shutterstock_272163416Your consultant has highlighted only the most suitable people, according to the criteria you’ve given. Now it’s over to you, and there’s a pile of CVs on your desk. Where do you start with selecting a chosen few to meet for an interview?

Time is of the essence
It’s highly likely you’ll be juggling interviews with lots of other commitments and deadlines, so make the process easier on yourself and set a maximum number of people you’d like to see. This also makes the elimination process more rigorous.

Set your dealbreakers…
Filter out any CVs that don’t meet your essential criteria – the absolutely fundamental, can’t-do-without factors that a candidate has to possess. Of course, if a candidates CV is on your desk then it’s generally hit the mark, but you know best what kind of experience, qualifications, skills and character you need to get the job done.

You’ll need a firm definition of what your ideal candidate will be right at the start of the recruiting process; any vagueness will lead to a waste of your time further down the road.

…But beware of ‘unicorns’
If you’re recruiting for a role that you’ve struggled to fill, you should probably loosen the essential criteria. You’ll need to recruit for two jobs instead of one; and that a) allows highly specialised candidates to showcase what they’re good at and b) warrants a chat with a recruiter.

As a general rule, you only need a few topline essential items on the persons spec, but you’ll need a good few desirable criteria. Expecting one person – the ‘unicorn’ – to meet a long list of essential criteria makes the recruitment process long and needlessly complicated. There’s also another drawback, which we’ll come to shortly.

Bend, but don’t break
Flexibility is the essence of desirable criteria – but it’s important not to compromise your core values. Typically, a candidate might have the practical experience you’re looking for, but no relevant (or any) formal qualification. Or they’re familiar with one particular software suite or project management methodology, but not another of the same type. What does this mean to you?

Will that person bring fresh thought and ideas along with their must-have experience and skills? Will they be a good cultural fit in the company?

Also, you want to give them room to develop and learn new things while they’re working with you. A ‘unicorn’ candidate will quickly outgrow your company.

Get some perspective
At this point, you’ve got the option of phone or Skype-screening candidates. This helps you get some sense of who they are in an informal way, before a more formal meeting.
Bounce your ideas off another senior member of the team; a fresh pair of eyes is always welcome, and they can help you reinforce (or re-evaluate) your decisions you’re making.