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After posting the job, the next step in the hiring process, is reviewing resumes. You may receive a lot of resumes. How do you get through them all? The first thing to look for is whether or not the candidate has the required skills and experience.

Besides meeting the required skills and experience, other good signs to look for are:

  • A cover letter which specifically addresses why the candidate wants to work for you
  • Staying at a job for at least five years
  • Excellent language skills
  • Mention of the positive traits and attitudes you are looking for
  • A college degree
  • An applicant who appears motivated

Some red flags are:

  • Multiple jobs over a short period of time
  • Unexplained gaps between jobs
  • Grammar and spelling errors
  • Started college or other post-secondary education, but didn’t finish
  • Overly brief and terse job descriptions
  • Accomplishments that appear to be exaggerated based on the job seeker’s experience

The next step in the hiring process is interviewing. If you still have a number of candidates, I recommend pre-screening by conducting telephone interviews with each candidate who meets your requirements. A few simple questions on the phone can weed out candidates who are obviously not a fit. After conducting the pre-screening, invite the remaining candidates to your place of business for an interview.

Performance or behavioral based questioning:

There has been a lot written about Performance Based Questions or Behavioral Interviewing. Both are names for the same interviewing technique. The theory is that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Rather than ask the candidate hypothetical questions about what he or she would do in a particular situation, ask about past situations and behaviors that relate to the performance you’re looking for.

For example, if the position in question requires working well on a team, a potential question would be, “Tell me about a particular event when you worked on a team and had a challenging assignment to accomplish. What specifically did you to support the success of the team? What did you do to work well with the other team members? What was the outcome?

The more specific the question the better. Give the candidate time to think if necessary. If the candidate responds with a very broad or vague answer, push for more specifics.

It’s important to properly prepare for each interview. Review the candidate’s resume and list questions that you’ll ask about the candidate’s experience and work history. Decide ahead of time which performance based questions you’ll ask. Be sure you are familiar with your company’s policies, procedures and benefits.

There are some questions that are unwise to ask candidates because those questions can result in a discrimination claim.

Stay away from any questions referring to:

  • Age
  • Marital Status
  • Children
  • Plans for Pregnancy
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Criminal Record
  • Disability
  • Citizenship

However, it is fine to ask if the candidate can fulfill the physical requirements of the job and if the candidate has the required documentation to work in the United States.

Here are five steps recommended for conducting a successful interview:

  1. Establish rapport with the candidate

a. Start with a firm handshake.b. Address the candidate by name (first name is fine).c. Offer them water, coffee or tea.d. Tell them you are looking forward to talking with them today.e. Explain the purpose of the interview and the agenda.f. Explain that you’ll be taking notes.

  1. Ask questions about past job performance
    a. People tend to perform in the future in the way that they performed in the past.
    b. Stay in control. If the candidate rambles or gets off topic, ask him or her to stay with specific job experience.
    c. Probe for specific information.
    d. Allow for silence. The candidate may need time to recall specific events.
    e. Ask about integrity, honesty and values.
  2. Allow the candidate to ask questions. They may ask about:
    a. Job details
    b. Benefits
    c. Your company
  3. Close the interview
    a. Thank the candidate for his or her interest in the position and the company.
    b. Provide a realistic expected date for making the final hiring decision.
    c. Escort the candidate to the door.
  4. Review your notes and summarize your findings.

You may decide to bring some candidates back for a second interview which may involve:

  • Asking further questions related to job performance
  • Meeting some members of your team
  • Interviews by other teammates. It’s always helpful to get another perspective. It’s best to have them ask different interview questions.
  • A tour of your business


After narrowing down the candidates, I recommend calling both personal and employer references. Although the candidate will likely have selected personal references who will say positive things about the candidate, a few questions to a personal reference can still provide additional information about the candidate. When calling past employers, you may find that some companies will only release dates of employment and position. However, if the past employer is a small business or you are able to reach former supervisors or coworkers, you may be able to get more answers. I always like asking, “if you had the opportunity, would you rehire this person?”