Hiring Your Marina's Best Asset - The Manager
Monday, January 30, 2012 at 4:41PM
Dennis Kissman in 1997, Employment, Industry Articles, Management

This article, by Damian E. Buckley, was published in Marina Dock Age – Winter 1997

How do you ensure that the position you need to be filled is filled with the correct person?  A hiring mistake can be very costly.  It usually takes up to three months to find the right person, and a mistake in hiring may take a few months to discover, after which the recruiting process has to start all over again.  This leaves the marina owner back in the same position, or worse, just assigning the position to the nearest warm body.  Employee mistakes just do not grow; we let them in with open arms through the hiring process.  There is only one valid criterion—is this the right person?  The challenge is getting the right person in the first place, knowing when you have the person with those basic qualities; knowing that the person you are looking for has the necessary competency and can be trained to your own methods.

It has been my experience (through personal trial and error) that there are certain traps into which we can all fall.  This article is intended to aid those marina operators who do not have their own personnel department helping them through the maze of hiring techniques.  Please note also, that as this is an international publication general guidelines only have been given.  The respective marina operator should take employment and hiring practices in various countries into account. 

Finding the right person for the job starts off with describing what the functions of the job will be, in writing, for your own recall as well as the basis for a job description, if you do not have one.  This should include a job summary, duties and responsibilities; supervision (both given and received); minimum experience required; knowledge; skills and abilities; any necessary physical standards.  With this in hand the process can begin.

Cast the recruitment net as widely as possible.  Some methods are the usual classified advertising in newspapers and trade magazines.  Through the Internet, try to search on “marina employment.”  Job experience does not matter; the individual is more important.  Conduct brief telephone interviews as soon as responses start coming in.  Give yourself a time limit, and do not forget that trade magazine classifieds will take longer to reach their target.

Be aware of traps that will cause problems.  Replication of the workforce is not healthy and will create an unbalanced organization.  Do not hire somebody because “they are just like you.”  Other strengths are necessary for a successful organization.  Hiring in your own likeness is rather like having eleven goalkeepers on one soccer team.  Education is not always that important.  A good education is not always an indication of your best future asset.  Applicants with multiple degrees may not have the flexibility of thinking that is required in your operation.  Honest, flexibility and intelligence are qualities that are of great importance.  Do not sell the position available; let the candidates sell themselves to the position.

When telephone interviews have been conducted to screen the candidates, conduct a short personal interview, if possible.  This session should only last ten of fifteen minutes and should be an initial screening.  Interviewing is stressful for both parties time and has been set aside to allow for a minimum of interruptions.  Put the candidate at ease through exchange of common courtesies, and avoid any disagreement at the start of the interview.  Check references for those candidates that seem promising, check CVs or resumes.  Talk to the candidates’ direct supervisor, if possible, rather than the personnel department – more information is usually forthcoming.  Schedule an in depth interview for a later date.  Combine both steps if the candidate has to travel a great distance to the interview.  Make sure that you keep the interview employee- centered and ask certain questions that will help you learn more about the candidate.  Do not forget that an interview is supposed to give or get information.  Some questions that the marina operator will want to ask should include:

    * Describe some areas in your last/current job that you feel that you have done particularly well, and why?
    * What is the most exciting job that you have ever had, and why?
    * Why do you want to leave your current job?
    * What didn’t you like about your last job?
    * What are some of the things that your boss did that you liked (and disliked)?
    * What were your boss’s greatest strengths?
    * What do you want from your next job that you are not getting form your present job?
    * What is your overall career objective?
    * How do you describe yourself?
    * What is your greatest strength?
    * What do you feel that you could most improve upon?
    * What motivates you?

Ask a variety of questions to get more of a response from a candidate.  The following questions can be used as a guide to glean information about certain job skills: 

    * Give an example of when you felt that you were able to build motivation in your subordinates.  How did you accomplish this?
    * Tell me about a time when you followed the rules, although you did not agree with them.
  * Describe the most creative work-related project you have ever completed.
  * Give an example of a situation in the last twelve months in which you had to deal with a very upset customer, how did you deal with the situation?
    * Give an example of a time when you had to go beyond the call of duty.

All of the above questions are designed to draw forth more than a swift answer from the candidate.  The questions should be changed to become site specific, and are to be used as a guide only.

Once the interview has terminated, spend some moments assessing the candidates’ skills.  Create a form to help with assessing all candidates.  List the required in the left-hand column.  For example, experience, flexibility, knowledge, languages, credibility and recommendation to be hired may be some of the categories that you will use.  In the right hand column, a choice of VG, G, S AND F (Very Good, Good, Satisfactory and Unsatisfactory).  Use this form for every employee that you interview.  Some employers also use a psychological test which can be completed in less than 2 hours (on site – rather than at home) and can be designed to closely relate an individual’s personality characteristics to the requirements of the job.

Several other people should interview candidates who look promising, after the interview and psychological test, if possible.  Interviewing skills are not taught to most managers, and special coaching may be necessary.  As the candidate’s personal story, and psychological tests come together you should have developed the “gut feeling” that is so important.  Listen to it, but also review the assessments you have made.

Dennis P. Kissman, president of Marina Management Services Inc. in Boca Raton, FL can be reached by phone at 561-338-5800 or via e-mail: dennis@marinamanagement.com.

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