As a recruiter, an important part of my job is to find the best candidates that I can and to screen out the “undesirables.” Companies don’t reach out to a staffing agency unless they are in desperate need of help; many times immediate help. With that knowledge, it’s critical that the candidates I work with not only have the skills necessary to jump in and give the relief that is needed, but are actually going to show up and work. Sounds pretty basic and easy, but unfortunately it isn’t as easy as it might seem. Even in today’s economy where I hear comments all the time that I must have people coming out of my ears because the unemployment rate is so high, it’s not a whole lot easier to find really good, qualified, and reliable candidates.
We at Renoir Staffing take pride in the fact that we meet every single person that we work with, and I’m not talking about a 5 minute meet and greet; we spend at least an hour with each potential candidate prior to making the decision of whether or not to represent them. And, this is after we have reviewed their resume and done a phone screen to get an initial “feel” for them. So, how do I screen out the good from the not-so–good? Well, the first thing that makes an impression is when do they show up for the interview; are they early, barely on time, or late (and if they are late, did they call me ahead of time to let me know what’s going on)? I have to assume that the way they approach the interview will be the way they approach any assignment I might send them on. During the interview, there are many key things that I pay attention to. One is all of the non-verbal cues: how do they greet me (do they shake my hand and smile and look me in the eye?), how is their appearance (are they dressed appropriately? how is their hygiene?), what is their posture when they are sitting in my chair, do they look me in the eye when they’re talking to me, do they sit still, or are they constantly shifting when I ask them a question? Then there are the verbal cues. I ask open-ended questions and then just let them talk. You can find out a lot when you let someone say anything they want – good and bad. Based on what they say, I ask for clarification or ask more specific questions. Sometimes that’s when you really find out where the truth lies. For example, when I interview someone for a maintenance position, I hear a lot of “if it’s broken, I can fix it.” It’s not until I dive in do I learn that “well, I can do minor repairs, but nothing too complicated.” I listen to their tone of voice and level of confidence. I also pay attention to if what they’re telling me seems truthful (I’ve interviewed people who couldn’t keep their story straight). I also watch for their reaction when I talk to them about references and our very thorough background check. Sometimes what they don’t say is just as important as what they do say.
I believe interviewing is an art that takes years of practice in order to learn all of the clues and things that should trigger a red flag. Even then, no matter how hard you try to dig up any dirt or skeletons, there will be some that will slip through the cracks. Just like a lot of other things in this world, interviewing is a numbers game. You just have to have enough candidates in your pool to make sure the odds are in your favor.
Colleen White, Recruiter