What to Look For When Hiring a Porter
As most property managers and owners will tell you, a building ceases to function without the stewardship of a skilled porter. A porter is a true jack of all trades and is comfortable performing a variety of duties, such as: handyman, landscaper, janitor, and assistant.
Because this position requires little formal education or experience, the most successful porters regularly display a willingness to learn on the job and are quick to pick up new skills. To ensure that the next porter you hire is both qualified and right for their assigned duties, here are five questions to keep in mind:
Are they physically capable of doing the job?
Each workplace comes with its own set of physical demands. For example, if you manage a hotel or an apartment complex, there’s a high likelihood that a porter will need to move heavy furniture or equipment or, perhaps, climb several flights of stairs. Do they have the strength and stamina to carry out the basic functions of a job?
Do they follow through on assignments?
Oftentimes being a jack of all trades means you’re a master of none. However, this mindset should not apply to their work ethic. If a candidate is unable to successfully complete a task, what do they do next? Do they find alternative methods to troubleshoot the problem or simply move onto something else? Certainly, there’s no shortage of issues when it comes to building maintenance, but lack of follow through or concern for specific assignments can lead to further problems in the future.
Can they show you their skills?
There’s no skirting the issue. Candidates lie. On their resumes. During interviews. Even after they’ve been hired, they may continue to fib their talents and embellish their achievements. Unfortunately, a porter who exaggerates his skill set and qualifications can negatively impact a business. Imagine a porter who gets hired because of his so-called repair skills — if there’s a leak or if the electricity suddenly goes out, money and lives could be on the line. During the interview process, you may want to ask them to demonstrate their abilities.
Are they trustworthy?
Time to trust your gut. Or if you don’t usually have good instincts, get a second or third opinion. Above all else, porters must be trustworthy as they are routinely around customers, clients, expensive equipment, and restricted areas of your property — sometimes alone, sometimes with others. Ask them about their responsibilities in previous jobs and follow up with their references to confirm their claims.
Do they have a flexible schedule?
Sadly, we don’t have control over when a pipe bursts or if there’s an emergency cleaning situation. Even though your porter may have a regular work schedule, your building may require an on-call maintenance person at all times. If the position is not a regular 9-5 gig, then you should be upfront with candidates and let them know they should be available during evenings, weekends, or other non-traditional work hours.
Finally, be thoughtful in the hiring process. Too often, blue-collar positions are filled quickly and without caution, but there are costs to such a lax approach. The expense of turnover, which include constant training and hiring, can cost you, both in time and money. Ask questions and really get to know candidates — after all, you goal is to work with them for the long run.