Welcome To The Hiring Tips!

Hello and thank you for stopping by. I’m Stan Dubin, the Executive Director of The Employee Testing Center.

Our employee testing service has been helping companies make better hiring decisions for over ten years now. Whether you use our service or not, I decided a running collection of “Hiring Tips” would be helpful.

If you’d like one Hiring Tip sent to you each week, click here.

These tips address the full scope of hiring: employee motivation, skills, pay, testing, and evaluation. There are tips on what to ask, what not to ask and how to avoid dangerous hiring mistakes. There are 20 plus tips on hiring and the law that our readers have found very helpful. Click here and we’ll send you one helpful tip every week.

Most of the tips now also include a podcast version. If you’d prefer to listen on your smart phone, iPod, etc., subscribe via iTunes.

All in all, we want you hiring better staff.


What If Your Co-Workers Aren’t Cutting It?

Unethical employees

I just realized these tips are being read in various countries outside of the U.S. so let me provide a definition for the phrase: “cutting it.”

Cutting it means to be effective or successful.

So, we want to find out how this applicant would deal with a situation where the employees around him are not being effective or successful. More simply stated: they are not producing.

It could be worse than that. They could be doing things detrimental to the company.

Whatever the case may be, give the applicant the scenario where his co-workers aren’t being effective or successful. You could make it more specific with:

“They are spending all kinds of time chatting with each other or texting friends or hanging out on social media.”

Or you could say:

“They are producing shoddy products. Products that are causing upsets with customers.”

One more possible way of getting specific:

“There appears to be an agreement amongst them that they don’t have to be effective at what they do. They come in when they want, they leave when they want. Apparently there isn’t any supervision or … or there is a supervisor but he shares in this low level of ethics.”

I’m sure you can come up with a variety of specifics here.

Then let’s ask our applicant what he/she would do about this? And let’s ask when they would do something about this.

There’s probably something in our DNA that frowns on someone who rats out their friends or co-workers.

Okay, fast definition of rat out:

To rat someone out means to tell somebody in authority about something wrong that somebody else has done.

And I imagine you’ve heard the noun version of that:

“I’m not a rat.”

Well, this is all well and good. But the company exists to be profitable and those getting a paycheck have essentially agreed to do their best to help the company succeed.

When your applicant is given this set of circumstances and then asked how he/she would deal with it, you’re going to get some good insights into his character.

And that’s what we’re going for here.

When Many Apply For the Same Position

multiple applicants

Depending on how the job market is going, you’ll find there are times when quite a few people apply for the same position.

This of course will vary from area to area, and it also will be influenced by how you are promoting a particular position. If you’re posting the job offer on just your web site, you’ll likely see considerably more applications if you promote the position on one (or more) of the job boards. ZipRecruiter, Monster, Indeed and other job boards could serve up dozens of applicants for just one position.

How should you filter these applications so that the one-on-one interviews are being done with the right people? These interviews could go an hour and longer, so we want to spend that time — the one-on-one interviews — with people who actually could end up getting hired.

The simplest approach of course is to get their résumé ahead of time, look it over and then take the next step. What would that next step be?

One idea would be to schedule a short phone interview. You’ll find, oddly enough, that a percentage won’t show at all for this interview or they’re “busy” doing something else and will call you twenty minutes later apologizing but hoping you will still do the phone interview.

If their first personal engagement with you is a no-show, this is not a good sign. Is it a deal-breaker? Possibly. Remember, this is the scenario where we have too many applicants to potentially interview and we’re looking for some kind of filter.

Okay, they show up on time for the phone interview. What could or should you ask them?

You could go very basic here and just ask simple questions that you gleaned from their résumé.

Or you could ask a few penetrating questions. For example:

“If we hired you for this position, how long would you be looking to stay with us?”

A different wording of this might be:

“We sometimes have a revolving door here with new hires leaving after a few weeks or so. Convince me I don’t need to worry about you.”

Here are a few more questions you could ask:

“From a work perspective, where do you see yourself in one year? Five years? Ten years?”

“On a scale of 1 to 10:

“How focused are you?

“How stable are you?

“How friendly are you with other employees?

If you look through some of the other Hiring Tips — and there are 290 of them at this point in time — you’ll find quite a few that you could use in this phone interview.

Again, the phone interview does not need to be very long. You want to be satisfied you can move this person on to the next step in your hiring funnel.

Just to be sure, I’m not here to dissuade you from asking questions regarding the applicant’s résumé. If there are résumé items you want to confirm or have amplified, you certainly could do this over the phone before the in-person interview.

All in all, you will need some kind of filter if you’ve got 10, 15, 20 or more applying for the same position. This hiring tip should give you a few ideas on how to do this.

How Well Does He Communicate?

Employees communicating

To a certain degree, you’re going to find out how well someone communicates during their hiring interview(s).

But let’s see if we can go a bit further with this.

Adam is applying for the position of Office Manager. After he’s answered all of your interview questions, let Adam know you’d like him to meet a few of the staff.

“Adam, I’d like to take you around to meet some of the staff. But I want this to go beyond a simple ‘hello and nice to meet you.’ I want you to start a conversation with each person. You can choose the subject, but each conversation should be at least several minutes long. Ready to go?”

You can let your staff know ahead of time that you’ll be doing this or you can choose not to let them know. That’s up to you.

Take Adam to at least 2-3 people and see how it goes. If you’d like to see this done with more than 2-3, by all means, go for it.

A person’s ability to communicate is a key factor in how productive they are. How well they communicate will also influence how productive those around him are.

Those who communicate well, who communicate easily and effectively, should have little difficulty doing this with your staff.

If your applicant fumbles and stumbles during this exercise, it’s not a great sign.

You’ll want to observe how this goes from start to finish. You’ll likely know a good deal more about your applicant when you’re done.

How Long Will He Be With You?

employee longevity

Today’s work environment is certainly different than a few decades ago. Back in “those days,” when someone started with a company, there was a strong likelihood of being with the company for many years. Helping the company grow, enjoying raises in salary, and overall being a coveted contributor.

Today, not so much.

How long someone stays with one company could be a few years, a few months, even a few weeks. The days of a new employee being with the company for 20, 30 years are, to a marked degree, behind us.

Now, I do know of quite a few companies with employees that have been with them for 20 and 30 years and more. But these were “new” employees 20-30 years ago.

Despite this turn of events, longevity IS a factor for many of us. We would like a new employee to hang in there. We’d like to invest in them — with training, salary increases, and other ways of acknowledging our people — and we’d like to see them invest in us: with their time and their skills.

So, how would we determine how long someone will be with us?

Is that even possible to determine?

Well, I don’t have a magic bullet for you here, but I would recommend a few things.

Of course, first and foremost, look over their résumé and how long have they been with each company?

And with each company, you could ask:

“Robert, with Acme Enterprises, why did you leave?”

“Okay, thanks. With Allen Industries, why did you leave?”

And so on.

Probably a good idea to take notes with each answer.

Now, you have an idea of why Robert left each company. Is there a pattern? Did it sound like the company was always the reason for his departure or did you get a sense of accountability from Robert?

You could also ask:

“Robert, thinking back on the four companies you have on your résumé, what would’ve kept you there longer?”


“Robert, looking forward to possibly working with us, how long do you think you’ll be with us?”

When you get an answer, follow with:

“What would we need to do to accomplish some kind of longevity with you?”

Longevity is a subject that may be difficult to get a good read on in the hiring interview. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t approach it.

The above steps and some creative ones I’m sure you’ll think of will help you get an idea of what longevity means to your applicant.

Sometimes It Best To Say Nothing

Silent Interviewer

Throughout the hiring interview, you are always looking to get as much information as you possibly can.

Questions like: “Can you give me another example of that?” and “Can you tell me how that affected you?” and “Can you provide more details on what happened there?” are examples of how to get more complete answers to your questions.

But there is another approach that can coax additional information from the applicant.

Saying absolutely nothing.

A “well-placed” pause in the interview often will cause your applicant to give you that additional information.

What are you, the interviewer, doing during this silent pause?

Well, I wouldn’t suggest staring at the applicant. You could look down at his résumé and then look back at the applicant. Maybe even do that a couple of times. You could even include in your facial expression a certain expectancy.

If your applicant asks what’s happening, you might say, “Oh, I thought you weren’t finished and had more to say on that last question.”

There’s possibly a side benefit to this approach. Nothing being said in the interview for 20 or 30 seconds could produce a bit of anxiety for some. If half of a minute of silence can produce an anxious applicant, how will he perform when things get really stressful on the job?

Granted, there’s always a level of stress the applicant is dealing with as he makes his way through the hiring process, but all in all, we’re using this interview to find out as much as we can before we make our hiring decisions.

You’re New. What Would You Do First?

Frustrated Employee

New employees have an expectation of receiving some training for their new position. That makes sense.

After the training point is covered, let’s ask our prospective, new employee a few of these questions:

“Alice, it sounds like you understand what our company’s purpose is. So, if we were to hire you, what would you do first to help contribute to that purpose?”

“Fred, if you’re just getting started with us, what actions would you take with regards to the other employees in your area?”

“Bob, when you get started with a new company, what do you want to get accomplished right out of the gate?”

“Debbie, if we hired you, how soon would you want to make an impact here? And what form would that take?”

On the one hand, it’s not the end of the world if a new employee just wants to settle in, learn the ropes and gradually become a contributing part of the company.

On the other hand, if your applicant has some clear ideas on getting things accomplished right away, let’s hear what they are.

We do like the pro-active types!

How Would You Handle An Angry Co-Worker? An Angry Customer?

Angry employee

It’s something all of us run into at one time or another.

Angry co-workers.

Angry customers.

Some of us prefer to confront these individuals head on. That can work. It can also escalate things into a far worse situation than anyone bargained for.

Some of us prefer to just “look the other way.” No effort is made to cool off the angry co-worker or customer, the hope is someone else will handle it.

It’s probably a good subject to bring up with your applicant. It could go like this:

“Alan, if your co-worker all of a sudden got very angry and it was clear this anger was having a bad effect on other employees, what would you do?”

After Alan tells you what he might do, ask him if his approach would be any different with an angry customer. And if so, how so?

You could go one interesting step further here and actually drill an example or two.

“Alan, I’m going to play the role of an angry co-worker (or customer) and I would like to see how you’ll respond.”

You dig a little into your early acting days, summon up a bit of anger, and you have it with your applicant.

If you go this route, do your best to make it “real” anger.

You could try a few different situations.

With a customer, you could be angry about a product or service that was recently purchased.

You could be angry with the company overall because of something you read in the local papers.

You could even be angry with the applicant directly because you thought he did not treat you well.

As you can see, there’s a number of ways to approach this subject with your applicants. Whatever approach you use, you’re more than likely to gain an insight or two into your applicant.

What Would You Do Differently?


I like this question for the hiring interview.

You could get specific with:

“Adam, in your last position with your previous employer, what would you do differently?”

You could get very specific with:

“Adam, in your last position, tell me about an outcome that didn’t go very well.”

Adam does.

And then:

“Thinking about that now, what would you do differently?”

You could go broad with:

“Adam, you’ve been in the workforce for fourteen years. Looking back on those fourteen years, what would you do differently?”

In some cases, your applicant may be prepared for this kind of question, but I think in most cases, you’ll get an unrehearsed answer. And that should give you a good insight into your applicant.

Should You Use a Recruiter – Part Two


We’re fortunate to have Kathleen Steffey for this second discussion of why you may want to use a recruiter. Press the play button and enjoy!

Here are some links to reach Kathleen:

Her home page.

Her page of her key staff and their qualifications to help you fill important positions.


Her LinkedIn page.

Should You Use a Recruiter? (Part One)


This tip is in the form of a podcast interview, so feel free to press the play button above.

I am interviewing Kathleen Steffey. Kathy has been recruiting for 25 years and 18 years ago started her own recruiting business. Here are some links to find out more about her:

Her home page.

Her page of her key staff and their qualifications to help you fill important positions.


Her LinkedIn page.

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