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68 Employee Compensation Guidelines for Transit Providers in Rural and Small Urban Areas ing, and through local retire- Your Good Employees Know What You Need ment agencies, such as RSVP Many transit systems use employee referrals to attract new employees, some formally or the Veterans Administra- and others informally. Formal programs include bonuses paid to the employee who tion, are effective for these makes the referral, upon successful completion of a defined period of employment by prospective employees. the referred employee. In some cases, bonuses are paid when the employee is hired; Every opportunity to mar- however, agencies have found that this isn't always productive. Should the new ket the transit service is also employee not work out, the referral bonus (as well as training time, etc.) is wasted. an opportunity to market the When the bonus is tied to the success of the recruit, the transit system is more likely to system as an employer. A get a good hire. simple line added to timeta- Good employees who want to stay with the transit system and who like their jobs are bles, flyers, and brochures more likely to recruit others like them, rather than making referrals just for the sake of highlighting the system as a a financial incentive. Some transit systems have established recruiting teams, made up great place to work can draw of those employees that exemplify the best, whose function is to be a sales person for potential employees from the the company as an employer. In addition to finding good recruits, this also helps to ridership. Consistently mar- give the employees a feeling of ownership in the service. These teams can be deployed keting the service as an at job fairs, career centers, and other community events where transit is in attendance, employer can be helpful in often decreasing the number of administrative staff required at such events. Whether developing relationships with all employees are included in referral programs or only a designated group, employee potential future employees referrals can be an excellent source of recruits. by simply raising awareness. Hiring Once persons have filled out an application for employment, there are several steps that fol- low prior to making a hiring decision. They include pre-employment screening and testing as well as the interview process. Pre-Employment Screening and Testing A thorough screening process that includes regulatory pre-employment screening combined with an effective in-person interview process is crucial to selecting the right candidate(s) from a pool of job applicants. In most situations (at least it's highly recommended) minimum screen- ing includes a Federal Transit Administrationapproved drug test, and a review of an applicant's criminal history and driving record. In some cases, physicals and fingerprint checks may also be required. Where this screening occurs in the hiring process can vary, although it is recommended that all screenings are conducted prior to making any offer of employment and/or training. Stan- dardized criteria should be used as a basis for determining a candidate's approval of all of the required background checks. In situations where this screening process is time consuming, con- ditional offers of employment may be extended, particularly if the complete process will delay a candidate's ability to enter an existing training program. Some positions may require or benefit from various forms of skill testing. This is usually reserved for office and administrative positions, and the skills tested must be relevant to the posi- tion. These types of tests should be used cautiously as they can complicate the HR process. Skill tests may include typing, computer usage, counting and mathematical calculations, and map reading or using navigational aids. Personality tests are another type of pre-employment testing used. These tests attempt to demonstrate personality types and also provide insight into a prospective employee's behavior.

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Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining Staff 69 They can also be used to identify a person's strengths and weak- There are numerous screening tools and nesses, and perhaps help to focus training efforts and manage- pre-employment tests available for purchase that can ment's approach to individual employee development. be tailored to your specific needs. There are also many Pre-employment physicals, whether required by law or by an consulting, management and employment firms that employer, can be used to determine a person's ability to meet offer their services in the development of such tools. the physical demands of the job, and can be particularly useful One such program, developed specifically for the in documenting pre-existing medical conditions that may transit industry, is the BOSS program, or Bus Operator require attention or special consideration in work assignments. Selection System, available through APTA. This is also an effective risk management tool, as it can identify those potential employees that are at greater risk for on-the-job injuries, provide a set of guidelines for medical professionals to use when determining an injured employees return-to-work status and light duty limitations, provides a basis for claims manage- ment and may discourage fraudulent worker's compensation claims. Developing the Interview Position benchmarks used to develop job descriptions, and the job descriptions themselves, can be used to determine what skills and behaviors are important to the success of that position. The applicant's work experience and history can then be developed into specific questions aimed at identifying the presence of the desired skills and behaviors. Skills required to perform a job include technical skills, or skills such as reading, writing, or the ability to drive a vehicle. Soft skills are more along the lines of people skills, such as customer service, the ability to diffuse an argument, or the ability to use good judgment in difficult situa- tions. Soft skills can be more tied to personality traits, such as patience, honesty, and the ability to reason. Personality traits are important, providing general descriptions of the characteristics of a per- son, and can identify why a person acts a certain way. What is more important than why people do what they do is identifying what they do, or how they behave in particular situations. The fol- lowing table helps to differentiate between traits and behaviors, as they are related to the desired characteristics of a prospective employee. Trait Related Behavior "A person who is . . . . . . exhibits the following" Reliable Good attendance Completes assignments Provides accurate information Safe Stays within posted speed limits Checks vehicle condition thoroughly Caring/Sensitive Honesty Helpful to others Non-judging Recognizing and evaluating only a person's traits can lead to stereotyping and bias based on the interviewer's belief system. Seeking further information about a person's behavior allows an

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70 Employee Compensation Guidelines for Transit Providers in Rural and Small Urban Areas interviewer to be more objective in their analysis Identify key personality traits desired for position of a person. Seeking further information about a Relate those traits to specific behaviors, actions or thoughts person's behaviors can help to determine how a Determine what job skills are represented in the desired behavior person reacts in a particular situation. Past behav- Develop questions that allow candidate to demonstrate skills iors also provide examples of a candidate's use of through behavioral examples their "soft" skills, or performance skills. Com- pleting the sentence from the previous table, "A reliable person has a good attendance record and manages their time well." Although personality traits are important, behaviors related to these traits are more defining than the traits themselves. For instance, a person considered to be patient may not always dis- play this in all situations. Recognizing a person's behavior can help to determine how a person will react in particular situations. When preparing for an interview, the interviewer should develop a list of questions from which to pull that can be modified easily to the interviewee's experience and qualifications. Questions that identify a person's skills are straightforward and easier to develop. Behavioral questions are more difficult to develop. Behavioral questions start off with some of the follow- ing leads: Give an example of . . . . How did you react when . . . . Tell me about . . . . Describe for me . . . . Behavioral questions are aimed at determining how a person has behaved in the past, and therefore steer away from hypothetical situations, or asking how a person may or will react in the future. Hypothetical questions are easier to read by interviewees, making more likely that the response will be what the candidate thinks the interviewer wants to hear. For instance, rather than ask "What would you do if you got lost en route?," an interviewer may ask "Have you ever got- ten lost? Tell me what you did at that time." An additional example, rather than ask "Have you ever been late for work?," an interviewer may say "Tell me about a time when you were late to work. What did you do?" These types of questions encourage more informational responses that are demonstrative of a person's behavior. Other things to avoid in an interview include Close-ended questions, or those that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no" response; Questions referencing age, sex, religion, disability or lifestyle; Directing the candidate's response to the answer you are looking for; Finishing a candidate's response in order to keep things moving; Stereotyping a candidate based on first impressions or curtailing the interview as a result; and Allowing the interview to be disrupted by phone calls, visitors, email, or other outside situations. Interviewing The goal of the interview is to provide the interviewer with information necessary to make an unbiased determination of a candidate's appropriateness for the job. There are many ways to go about the interview process, and the number of interviews as well as the number of interviewers can also vary according to local policy and job function. The initial interview processes can include Initial phone interview/screening, and/or Individual in-person interview, and/or Panel interview.