Finding First Class Business Travelers
By Ken Walker
Being able to travel well on business is a skill just like any other. It is true that certain employees, who may be excellent at doing their jobs, could struggle to perform as well if asked to do it on the road. For business owners, it can be difficult to find employees who travel well and still perform their job.
Hiring Employees Who Will Travel
This hiring decision made by managers essentially boils down to two questions:
- Should you hire a well qualified employee who is hopefully a good traveler?
- Should you hire someone who has a demonstrated history of being on the road who can hopefully perform the job at a high level?
These two questions are crucial to finding first class business travelers. Locating highly qualified employees can be a task in of itself. In addition, managers need to make sure that qualified employees will be able to handle traveling as needed. Hiring employees that fit both of these molds requires honing in on certain characteristics and abilities.
What qualities or traits should managers look for in hiring employees who are going to be on the road a lot? Here's a list of things to screen candidates for:
- Experience - An employee with a track record of having traveled for business is more likely to succeed in doing so than one who hasn't. To check for this, a great question to ask is if they hold status at certain airlines or hotels. If they’re platinum with an airline and diamond or platinum with a hotel chain, they definitely understand the game. Also, inquire as to the candidate's travel habits to big and small cities. Renting a car in New York City is not the sign of a seasoned traveler.
- Preparation - Someone who meticulously plans ahead would be a good candidate for a traveling position. In addition to checking references, managers can ask an interviewee what their week looks like next week. They should be able to readily tell you in detail their schedule. Ask how they handle single trips with multiple clients. A prepared traveler might separate expenses and organize notes and presentations for such trips.
- Personal Circumstance - When hiring employees, there's a fine line in the interview process with regards to finding out about a candidate's personal life. But the fact is that young and single people - and to a lesser extent older folks with full grown kids - are generally willing to travel more. Married people with young kids just have more responsibilities, and would probably prefer to be home rather than traveling.
- Health - Another personal factor that can be a delicate issue relates to medical conditions. Hearing a new employee proclaim six months after their hire date that, “It's better if I don't travel to the South in the spring because I have severe allergies,” isn't good for business.
- Team Player - Being able to handle responsibility and look out for the best interests of the company is an important characteristic. At some point, an employee may need to do a lot of traveling in a short period of time. Back-to-back trips can be difficult to deal with. Look for someone who can shrug their shoulders at the notion of being away from home for four to six weeks at a time. To find out if they will be a team player, ask about their expense account method. Do they expense appropriately?
Hiring employees to travel can be difficult if you don't ask the right questions. It can be hard to see through plain vanilla answers like, "I love to travel” if you ask someone if they are willing to do so. You might want to ask the candidate their worst travel story. Someone who tells a real horror story and how it didn't faze them is the type of person you are looking for.
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