Why I Like the “Opt-Out” Method of Interviewing Candidates

As I write this post, I have a group of candidates taking an assessment for an open sales position in my company. This assessment is part of a larger process that I call the “opt-out” interview process. I didn’t come up with this idea. A colleague of mine explained it to me and I’m sold on this method. It’s not the right method for every position in every company, but for certain positions at certain times, it works pretty well.

The thrust of the method is that you give candidates applying for a job 2 different opportunities to “opt-out” – essentially, to say “no” to you, the employer, before you ever interview them. Why? First, it’s a huge time saver. Secondly, it honors them by giving them a chance to have a say in the process early on. Thirdly, you interview only those who have demonstrated that they are serious about working in your company.

The process works like this – at least this is how I do it:

  1. Post a job opening – usually on LinkedIn
  2. Gather resumes – don’t read them. I don’t care at this point.
  3. Invite them to an informational meeting about the job and the company. You’ll find that at most, 20% will come to the informational meeting. If you receive 50 resumes, that 40 resumes you don’t need to read. They have already eliminated themselves by not showing up for a meeting in which they can learn all about your company and the opportunity.
  4. So a presentation on your company. I recommend:
    1. Company history
    2. Company values
    3. Your leadership philosophy
    4. Company purpose and vision
    5. Details about the position and the opportunity for professional growth
  5. Take a break – let them know they can slip away if this isn’t for them. That’s the 2nd chance to “opt-out”. Plan on some leaving, for reasons unknown to you.
  6. Give them a written assessment. Make sure there are situational questions about ethics and some about the job functions. No more than 10 questions. From this, you can learn:
    1. Their level of writing skills
    2. If they are willing to invest time in the interview process
  7. Be sure to greet each person directly afterwards and invite post-evening questions. Some will stay and talk with you, some will try to sell you, some will slip you their resume (you already have it from LinkedIn) and some will make astoundingly honest comments, like one person who took the Controller assessment: “It’s been a long time since I’ve done this kind of work. I didn’t realize how much I had forgotten”. Obviously, we didn’t hire that individual.
  8. Read through the assessments and resumes. Select from zero to four to interview.
  9. In our process, we hire a third-party consulting firm to do the technical interviews. For example, we hired a sales consulting firm to interview our sales candidates.
  10. Then send them to a corporate psychologist for an evaluation. You’ll be glad you did. They are worth their weight in gold.
  11. Assuming good recommendations from the consulting firm and the psychologist, bring them in for staff interviews.
  12. Make a decision.

This is much less expensive than using a recruiting firm and it’s more thorough too. Receiving the various opinions of other professionals adds perspective that you can’t get from a recruiter or your own staff. Total cost is roughly $3K – $4K/candidate.

Post back if you have questions.

Bill English, CEO


2 thoughts on “Why I Like the “Opt-Out” Method of Interviewing Candidates”

  1. Great ideas, Bill. We do similar things at C5, but you guys take it a step or three further. Great thoughts on this. Our interview process is ~4 hours, but with this level of screening or opting-out, we’d cut way down on ‘bad interviews.’ Especially as we look to add 8-10 positions a year (last yr we added 15), this saves a TON of time.

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