Creative thinking is critical when starting a business.  While the bank might want the entrepreneur to have a business plan, marketing strategy, etc., a lot of the early management goes by the seat of the pants.  There are not tried and true methods for the business, so it is interesting to see what they come up with.  However, it’s also true that they don’t spend the time to find the best practices, so the processes can duplicative or expensive.  A hiring example of this can be found here.

This company starts their evaluations with e-mail interactions.  It’s interesting that they are concerned with responsiveness.  Does that mean they want the most desperate candidates or the most conscientious ones?  I was curious as to how much time they spend analyzing (their word) the e-mails.

Next comes the phone screen.  As with most evaluations like this, they are to get a sense of the candidate’s communication skills.  However, I wouldn’t want to be in front of a jury in a race discrimination case trying to defend what I meant by “articulate.”

The following step is three to five separate interviews that last from 30 to 60 minutes.  This is absolutely ridiculous.  Dragging a candidate in that many times (or for that long) is disrespectful.  It’s also a huge waste of resources for the company.  Why not just one panel interview?  That way, everyone hears the same answer to the same question.  It’s a much more objective and valid way to evaluate a candidate.

The last two parts of the process are what they call a case study and spending a day on the job.  In the abstract, this is the best part of their selection system in that they can measure a person’s skills and abilities in a realistic environment.  Think of it as a floral assessment center.  In reality, the better description is that they are stealing (yes, that’s the word for taking something from someone without compensation) ideas and time from their job candidates.  Even more galling is that they ask the candidate to sign an NDA to protect the company.  How about signing a contract where you pay fair wages for the work your job candidates are doing for you?  The crime here is that they could design a work sample or assessment center that would be more objective and valid and not be as exploitative.

The company is making a sincere and creative effort to screen people the best they can.  And, despite how misguided some of the activities are, they understand that there are differences between candidates and are looking for ways for the best ones to separate the most qualified ones from the others.  They just need to realize that they need to hire or contract out to someone as qualified in the selection field as they are in the e-commerce business.

What are some of the most creative selection systems you’ve seen in start-ups?   What worked and what didn’t?

For more information on pre-employment testing, skills assessment, and talent management, please contact Warren at 310 670-4175 or