Human Capital Management
IT’S HARD to hide unprepared, unquali- fied interviewers. They bring little value to the interview process, and as a result,
stick out like a sore thumb. What can be
done at your organization to ensure those
on your selection teams conduct the best,
most well informed interviews? Read on!
Resumes are very poor ways to assess a
candidate’s fit. A resume is simply a display
of knowledge. It’s information presented in
a raw form. Like the job application you
filled out for your first job, they provide only
a very superficial way to screen candidates,
which is why interviews are key. Make your
interviews powerful by getting fully prepared for them and using pre-interview information gathering and a skills survey.
Then, collect your pre- and post-interview
review data on a grading sheet.
The Skills Survey
Before you even think about scheduling an
interview, you must be sure to collect all of
the information or “knowledge” necessary
to create job search materials that bring in
Patrick B. Ropella
Patrick B. Ropella is president &
CEO of Ropella, the leading executive search and consulting firm specializing in the
chemical and consumer products industries. Ropella
grows great companies through executive search,
leadership transformation and organizational improvement. For more information, visit www.Ropella.com
or call (850) 983-4777.
His new book, “The Right Staff - How to Master the
Art of SMART Talent Management,” is available at
qualified candidates and help you make informed decisions. You do this by creating a
“customized job application,” or what I call
a skills survey.
Interviewing is about finding out the
depth of a candidate’s skills, aptitude and
attitude in relation to how they fit your
work and your culture. Having candidates
complete a skills survey allows you to focus
more time on these issues and aspects of
their experience during the face-to-face interview.
The skills survey is very different from a
standard job application or one that human
resources might use at the end of the selection process. Yes, it is yet another step in the
hiring process, but it is one that is hugely
valuable and actually very easy to execute.
Here’s how to create a skills survey:
1. First identify the outcomes you want
your new employee to achieve. For exam-
• Ability to solve problems;
• Flexible with rotating schedules;
• Able to multi-task and stay very or-
• Well-adjusted and able to handle
2. Now flip these outcomes into ques-
tions. For example:
• Describe an example or two of the
most significant problems you’ve solved.
How did you identify the problem(s) and
go about solving them?
• Have you ever worked nights or
weekends? If so where, and for how long
at any one stretch?
• Are you well organized? What methods do you use to stay organized?
• How do you cope with or regulate
stress and emotions? If you were training
someone who is new to this type of high-pressure environment, what would you
suggest to them to help them deal with the
stress and emotions that come with it?
for how easy creating a skills survey can
be. In our experience, it is best to keep the
number of questions between 10 and 15.
As a rule of thumb, the greater the“nee-dle in a haystack” nature of the search (i.e.
level of specificity), the greater the number of questions.
Working through the process of completing the skills survey forces candidates
to really think through the key roles that
they’ll be responsible for on a daily basis.
In other words, it helps them really assess
whether or not the open position is the
right job for them. It helps them determine whether they are under-qualified or
overqualified and their true level of interest. It also helps them dramatically improve their preparation for the interview
process. Emphasize to them that completing the skills survey in writing helps
them to think through the key topical
areas that will be focused the most during
Also keep in mind that the best interviewers are not always the best candidates, just as terrible interviewers can be
great candidates. The skills survey levels
the playing field for all candidates no
matter how good they are at interviewing. Interviewers often have limited time
to find out the depth of a candidate’s
skills, especially as they relate specifically
to the open position. The skills survey
process forces candidates to focus—in
writing, in advance of the interview—on
the most important aspects of their experience and skill set. You can then build on
the information they’ve provided in the
skills survey when you are in a face-to-face interview by asking more detailed,
behavior-based questions. The skills survey also provides you with much more
time in the interview to dig deeper into
their relevant background, experience
and skill set because you do not have to
use valuable interview time to conduct
basic information gathering.