Resumes are flowing in for the position you’ve advertised—how do you best tell who is qualified? The qualifying process is about identifying strong, right-fit candidates and weeding out applicants who aren’t a good match for your business. There is often a temptation to rush through the qualifying steps. Often overwhelmed, practice owners want to get to the end of the hiring process as quickly as possible. Fast-forwarding this important process leads to rash decisions and makes you overlook your instincts, on the way to a quick hire, as opposed to the right hire.
There are several steps to the qualifying process. If you give each time and attention, they together will reward you with a candidate you feel confident about and excited to make an offer. Below, I’ll talk about the first two steps in the qualifying process: reviewing resumes and conducting phone interviews.
As part of your recruiting and discovery process, you developed and refined a vision for your business—what you stand for and what you offer. You also created a vision for an ideal candidate for the position, considering not only skill set, but characteristics, attitudes, and goals that together create a right-fit for your business. That’s a wealth of specific-to-your-business knowledge and information that you’ll use throughout the evaluation process, to qualify and disqualify candidates.
At any step, if you reach a point where none of your candidates qualify as right-fit: go back to recruiting. Save yourself the frustration, delay, and expense of proceeding to hire an employee who doesn’t meet your needs and align with your vision.
How to review resumes
There’s an often-cited statistic about hiring, from a 2012 study of recruiting, which says the average recruiter spends all of six seconds looking at a resume. I’m not sure many practice owners take much longer. Don’t be one of those people. A candidate’s resume is your first introduction to this person, take your time, and let each candidate make a meaningful first impression. Of course, you need to know what you’re looking for.
What distinguishes a top-flight resume from ones at the bottom of the stack? Here are some details to look for:
- Have they followed the CTA—the call to action—in your ad? Have they complied with the directions you laid out?
- Is it clear the candidate is applying for the specific position? (Be on the look-out for people who spam job ads.) Does the resume read as though it’s been tailored to address your job opening?
- Are there errors in spelling or grammar? Mistakes on a resume suggest a lack of follow- through, attention, or motivation—or all of the above.
- Are there gaps in employment? These don’t have to be deal breakers, but they are something to follow up with in interviews.
Resumes that pass these basic tests: read them again, taking in their tone and approach. Is the resume well organized? Does the language sound friendly or formal? Eager or casual? Professional? Reflect on how that tone and approach matches what you’re looking for in a new team member. As you review each resume, write down any questions that arise—you’ll want to follow up with candidates about these specific questions in your interviews.
Identified a number of resumes qualified to move forward? Great. It’s time to start talking with your now-select group of candidates.
How to conduct phone interviews
Busy practice owners will be tempted to skip this step, and call candidates in directly for an in-person interview. Don’t. The phone interview needn’t be long. At any point when a candidate disqualifies himself, you can politely and quickly end the conversation. Candidates who don’t disqualify themselves will, of course, take more time: but it’s time well spent.
The phone interview gives you an opportunity to begin to assess whether the person matches the resume. When the two don’t align—an upbeat, engaged resume with a sullen-sounding phone manner, for instance—you know something’s not right. It’s time to disqualify that candidate, and move on. This pre-screening of candidates before a full-fledged interview will save you time in the long run.
Here are some questions that work well in phone interviews:
What attracted you to our ad? Pay attention to how closely their answer matches the goals and values that went into creating the ad.
What position are you interested in specifically? If someone sent a resume blindly, or didn’t bother to learn much about the job, this question can weed them out.
Can you tell me about your gap in employment? Well prepared candidates will be able to speak meaningfully about time in their lives when they weren’t working.
Can you describe your ideal job to me? Encourage candidates to be honest, and take their answers seriously. Does their dream job sound a lot like your position, or are they miles apart?
The answers candidates give are important—but so is the manner in which they give them. Practice active listening. Take note of the details that catch your attention, whether positive or negative. Ask yourself: what does my gut tell me? When I was interviewing prospective employees as a practice owner, I immediately disqualified candidates who asked about salary in phone interviews. Salary discussion is an important part of the qualifying process—and I’ll talk about how to navigate that conversation in an upcoming article. But the preliminary phone interview isn’t the forum for that discussion, and my gut told me to be wary of prospective employees who moved quickly to specific questions about compensation. My A-players cared about salary, but were also deeply focused on the substance and meaning of the position.
If a candidate doesn’t disqualify themselves during the phone interview, ask if they’d like to come in for an in-person interview. Next, I’ll talk about how to conduct in-person and working interviews that help you help candidates share their authentic selves.
Passion and Profits,