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Screening Applicants

Here are the questions filed under this category. To read Ken's advice on any item, click on the link "Read Ken's Answer."


We are running an ad, and my boss said I should eliminate all the resumes that do not include names of references. He said that leaving them off means that the person has something to hide. I've never heard of such a thing. Is it true?
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I was interviewing an applicant who sounded very good until I asked her if she had any questions. She then asked me if I am aware that some of my questions are illegal. I don't think they were, and I resented this line of questioning. What's the best way to handle these types of questions during an interview?
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When I apply for jobs that are listed online, I figure that there are numerous applicants, so I send in my resume several times. One of my friends in human resources says this is a waste of time, but I think that this shows persistence. Do you think it's worth doing?
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When I conduct job interviews, I do not take notes. I remember all that I need to know about an applicant, and if I'm taking notes, I'm not looking at the applicant, and that's how I learn a lot. Also, if there are no notes, it is tougher for an applicant to make a claim. My manager says I should take notes, but I think he's wrong. How should I handle this?
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I was interviewing an applicant and she volunteered information about her personal life that I had not requested. Once she had opened the door, I asked a few follow-up questions. When I mentioned this to our Human Resources manager, she practically bit my head off and told me that even if the applicant brings up personal information, an interviewer has to ignore it. Is she right?
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We have been approached by a company that sells pre-employment tests. Their brochures look pretty good, but I have heard that there is an issue regarding test validity that can cause troubles for a company. When I mentioned validation to the company representative, he told me not to worry since the tests are all validated. Is that possible?
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I have interviewed several people for an important position here, but I have not found a good match. I was not satisfied with the last applicant, but after my manager looked at his resume, he told me that I should seriously consider hiring him. I think that would be a mistake, but I don't want to cross my manager. What do you think?
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We are in the process of hiring several new managers. One of the people who are conducting interviews recently said at a meeting that he can tell in a minute if a person has what it takes to be a manager. Several of us told him about the problems and risks that accompany his thinking, and he agreed to keep an open mind. Is there anything else we should be doing in this situation?
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We just received a 9-page resume from an individual applying to work here. My manager said that this resume alone should be enough to eliminate him from consideration, but he has had some valuable experience and I'd like to interview him. What do you suggest?
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As a matter of policy, we do not hire employees who used to work here. Right now, we are looking at an individual who worked here a few years ago, and then quit. He was a good employee and we were sorry to lose him, but I'm not convinced it's a good idea to rehire employees. What do you think?
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I had a very positive second interview for a mid-level management position with a major non-profit health agency. The vice president who interviewed me explained that the next step was an evaluation of the three candidates using a professionally developed profiling system. He said it would be a week or more before I heard from them. Two days later I received a generic turndown letter, and it was dated on the day of my interview. I am stunned, and I would appreciate your input.
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I am pretty good at interviewing job applicants and getting an idea of their skills and capabilities. However, I don't know how to get a clearer picture of issues such as their ability to get along, stay cool under pressure, or keep a positive attitude. Can you suggest any good questions to ask?
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We received a faxed resume from an applicant for an accounting position, and his resume included his picture. We did not ask for this. His work background looked good, so we invited him in for an interview. When he arrived, we were surprised to see that the photo on his resume is at least ten years old and hardly resembles him. We do not care about his age, but we are somewhat concerned that he would include something this misleading in his resume. What do you think?
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For the past year and a half, I have been building a successful business, and we're doing a lot of hiring right now. The problem is that I have been getting calls, letters, and e-mail from distant family members, all looking for jobs. Is there a way to reject them without creating a family crisis?
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I went to lunch with an outstanding applicant, and I must say that he has terrible manners. I'm not a stickler about this, but he chews with his mouth open, talks with food in his mouth, reaches across the table for food, and so on. He's got the right experience and credentials for the job, but I'm concerned about this. Should I be?
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We are looking at several applicants for a bookkeeping position, and one filled our application blank so thoroughly that every single space has writing in it. She wrote so much that you can hardly find the printing on the form. Is this the sign of a potential problem?
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Part of my job is to screen resumes for our company, and many resumes are emailed to us. We are trying to fill a marketing position, and a resume came in from a female who has a sexually suggestive name as part of her email address. Why would an applicant do this, and is this name something we should consider in screening?
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We are short-staffed, and one of our better employees quit a couple of months ago for what he thought was a better job. It turned out that he did not like it, and now he wants to come back here. What do you think about hiring former employees?
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I was interviewing an applicant who could not keep his employment dates straight. He was not sure when he started or stopped working on his previous jobs, and he read from his resume to give me the correct dates. I'm inclined to think that he faked some or all of his background. What is your opinion of this?
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Several of us with two weeks of vacation time are annoyed that a new person in our department is starting out with three weeks of vacation. We all have to work here for five years before we get the extra week of vacation. What can we do?
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I recently went for a job interview, and I was asked to complete an application blank. The interviewer said I might not like some of the questions, and if I feel that any violate my rights, I should not answer them. There were questions about my living arrangements and religious organizations, so I left them and a few others blank. I had a good interview, but I have not heard back from the company. What do you make of this?
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I was interviewing a good candidate for our accounting department, but when I asked why he left his last job, he said it is not any of my business. I asked again, but he refused to discuss it. My instinct says to pass on him, but I wonder what you think.
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We have a promising applicant for a Marketing/Public Relations position, and her interview was going well until she mentioned that she is a vegetarian. I am concerned that this is going to create problems when we have lunches in our department and meals with customers or vendors, and I don't want others to feel awkward. What do you suggest?
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Last year we hired a promising individual who held six different jobs over an eight-year period. He repeatedly told us he is looking for the right company and is ready to settle down. He quit yesterday, and we are very annoyed. What could we have done to prevent this, other than not hiring him?
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We are looking for a junior person in our marketing department, and the company president referred the son of one of his friends to us. I interviewed him and found him to be marginally skilled and totally obnoxious. Under other circumstances, we would never hire him. I told the president about this, and he said to hire him anyhow. Should I hire him or go back to the president and push harder?
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I just went through a job interview and was asked a bunch of trick questions, such as why the water in a hotel room is instantly hot. I had no idea what the answer was, and I don't see how this type of question can help the interviewer make a better decision about me. What's the point of using them?
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When I asked a recent applicant about the steps he has taken to further his education, he said he completed classes in pottery, acting, and art history. None of those classes has anything to do with our business, and I thought he should have been taking more business-oriented courses. Should applicants on a management track be eliminated for taking these kinds of classes?
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I just interviewed an applicant for a sales position who talked for almost the entire interview. He was articulate and had plenty of stories, and he has the gift of gab. The other managers who interviewed him were impressed, but I was not because he did not know when to stop talking. What's your take on this?
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I just interviewed an applicant for a sales position, and I was not impressed. He talked almost the whole time and never knew when to stop. A few other people here also interviewed him, and they want to hire him. They say he has the gift of gab and that's exactly what is needed in a good salesperson. I don't think they are correct. Do you?
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I recently completed a job interview for a marketing position, and then the interviewer asked me to send him a summary of the interview. I have never heard of this before, and I thought it was ridiculous. I started to write it and didn't know what to say, so I decided to write a letter to you instead. What do you think of his request?
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I work in a family-owned business, and the president wants me to hire his niece to work in our marketing department. She is unqualified, and I don't want to hire her. What should I do?
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We have been looking for a manager in our credit department, and we put together a list of requirements for this position. We interviewed some strong candidates, but the senior vice president over our group brought in his own candidate and insisted we hire her. She is not qualified at all. I am very busy, but I am supposed to train her. I think it is a waste of time because she is going to fail anyhow. What should I do?
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As part of the entertainment at our year-end dinner, the company hired a handwriting analyst. She came to the table where I was sitting with my manager and several fellow employees and asked us to write our names on a sheet of paper. Then she gave some positive descriptions of everyone except me. She wondered about my energy and persistence. I don't know if my manager bought what she was saying, but he semi-jokingly said that he would like to hire her to help screen new applicants. This experience wrecked the whole evening for me, and I'm wondering if I should discuss the matter with him.
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We are trying to fill a marketing position, and we ran an ad that asked applicants to send in a resume. Some of the applicants only responded with cover letters. The letters were very good, but I am concerned that an individual who does not follow what we ask before being hired will do the same once he or she is hired. A couple of other managers disagree. What is your opinion?
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I have been screening applicants for a sales position, and I found one I really like. My administrative assistant met him before the interview and said she thinks he is a phony. I still think he is very qualified, but I do not want to ignore her comments. What should I do?
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I had a job interview for an entry level marketing position, and toward the end the manager handed me a paper and pencil and asked me to draw a man, a house, and a tree. I am a terrible artist and I always have been. I took a few minutes and did my best, and then he looked it over and told me about my personality. I thought he was totally wrong, but I didn't say anything because I want the job. A few days later, I received a form rejection letter, probably because of this test. Do many companies do this?
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I received a resume from an applicant who has the training and experience for a marketing position with our company, but he has had four jobs in the past four years, and my inclination is to automatically pass on people with this lack of commitment, but my manager says I should interview him. I think this would be a waste of time, and I wonder if you agree.
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I have been interviewing applicants for a key position in my department, and I narrowed the choice down to two. They are both qualified, but the applicant I prefer is not the one my manager prefers. My manager said the choice is mine, but I should keep his preference in mind. What should I do?
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I was in a job interview for around 15 minutes when the interviewer got up and said he would be back in a couple of minutes. Just after he left, the phone rang. I assumed the call went onto his voicemail, but when the interviewer returned, he said this was a test. The company is looking for confident and aggressive employees, and because I let the phone ring, I did not show the traits the company needs. The interview ended shortly after that. Does this make any sense to you?
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I have been trying to fill a midlevel administrative position and received several resumes. I called the best candidates, briefly interviewed them by phone, and set appointments with three. When their interview date arrived, not one showed up. They did not call before or after, and when I then called them, I was only able to get their voicemail. This has happened before, and I wonder if I am doing something wrong.
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One of our better sales reps suggested we interview an acquaintance of his for an important sales position. Several of us met with this applicant individually, and then we all went to dinner with him. In both meetings, I found him to be loud, opinionated, and hardly listening, but everyone else thought he was great. They all said this guy is a born salesman. I have real doubts. What can I do?
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I have been trying to hire an administrative assistant, and I have received many resumes. I call the best candidates and make interview appointments, but many of these applicants donít show up, and they donít even call ahead to tell me. I am wondering how to prevent this.
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I went for a job interview, but first I had to complete an application blank. On most sections, I wrote ďsee resume,Ē and then I had what I thought was a good interview. A few days later I received a rejection letter. I called to see what happened but I never got through. Some of my friends said I was eliminated because I did not fill in the application blank. Is that a real possibility?
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Most applicants for positions with our company apply online, but we occasionally receive hard copies through the mail. We just received one from a fairly good candidate, and we were surprised to find that he included four movie passes. Is this what applicants are now being advised to do? Should this disqualify him?
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I just interviewed an applicant who looked perfect on paper. His interview went well, but I have one lingering doubt. He has a very weak handshake. On several occasions, I have heard that this is a sign of weak character, and that is the last thing we need here. This applicant did not have a hand injury or anything like that. Since I have this doubt, should I look at other applicants?
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What do you think about an application blank that only goes as far back as the applicantís three most recent jobs? This is what my manager designed for our company. He says that the most recent job experiences are the most telling, and there is no need to rely on jobs from years ago. Is this right?
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I am new to management, and I am going to be hiring a couple of more people over the next few months. One of the other managers advised me to avoid hiring anyone with a tattoo. He claims that tattoos are signs of immaturity, impulsiveness, and questionable judgment. What do you make of his advice?
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We have an applicant whose resume looks good, and the manager who interviewed him said that he came across well. When I asked about the applicantís references, the manager showed me three positive letters from his previous employers. In light of his resume, interview, and letters, the manager said there is no need for references. Do you agree?
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The president of our company recommended one of his friends for an open position in my department. I just interviewed him, and I found him to be arrogant and obnoxious, and his qualifications are not right for the job. I donít want to cross the president, but I donít want to recommend that we hire his friend. What should I do?
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We are trying to fill a fairly specialized position, and one of the candidates is a former employee who worked here a few years ago, but quit. Iím concerned about hiring former employees. She did a very good job while working here, but if she quit once, I am afraid she will quit again. What do you think?
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I just finished interviewing an applicant who appears to have the skills for the job, but he kept asking questions throughout the interview. I tried to stop him, but he kept asking one after another, and now I donít have enough data to make a decision. Should I bring him back for a second interview?
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My manager and I just interviewed an applicant for a sales position, and the interview went extremely well. The applicant has a great background, and he had excellent answers to our questions. After the interview, my manager said that the candidate is so strong that we should forget about reference checks and just offer him the position. What do you think?
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Earlier this week, I interviewed an applicant who was well qualified for a marketing position that we are trying to fill. The interview was in the early afternoon, and since this applicant had bloodshot eyes, I wonder if he might have a drinking problem. Another manager who also interviewed him said I am making a mistake, but I have a real concern about this.
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We received a resume from an applicant whose background looks good for an entry level marketing position with our company. My concern is that she uses a very babyish nickname on her resume and cover letter. I think this is a sign of immaturity. Do you agree?
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I am applying for a new job, and one of my friends told me that employers are checking out applicants online. When I enter my name on some of the search engines, I can find blogs that are not real complimentary about me, but most of it is funny stuff. So are the clips on one of the video sites. Are employers really checking out applicants this way? If so, what can I do?
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A potential employer has a form that asks if they can contact a supervisor at a former company, and it allows you to check ďyesĒ or ďno.Ē In my last job, I had some difficulty regarding money owed to me, and I am not sure what impact it will have if I list this employer and then check the box indicating that my supervisor cannot be contacted. Will this be viewed adversely by this prospective employer?
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I am looking for a job, and although I am still in my 30ís, my hair has a lot of gray. I have had interviews for positions that I could definitely handle, but I have not received one offer. Some of my friends say that the problem is that I look older, and their suggestion is for me to dye my hair. Do you think this will help?
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I just had a job interview that lasted ten minutes. The interviewer kept me waiting for thirty minutes and did not even apologize for that. He said he was very busy and then rushed through a few questions. I have not heard a word from the company since then. Is this common, and should I take any action?
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We are screening applicants for a sales and marketing position, and we are impressed with one particular applicant. He has the experience and skills, and he came well-recommended. Our concern is that he does not wear socks. He wears standard types of shoes, but apparently never with socks. Weíre not sure how our customers will view this. Can you help?
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We have been having a hard time finding good applicants for an outbound sales position, and we disagree about one candidate. His work experience and training look good, and he presented himself well in the interview. The problem is that he has had seven jobs in the past five years. I say this should eliminate him from consideration, while other managers say this is not a problem. What do you think?
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I am looking for a summer internship, and my college referred me to a company. I am a 20-year-old female art student, and one of the interviewers said he knows he is not supposed to ask, but he wanted to know if I am 21-years-old. I begrudgingly told him my age, but I am wondering how to answer this type of question.
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At the end of a recent job interview, the interviewer asked me to write a summary of what we discussed. He said these summaries help him learn about applicants and make better hiring decisions. I thought my interview went well, and I summarized it as best as I could. I never heard back. Are these summaries a new trend?
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A year ago, one of our better employees quit, and now she wants to come back. We don't have a policy on this, and my belief is that if people quit, they are likely to do so again. I would prefer to take my chances on someone who truly wants a job here. Some of the other managers disagree with me. We have an open position that suits this employee's skills. What do you think?
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I have had a difficult time filling a sales position, and I finally interviewed an applicant that looked good and spoke well. I was ready to hire him on the spot, but a background check showed he left a few jobs off his resume. I donít think itís a big deal, but several of my co-workers are saying to pass. What do you suggest?
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I have always been told that it is important to be persistent when looking for a job, so I usually send my resume several times for the same job. Some of my friends say itís a waste, but I think that my interest and tenacity might cause an employer to think twice about me. What do you think?
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I'm in the processing of a job application with my main point of contact being a recruiter that the company hired. He was supposed to have contacted me earlier this week with a scheduled interview in which I thought would be an appropriate time to express my concerns and asked questions, but haven't. So I emailed him with concerns regarding my pay and benefits that we discussed over the phone previously, and he responded to me well, but he also wrote in his responses a line that included "think of this as an opportunity to work hard and impress," in which he underlined the word "opportunity." Am I being overly sensitive or does this seem like an arrogant attitude from his part that is telling me something like "you shouldn't be asking too much, you should be grateful we're already considering you?" Nevertheless I replied to him saying, "I apologize if I came across as expecting too much for someone of my inexperience. It is indeed an amazing opportunity and I will take your advice to heart." Do you think I handled it alright?
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