nature (Robert Greene). We all have it, BUT we always believe that it won’t affect us. We believe we have the power to overcome it, but we don’t.


Science now confirms that upon meeting someone, in person or on video, our brain immediately (in micro-seconds) starts processing small cues. These cues range from the tone of voice to grooming, posture, fit of clothes, smile, eyebrows, shoulders, where & how a person holds their hands, and more.


And it’s in these micro-seconds that our first impression is formed. IF we are not aware of “the law of” confirmation bias, we will fall into its trap which leads us to:


        asking a candidate easier questions if we like them, or

        asking a candidate harder questions if we don’t like them.

Often we don’t even realize we are doing it. Obviously, a candidate who is asked easier questions should do better than one who is asked harder questions, and we end up creating a scenario that confirms our bias.

We’ll walk away from the interview saying to ourselves, “I knew I liked them,” or “I was right; I knew I didn’t like them.”


We’ll be better able to avoid this trap (and make better hires) by


        being aware of confirmation bias (point #1),

        having a more structured interview process that digs deeper into a person’s (point #2, and

        having an independent third party participate in at least one of the phone or video interviews (point #3).



2.      Your 1-sheet interviewing guide

Your 1-sheet interviewing guide can be downloaded here:  https://www.basisolutions.com/1-page-interviewing-sheet/

Additional insight/information on the 1-sheet interviewing guide is at the bottom of this article.


3.      Invite an independent 3rd party into the process during the phone or video stage.

As a hiring manager, you are emotionally involved in the hiring process, whether you want to admit it or not. I get it. That’s been me too many times. And especially when you run a small business, a lot is riding on every single hire.

Plus, we don’t want to look bad. This means we tend to “ride a dead horse” (a significantly underperforming hire) much longer than we should, hoping they will come back to life. (Another entire article.)

Inviting someone skilled into the interviewing process during the phone or video stage provides you with independent input, thus minimizing confirmation bias.

As the independent 3rd party engages with the candidate, you have the opportunity to sit back and both observe and listen. When you are the interviewer, it’s more challenging to capture all of the salient points of a candidate’s body language and the nuances of their answers.

Additionally, assessments that can help determine cultural fit bring a lot of value to the hiring process.

As a way to give back to the BAS industry, I am happy to be an independent third-party interviewer with you or one of your hiring managers for one hire at no charge. My email and phone number are at the bottom of this article.

Assessments are a very powerful tool for increasing the odds of making a good hire. Happy to discuss those with you and provide you with a full assessment process for one of your BAS hires, again at no charge.


Here are the additional details which go into a little bit greater depth for your 1-sheet interviewing guide.

While there are many great interviewing questions, the key to successful interviewing is a consistent process. Below is a guide to a great process.

1. Get the candidate to walk you through their resume in detail - companies, titles, dates, promotions, why they left, and get them to explain any gaps on their resume.

2. From their resume, ask them to walk you through a significant accomplishment. Here are ideas for questions you can use to help the candidate unpack the accomplishment and make the interview conversational. 

• Describe the project.

• What were the 2- or 3-biggest challenges?

• How were the challenges resolved?

• What was environment like? 

• What skills used, learned, applied?

• Get them to give three examples of initiative.

• Have them discuss successes, failures.

• Describe planning, management.

• Did they achieve the plan?

• How were the biggest decisions made?

• Looking back on it, what would they do differently?

• How did they grow as a person?

• What did they like best, least?

• Get them to describe recognition received. (Do they take all of the credit or do they share credit, i.e. team player?)

3. Ways to learn about a person’s soft skills:

• Get them to describe the work team they were a part of and their role on that team.

• What were team objectives?

• Were goals met? Why, or why not? (Do they accept personal accountability and responsibility?)

• Provide examples of helping others. 

• If, in a management role, examples of coaching others.

• How do they handle conflict? Get them to provide an example.

• What were the biggest team failures? Why?

• How do they plan, manage, follow up?

• How do they become better in what they do? As a person?

• What did they learn about themselves?

4. Along the way, provide the candidate with the opportunity to ask you questions. Thus, as they answer your questions and ask you questions, evaluate: 

• Their knowledge of your company, the role, and you? 

• Do their questions suggest they have done their homework?

• What is their level of intellectual curiosity?

• What is their interest in the role?

• Listen to what’s important to them. What are their values, their interest in other people, and are they interested in helping you and your team be successful, or are they just interested in themselves?

• What’s their energy level like? 

• Are they a cultural fit?


Skip Freeman is a Senior Technical Recruiter (Headhunter) at Building Automation & Smart Industry Solutions (BASI Solutions.)

As a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BSME, Skip served 10-years in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before serving in Field Sales & Leadership roles in specialty chemicals, water treatment, HVAC, and industrial equipment.

Today, as a recruiter with BASI Solutions, Skip focuses on helping companies hire the best & helping the best get hired in:

                  Building Automation &

                  Smart Industry.

Connect with Skip and follow us at BASI Solutions to stay up-to-date on the latest jobs, career advice, and insight into employment and talent within the world of Building Automation.

Skip can be reached at Skip.Freeman@BASIsolutions.com and 706-986-0833 (text/call).



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