Hiring a Mechanic can seem like a daunting task, do you use a Head Hunter or Employment Agency? What job boards do you post on? What to ask during an interview? How much should you offer? Below is an easy to follow 7 step guide for recruiting mechanics.
- Define the Role
- Find Mechanics
- Interview the Best
- Select the Best of The Best
- The Offer Stage
- Constant Contact
- On Boarding
1. Define The Role
It is very hard to find something if you don’t know what you are looking for, too many companies skip this step and it costs them a bunch of time and often ends up resulting in a bad hire. Mechanic is a super broad term, here is Google’s definition of Mechanic:
It gives you the basics but is not very helpful, if you tell your HR Rep or Recruiter “go find a Mechanic” they could come back with anyone who repairs or maintains any kind of machinery, including a Pin Setter Mechanic (someone who works on bowling machines) which obviously is not going to be very helpful at your Diesel Shop. So when defining the role consider the following
- Type of Mechanic – Diesel, Automotive, Heavy Equipment, Marine, Trailer, Generator etc. The more specific you can get the better.
- Certification/Licensing Needed
- Shifts Available – Never start recruiting until you have the shift nailed down, you could spend weeks interviewing the perfect mechanic only to find out they are not available for your shift.
- Specialties Needed In Your Shop – What skill set is your shop short on? If you have all Preventative Maintenance Techs but you get a lot of engine work then you should be looking for a Mechanic who is strong on Engines.
- What Do You Not Need – This is equally important, if you already have more engine specialists than engine work that comes in then don’t pay high wages to a tech that is loaded up with engine training.
2. Finding Mechanics
Finding Mechanics is the toughest part of the process, for an in depth guide on How to Find Mechanics see our post on 5 Sources to Find Mechanics . To give you a quick overview, there are 5 main sources you can use to Find Mechanics To Hire:
- Posting On Job Boards
- Trade Schools
- Use a Recruiting Firm
More details on how each of these can be used is found in the article mentioned above. This is the hard part and where you may need to use a professional but it can be done.
3. Interview The Best
When you complete your search to Find Mechanics, sit down with all of the resumes you have and schedule interviews. You will ideally get all of the interviews scheduled over the course of a couple of days so that you can easily compare each candidate.
A lot of the applications you receive are going to be garbage, delete them, those that look like they have the best experience, invite them in for interviews. Things to keep in mind when choosing who to interview:
- How pretty a resume is doesn’t matter, you need a mechanic who is good with a wrench, their Microsoft Word formatting skills don’t matter
- Experience and Training are the most important things to look for on a resume
- Look out for gaps in employment and candidates that switch jobs too often
Tips for a successful interview:
- Try to have a technical person with you i.e. Shop Manager, Foreman, Lead Tech – They will be able to ask more in depth technical questions and should be able to tell you if the person knows what they are talking about
- Use the same set of questions for every interview so that you are grading each candidate on the same answers
- For a good set of Questions to ask a Mechanic see our article ’27 Interview Questions to Ask a Mechanic’
- Save the answer sheet to compare against the next round of mechanics you interview in the future, if your hire this time worked out well you will want to be able to go back and see what their answers were
- Sell the Job – Mechanics are in High Demand, make sure you give them reasons to choose your company over somewhere else. Be honest with this, tell them why you like working there.
- Give them a tour of the shop so they can start visualizing themselves in the job
- Ask them to send you references via e-mail
4. Select the Best of the Best
While finding the mechanics may be the toughest part, this is the most important part, make sure you select the right candidate. When comparing the candidates you met with make sure you refer back to Step 1 – Define the Job and ask ‘Does this Mechanic Fit What we Need.’
Wants and needs are different things, don’t hire the Mechanic that you want hire the mechanic that you need. Way too often is companies hire the Mechanic the like the best. The ‘like’ factor is a real thing but it shouldn’t be. Just because you have the same interests as a candidate and really hit it off does not mean they will be a good employee, that just means they might be a good friend and I have a bunch of friends who I love but would never hire. Evaluate them as a potential employee not as a person you want to spend more time with.
Another issue that comes up a lot is the speed of the selection process, while this is an important step it is also one that needs to be done quickly. Good mechanics do not stay on the market for long, you have to move quick before your competitor does.
“I only interviewed one mechanic, I need more to compare them to”
This is something that I hear all the time and it can be a killer. With the mass shortage of mechanics out there it is likely that you might only get 1 or 2 to interview. In this case compare them to the Mechanics you already have on the team, do they compare favorably or similarly to them?
One trick that works well is have your own internal mechanics answer your interview questions, how do their answers compare to the person you just interviewed?
Sometimes, actually a lot of times, you have to make a choice with very few options but don’t feel like you need to compare them against other applicants, compare them against the job description, if they match what you need then they are good enough to hire.
5. The Offer Stage
This is the most delicate part of the process, you need to make sure your offer is good enough to get accepted but not so rich that it puts your company in financial trouble. Things to consider when making an offer:
- What do your other techs earn?
- What are the Average Pay Rates in your Area (See our article on average pay rates in the USA)
- What is the Candidate Earning Now?
- What is your cost/profit margin?
When making an offer it should be higher than what the technician is earning now but not so high that it hurts your company or causes issues with other mechanics in the shop. You can tell them all you want not to talk about pay, it will come out and when it does it shouldn’t cause a rift.
Do not try to low ball a candidate to get the negotiating started, most mechanics don’t like playing games, give them your best offer that you feel is fair and let the mechanic know that it is a take it or leave it offer.
A good recruiter (head hunter) can really help here as they should have a good relationship with the mechanic and will know at what rate they will accept and at what rate the mechanic walks. They should also be able to tell you what other options they have on the table.
I had a mechanic recently who accepted a high offer and told me it wasn’t about the money, the high offer said to him they were serious. He was leaving a company that he had been with for several years and needed to know where he was going really wanted him. A low offer can do the opposite it can tell the mechanic that you are not very serious about them.
6. Constant Contact
This is the part that most of us suck at but it is essential in making sure the person actually starts. If you do all the work above and don’t stay in contact you are asking them not to start. Give them a day or 2 to think about the offer and then follow up asking if they have any questions.
Once you get acceptance of the offer stay in contact with them until they start. Calling them once a week (less if the start date is a couple of months away.) This shows them that you care and that you are excited to have them on board.
Do not call them just to say ‘you are still starting right?’ you do not want to look desperate. Have a question or two to ask and make sure they have all the info they need to start i.e. start time, what to bring on their first day etc. Questions you can ask to keep them on board:
- How did it go handing in notice?
- When would you like to move your tools into the shop?
- What is your uniform size so that we can have it ready for you when you start?
- Do you have any upcoming trips or appointments that you need booked off ahead of time?
- If they are relocating – how did it go with the move? did you find a new place ok?
- Do you have any questions prior to when you start?
If you don’t like the phone this can also be done via e-mail or text so long as the Mechanic is ok with that.
This is another area that a good recruiter can really help with. They know they have a commission coming if that mechanic starts so the good ones are usually pretty good at protecting that.
7. On Boarding
First days are important, don’t screw them up. The very first placement I ever made the mechanic showed up for his shift as scheduled at 7:00am, his supervisor wasn’t there so they told him to do some filing while he waited. He was a little confused but obliged (this was also a long time ago when filing was still a thing) at noon his supervisor still wasn’t there and walked out. He said ‘if this is how they treat me on my first day, I don’t want to know how they are going to treat me down the road’ I was mad, just lost out on my first commission, which I had already spent, but he was absolutely right.
Someone’s first day is special, a day they will likely remember for a long time. Most people have about 10 job changes in a career, that means only 10 first days, it is a big deal.
Make sure they feel welcome, this isn’t hard, you don’t have to go over the top with a choreographed dance routine welcoming them aboard but being there is a good start. Be there and be ready for them, have whatever they need i.e. forms they need to fill out, health and safety info etc. Make sure your orientation is thorough, professional and do what you can to make it not boring.
I hope this guide helps. If you are having trouble finding mechanics to hire or need a role filled quickly contact Rockstar Mechanics or call us at 1 (833) 762-5787, we really are your best solution for hiring mechanics.