I'm looking for ideas on recruitment and selection.

Specifically, I'm in India, recruiting for entry level marketing and sales positions. The demand for jobs is such that even after the initial screening by the recruiting agency, I can still end up with 100 good candidates for 5 positions.

It will be difficult to quickly rank candidates at this stage. They will all have similar education and work experience and many candidates take coaching classes on 'the right things to say in an interview', so initial interview performance can be quite similar. Conducting detailed interviews to push them past these set responses (while still keeping them comfortable) will be very time consuming.

Bigger companies here usually use computerised tests at this stage, to measure logical reasoning and verbal skills, but i don't have the scale for something like that.

Phone interviews are difficult as many people don't own landline phones, so you are subject to cell phone network drop-outs. Further, many people find it difficult to find a quiet place to talk, due to the population living density, so there is always traffic/people noise in the background. 

So I am looking for creative ideas for selection that can help push the candidates beyond the canned responses they have been coached in, which will also allow me to identify top candidates, who can then go on to formal interviews.

Has anyone had success with group interviews - one/two interviewers asking questions one by one to a group of candidates?

Some of the more creative ideas i have been given:

 - Put them in groups and ask them to write and perform a one-act play in one hour - to look at their creativity and personal interaction skills

 - Put them in groups and ask them to prepare and present a marketing plan for a random product (assessing them on thought process, rather than technical skills)

Can anyone suggest any other ideas that have worked for them?




afmoffa's picture

Hi Chris:

I'm on both sides of this process right now. I'm looking to make a change from my current job, and I'm also hiring some freelancers to help me with a personal project. For that matter, ages ago, I was a college admission dean for the most selective college in the US, where we had 3500 applicants for about 425 positions in the class.

If your recruiter is giving you 100 candidates for 5 jobs, I'd start by asking your recruiter to be more selective next time. Anyway, please don't have them stage a play or build a snowman, not unless the job itself will involve acting or sculpture. It's important that any task, any filter, any hurdle you set up be something relevant to the job. Otherwise, you risk losing good candidates. Don't ask everyone to fill out a 20-page form. You'll only keep the desperate candidates, and that's no good.

If phone interviews aren't practical (calling 100 people would take all week, even with perfect phone lines), then come up with one or two questions unique to your business. Ask each of the 100 candidates to write you 200-word responses via E-mail. (Use a throwaway E-mail account if you don't want to give your contact info to 100 candidates.)

  • Thirty people will take too long to respond: they're out.
  • Five people will have the same answer they found on Google: they're out.
  • Ten people will answer the question with bland, general language they copied from cover letters: they're out.
  • Ten people will write 50-word responses: they're out.
  • Ten people will write 500-word responses: they're out.

Then there will be about 30 candidates who gave you what you asked for. Written communications are important to any job, so that's where you start the phone interviews. Set the phone interviews up for next week, and tell the candidates you expect them to be in a quiet place on a reliable phone line when you call. If they can't arrange that in 48 hours, they aren't resourceful enough.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

..when it comes to interviewing.  But I do think your situation calls for it, so I'm still glad you asked.

First, WHATEVER you do, keep records of what works and what doesn't, both in terms of operations and in terms of selection quality.

Consider as well:

- Having 1-2 associates help you with the backlog.  (Follow same process as below, but in parallel.)

- 20 minute screening interviews.  (If you do this yourself, for a hundred folks, 2 hours each day*, that's roughly two weeks.  Not that bad.

- Standard questions: 1 minute chat, 5 minutes for Tell Me About Yourself, 5 minutes each for  2 questions on examples of accomplishments showing skills you're looking for (surely persuasion and overcoming difficult challenge would be in the top 5), 3 for their questions, 1 to close.

- Screening interviews over the phone**

-**  -Fine, cell phone calls are hard.  And yes there are distractions.  See who does best.  Rule out those who can't make it happen.  Sorry.

* - 2 hours a day might seem like a lot, but this is the most important thing you do.  Sorry, little sympathy here...I used to interview 25 people a day at 30 minutes each, non stop.

- If you do get help (ONE other guy cuts your time in HALF!) create standard interview grading criteria.  See our cast on post interview results capture.

- Evaluate 15 in a group.  Possible no one comes in (we're not looking for best, we're looking for one that meets all criteria).

- Winners come in for a 2 hour interview.


ChrisH__'s picture

Thanks for the suggestions guys, this is really helpful.

The company is a startup. We have just spend the last few months hiring the management team, and this is the first significant hiring wave below management level.

So far, we've pretty much been following the MT model, of multiple interviews focusing on behaviours, followed by capture meetings. Its been working really well and means that when we do hire someone, the whole management team is in agreement.

I'll keep you updated on how this works out...