Tag Archives: resumes

Who Gets the Resumes First?

“It’s really difficult to find good people out there, these days,” complained Byron. “Look at these resumes.”

He pushed the stack over to me. I glanced at the page on top.

“I will take your word, that none of these resumes meets the standards you are thinking for the job. Tell me, how did these resumes make it to your desk?”

“Oh, we have a good process to weed out the bad ones,” Byron replied. “By the time they get to me, I should only see the top three or four candidates. But none of these people are qualified.”

“Do you think some overqualified people got cut from the resume pool?” I asked.

“Oh, sure, our people know what we are paying for the job and they can spot someone who is overqualified as easily as those who are under qualified.”

“And who is involved in this process?”

Byron’s head turned to the side and his eyes went up the far wall behind me. “Well, the hiring manager.”

“So, the hiring manager directly receives the emails from your job posting?”

“Well, no,” Byron backpedaled. “I don’t want to burden him with looking at all the resumes, so we have them sent to a generic email box. Irene is our receptionist, and she opens the emails and forwards the resumes she thinks are the best.”

“What do you mean, that she thinks are best?” I asked.

“Well, she deletes the ones from out-of-town and then marks the ones with two years experience. I don’t want the hiring manager wasting his time.”

“And then she delivers them to the hiring manager?” I tried to get the details of the sequence.

“Well, not exactly,” Byron continued. “Irene forwards them to one of the supervisors to cull over. I really don’t want the hiring manager wasting his time on unqualified resumes. He has enough other issues to deal with.”

“I see,” I nodded. “I think I am getting the picture.”

How to Get to the Truth in a Candidate Interview

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

I’ve conducted interviews where we’ve asked behavioral questions, like “Please share a specific example in your last position where you led a team in accomplishing a specific task. Share what steps you took and any processes you put in place to be successful. What were your challenges?” These questions did help us see how the candidate thinks and leads and whether s/he’s innovative. But in the end, some candidates are really great at interviewing and talking the talk, but when they get in the position they are not effective. So, are there other questions or exercises we should use in interviews to further test the veracity of the candidate and their experience?

The truth is always elusive.

Two things I ask about in the interview to get closer to the truth.

  1. Details
  2. Repeated patterns

Take the same example you cited, leading a team through a task assignment. Here are my questions.

  • Tell me about a time when you lead a team to accomplish a project?
  • What was the project?
  • What was the purpose of the project?
  • What was the time span of the project, from beginning to end?
  • How many people on the project team?
  • What was your specific role on the project team?
  • Step me through the initial team meeting, how did you describe the project to your project team?
  • How did you select each person on your project team?
  • How did you make individual task assignments to your project team?
  • How did you monitor progress through the project?
  • To monitor progress, what documentation did you use? Paper based? Excel spreadsheet? Project software?
  • When did you notice the project was behind schedule?
  • What steps did you take to keep the project on schedule?
  • How often did you meet with your project team?
  • Step me through an interim project team meeting?
  • Did you prepare an agenda for that meeting? Step me through your preparation for the agenda?
  • How long did it take to complete the project?
  • What changed about the project as it neared completion?
  • What adjustments did you make, as the leader of the project, to accommodate those changes?

In the candidate responses, I am looking for details and patterns to get me to the truth. -Tom

How To Sort Resumes

“Think about it this way,” Jean explained. “In an ideal world, with 400 resumes, we would conduct 400 interviews, but that’s just not practical.”

I nodded in agreement.

“So, we have to have some way, by looking at the resumes, to determine which of those would most likely yield the kind of candidate that ultimately brings something to the open role.”

“And, now,” I jumped in. “You look for something about the resume that would disqualify the candidate instead of something about the candidate that is actually interesting, related to the role? You are sorting OUT, not IN?”

“Exactly,” Jean replied. “The purpose for disqualifying resumes is only to reduce the workload of slogging through candidates. It does reduce the workload, but doesn’t necessarily leave us with a high quality candidate pool.”

“So, you think there is a better way of sorting resumes that creates a better pool?”

“Yes,” Jean replied. “Let’s say we want to reduce the resume pool from 400 down to 50. I could work to find 350 reasons why we would reject a resume, or I could work to find 50 reasons why I want to take a resume to the next step.”

“So, what criteria would you use to find those 50 reasons,” I pressed.

“For that, I have to go back to the role description. Remember, it’s all about the work.”

Who Creates the Talent Pool?

“In the midst of everything I have to do, with all of my management issues and motivation issues, you expect me to read resumes,” Byron was putting his foot down. “I am a Vice-President in this company. I have other people that read resumes for me.”

I did not respond, just raised an eyebrow. I could see the exasperation on Byron’s face.

“So, just exactly what do I do?” asked Byron. “I mean, I know what to do when I need to hire a manager on my team, but to hire a supervisor on one of my manager’s teams?”

“You won’t make the final selection, but I do hold you accountable for driving this process. Logistically, here is what it looks like. Your division has an opening two strata below you. As the manager-once-removed, it is your accountability to create the talent pool from which the hiring manager will select. Creating the talent pool means that you drive this process. Every morning, when you are fresh, I expect you to come in and spend a half hour to forty five minutes reviewing resumes. That’s every day, whether you have an opening in your division, or not. I expect that each day, you will find two or three resumes that you will find interesting. I expect you to make two or three screening phone calls every day. Once or twice a week, I expect you will actually run across a candidate. If you find only one per week, that is fifty people per year that you might bring in to interview for a supervisor level position.”

“But we have never had fifty people that qualified,” Byron continued to push back.

“Is that the truth, or is that something you believe to be true?”
Hiring Talent, the print version, will be available from Amazon within the week, so we have a new cover. This link is for the Kindle version, available now.
Hiring Talent