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Improve your Company’s Interview and Applicant Selection Process

It’s an understatement to say our team spends a lot of our time thinking about hiring and recruiting. Over the last decade we’ve gained experience by heading recruiting companies and corporate recruiting departments, which eventually lead us to start a company that builds recruiting software. Team building has always been an integral piece of our experience.

When we started our first company an important piece of advice we got was to develop a detailed selection process. This process involved creating a framework to evaluate our applicants efficiently and rapidly to keep up in an extremely competitive market. We even enlisted the help of an industrial psychologist to streamline our interview process, which still works today.

One thing we’ve noticed is that most of our customers are also in very difficult environments for finding good people. Engineers, IT guys, sales stars, marketing masters and various other talent is hard to come by. In addition, the recovering economy makes this pool of top talent even smaller than usual.

So how do you make your hiring process more efficient? First, get your hands on some simple and amazingly efficient applicant tracking software.

Second, start interviewing smarter. It is clear that finding the top talent is becoming harder and harder, so you need to adapt. Instead of only looking to increase your hiring throughput, try to build on the skill-sets of current employees to increase their value. Think of it like a baseball team’s farm system, structured to build talent over the long run. A well run interview process won’t only prevent bad hires, but it will also prepare for a long tail recruiting efficiency.

We practice creating simulations of real-world situations during our interviews to reduce the risk of bad hires and also to allow us to measure a candidate’s ability to adapt. Overall, there are three key characteristics and metrics that that we often refer to during interviews:

Start with Ability

Obviously, if the potential candidate does not possess the ability to do the job at hand, none of their other qualities matter. It doesn’t matter if this person can fit into the corporate culture or the long term picture if they aren’t able to complete the task at hand. There is no point in wasting your time, as well as the candidates’, if they can’t pass the test of basic requirements for the job. That is why we always start with a measure of the candidate’s ability, which most often is a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.

Move onto Talent

Talent is most often gauged through posing problem solving situations to the candidate and seeing how they react. This will tell us how this person’s skill set can be optimized for our company’s long term objectives, like scaling a product or expanding to new vertical arenas.

Finish with Character (last but not least)

If a candidate is extremely skilled, has all the abilities to complete the job, and fits into a company’s long term objectives, they would seem like a shoe-in. However, if their character doesn’t jive with your management practices and work culture, they shouldn’t be a sure hire. Character is symbiotic with employee retention: employees that don’t fit in, probably won’t last.

Some ways to measure character are interview questions that test a person’s behavioral and psychological disposition. The person’s responses can be measured not only with the content of their answer, but also on their delivery (body language, inflection, etc.)

Even if you have the best tools in the recruiting business, your interview process needs to be polished to make good hires. This ‘balance’ between an efficient process and wise assessment requires training, feedback and strategy on all fronts.

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