Get Off the Fence and Hire That Plumber … Or Don’t

One of the most frustrating things in recruiting is losing a good candidate because the hiring process took too long. I always encourage my clients to streamline their process as much as possible. One of the biggest things you can do to speed up the process is to make quicker decisions. I often hear something like, “The plumber seemed really good, but we don’t want to just go with the first person we meet; we want to interview a few candidates and then make our decision.” This is a terrible strategy. When recruiting plumbers, you are in a candidate-driven market—if you wait, you will lose them.

If you are on the fence about a candidate, there are several strategies you can use:

  • References
  • Ride Along
  • Technical Test
  • Peer Interview

Things You Can Do to Get Off the Fence

1) References

Don’t just take the candidate’s word for it—do some reference checks and find out what others have to say about them. Go beyond standard reference questions and ask what is bugging you. If they were late for the interview and you worry that punctuality will be an issue, ask their reference how they did with punctuality.

One big thing you want to find out in a reference is their attitude and teamwork. When interviewing, you are not getting the real person; you are getting someone who is presenting themselves. Some do this very well, some are quite genuine, and some are putting on an act. Many find interviewing to be incredibly nerve-racking, and it is easy to misinterpret their nervousness as rudeness or arrogance. In a reference check, I like to ask, “How did your impression of the candidate change from when they first started to now?” This basically asks what they are actually like when you get to know them.

2) Ride Along

Offer them a 1-day working interview or Ride Along. Pay them for their time (they are going to be taking a vacation day for this) and team them up with a plumber you trust. Get a full day of work out of them to find out who they really are. Unlike an interview where they have their guard up, this will allow them to relax a bit, and you will get to see who they really are. At the end of the working interview, you should have a better idea if they are a fit for your company, and they will have a very clear idea if your company is somewhere they want to work long-term. Remember, they are interviewing you as well, and a job has to be a fit for both parties.

3) Peer Interview

Have one of your other plumbers meet with them. They will be spending most of their time on the job with the other plumbers, and it is important they get along.

You will be surprised by some of the insights that you miss but a peer will pick up on right away. Ideally, this will be a more informal, one-on-one meeting, maybe just grabbing a coffee or a shop tour. If a manager or HR rep is present, it will likely result in a much less open and honest conversation.

Side Note: Make sure the peer you choose is versed in the basics of HR so they don’t start asking inappropriate questions. I have seen this backfire when an untrained interviewer asks about age or marital status.

4) Technical Test

If you are unsure about their technical knowledge, have them do a technical test, either written or hands-on, or present them with a scenario to see how they handle it.

Avoid Waiting and Personality Assessments

1) Waiting

Too often I hear from clients that they think a plumber is good, but they want to compare them to someone else. They don’t want to just take the first person who comes in. This is a huge mistake. Often there is no one else, sometimes not for weeks, and by the time you get that comparison candidate, the original person has taken a job elsewhere and is no longer available. Make a decision one way or another and move forward—waiting accomplishes nothing.

If you need to compare the candidate to someone, compare them to other plumbers you have in the shop. If they compare favorably, then you probably have a winner.

2) Personality Assessment

I recommend avoiding personality assessments or professional profiles. I have worked with many companies that use them and have always found that the results are very generic and are not a great predictor of future success.

Use Your Gut

Often, if something seems wrong, it probably is. Avoid it. It is more important to keep the wrong people out of your team. You are better off leaving the role vacant than hiring the wrong person.

If you are having a hard time finding the right plumber, give us a call at 1-833-762-5787 or visit us at to learn more about how we can help you find the perfect plumber for your team.

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