Build great Teams – People management

Filter When Recruiting – A Case Study

Filter When Recruiting - A Case Study

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Filter when you recruit so you only spend your valuable time and energy interviewing the best candidates, not every candidate. This article looks at an experience that a client of mine, Michelle, learnt from. When Michelle was recruiting for an Office Administrator, she put a job advert out locally in various places. She didn’t think the job needed huge amounts of experience. Michelle believed she could train the person to do most of what she needed. She thought it was more important that they were local and could get to-and-from work easily. She also wanted to make sure they fit well in her team.

Her job advertisement was very generic and listed a number of things the person would be required to do, but not all of them. It put a lot of emphasis on covering the phone answering service that her business provides as one of its services.

The Initial Situation – No Filter

Having put the job advertisement out, Michelle was really surprised when she got responses from thirty-two local people. It was far more than she was expecting and these people ranged in age from eighteen to sixty. They had all sorts of experience between them. Their CVs ranged from long detailed documents of several pages to a few words on half a sheet of A4.

Michelle called them up and arranged in-person interviews with all thirty-two people. Each person was invited into the office, was introduced to the team and went through a ninety-minute interview. It took Michelle several weeks to get through everyone. Michelle had been told you should ask the same interview questions of everyone to keep it fair, so she did. Even when it was clear from the first few answers that the candidate was not at all appropriate for the job. Many had come ready to answer phones all day but not to do any other administrative tasks.

Michelle hired someone as a result of this recruitment drive, and they proved to be a good hire. But Michelle realized that she couldn’t take weeks to hire someone again in future. Life’s too short and she’s too busy!

What We Did – Started To Filter

I helped Michelle create a funnel process to make sure that next time, she used her time more effectively. A funnel process means putting a series of filters in place so you can filter out the candidates who are not ideal. This means that ultimately you only interview the best candidates. It also has the advantage of not wasting the time of candidates who are clearly not suitable).

When Michelle hired Abi she took a different approach. Firstly, the job advertisement included all the tasks the person would be expected to do. That made it much clearer to potential candidates from the start. That applied a first-level filter. Candidates filtered themselves out if they didn’t think the job, as described, was for them. Michelle got fewer candidates applying, but the seventeen who did apply were better suited to the job. Seventeen is still too many to interview in-person.

Her next filter was to look very carefully at the CVs and decide who really didn’t have the required experience. She let them know early in the process that they would not be invited to an interview. That got the number of candidates down to eleven.

Michelle then arranged short phone interviews with the remaining eleven. In these calls she got additional information, not on the CVs, to help her narrow it down further. She ended up bringing six people in to interview, which she was able to easily cover that over two days. She spent much less time conducting the process and still hired another excellent team member.

What We Did – Summary

We thought of recruitment like a funnel. At the wide top, Michelle had all the candidates who had looked at the job advert. She applied three filters to narrow it down. At the end, at the narrow bottom of her funnel, she only had six people to interview in person. Her filters were to firstly to write a good job advert so candidates self-filtered before applying. She used the CVs as the second filter to decide who was not at all suitable. And finally she used a round of short phone interviews to get additional information to decide who the best candidates were. Only the best candidates came in for interview.

Interviewing in the best candidates rather than interviewing all candidates was a much better use of her time. She still got a great hire out of it, but didn’t waste hers or anyone else’s time in the process.

My Question To You

How many people do you think is too many to interview in person? How do you filter your candidates? If this is something you would like to discuss or would like some help with, contact me at You can also buy my book Accelerate to Team Success which is available as a paperback or on Kindle.


About the Author:

Nikki Faulkner photo Dr Nikki Faulkner founded Mulberry Bush Consulting to work with business leaders and their teams to make the 'People' side of their business as effective as possible. Mulberry Bush Consulting's specialty is helping small businesses who are new to having employees and helping businesses who are growing rapidly and increasing their employee-base at a rate that is creating a significant challenge.

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