On Selecting New Employees

I’ve been in business for more than 18 years. We’ve had about 100 employees pass thru the doors of Port-to-Port Consulting, our Indianapolis small business computer outsourcing firm. Along the way, we’ve tried many different approaches to recruiting and selecting. We just asked people we knew to recommend people they knew. We placed standard Help Wanted ads in the local paper. We did team interviews, and round robin interviews, and multi-round interviews. We tried personality testing and intelligence testing, and aptitude testing. Role playing? We tried it. About the only thing we haven’t tried is just numbering the applicants and rolling the dice to see who gets the job.

The problem is that every one of these approaches resulted in good hires and bad hires. In my latest iteration, I send the prospective employee a list of questions and ask her to provide short responses. Amazingly, this small request causes almost half of applicants to self-eliminate. Nearly half of those who do bother to return the short answers don’t bother to check their spelling or grammar, including the guy whose cover mentioned how carefully he had checked his “grammer”. This simple request cuts my pool by 75 percent. Those that are left can be further pruned by actually reading their responses. Then it’s back to one of the interviewing techniques with the remainder.

We haven’t found a way to determine before hiring if a person will be right for a job at Port-to-Port, but we are constantly adjusting our approach to enhance the possibility that we get a good pick at the start.

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