The Hiring Tests I’d Really Like to Use

Apr 02, 2007

A recent article in The Zweig Letter where various A/E and environmental firm principals were asked about the best interview questions to ask prospective employees got me thinking. It got me thinking about what I really want to know about someone we are considering hiring, and whether or not that can even be found through an interview. I’m sure it will be construed as “human resources heresy” or some such thing, but the truth is, I don’t think you can learn all that much from the questions you ask applicants in a job interview. There’s too much you won’t know if that’s the information you are relying on for a hire or no-hire call. Here’s some of what I’d really like to know: How the applicant behaves on a moving walkway that one might encounter in an airport or elsewhere. If the person is not physically handicapped and gets onto the walkway and stops, waiting for it to carry them passively to its end, that would be grounds enough for me to pass on hiring them. This person is just too unenergetic and lazy for me! What the applicant’s vehicle looks like. If it’s a pig sty, or has its mirror held on with duct tape, there’s something wrong. I’d pass. I like people who take decent care of their cars and don’t look like they live in them. How the applicant drives. You can tell a lot about someone’s personality by observing their driving. Are they aggressive to the point of obnoxious, tailgating everyone who dares to get in front of them? Are they prone to road rage and fits of cursing? Or does the person drive 25 in a 35 mph zone because they are afraid of the gas pedal? Any of these would be cause for concern to me and possible indicators of future problems with the employee. The person’s e-mail response time. If I send an e-mail to the candidate and then wait three days for a response, something is wrong with them. I would probably pass. Think what they’d be like inside your firm. The person’s outgoing voicemail recording. If it’s too silly or inappropriate, I might wonder about the applicant’s maturity level and whether or not he or she could rise to a higher level in the firm. The person’s credit report. I’m sure that it’s probably illegal to base hiring decisions on credit reports, or to even check a credit report without permission, but I would still like to know this information just the same. If I saw a lot of bad credit, I would be very concerned about how the employee deals with responsibility. I would also be concerned that this employee could steal from a client or the firm if given a chance. Facebook/MySpace search. You can learn a lot from looking at the profiles of potential employees on or You’d be surprised what these young people will show about themselves on these sites. Many show pictures of themselves drunk, using illegal drugs, or otherwise acting like idiots. This could be important info to have in a hiring decision. Google search. Many times, Google will turn up newspaper articles mentioning the person, their private web site, and much, much more. I once Googled the name of a young woman, only to find pictures of her, completely naked, that were used in a calendar. That could come back to haunt her. How the person interacts with his or her spouse and other family members. I have seen people who were completely rude and disrespectful to their spouses or children and I know that had I known this before hiring them, I would not have done so. It’s always valuable to watch people interact with their family members. What their house or apartment looks like. Again, if the candidate is living like a pig, it shows me that their life is out of control. That would concern me as an employer. Originally published 4/02/2007

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