Auto Shop Coaching Blog

The Secret to Avoiding a Costly Bad Hire

“When people tell you who they are, believe them!”Maya Angelou

“Craig“ passed the Wonderlic with flying colors! His accuracy score was a 10, and if you Googled the words “peacock personality,” Craig’s picture would appear! He aced his initial interview with “Samantha” the shop owner.

According to Samantha, he was “the cat’s meow,” and “the greatest thing since sliced bread!” My follow-up phone interview was a mere formality at this point. Or so we thought!

During our call, Craig told me that he left his most recent job because there was a change in ownership.

So, I asked: “There was a change in ownership?” He went on to explain how the new owner wanted to bring in someone younger.

I responded by asking, “He wanted to bring in someone younger?”  Next, Craig surprised me by doing what Bryan Stasch refers to as turning states evidence!

He admitted that the new owner terminated him for failing to meet his sales quotas, but he believed the real reason was his age!

When I told Samantha, that Craig was terminated for performance, it was news to her! He never mentioned it during their initial interview.   

Samantha was able to avoid a costly bad hire. 

I know what you’re thinking. “Thanks for sharing Twiggs, but how can I get my next applicant to turn states evidence?”

I promise to reveal the details later in this post. But first, it is critical that you understand how much a bad hire can cost you.

Ideas to grow your businessWant more tips for how to avoid bad hires, improve your bottom-line, and grow your business? Discover valuable, easy-to-implement ideas and strategies in ATI’s shop owner events. Register today at

Count the Costs

Think back on your last bad hire. Maybe it was the seasoned service advisor who felt that your prices were too high for your clientele.

“Coincidently,” after he resigned, many of your good customers came back and business has been better ever since.

Or maybe it was that technician with the big toolbox and exaggerated qualifications. One day he clocked out for lunch and never came back!

You haven’t seen him since that day, but you have seen the comebacks that resulted from his failure to fix it right the first time!

Both scenarios are examples of how bad hires cost you more than the gross wage you pay.

Before you rush into your next hiring decision, it pays to count the costs!

In their book, Who, The A Method of Hiring, Geoff Smart and Randy Street conclude that the average hiring mistake can costs a company between six and twelve times the employee’s salary.

As you count the cost, you must consider to following: compensation, benefits, training, severance pay, lost customers, and lost opportunities.

I recall a service manager who was being paid $50K costing a shop owner over $311K when we factored in the previously mentioned considerations along with the number of customers who reported that they weren’t coming back if he was still there!

How much did your last bad hire cost you?

Now that you have counted the cost,  you are ready to apply the Next Best Question.

The Next Best Question

ATI Fundamental #22 states the following: Be quick to ask and slow to judge.

The key to getting your job applicant to turn states evidence is to be quick to ask the next best question.

To accomplish this, you simply repeat back the last words of the applicant’s statement in the form of a question.

This is what I did in the opening story with Craig. (“There was a change in ownership?”)

When you repeat the exact words they use, you allow the prospect to feel understood which creates rapport and builds trust.

It’s important to approach the interview with the goal of spending 80% of your time listening and only 20% of the time talking. 

As you sit back and listen, your “Craig” will feel compelled to fill the silent void by providing additional details to further explain himself.

For example, if you applied this technique with the “seasoned service advisor,” he may have shared his limiting beliefs on pricing during the interview.

The technician who never returned from lunch may have shared that he was let go from his last shop!

The opening quote from Maya Angelou is one of my all-time favorites: “When people tell you who they are, believe them!” 

Asking the next best question provides the opportunity for your candidate to reveal who they really are!


So, there you have it. Remember to count the costs before rushing into your next hiring decision.

Asking the next best question will get your applicant to turn states evidence and keep you from making a costly bad hire!

By now you’re probably thinking, “I love the next best question! I plan to use this with my applicant today!”

Here is my next best question: “You plan to use this with your applicant today?”

At ATI, we focus on teaching and coaching shop owners on best practices to get the most out of your automotive repair business. Want to learn more? Find an ATI shop owner event near you.

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Eric, the Accountability Coach, is an Executive Coach at ATI and has coached since 2009. Eric came to ATI having managed over 60 different automotive repair facilities and having supervised over 500 employees at a given time. He loves seeing members progress beyond what they thought was possible and improve their shop to the point where they can leave for weeks at a time and come back to a business that's better than when they left.