Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I'm Hiring Part 3 - Who to Interview?

This is Part 3 in my quest to find the next great employee. (Read Part 1 and Part 2.)

In three weeks I have received 79 applications. I need to get that down to a more manageable number before I start interviews. Here are some of the steps I have taken to weed through the potential applicants to get my list of candidates to interview.

First, to make it on our team you have to get past the front line. When you turn in an application, the sales person accepting the application initials it. If she thinks to herself, "I really hope Phil doesn't hire this person," she'll also mark the application with a simple "N".

Any application with that "N" is done. Hey, if my staff doesn't want to work with them, why would I want them on the team?

Second, I scrutinize each application. Any app not completely filled out also goes in the NO pile. Any app with major misspellings or extremely sloppy handwriting also gets yanked. If they do sloppy work there, you can bet they'll do sloppy work on the job.

Surprisingly, this usually weeds out 60-70% of the applicants (yeah, you'd think people would be more careful, but they often are not). The remaining applicants get a second level of scrutinizing.

At this level I'm looking at availability (our application has a place for them to list what days/hours they can work). Anyone with limited availability that doesn't fit my needs gets tossed.

I'm also looking at their work history. Not so much for experience, but for the other signs it shows such as...
  • Loyalty - did they work at one place for a long time or bounce around from job to job?
  • Work Environment - do they prefer working in office settings, factory/warehouse or in front of the general public? With kids? With seniors? In a team setting or by themselves? These are more important to me than what they did. I need people comfortable working in front of the general public.
  • Gaps in Employment - what did they do during those gaps? Did they leave on their own accord? Did they leave for another opportunity?
  • Reasons for Leaving - I actually had an applicant who listed for all four previous jobs her reason for leaving as "had problems with the boss". Sorry, honey, the bosses weren't the problems.
Finally, I take the pile of potentials left and do a quick background check via the Internet, looking at the free public records available through our District Court and State of Michigan Offender Tracking Information System (OTIS). You'll be surprised how easy it is to find all kinds of information on your potentials. This time around I eliminated three applicants because of their court records - problems I just didn't want to bring around here.

The goal of all these steps is to eliminate as many applicants as possible so as not to waste any unnecessary time interviewing applicants you won't want. Your time is precious, so the interview should be only for people with the greatest potential.

Out of 79 applications, 65 received letters saying...

Thank you for applying to the Toy House. We have received many qualified applicants but have only limited space available to hire new employees and do not have a position available for you at this time.

We will keep your application on file for one year should our needs change in the future.

Once again, thank you for applying and good luck in your employment search.



Fourteen lucky people got scheduled for interviews.

In Part 4 I'll tell you how the interviews went.

-Phil

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