Interview Questions for Hiring Painters


Hey, it’s Brandon Lewis, with Painter’s Weekly, and we’re moving into the spring repaint rush. That means the labor market is getting tighter. Let me ask you a question. Do you struggle with hiring and recruitment? Is it a big issue? Do you feel like you can’t find any painters? There aren’t any painters. There’s no painters left out there, and there’s a huge labor shortage. I’m here to tell you, number one, that that’s bull. We have people that have 100-person crews and markets of 32,000 who have 60-person crews and markets of 1,700 or 17,000 rather.

We have people that are recruiting like crazy. Now, they have great systems in place. They have consistent budgets allocated to recruitment. So there’s not really a labor shortage at all. There is a shortage of effort. There’s a shortage of money spent, and there is a shortage of people who have systems that know how to recruit and hire. I’m not going to get into all of that today. However, if you really need help with it, you can contact me directly,, and I’ll help you fix that problem.

However, if you already have a handful of leads, I’m going to give you one simple question that you can ask that will help cut your hiring problems in half. Maybe even less if you do a good job of it. Are you ready? The first thing we have to do is generate a lead, okay? Someone has to apply, respond to and add a flyer, a program, an approach, a digital ad, a job fair and in-store conversation, signs that you put out, signs that you have on your vehicles. There’s a multitude of ways to generate leads for potential hires, okay?

You can even do direct mail to subcontractors to see if they know of anyone. You can try to hire them away as W-2s or subs. I mean, there’s just no end to the amount of recruitment that you can do to get good quality candidates. But once you get someone down at the interview table, and you’re having a cup of coffee with them, or you’re meeting them in your office. Most people sit down with that person, and they never ask the fundamental recruitment question. Not the hiring question. We’re not talking about evaluating them for their fitness. I’m talking about the fundamental recruitment question.

Are you ready? Here it is. “Hey John, listen. If you were putting together a crew of painters that you were going to lead, and you could only pick two other painters to be on that crew, anybody that you’ve ever worked with that’s still working as a painter in the Chattanooga area, who would be on your dream crew?” You see? When you ask that question, that means every single solitary painter you interview will give you two additional leads. Two additional leads that have been vetted in their mind. They’ve looked through every painter in their mind, and they’ve brought out the two best, and they’re going to give you their names.

Well that would be John so and so over at ABC Painting, and that’s going to be Earl over at XYZ Painting. Really, why do you think they’re such good painters? And they talk about them for a little while. Then you say this. “Question, do you have John or Earl’s number in your phone right now? I think we’d like to bring you on our team possibly, but we need more than one painter right now. If you’re going to work with people, wouldn’t you want them to be good?” And you shut up.

Well yeah, I do. They pull out their phone, and they give you a number. What about Earl? They pull out their phone. They give you a second number. Is there anyone else? About half the time, you’ll get a third number. So if you can generate two to three additional referrals every time you get one lead for a potential painter, it essentially solves half, if not all, of your recruitment problems. But you have to be artful about it, you have to practice it, and you have to be good at it. It can’t feel weird. It can’t feel awkward. It can’t be strange. It needs to be natural. It needs to be conversational.

You should probably practice it with your spouse, with another painter, even in front of a mirror until you get comfortable with it. That’s the easiest way to turn one hire into two hires, into three hires, into four hires, and they are referred to you by that painter, which typically means that they’re better than average. Not always, but typically. I’m Brandon Lewis, with Painter’s Weekly in the Academy for Professional Painting Contractors, saying, there’s not a shortage of painters out there. There are a shortage of owners who have systems for hiring painters and who will apply consistent effort and money to really work on the capacity side of their business instead of demand.

This one simple series of questions can help you bridge that gap. If you find it helpful, leave a comment below. Email me, I’d love to hear from you. Talk to you next week.