How to get to know your applicants

Departments - Hire Power

January 2, 2018

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At Blades of Green, our hiring process has evolved every year for the past three years that I have been here. In 2016, we added a work shadow to our process. In 2017, we revamped the questions that we asked, and we have already started discussions about what we are changing in 2018.

It is important that companies take the time to ensure their process is attracting the right people and is keeping with the times. If you have concluded that your process is not attracting the right people, you need to change it.

We hire less than 3 percent of the candidates who apply for our positions and can weed out approximately 25 percent of those applicants with just a phone interview.

Identify your non-negotiables.

These are the things every candidate must have to be a fit for your team. They are also the things that would immediately disqualify the candidate. Companies need to decide what is most important to them. Is it finding great people or filling a position? The stance we have taken at Blades of Green is finding great people. Sometimes that means we are understaffed. However, if we weigh being understaffed against hiring a person who is a bad fit for the team, we would rather be understaffed in a heartbeat.

Start small.

Before contacting an applicant, we review what we call a pre-application form. This is a form candidates fill out to indicate they are interested in one of our positions. The pre-application form asks very basic qualifying questions that help weed out candidates who don’t meet our minimum qualifications. If they answer all the qualifying questions appropriately and they have a good work history with applicable skills, a phone interview is scheduled with the candidate.

The phone interview gives us insight about their work experience, their reason for leaving previous positions and what they are looking for in an employer. It also offers a great first impression for both the candidate and our team. If that 30-minute phone interview goes well, the candidate is then asked to complete Blades of Green’s full application and a personality survey. This process is for every candidate, no matter the position. Once those steps are complete and satisfactorily answered, we invite the candidate to an in-person interview.


The in-person interview is conducted by the departmental manager who oversees the position the candidate applied for and whoever did the phone interview. It is imperative to have that person who did the phone interview in the in-person interview to ensure the consistency of the story. Additionally, as part of the first in-person interview, candidates are asked to complete a cognitive assessment. Lastly, prior to an offer and pre-employment screenings, the candidate would be offered an opportunity for a work shadow with the appropriate department. We have learned some of our most valuable information about a candidate from our employees during these work shadows. What works so well is the candidate is placed in an informal environment with a peer. Their guard is down and their true personality shines.

The process can be tedious, at least the first time around. But once companies have built a solid foundation, it only requires revisions when necessary. Having a consistent pre-hiring process also reduces risk associated with claims of discrimination.

And, since every employee at Blades of Green knows the intentionality we place on hiring the right person, they can be proud of the person they work beside because they know the process they went through.

Angela Hieronimus is an HR manager for Blades of Green.