Better screening, assessing, and interviewing

Chuck Smith, NewHire

When it comes to hiring practices, my pet peeve is over-reliance on resumes.

Somebody invented the typewriter, and it became the currency of recruiting. Now we try to figure out by reading a resume—by what people say about their experience—if they have the right behavior, the right values, the right cultural fit, the right skills, and the ability to grow.

That’s a huge problem in my world. Resumes aren’t people. There are several ways to reduce reliance on resumes and improve the hiring process.


If you’re the typical employer, you get a bunch of people to send you resumes for an open position. You read through the resumes, you select some of the candidates, and then you ask them some questions.

What I recommend is that you start the application process with the questions you care about most. From their answers, you pick a few resumes to read, and then you bring them in and talk to those candidates.

That is a huge and powerful change because you’re taking control of the conversation. You can advertise your job and have applicants respond by answering five questions. You can read the answers and select people from those answers.

You have five things you care about. Ask those five things. Talk to people who answer the way you want.


Assessments are useful in overcoming those natural biases you have, such as really liking people who attended OU and not OSU.

Assessments are an opportunity to learn more about each person’s behaviors and motivations. Assessment tools such as DISC and Myers Briggs can be applied to work behaviors. Attention to detail is a work behavior. So is the ability to analyze data.

My one rule of assessments is that before you use an assessment, you have to use it on yourself. You have to know that it works—that it sort of describes you.

Use it on people you know rather well and say, “That kind of describes them.” Then you can use it on total strangers. If you just use it on strangers, you don’t really know what you’re getting.

If you ask your five important questions early on and then you conduct assessments, you have a much better opportunity to know candidates well and understand them well.

A Harvard Business Review study shows that assessing is more effective than not assessing. You have a 13 percent chance of hiring successfully by just using experience compared to a 71 percent chance if you use multiple assessments.


For the interview, prepare yourself with questions you care about. Make sure you ask those questions.

Be polite but not overly friendly. If you’re overly friendly, you don’t give the candidates a chance to warm you up, and you may not see their real personality.

Don’t be afraid of silence. If you have prepared a relevant question and you ask it, make sure you give the person time to answer. We don’t all have instant answers to things. Some of us need a little bit more time.

Through better screening, assessing, and interviewing, you can improve your search for the right employee.

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