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Monday, October 30, 2006

Blogs have many uses, and this blog (and the most recent posting) has proven to be helpful in our recruiting/selection process for the new administrative and sales staff.

I sent everyone who applied an email with a link to this blog. On Friday, I reviewed the candidates who had completed the questionnaires.

As expected, only about 1/4 of the people who initially sent in their resumes bothered to answer the questions. I had 15 completed questionnaires from people looking for the administration/support position, and 5 from people wishing to apply for the sales opportunity.

It didn't take me long to narrow down the short list for phone interviews for the administration position. Many people, it seems, don't understand basic grammar or arithmetic (or know how to find the correct answers with some resourcefulness). Now, I only had four names on the phone list. One candidate declined the opportunity when I explained there were no 'benefits', and the other, unfortunately, had very poor spoken english (though she submitted perhaps with assistance an excellent written response).

This left two finalists for the admin opportunity. They will be coming in four four hour (paid) shifts, one today and the second tomorrow.

On the sales side, I had five responses, but two stood out for their thoughtfulness. Both communicated effectively with me by email BEFORE answering their questions -- the others, it seems, dashed off quick 'off the top' responses. Realistically, if you are going to have any chance at sales you are going to need to be able to build some sort of relationship. These two finalists will be working one day each this week on a really basic (again paid) telemarketing task -- the work I've asked them to do is not overly inspiring, but allows for a rapid evaluation.

Some observations so far about the recruitment process:

1. Financial cost -- zero for advertising (government-operated jobs site is free), but I will pay hourly pay for the four candidates, about equivalent in cost to a listing on one of the more expensive job boards.
2. Time cost -- really low. It took me three hours on Friday to review the resumes, conduct the pre-screen phone interviews, and set up the appointments. I will of course need to spend more time this week preparing for the working tests and being around while the work is done. (Then again, the temporary employees are doing useful work themselves!)
3. Process integrity. Developing a self-selection system really reduces management stress -- it also allows the prospective employee to decide if he or she wishes to work in our organization. It also avoids arbitrary and perhaps discriminatory screening practices.

Can the system be faked? To some extent, yes. One of the candidates said she used a little help from Google in answering the puzzler questions. I told her, "great, that shows you have the resourcefulness to solve the problems." I suspect the candidate who wrote a great written response but had serious trouble speaking clear English (she is a very recent immigrant) had help in completing the original questionnaire -- certainly I had hoped to find an equally articulate person when I followed up with a phone call. Still, the screening proved to be totally fair -- I didn't 'weed out' the resume as unqualified, and the candidate with poor English had a chance.

Will it work for everyone? I'm not sure how effective this approach would be to fill scarce, high demand and very skilled positions. But it certainly has merit for many other opportunities.

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