Simple Process to Hire the Best Candidates from a Cattle Call

Congratulations. Your business is growing. But to meet your new goals, you now you have to hire a dozen employees in a short period of time. What’s a manager of a fast growing business to do?

You hold a cattle call, that’s what. And from the dozens, if not hundreds, of potential employees that answer your call, you have to choose the best ones. How do you make that process as efficient as possible?

As it happens, we know the answer. Read on.

Determine what you want from a candidate

In order to process and select from a large group of applicants in a single day, try a group challenge and an interview.

Determine what qualities you’re looking for in a candidate and assign point values for each. In the interview portion of the process, you may be looking for conversational skills, creativity, problem-solving aptitude, interpersonal skills, depth of knowledge, etc. But in the group challenge, you may be looking for leadership, ability to recognize and address problems, flexibility between leading and cooperating, and clarity of communication.

Remember to build a spreadsheet or use a voting system ahead of time, enabling you to score each candidate for desirable factors. And don’t forget to provide assessment questionnaires for the interviewers to complete after each interview. Because proper planning prevents repeating this particular performance.

The interviews 

Because one person can’t possibly interview dozens of candidates in one day, build a team of interviewers to share the workload, making sure you have a mix of newer and more seasoned managers within your organization. To better prepare your team, role-play with open-ended questions so they become comfortable conducting mass interviews.

Important: Work with HR to train your team leads in the interview process: They’ll likely need a reminder on what types of questions to ask…and what to avoid.

On the all-important interview day, schedule candidates and interview teams so that candidates meet, say, three interviewers sequentially.

Be sure your team members have 10 minutes between appointments to complete those questionnaires while the interviews are still fresh in their minds.

Group challenges

After the interviews, assign candidates to groups for some teamwork exercises, which will be observed by interviewers. Challenges include assembling a structure from which one piece is missing, or perhaps where some pieces have been incorrectly assigned among the groups. How long until they realize and address the problem? Who leads? Who works well in the group? Who does not?

Take note of the group dynamic too: Is the leader actually leading, or just excluding dissenting opinions? In such cases, it might be the outsiders willing to stand up for themselves you may want to take note of.

Observers should not interact or remark during the exercise but silently observe. At the end of the challenge, observers sit with their assigned teams to discuss the team’s performance. This exercise provides the opportunity to see how candidates handle a combination of stress, competition, and cooperation.

As with the interviews, your team needs to complete their assessment cards for each candidate in the group they are assigned to immediately after the group challenge.

The assessment

Before displaying the assessment results, allow the team to discuss how the day went. Capture feedback for future improvement and address any immediate issues right away.

Now bring up the candidate list ranked from highest to lowest. Quickly run down from the top, checking for objections as you mark Hire on each of these top candidates, until you reach the point in the list where there is no longer easy consensus. Next, work up from the bottom. Does anyone disagree with your rejections on your way back up the list? Again, stop when you hit the level at which the hire/reject decision is no longer easy.

Save time for the middle and undecided names. There may be some gems who choked on an interview or got lost in the noise of the group challenges. Ask those with a strong feeling for or against a contender to concisely state their case, then take a quick handvote to see whether the candidate’s score has increased or decreased.

Make the hire/reject decision, or move on to the next. Your goal is to select those who are clear hires, reject those who clearly don’t fit, and only spend discussion time on those of the remainder who made a strong impression on your assessment team.

Finally, compare your Hire number to your Openings number. If you’ve selected slightly more candidates than you have openings, do you agree to make offers to all of them or just the standouts? If slightly under, do you need to take a second look at that middle group…or do you actually need a second recruiting effort to close the gap?

When the decision is made, ensure that your recruiting manager gets the offer and rejection notices out to the candidates within the coming week. Set and stick to additional goals regarding negotiation and onboarding.

Last but not least, reward your recruiting team, and get ready to welcome your handpicked group of new hires.

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  • This is all cute and stuff but ridiculous. You can’t judge people based on a few hours and expect to know what you’re getting or know what you’re doing. Just hire people and let them roll for a month, those that fit you keep those that don’t you let go. It takes a bit more time and effort but you get out what you put in. It’s only legal matters that makes my process difficult, not the logic behind it.