A hiring technique similar to 2nd interviews: The emailed question technique

I invented yet another technique for screening companies that is similar in philosophy to the 2nd interview. I call it the multiple email question technique. During an interview, it is good to ask probing questions that reveal the person’s thinking style (if they have one), their personality, and ethics. You can also ask funny sounding questions that reveal a person’s willingness to answer questions as well as their personal style. Unfortunately, we learned through trial and error that Americans are not good at finishing jobs on time, while Indians are not good at answering questions that involve creative and innovative thinking. I blame it on the school system! Americans tend to be good at interviewing, but the results can be deceiving.

During the initial interview, you can ask a handful of questions and just talk. But, save a few of your canned questions for email conversations. During the interview, people are trying to impress you. If you catch them when they are NOT trying to impress you, then you know how they will act in the long run which is what you really need to know!

After the initial interview, you can send three emails at 48 hour intervals to your prospective outsourcing company or prospective employee. Do not ask funny sounding questions like how to fit a giraffe in a refrigerator (I am famous for asking this one). Ask serious technical questions in the email and give enough background information so the person can give an intelligent answer without asking you for clarification or more information. There are four typical types of results of this email test.

(1) Failure to return the email. See if your prospect will even return the email. Many won’t. You can not hire someone who doesn’t get back to you or you are asking for trouble.
(2) Unnecessary requests for clarification. There are those who email you back to tell you that the question is “complicated” and they need more information from you to answer the question. If you included sufficient background information to give a basic opinion, their requirements for additional information are only an excuse to avoid thinking and acting.
(3) Thoughtless answers. If you have a job that involves thinking, stay away from brain dead people.
(4) Quality answers. Finally, you might get a few answers that are thoughtful and indicate that the prospect is really trying. What I learned is that even the best prospects do not give 100% quality answers to complicated questions. They might have an innovative way of solving part of the problem, but few will be able to have a multi-dimensional strike that will solve the problem from multiple viewpoints. You need to compare answers from different prospects to judge who is the smartest. And remember that brain power is no good without timely delivery of finished work!

Please keep in mind that the outsourcing company or prospect might answer the first question, but get tired of your nonsense and fail to answer subsequent questions. If you are hiring someone on a serious project, quitting halfway down the road doesn’t work.

Another technique you can use is to ask questions that might make the prospect feel weird. Obviously don’t ask anything inappropriate, but we found that people backed out of deals if we asked for astrological information. For Americans it was “too weird”. We saved ourselves from being in a few bad work relationships by asking too much in the beginning. Remember, if you are going to be in a serious work relationship, it is like a marriage. You will go through a lot and you will be asking a lot of the other person or company. If a simple question is too much for them, dump them and you will be glad you did, otherwise you will have serious trouble down the line.

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