MSPmentor Blog

Don't Be Stupid: Staff Up Now (Here's How)

Have you noticed that we are in a time of high unemployment? If you are expecting growth this year, be smart and staff up your managed services practice and business operations NOW. As part of that process, use a timed aptitude test to help screen potential candidates. Here's why. And here's how.

First, let's look at the big picture: There is lots of great talent available at a very reasonable rate. When the economy turns, you will be poised for growth with a well-trained team in place, not scrambling to schedule interviews when you should be hitting the phones to sign up new clients. Expecting growth but feel you have enough staff? Ask yourself, do I have the right people in the right seats? Is it time to weed out some underachievers? And some turnover is inevitable. Be proactive, not reactive.

I have, for the last 18 years, used a timed aptitude test to help me screen potential candidates here at ConnectWise. This test is given to all candidates before their initial interview. Why am I paying for all these candidates to take the test? Because it works!

Our Thought Process

The backstory: Back in the 1980’s I needed personnel to become certified in Novell, Microsoft and Citrix. Most of my employees could not pass the certification tests; we could not maintain our vendor certs with our small, young IT staff. Big problem.

“Never fear to hire someone smarter than you are” ... I took this concept to heart.

We needed smart, logical, and fast-thinking employees, so we identified an aptitude test that would test logic, intelligence and raw intellectual processing speed. First, though, we tested ourselves and all of our existing staff. What we found was that our most difficult employees scored in the 30th and 40th percentiles while our better staff scored in the 60s and 70s.


Over the last 18 years, we have given this exact test to almost all of our employees, technical and non-technical alike. Everyone takes this test first and then we decide if we will interview them based on their test score. They must have a score over a 60% for us to interview them. We believe this is a cornerstone to our success. We like smart people running our business!

Winning the Talent War

The benefits of my hiring plan:
  • Anyone on my team can pass a vendor certification test
  • I don’t hire expensive certified employees. I hire smart people who can attain certs whenever needed
  • I can hire non-college graduates and pay them as if they have degrees. Eventually, I pay them more than any other local employer is willing to pay a non-college graduate
  • Technology changes our practices completely ever 3 years. I need employees who can reinvent themselves with each successive wave of technology
  • All existing employees appreciate our commitment to excellence
Even now, when certifications are no longer as crucial to our success, it only makes sense to hire the brightest. I pride myself on the fact that my team does not ever need to call my cell phone. They are capable, trained, and empowered to make the right decisions. Smart people train faster, with less repetition and less frustration. What I’ve found is that smart people are easier to work with. When smart people work with other smart people in your company, the results are exponential! That being said, I don’t hire based solely on the test results, but it’s a hurdle my candidates have to jump over.

Do you have a plan in place for growth?

David Bellini is president of ConnectWise. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmentor’s annual platinum sponsor program. Read all of Bellini's guest blogs here.

Discuss this Blog Entry 6

Marco Alcala (not verified)
on Mar 31, 2010
Hi David: Which testing service does ConnectWise subscribe to? Marco Alcala
Mary McElwee (not verified)
on Mar 31, 2010
Marco, we use PSI. Thank you, Mary
Ben Johnson (not verified)
on Mar 31, 2010
? There are several PSI testing sites - Which is David referring to in this phrase? "I have, for the last 18 years, used a timed aptitude test to help me screen potential candidates here at ConnectWise. This test is given to all candidates before their initial interview. Why am I paying for all these candidates to take the test? Because it works!"
Trinka Tansley (not verified)
on Apr 1, 2010
David's hiring practices really work! Every one of the more than 120 associates at ConnectWise are the smartest, most nimble,Partner-focused people I've had the pleasure of working with.
Michael Giambanco (not verified)
on Apr 1, 2010
I agree David. Now is the time to pull the trigger on the hire that you held back on in 2009. Unfortunately with high unemployment come desperate job seekers who are trained on selling themselves during the interview process. Reacting to the hundreds of candidates that filter in weekly is not only a waste of time but typically not your core competency. The need for testing, screening, and qualifying is vital to the hiring process. Leveraging a pro-active solution can provide quick results, take the stress out of the search and deliver candidates that otherwise may not have known about your company. Michael Giambanco Ingram Micro IT Staffing
Joe Panettieri (not verified)
on Apr 2, 2010
The other piece I'd add to this is something I've blogged about a few times: Always Be Interviewing (ABI) -- even if you don't have a position open, a meeting a week with a potential candidate can give you a stockpile of talent to target... ... -jp
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