Hiring a Rookie Could Offer a Fresh Perspective for
Just because someone is new to the kitchen and bath industry
doesn’t mean design firms should count that person out as a
In fact, whether the “newness” comes by virtue of either his/her
age or from the fact that he/she is crossing over from another
industry, a rookie’s inexperience could be an employer’s blessing,
says Auren Hoffman, chairman of the Stonebrick Group in San
Speaking at a seminar at the recent K/BIS in Orlando, FL,
Hoffman contends that the benefits of hiring a person with no
experience in the kitchen and bath industry has several benefits.
That person, Hoffman says, offers a design firm “high potential,
high energy and a high work ethic,” since he/she would generally be
eager to make a mark and, therefore, be willing to put in the time
it takes to master the craft.
“Rookies present a ‘just-give-me-a-chance’ mentality,” he
That mentality allows employers to mold an employee into what
they need because that employee would not be coming in with
preconceived ideas, he explains.
To that end, maintains Hoffman, “rookies see things
differently,” and can offer up a brilliant idea or two based on
their fresh perspective on a new industry. “Sometimes you need to
bring fresh eyes to look at process in order to change it,” he
While training a rookie could be costly since he/she may need
more management and greater guidance, the upside is that, overall,
a design firm could spend less on a rookie than someone with
“Rookies are less expensive. Their wages are lower. Generally,
they will work longer hours. Recruiting costs are lower,” says
Hoffman. The key is to make finding rookies who are self-reliant
and fast-learners a priority in order to keep training costs down,
Hiring a rookie who is part of Generation X or Y could also be
very helpful in terms of technology, Hoffman points out. “The
newest rookies grew up on the Internet. They are techno-philes,” he
Hoffman suggests that design firms could take advantage of these
techno-philes and use their skills to help them employ technology
and software that could not only streamline their operations, but
also give them a competitive edge.
Hoffman suggests that if a design firm does want to take on a
rookie, it should do so one at a time, depending on the size of the
firm. “For example, if you have 20 employees or fewer, then one at
a time should be enough,” he advises.
He offers several tips on recruiting and hiring rookies as well
as other potential employees:
- Establish a rigorous interview process. Present rookies,
especially fresh-out-of-school rookies, with case studies to
determine what they would do in certain work-related situations.
Give them a specific problem and ask them how they would solve it
to facilitate brainstorming and gain insight into the way they
think. Additionally, ask them to do a sales presentation to see if
they understand your firm’s approach. And, lastly, be sure to
challenge them, and ask them why. This will allow you to see if
they would fit into your firm, says Hoffman.
- Set up background checks. A background check that involves not
only checking references and past job experiences, but also
checking credit history and for a criminal history could guard your
firm against misinformation on a resumé and avoid potential
problems, explains Hoffman.
- Try before you buy. Offer a rookie a temporary assignment or an
internship position to ascertain his/her work ethic before you hire
him/her full-time. Other suggestions include assigning a mentor
within your firm to the rookie, and providing required reading and
tests to gauge a rookie’s progress.
Hoffman further suggests offering incentives for rookies perks
they can achieve if they reach the level you need them to reach. He
cites offering them more responsibility and creating a mentoring
opportunity for them as incentive examples. “If you spend the time
and train them right, you could hire another rookie for them to
train,” notes Hoffman.