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Vetting potential employees

huleo

Hot Rolled
Joined
Feb 12, 2014
Location
UT
Curious what methods you guys have used to vet prospects? I realize the simple things like application and resume my not really paint the full picture. People flat out lie about things, and others might have quite some mental ability that would make then an asset. In the past I recall making a written test for applicants. I told them it was just for some general knowledge so I know where they are. I purposely put brain benders in so I could see how they handle it.

I am NOT looking for 'button pushers'. I figure if you can't mentally add 3/8" and .1250", we are going to have an issue. I don't know all the regulations, but I have to do what I can to weed out zeros. I look at cars, smell them for cig smoke, etc......lol
 

jaguar36

Cast Iron
Joined
May 13, 2015
Location
SE, PA
Depends who I'm looking for. If I'm looking for someone who can think, ask them questions so you can see how they think. Give them a problem that they have to work through, not just a question that shows that they can parrot back information they memorized or had drilled into them at one point. Looking for a manual guy? Show them some wonky part and ask them how'd they hold it down and how they'd indicate it in.

I haven't found asking them about their experiences too helpful. Folks will just make shit up or talk about something one of their coworkers did.

Whatever you do though, learn the laws on what you aren't allowed to ask. Worst thing is you asking what religion they are or what country they grew up in and getting sued.
 

MCritchley

Hot Rolled
Joined
Mar 22, 2007
Location
Milwaukee
So your looking for your offspring ?
What person drives, what they smoke or don't is none of your concern.
The best lathe hand I've ever met smoked a lot of cigs. The indoor smoking ban lasted for a few weeks and we let him smoke by the machine. I think it helped him relax, we were making gas turbine parts with tenths tolerances. So I'm with Doug, you may overlook the best person for the job without an open mind. I simply look at job history amongst other things to get a good handle on what an employee can do.
 

huleo

Hot Rolled
Joined
Feb 12, 2014
Location
UT
I have my list of forbidden questions and I don't mean to insinuate that I would excuse a smoker. Hell, my best friend is one and one of the best employees I know. But I am allowed to use observation. I was thinking of testing with generic Gcodes to see which they might know. It doesn't really prove anything and another best friend is actually a programmer and knows very little, and he does huge Ti 5x work.

But I do find that applicants inflate their experience level and I am looking for honesty above all else. Don't know? Say so. I'll take a guy with a gift of learning over a 'know it all' any day.

We simply can't accept any guy off the street though. Button pushers are quite the issue in my area, and are the cause of some very expensive crashes. I'd rather have a machine powered down than put any monkey in the driver's seat of an expensive machine. I have learned many shops don't share my mentality, possibly out of desperation for employees.
 

triumph406

Titanium
Joined
Sep 14, 2008
Location
ca
A lot depends on whether your any good at evaluating employees.

I'd give them sort of test if their going to be CAD designers.drafters, or CAM programmers. But it takes somebody very profficient to be able to administer that test.

If their going to be manual lathe/mill operators, it would be for liability/safety reasons unwise to conduct a test on a machine before employment. But the first part I would give them would be fairly complicated that requires some thought and skill. You would find out in the first few hours or day whether they can cut the mustard.

Or alternatevly give them a print and say "how would you make this? Walk me thru the process?"

Or if your hiring a CNC machinist, same thing "Ok show me how your going to run this part, how do you go about edge finding the part/vise, how do you go about setting tools in the xxxx machine? How do you edit programs on the control, or PC. What is the G code for peck drilling?etc etc"

Last place I worked, no matter how good the resume, no matter how good the interview, 9 out of 10 applicants didn't make it thru the first week.Good Luck (you'll need it!)
 

ttrager

Aluminum
Joined
Jul 23, 2015
Curious what methods you guys have used to vet prospects? I realize the simple things like application and resume my not really paint the full picture. People flat out lie about things, and others might have quite some mental ability that would make then an asset. In the past I recall making a written test for applicants. I told them it was just for some general knowledge so I know where they are. I purposely put brain benders in so I could see how they handle it.

I am NOT looking for 'button pushers'. I figure if you can't mentally add 3/8" and .1250", we are going to have an issue. I don't know all the regulations, but I have to do what I can to weed out zeros. I look at cars, smell them for cig smoke, etc......lol many avoid simple preparations in favor of off-the-cuff, word-of-mouth interviews, then hope for the best when those people are hired.

Have a Job Description that includes required skill sets.

Go fishing with that Job Description as you would normally, looking to get a bite on that hook.

Have a written test prepared and have them complete that BEFORE any talky-talk. Keep the test reasonable/logical, consistent with the job, not overstated. Consider what levels of on-the-job training are acceptable to you, etc.

Have a set of technical questions prepared for yourself to slip into the discussion part of the Interview. Engage in interview discussion as you review the test results, and insert your questions as opportunity presents during the the discussion and test review.

In the end, you want to uncover what practical (real) skills the Interviewee possesses, not just what they are claiming.
  • The only way this can be discovered is through observing real time demonstration by the Applicant.
  • A Test, and questions that leverage the test, are the best case for seeing that apart from actual demonstration on a machine.
  • You could supplement the written test with a couple of exercises out on a Machine. If the situation / job warrants it in your opinion.
Me, I believe in proficiency tests. Not to make anyone feel bad, it's just good practice. And if done correctly a potential help to a new hire. Where I am at I've written a basic skills test for new Inspectors and call out up front the test isn't an arbitrary measure of hire/no hire. Please complete the test honestly and to the best of your ability so that the test highlights where on-the-job training may need to be focused. Everyone makes out, both the Company and the New Hire.
 

huleo

Hot Rolled
Joined
Feb 12, 2014
Location
UT
I might have someone on the floor to discuss machines, but I certainly won't allow test drives. Hell, if I was the applicant, I would decline to do that.

I think one thing I might do is blank out some of a drawing and have them write down how they would complete the part, what tools and why, etc. This also gives me a snapshot into if they can even read and write! You know how many people I know that can't?

ultimately I want to get right down on details and requirements BEFORE they are even hired. I have literally had to walk guys because I hear the words, "that's not my job"..... I am also looking for ways to mitigate IP and technology theft. I know I am going to implement "no pictures/video allowed" and that is pretty common. I don't want to force a "no cell phone" policy as that seems childish, but I am not paying someone to look at FB all day. Check parts, clean, inspect, etc.
 

FamilyTradition

Aluminum
Joined
Feb 24, 2018
Location
Greenfield, Mass
One aspect that can really make or break someone is mechanical aptitude and ability to learn.

Something that one of my former managers always asked interviewees, was whether they could do an oil change on their vehicle. Even if they had no prior machining experience, it was a good indicator of whether they could follow a procedure, had the ability to turn a wrench, put the correct amount of torque on a fastener, etc. If they could learn to do this successfully, there was a pretty good chance you could train them to be a machinist.

Of course, there are plenty of excellent machinists that just pay someone else to do their oil change, so it's not an end-all be-all.

It also lets you know they don't mind getting dirty. We recently had a new hire that quit on the first day because he didn't like getting covered in oil. Not sure what he expected in a machine shop? 😁
 

ttrager

Aluminum
Joined
Jul 23, 2015
One aspect that can really make or break someone is mechanical aptitude and ability to learn.

Something that one of my former managers always asked interviewees, was whether they could do an oil change on their vehicle. Even if they had no prior machining experience, it was a good indicator of whether they could follow a procedure, had the ability to turn a wrench, put the correct amount of torque on a fastener, etc. If they could learn to do this successfully, there was a pretty good chance you could train them to be a machinist.

Of course, there are plenty of excellent machinists that just pay someone else to do their oil change, so it's not an end-all be-all.

It also lets you know they don't mind getting dirty. We recently had a new hire that quit on the first day because he didn't like getting covered in oil. Not sure what he expected in a machine shop? 😁
We had a new hire (machinist) recently apply for the job. Came in for the interview and walk-around. We set a starting date on a Tuesday, but arranged for him to stop by on Monday so we could get the Orientation Training out of the way. Then, he could just show up the next day Tuesday, clock in, and head to a position for Job Training.

He showed up Monday. I did the Orientation Training. He brought his bag of personal tools so I could log those into our Calibration system. I didn't quite have all his tools logged in by the time he was done talking to someone else on Monday. I told him no problemo, just stop by the Insp Room when you clock in tomorrow to pick up your bag of tools.

Before he left on Monday I double-checked if anyone had told him about clock in time. Made sure that was clear. Thanks much (smiles and handshake) and see you tomorrow!

Tuesday: No show. No call.
For like two weeks: No show, no call, not returning calls.
I still HAVE HIS TOOLS, probably, hmmm, maybe $400 or so worth. Just some hand tools, but all told $400 is probably close.

The boss finally gets ahold of the fellow who indicates he had "some issues" at home that popped up. Boss indicates alright, we can work with you, just make sure to talk to us. They set a new start date for the next Monday coming up. The boss recycled the issue with him: If you need more time, that's fine. If you can make it Monday OK, but if Monday isn't good pick the right date.

The guy insisted he'd be here Monday.

Monday: No show, no call . . . and I still have his bag of tools.

Really odd.
 

huleo

Hot Rolled
Joined
Feb 12, 2014
Location
UT
Interesting! Is that pretty common around here, that guys bring their own tools? We don't do any manual stuff and I supply everything required because I want the consistency. We run a certain caliper, they are numbered, and inspected regular. I guess we've had a few that insist on their own, but we just work through it.
 

DouglasJRizzo

Titanium
Joined
Jun 7, 2011
Location
Ramsey, NJ.
To me, the best way is to just talk to them. You'll get a pretty good indication right away. The first two weeks will prove things out pretty darn quick too.
Some folk choke up on tests. Others are lousy at writing. But they may be superior candidates for what you're looking for. They have have a junky car, or no car. Maybe they don't have the best appearance. A two week test drive will tell you a lot - so to speak.
 

gustafson

Diamond
Joined
Sep 4, 2002
Location
People's Republic
I think we all expect there to be people to walk in and just start working.
Super rare
IT is not 1978 where there are big shops who train people all over the place and you get a perfectly good high level employee because his supervisor hated him.

How many real machinists are out there total right now?
Can you afford them?


This is similar to ~2000 when unemployment was at 2 percent. The crazy people I had working for me then..oh, I have stories

IMHO, a good person you can train is the best you can do.
 

huleo

Hot Rolled
Joined
Feb 12, 2014
Location
UT
I'm sure I will get blasted but as I mentioned, I am trying to work methods to size people up as to who they are, but nothing is pass or fail. If that car has 3 car seats in it, he/she likely has mouths to feed and might have some motivation. Guy shows up in a new BMW telling me he is the best machinist in the state.....I might expect the stars on my tests. He might actually be, but may also be trying to fast track to other employment too.

Nothing set in stone, just seeing what methods others might use.
 

ttrager

Aluminum
Joined
Jul 23, 2015
Interesting! Is that pretty common around here, that guys bring their own tools? We don't do any manual stuff and I supply everything required because I want the consistency. We run a certain caliper, they are numbered, and inspected regular. I guess we've had a few that insist on their own, but we just work through it.
In the shop I'm in, personal tools are allowed, so long as they are in good condition and suitable for the task. The company has invested in the vast majority of measuring tools mind you, but there is a smattering of hand mics, calipers, bore gages, dial indicators owned by machinists, in use at their positions.

Every one of those is marked with an ID, logged in our Calibration system, and are calibrated like any other tool.

Our ISO Auditor was questioning that during our Surveillance Audit at the beginning of this year. I simply pointed out that's been allowed for 30+ years by the owner, and so long as those tools are identified and under Calibration it's not going to change.
 

ttrager

Aluminum
Joined
Jul 23, 2015
To me, the best way is to just talk to them. You'll get a pretty good indication right away. The first two weeks will prove things out pretty darn quick too.
Some folk choke up on tests. Others are lousy at writing. But they may be superior candidates for what you're looking for. They have have a junky car, or no car. Maybe they don't have the best appearance. A two week test drive will tell you a lot - so to speak.
IMO you don't always get a "good indication right away". That's the point. We've had several people start work here over the years, and every one of them got hired because, by word of mouth only, they "gave a good indication right away."

Then they start work and can't demonstrate a solid grasp of basics. Holes in their skill sets appear. In some cases they simply quit within a week or three. And I don't really think it's us, per se. The other side of the coin is that we have a couple of fellows that are ABSOLUTELY STELLAR performers, mature, reliable. And those guys went through the same verbal only interview.

The point here is that, as I alluded to in my previous post, the only mechanic that lets you . . . measure . . . the accuracy of talky-talk, to see if it's "in tolerance", is actual demonstration of what was claimed. If you only leave it at word of mouth you are taking a crap-shoot, waiting for the truth to come out once hired. A Test gets you a closer actual read on the persons skills versus claims, because to answer a question they have to engage knowledge/skills to answer it. It gets you closer.

And a Test is the best-case emulation of that (for basics at least) prior to investing 90 days of time into having that person on the shop floor.

If someone "chokes up" on a test written in the context of their CORE CAPABILITIES, the place where they should be the most comfortable and experienced, that, all by itself is potentially an indicator the person isn't right for the job. Making high-dollar, complex parts, or grinding through high-repetition production provides far greater opportunities for really "choking up". Someone make a mistake, or someone putz up the specs fed to the machinists to begin with, and I can assure you the pucker-factor is more severe than anything a basic interview Test imposes.

I agree whole heartedly with your last statement that a "two week test drive will tell you a lot". Absolutely. The point here is that an Interview test does NOT contradict or compete with that truth.

It's complementary.
 








 
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