I use the local state unemployment office. I ask the people there to NOT send me anyone they would not hire.
I require a handwritten application from the unemployment office. mailed to me at my office. I do not want a typed or e-mailed application. We hand-write invoices and service reports. If I cannot read the application, because of poor writing, or misspelled words, they fail. If they insist they will hand deliver the app, that tells me they cannot follow simple instructions. They fail. If there are gaps of more than 2 months in their work history, they fail. Eighteen month gaps are the worst, that means they were in jail. If the references are for work more than 2 years old, I do not call them. Who remembers anyone after 2 years, unless the person is so bad they are unforgettable? If a reference is a preacher, who says the applicant is a nice person who needs a break, bad sign. toss that app in the trash! If I find an app that may interest me, I immediately call the references they list. First question, would you hire that person again? Why not? Realize because everyone is afraid of being sued, most people will only say, that person is or is not eligible for rehire. If you get past those questions, call the applicant on the phone and tell them the job duties, and benefits. Most will BS you and tell you they are a great person and they want to work for you. When you get a couple of applicants, have them stop in for the application folder and set up an interview. I require a copy of the drivers license, which is sent to my vehicle insurance agent. Because hope springs eternal, I have my girlfriend listen in to the interview. My office is in my home, so she sits in the front room so she can hear, but is out of sight. I ask what they can do for me and my customers. I tell them I will let them know in the next 2 days, and thank them for their interest. Then Dee and I discuss the applicant. If they pass that interview, I set up a time for another interview. My employees then get to ask them questions, while I just listen. My girlfriend is also at that interview. I allow 45 minutes between interviews. If they pass that interview, I hire them. They work with the other employees for a day or two. If they make it past a day with each employee, I work with them for a couple of days. Then we meet, (w/o the prospective employee) and discuss the newbie. Working with the boss, people are on their best behavior. When working with other employees, they tend to let down their guard and show their true colors. If they make 90 days, they get company shirts, company jackets and are part of us. No one gets a company credit card or gas card. They get one chance to lie to me, they get one chance to steal from me or a customer. Every time I vary from those 2 rules, I have been bitten in the ass!
Hiring is a pain in the ass. Those who are hired are representing you and your company. They can cost you money, reputation, and customers. Not to mention the problems of theft, drug use, alcohol abuse, and just plain people you do not like or trust.
If you are at the point of hiring, maybe you should just raise the rates you charge.