One of the areas we are regularly asked about is how to best read and evaluate an employment application. Here are some things you can look for on an application that will give you an initial “feel” for the applicant.
• Does everything look accurate and honest? For example, are the dates of past employment consistent?
• Past work experience – what have they done that would qualify them to work for you – look for past responsibilities held and descriptions of what they did and the salary they earned.
• Past work stability – how long did they work at previous jobs or did they hop from one job to the next?
• Reasons why they left their past jobs – are their statements positive or negative about this?
• Gaps in time between jobs. What did they do?
• Comments they may write about themselves.
• Level of education achieved.
• Date available to start work.
• Yes or no questions – are they all filled out? Are there any questions raised from their answers?
The Applicant Interview
Once you have decided to schedule an interview with a potential employee, make sure you are fully prepared with the questions you want to ask. Since the purpose of the interview is to gather information to make an informed decision, it’s important that the questions you ask elicit as much information as possible.
There are basically two types of questions: open ended which allow a person to think and speak, and closed ended, which give basically “yes” or “no” answers. You want to ask open ended questions as they are more revealing. Here are some examples of open ended and close ended questions, each concerning the same subject. Look them over and you should easily be able to see how they will elicit different responses and how the open ended question will give you much more data for your hiring evaluation.
Close Ended: Are you highly motivated?
Open Ended: What career objectives have you set for yourself?
Close Ended: Are you qualified for this position?
Open ended: In what ways have your previous jobs prepared you for this position?
Close Ended: Can you accept criticism?
Open Ended: Give me some examples of times you’ve been criticized. How did you respond?
These are just a few examples of how to properly ask questions in a hiring interview. You can see that the open ended question will provide you with much more useful data to evaluate the applicant.
Applying the proper screening techniques when hiring, which would include proper use of the application, interviewing with information eliciting questions as well as testing can help you identify both the good and potentially dangerous applicant which will allow you to make a more informed decision.