Ask the Expert

Here's the Right Way to Screen Potential Job Candidates

Here's the Right Way to Screen Potential Job Candidates
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Q: I believe that the age of the face-to-face interview is slowly becoming a thing of the past.  While important for establishing a connection, there are way too many question marks and intangibles that may be false and misleading.  What is your suggestion for developing an out of the box interview/candidate screening method?
-- SBS Innovation

A: The face-to-face interview is not going away. Though, during this age of globalization, it is now being replaced by Skype, FaceTime and actual high-quality video conferencing. For domestic positions, however, in-person interviews are still very prevalent. 

Regardless of the type of interview, Skype, in person, phone, or other method, companies need to get back to the basics. They need to stop focusing on what the next best thing is -- the latest and greatest out-of-the-box screening methods -- and instead should concentrate on doing things right.

Related: 5 Ways Job Seekers Blow It

Focus on what you can control.

Companies and hiring managers can control one thing: how they view a candidate’s resume. They need to be critical of any gaps in employment or in discrepancies on a resume. They shouldn't hire candidates who jump ship after six months or a year, also known as a "hoppy" resume.

They should look critically at layoffs and downsizing, and ask why this person was downsized. Were other employees kept on? If so, why weren't they? If they have longevity at a company, were they promoted? If not, why?

Conduct references...the right way.

Companies also need to look at the way they do references. They should be talking to hiring managers NOT a contact in Human Resources. They should be doing reference checks across all levels, including direct reports, peers, and managers, among others. Each person will give a different view of the candidate's work ethic and work product.

Related: The Art of Courting Candidates: Creating a Stellar Startup Interview Experience

For instance, a manager will be able explain how well the candidate takes direction and his or her ability to hit deadlines. Their peers will be able to expand on how easy the candidate is to work with, whether they were a team player and how they contributed to team goals.  Their direct reports will be able to share how the candidate was in a managerial position, what the individual's leadership style was and his or her ability to empathize and motivate them.

Evaluate personal portfolios.

Companies should also be evaluating each candidate's personal portfolio. In this day and age with workers being all over the country and the globe, this is so important. While normally viewed as something for a marketing professional, designer or architect, every candidate can create a portfolio of highlights. If it's an accountant or finance professional, they should have a portfolio. It would include the analysis they did, which resulted in cost savings or new sales opportunities. Sales candidates’ portfolios should include the clients acquired, accounts that were grown and how they did it. If a candidate can't articulate their success and how they achieved it with quantifiable information to back it up, DON'T HIRE THEM.  

Ask the hard questions.

The only thing that limits a company from finding the right fit is having a management team that is afraid to ask candidates to validate their own experiences.  People can say anything; however, it's the people who execute who rise above.  Whether the interview is in person, via email or on a video call, ask people to demonstrate their accomplishments and make objective decisions based on their results.  

Related: The Law of Attraction: Finding the Perfect Hire for Your Company