If They Can’t Follow Instructions, Get Them A Clipboard

Listen to the Hiring Tip...

Yes, I realize that’s a pretty strong statement: “If they can’t follow instructions” — but we do encounter people who are weak in this area.

The ability to follow instructions is a key ability to look for when hiring. This ability covers written and verbal instructions. And, for a shameless plug, our Aptitude Test will give you an excellent idea of this ability — one way or the other — prior to making your hiring decision.

But, what if their Aptitude test score is low and you like just about everything else about your applicant? Is a low Aptitude test score a deal breaker?

Perhaps a better question is, how many times have you pulled strands of hair out of your head because someone just couldn’t or wouldn’t follow instructions?

I have a simple recommendation for you: if you want to hire someone who is weak with following instructions, get them a clipboard.

Yes, a clipboard. When you have something you want this person to do and do exactly as you wish, write it down and put it on their clipboard.

If you ask Bob to close up the store at 8PM, change the thermostat to 70 degrees and open the store at 9AM to let Mrs. Jones in to pick up her watch, write these things down for Bob.

If you don’t, and Mrs. Jones is upset that the store opened at 10AM instead of 9, Bob can’t come back to you and say, “well, you said 10AM.” You can reply, “okay, Bob, get your clipboard.” He does and sure enough, it says 9AM on the clipboard.

I realize this is somewhat of a rough way to get things done, but if you like someone for a number of other qualities, this is one way to reduce the fallout from a weak ability to follow instructions.

After awhile, Bob may get familiar enough with his duties that this shortcoming will be less and less of an issue.

There are two other things you can and should do with new staff:

Give them written materials concerning their position and have them study these materials.

Drill them on these materials and their duties and ensure they gain some proficiency. The more drilling, the better.

We all know that the ability to follow instructions is a key ability. If it’s low in someone you want to keep on board, this tip should help.


We can help you hire better staff. Watch our three minute video.