Q. We are a successful supplier to the medical industry and are in the process of trying to fill an account executive position. We received a great response to our ad, but after a month of interviewing we have yet to find the right candidate. Can you help?
A. What do you consider a good response? Just because you’ve received numerous applicants in response to your ad doesn’t mean they are qualified for the position.
Too many hiring managers make the mistake of interviewing candidates based off the resume alone. Keep in mind that a resume is a marketing piece used to sell a product, the applicant, who is attempting to sell themselves to you.
What is your criteria for defining who is worthy of an interview? Who is this person? You need to perform your due diligence long before you bring an applicant in for an interview.
Ask yourself, “Why am I attracted to this person’s qualifications and experience?” Is it because you graduated from the same college? Is it because they were a referral or come from your industry or the competition? Are you being lured in by their years of experience or their list of accomplishments?
You must take the time to screen the applicants before the interview. Why? To save you, your team and the company valuable time and money. Do you know what it costs your company to bring in just one person for an interview let alone five people? Why waste your time interviewing people who are not at least an 80 percent fit for the position? Have you defined who the “best fit” is for the position and the company?
I recommend each and every applicant that applies for the position to complete a pre-qualification questionnaire. Not only will you get some interesting answers, but this will give you an opportunity to assess their written communications skills, which is a necessary business skill for most professional positions today.
Pre-qualification is a tool used to screen in the qualified applicants and screen out the unqualified applicants. Following is a sample of questions that can be used for screening purposes. If they aren’t willing to take the time to complete the questionnaire, move on.
1) Why did you apply for this position? (The reply to this question will help you understand their motivation.)
2) What is your reason for seeking a new position? (This will give you some insight into their current situation.)
3) What type of position are you looking for? (You’re looking for account executive, and they’re looking for a manager’s position.)
4) What industries do you prefer? (You’re in the medical industry, and their preference is the wine industry.)
5) What type of environment do you prefer? (You’re a small casual environment, and they prefer a large formal environment.)
6) What is your commute tolerance? (You’re located in Novato, and they reside in San Jose and their commute tolerance is 1 hour total.)
7) Are you open to travel and relocation? (This position requires travel, and for personal reasons they are not available to travel.)
8 ) What are your compensation requirements? (This position pays $50,000 commission plan, and they were or are earning $100,000 commission.)
9) What will you base your decision on? (The answer to this question will help you understand their priorities.)
10) Describe your proudest accomplishment. (What you consider and what they consider an accomplishment could be vastly different.)
11) Describe your greatest challenge. (What you consider to be a great challenge and their experience may differ.)
12) Are you currently interviewing and/or considering any offers? (Why go through the interview process if they are in the third round of interviews for another position or are seriously considering a few offers.)
This process is time consuming but will weed out the qualified from the unqualified applicants based on your “best fit” profile for the position and the company. Now you are ready to set up phone interviews.
Stay tuned for next month’s article, which will cover the phone interview
Jennifer Laxton is a senior partner with Executive Search Associates in Santa Rosa www.esa.com. ESA is an executive search and consulting company. You can reach her at 707-525-1010 ext. 12 or email@example.com. If you have questions with regards to your situation, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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