Sounding Bored is my semi-regular column on the state of the appraisal profession. This week I am thankful I learned more about a new hire than the interview revealed.

We’re busy.

Our firm is seeing some of the highest volume we have experienced in our 21+ year history. I’m not bragging (although I’m very happy about it – getting away from primary reliance on mortgage related work a few years ago made all the difference).

Appraising is a feast and famine business and it’s tough to find good appraisers. We recently planned to hire two new appraisers: a trainee and someone with experience to handle the higher volume.

We found a sharp trainee fairly quickly but it took a while to find someone with experience. We ran into an appraiser a few months prior, who was laid off after the bank he worked for was purchased by another institution. He began to do fee work on his own but didn’t want to continue doing that.

I had run into him on a number of occasions and found him to be an affable guy who seemed to know what he was doing. We ask him to come to our office for two interviews over a two week period to speak with myself and my sister who is one our owners (so is my wife) and we brought in our senior appraiser to interview him as well.

We all gave a thumbs up and made him an offer (we pay salary, not a fee split) and he accepted the next day. A start date was set in the near future. We turned down further requests by others to interview.

The night before his start date he emailed to say he had to rush to visit his sick mother out of state who was in the hospital and he would get back to us. He expected to return the following week.

As the next week approached we sent him an email to touch base, see how things were going with his mother and ask whether he needed more time.

No response.

The new week started and we sent him another note.

No response.

That was about a month ago. Still no word. No phone call. No email.

In retrospect, we now assume there was never a “sick mother” and he was probably waiting for another incoming offer after we made ours.

This was the person that was going to represent our company in the field. I am really glad we were able to see the lack of professionalism that none of us saw in the interview. Even worse, he was issued a fine by the state licensing bureau, announced a few weeks after he accepted the position. That was news to us as well.

When someone is under duress, whether it is a sick relative, a pending fine, etc. their behavior at that moment is a test of true character.

We ended up finding a terrific appraiser with experience.

Apparently things happen for a reason.

One Comment

  1. Edd Gillespie July 12, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Thanks for reminding us what an integral part character plays in appraiser professionalism.
    Now if we could just find a method of measuring it short of a FICO score.
    And congratulations with having marginalized your mortgage work. Another measure of character is the company you keep. I have been trying to influence appraisers to avoid working for the fast and cheap. It will take you down if you don’t burn out first. Unfortunately the profession has been slow to address the fact that most appraisers can’t make a living without chasing after mortgage work.
    Maybe on the next employee interview you can throw the guy in the river and see if he floats.

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