We’ve developed a rather distinctive and reasonably effective system for hiring employees with salaried or hourly-paid responsibilities.
1. Resumes and “interviews” don’t matter — at least in the conventional sense.
When we advertise, we can receive dozens of resumes in a day, especially for an administrative or office-related job. We don’t read them. Really.
2. The employment questionnaire: Asking the questions that really matter.
Instead, we automatically send out a brief cover note describing the work, and a questionnaire geared for the position.The administrative questionnaire, for example, includes some grammar, math, and logic questions, as well as a few job-related challenges. We also ask if the candidates can provide verifiable references from their immediate supervisors, and if not, why not (and tell them the references will be verified.)
The questionnaire is a powerful screening tool — perhaps 10 to 20 per cent of people who send in resumes complete it. Why would you hire anyone who can’t complete a simple questionnaire?
3. The short-list working test
We’ll evaluate the questionnaires and compare them to the resumes, knocking off anyone who can’t (for an administrative job) spell, have basic grammar, and understand simple math. Generally we are able to figure out a short list of five to six people, who we phone. The phone interviews quickly eliminate people who had “help” completing the questionnaire — and allow us to narrow things down for a brief live (and compensated) working evaluation in our office. There is no better way to interview a potential employee than while they are performing work-related tasks.
4. References and employment contract
Yes, we check references, thoroughly. We also have prospective employees sign an employment contract, setting out mutual rights and obligations. (This is especially important in Canada, where, without a contract, longer-term employees can have exceptionally long severance or dismissal notice requirements, and and hold the business for ransom.)
We’ve modified our employment system for different jobs. For the book-keeper, for example, we have a specialized test, and then arrange finalists’ cross-interview with our accountants. Sales reps are invited to complete a brief personality test to see if they are suitable for sales work before they are asked to prove their ability by selling something during a brief compensated working assignment.
Weaknesses and strengths
Weaknesses: Could eliminate great candidates who (for some reason) don’t complete the initial questionnaire, and probably not so useful if you have a very small resume pool and potential candidate base (specialized work, commission sales and the like.)
Strengths: Minimum time wasted on “bad” resumes, complies with anti-discrimination and human rights code rules, builds in extensive self-selection and can easily be repeated/maintained.
For a sneak preview of an employment questionnaire we are using for a current administrative hiring process, email email@example.com. The server=side autoresponder isn’t fancy, but in three days from placing a free advertisement with the Canadian federal government’s free Service Canada job listing service, has processed more than 300 resumes. Some 50 people have completed the questionnaire, automatically forwarded by wufoo.com software to our administrator’s desk. We can quickly screen these responses with the skill-testing and resume verification questions, and develop a short-list of 10 to 12 for further review, a brief phone interview, and then (for the final three or four finalists) a half-day paid working assignment/interview.
Do you have a hiring system you think works well for your business/practice? If you wish to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone me at (888) 432-355 ext 224.