Gut Feeling Isn’t a Reliable Applicant Screening System

Interviewing new people is not my favorite thing to do, especially after the umpteenth candidate—and being officially brain-dead makes it particularly challenging!

After moving our business to its current location in 2000, I physically suffered a collapse from extreme exhaustion. Tons of equipment, furnishings and files had been moved after weeks of logistical planning, packing and consideration. I was all up in the middle of it and the cost was mind-bending. Even as the dust settled, more things needed to be done to get back to normal—like hiring more people. That’s a good thing, right?

So, I placed ads for new workers and scheduled interviews with many who responded, selecting the possibles based on the qualifications stated on their resumes and additional information they had written on our company application.

One interview I will NEVER forget was set for about 5 p.m. one night—our normal closing time. As I said, I was beyond exhaustion that day, and the last thing I wanted to do was interview anyone. But, the applicant had arrived right on time, and after all the customary greetings I lead the person from our small foyer into my office. Trying not to just collapse in my desk chair, I smiled my best smile and motioned this latest hopeful to be seated across the desk from me.

It was an awkward moment—the applicant waiting for my first question, and me drawing a complete blank as to what that question might be. At that moment, our roles might have been reversed. Wasn’t the applicant supposed to be the one thinking, “Don’t let them see you sweat?”

I tried not to have a deer-in-the-headlights look on my face as I desperately searched my mind for any “brilliant” question that might bring out the information I needed in order to make a good hiring decision. Isn’t that what an interview should achieve? (Not just a “wing-it” interview filled with time-wasting, clichéd questions that discern little about the person you’re considering bringing into your company to pretty much LIVE WITH for years to come.)

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Philip Beyer, founder/president of Beyer Printing and Ebiz Products LLC in Nashville, TN, is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant, author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business," and an InterTech Award recipient for the design and development of System100™ business process management software. Philip speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses.
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