Qualify the Candidate – Part 2 in the Entrepreneurial Hiring Process

Most of us are familiar with this step. You invite the candidate to your office and interrogate them on their skills, background, credentials, and expertise. Unfortunately, this step gets overdone. Employers spend too much time screening for specific skills leaving little time for assessing cultural fit and educating the candidate.

Quickly identify talented candidates; candidates that possess the skills you need and an aptitude for the job you want to fill. But focus on aptitude. Check the candidate’s references to determine if the information on his resume is accurate. Request transcripts and other documentation to validate credentials. This background work can be done outside the interview. Don’t waste this precious one-on-one time rehashing the resume. Use your interview time to assess aptitude. Ask yourself: Does the candidate have an inherent understanding of the job you envision him filling?

If you screen for specific leadership or management qualities, focus on behavioral-based questions. Encourage the candidate to share anecdotes of how they’ve solved problems in the past. Instead of asking, “Are you a good leader?”, ask the candidate to describe an instance when he led his staff toward a specific goal. Ask the candidate to describe what accomplishment she is most proud of. You will learn a great deal when the candidate frames the answers as an individual accomplishment or a team accomplishment driven by good leadership.

Use written tests to help screen for skills match. The assessment tests can be intimidating to the candidate, so make sure you are not looking for perfect scores, you are looking for their scores to match their presentation and your dialogue. Develop tests to determine the level of skills in technical areas such as specific programming languages, operating systems or networking components. Use these tests in a technical environment, but they can also be used in financial or operational areas that demand a specific competency. For example, if your organization pushes profit and loss (P&L) or economic value added (EVA) responsibility down to the division level, test to determine if the candidate can understand and identify entries on an income statement and a balance sheet and how his daily activities impact those entries.

Administer these tests early in the hiring process with the explanation that they will not be the major determinant in your hiring decision, but just another factor in a series of qualifiers.

This approach will allow you to spend valuable time assessing aptitude and cultural fit after you quickly and accurately assess technical competency.

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