5 Keys to Preserving Precious Interview Time

Of course, in the real world, you can't avoid all unqualified candidates, but there are steps you can take to avoid most of them. Here are tips from the experts at BLR?.

1. Attract Qualified Candidates

This sounds totally obvious, but if you are not careful, you'll spend hours sifting through the credentials of unqualified candidates. (We worked with one director who rank-ordered r?sum?s?150 of them.)

What can you do? In all your advertising and posting, be clear about the requirements and specific about the job. Unqualified candidates will self-select out, and the best candidates will be intrigued by the close match between what you seek and what they want.

2. Get Data Consistent

If you're like most managers these days, you're deluged with stacks of r?sum?s and various other types of application material such as application forms filled out by walk-ins, e-mail notes, letters from various people recommending candidates, and letters with little information in them.

Before you review, try to get as much information as possible in the same format. You can't compare one candidate who submitted a brief letter to one who sent in a detailed r?sum? and filled out an application. If you just got a brief letter, or if a r?sum? is too brief to help, send an application for the person to fill out, or request a more detailed r?sum?.

 3. Quickly Select the Best-Qualified for Serious Consideration

In the winnowing process, you want to spend as little time as possible with the obvious rejects?and more time on serious candidates. You need an evaluative process that will help you to find out quickly which of your candidates have the qualifications you decided on.

Make a Quick Pass

Make a quick pass through your pile of credentials, glancing at each candidate's r?sum?. Don't read, just glance. (This is critical?r?sum?s can be fascinating, but you must steel yourself. Set the r?sum? aside the instant you know the person is not fully qualified.) Put the credentials into one of three piles:

          Pile A=appears to meet all or most qualifications

          Pile B=missing one or more important qualification

          Pile C=clearly not qualified

If you have a good number of people in Pile A, you won?t have to deal with Piles B and C again. If there are few or none in your Pile A, you'll either have to modify your expectations, or figure out a way to attract more capable candidates.

Do the Fully Qualified Sort

Now take the "A" pile and sort it into two piles?a "top candidates" pile for those who appear to meet all your important criteria, and a "backup candidates" pile for those who appear to fail on less important criteria, or for whom the information isn't complete about one important criterion. (If they fail on two or more criteria, put them back on the "B" pile.)

Do an In-depth Review for the Few

Now spend some significant time with the "top candidates" pile, which should have at most 10 or 20 r?sum?s. (If you have 100, go back a step and review your requirements.)

For each candidate, make a note of areas in which you need additional information. For example, say a candidate's r?sum? says she is familiar with Web design software, but you must have a person with experience on a specific program, such as Dreamweaver?. Make a note to explore that by e-mail or in a telephone interview before bringing the candidate in to your offices.

After your in-depth review, you should have a group of probably 6 to 10 finalists. These people will be given further consideration.

The remainder will only be considered if the first group doesn't end up satisfying your criteria.

In tomorrow's Advisor, we'll look at the final two keys to saving precious interviewing time, phone screens and testing, and we'll look at a convenient training system that will help all your managers and supervisors with their recruiting responsibilities.

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