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Ep 45: (Ultimate Hiring Funnel Series 5/6) Interviewing Fundamentals With One of The Best In The Game – James Alisch

The 3 things a good job interview should accomplish
How to ‘Peel back the onion’ on a job applicant in the interview process to see their true character
The way to interview for character traits and core values so you don’t have to fire them 3 months later
The Interview Scoring Matrix and how to use it to evaluate an applicant’s aptitude for the job
How to manage your energy during the interview to come across as a strong leader
The ‘Beer & BBQ’ test that an applicant should pass when you’re interviewing

Watch Episode 45 of the Contractor Evolution ShoW

Listen to Episode 45

Read a Summary of Episode 45

As the owner of a people driven business, your ability as an interviewer is crucial to your success.

To be able to objectively analyze someone’s past behavior and use that to predict their future performance (with a high level of accuracy) is one of the deadliest skills you can have as an entrepreneur.

That’s why we’re excited to welcome James Alisch as our guest for Part 5 of our 6 part Ultimate Hiring Funnel (UHF) series. As managing director of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? James presides over a business that earns over $490 million annually and is on track to exceed $1 billion by 2025. This is entirely due to an A+ team that James helped assemble by conducting killer interviews – 1000s of them. And he’s here to tell you how to become a master interviewer..

But before you pick up the phone to set up the interview, you’ve got a little work to do. James says the first step in a successful interviewing process is to pre-plan by doing the following:

Don’t Assume

The biggest prep mistake is reading too much into the particulars of someone’s job application. You might read something you don’t like, but don’t disqualify a candidate based on this first impression – it could well prove false.

At the same time, don’t make your hiring criteria too narrow, otherwise it can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack in an already extremely competitive market.

Probing is useful to determine the candidate’s true level of attainment. James says, “Someone might say ‘my goal was selling a million in sales,’ but could have no attainment and just worked in a business where somebody said, 'your goal is $1 million.'” Dig deeper. Ask specifics relating to the stories to see how authentic and real they are.

Five, Not Ten

You may have 10 elements you want to identify in a candidate. Now, narrow it down. “Define five core elements and prioritize them,” says James. You won’t have time to interview for 10 things, at least, not with the volume of applicants that should be coming through your door.

Validate Beforehand

An applicant may have given you a killer resume; how does it match up with their LinkedIn, Facebook, or their other social media profiles? “Check them out and develop a roadmap of this person’s life,” James says. It will bring more information to the interview process.

Now you’re ready to set up the interview!

It’s time to find out what truly informs and motivates the applicants who are lined up outside your door. But while James acknowledges that even the best interviews can go off on tangents, he insists on the following ingredients.

Take Notes

Be sure to bring a notebook and pen. Some people record interviews, but note taking will enable you to double-back at any point to ask particulars about matters already discussed. In addition, it will demonstrate to the candidate a high level of competence and engagement.

Build Rapport & Lay Out the Agenda

Your time is limited, so start the interview with casual chat: it will make the candidate more at ease to answer the hardball questions later. In order for everything to stay on the rails, state your agenda for the interview clearly.

Keep Score

James recommends scoring the 5 core elements exhibited by each candidate from 1 to 5: 5 being the highest. If examples come up frequently, or the significance of the example is great, James will “weight” the score high. This will make your subsequent hiring decision somewhat easier once all the interviews are done.

Probe, Relentlessly

James says “the truth shows up a couple of layers down.” So ask a barrage of questions to peel back the layers of the stories the candidates tell.

Probing is useful to determine the candidate’s true level of attainment. James says, “Someone might say ‘my goal was selling a million in sales,’ but could have no attainment and just worked in a business where somebody said, ‘your goal is $1 million.’” Dig deeper. Ask specifics relating to the stories to see how authentic and real they are.

Discuss Advancement

This comes when you are “selling” your business and the role to the candidate. “Give the people you’re interviewing a clear idea of how they can advance in your organization,” James says. “Give them specifics, give them examples. It’s a powerful message when candidates realize you’re already thinking about their progression.”

Don’t Omit ‘The Beer & Barbecue’ Test

Sure, your interviewee might be shaping up as the work pro of your dreams, but are they someone you would like to hang out with after hours? “If the cultural fit isn’t there, it’s just not going to work,” says James.

Do a Trial Close

James describes a trial close as wrapping up the interview by asking the candidate “If I were to offer you the job, would you want it?”


You need to gauge that person’s desire. A trial close also gives the candidate the chance to ask questions or state concerns, which can be dealt with on the spot.


Augment the Interview with Reference Checks

Reference checks are a way to “validate or find gaps” with regards to statements made during the interview. But be warned: asking vague questions results in vague answers, so be specific.


James was incredibly generous in sharing his interviewing insights with us, and he discussed dozens of particulars that you will love. So tune into this episode and soak up everything he has to say: if you master the art of the interview, you will be that much closer to assembling a killer team that will take your business to new heights.

For the interviewing framework and the free resources we talk about in this episode click here.


Igor Trninic

Igor Trninic

Igor moved to Canada at a young age, where he learned the value of hard work as he watched his family rebuild a thriving life in a new world with extreme change. Most of Igor’s early learning came from competitive sports, where he learned how to hustle and lead. This learning transferred well to business, when he started running a College Pro Painters franchise at 18 and quickly grew it to one of the top franchises in Canada. After finishing an honours degree in Accounting and HR at the SFU Beedie School of Business, he decided to leave the dull world of numbers and followed his passion of developing people and businesses. He fell in love with leading great people and growing companies to their potential.

Working at College Pro as a General Manager for the franchisor, he tripled the revenue of his division in three years by hiring and leading great managers. Here, Igor saw the power of combining amazing people with strong systems to drive scalability. After College Pro, he chose to test these principles on a new venture with the launch of Shack Shine, and together with the guidance of a highly experienced trades entrepreneur, they grew the company to a full scale franchisor within a year and a half. Shack Shine was eventually acquired by 1-800-GOT-JUNK to be scaled across North America and Igor launched the Breakthrough Academy to guide trades and home service entrepreneurs grow their businesses through proven principles. Igor has a passion and true care for developing people and their businesses, which has formed the foundation of Breakthrough Academy. His work in developing BTA has recently been highlighted in Igor’s Top 30 Under 30 selection by BC Business Magazine.

Igor resides in Vancouver, British Columbia and loves to take on all the adventure that BC can offer. From hunting to skiing to downhill mountain biking, any outdoor adventure is up his alley.

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