Hiring Question: How to quickly vet candidates

How do you probe potential candidates via email/messaging to gather whether they are worth a full-on interview?

Details: Say you have a candidate that looks interesting, but only checks 5/10 boxes. You're not sure whether you want to spend 1-2 hours scheduling/doing an interview call. What are some probing questions you can use to gather more information to assess?

iynna's profile thumbnail
What role is this for? Does the first call have to be 1 hour? Can it be a 20-min screen conversation (feel free to label it however you see fit)? And in general I like to see how people behave e.g do they take forever to get back to me (this needs to be a repeated pattern because yes things can happen and looking at it from one episode only feels unfair), or even if they send thank you note/are thoughtful/care about the stuff we are talking about
janedubrovsky's profile thumbnail
Iynna: Thanks for commenting! (and please forgive my late reply, I sort of forgot this First Post I made on Elpha!) Definitely can be shorter than 1 hr, depending on the role. I'm making technical and non-technical hires, from associate level to director level, for the biotech startup I'm a part of, SiPhox. I would say the more senior the role, the more time it takes. When I do the initial call, it takes roughly 30 min to get through the basics of (1) who the person is (2) what kind of opportunity they're looking for (3) what our company does, and (4) further questions in response to these initial exchanges to assess whether it's a fit e.g. "can you tell me a bit more about your experience fundraising at X company?".Happy to hear your experience on how this screening call may be made more effective.
dipishapatel's profile thumbnail
Agree with Iynna! Pick 2-3 top ones that match the role the closest to start with. Then move down the list. The ones that follow-up are usually the ones that are more interested in pursuing the role further and want to learn on the job as well. If it's a start-up you are hiring for then think about what you can and cannot offer the candidates. This help with long term fit.Candidates tend to job hop more nowadays, especially ones right out of college so try to gage their long-term interest for 6months - 1 year.
janedubrovsky's profile thumbnail
Good point, that I should gauge long-term interest as well
teresaman's profile thumbnail
I would look at the 5 unchecked boxes and think of two to three questions that can help answer those areas that you feel most unsure about.And then in general, asking what it is that they're looking for in their next role so that you can determine if what you're offering is inline with their goals.
janedubrovsky's profile thumbnail
Yes, recently grokked that I should just ask them outright about the unchecked boxes prior to scheduling an initial call. Thanks, Teresa!
AmandaPorter's profile thumbnail
I would suggest/offer the feedback to add 1-2 questions on the application. This way those applying can answer 1-2 questions you'd typically be curious about on an initial screen, but this can ultimately save you hours. Keep these 1-2 questions short and simple - They can be something specific to the required tooling experience (SQL, Excel, Salesforce, Javascript, etc.) and/or something about why they are interested in the role specifically with your company? Etc.
chelseajpaige's profile thumbnail
I would agree on reaching out to a few people at the time to do a brief screens (using a tool like Calendly is really helpful so you eliminate the back and forth). This is probably too late at this point, but I would advise including some prescreen questions on the application if you can (don't make them too long or difficult though, it's difficult enough to apply for jobs right now and you don't want to deter candidates) to understand their thinking and mastery over what the role requires. These questions will completely vary depending on the role and industry.
wqhipsh's profile thumbnail
Yes! If you use prescreening questions you can quickly, and ethically, evaluate the candidates' skills. At our company, we call these work samples, or situational questions, that provide a hypothetical challenge for the candidate to respond to. Based on how the candidate responds to these questions, they are then moved onto the interview round. It also helps reduce bias if you have a score card prepared for each question.
janedubrovsky's profile thumbnail
@chelseajpaige and @wqhipsh work samples/situational questions seem easier to come up with for technical roles. Can you give an example of an operational/administrative role question I could ask?
chelseajpaige's profile thumbnail
I created a couple of prescreen questions for some sales and customer support roles recently. Some examples were "Tell me about a great customer support experience you had and why it was great." This was intended to ask when the candidate was the customer and what excellent support they received, and what they took away from it to improve how they provided support -- however, a lot of people answered the question from when they provided the support themselves. To be fair, it was vaguely worded so it could be interpreted either way. For a general operational/administrative role, I would imagine something like "Describe your workflow at your current job" or "How do you stay organized?" might be good questions. There are also a lot of resources out there now when a quick search online that can help, but I hope this helps get you started!
janedubrovsky's profile thumbnail
Yes really helpful, thanks!!