The Best Qualifying Recruitment Questions for Your Business

So you’ve got a job opening in your business. Excellent, it will be good to bring some new blood into the company, mix up the team a little bit, have a new face around the office. Yes, there’s the hassle of interviewing the ten or twenty candidates to find the right person, but… oh, wait a second. You now have over 200 CVs on your desk.

Times are tough right now and people are applying for any passing job, often regardless of whether they are qualified for it. You don’t have the time or the energy to go through that many CVs and give them each a fair hearing, but somewhere in there is the perfect candidate for the job, so how do you find them?

The secret is to raise the bar right at the very beginning, when you’re laying out the job description to advertise the job. By asking the right questions you can deter unqualified or less serious applicants, or at least make the ones that get through easy to eliminate.

1. Test Their Knowledge

A simply way to cut down on applicants is to make applying just a tiny bit inconvenient. The majority of people applying for your open position are also going to be applying for every single other job that’s available, often sending the same CV every time in a way that verges on mass mailing. To slow them down a little, just make applicants complete a very short task before they get to the application process. The quiz should ask a couple of easy-to-Google questions about your business – when it was founded for instance, or what city your head office is in. It could simply be a general knowledge question about the sector you work in, if you’re part of an online security firm, for instance, ask what IT security measures small business sites need. Anybody who can’t be bothered to spend five minutes finding the answers to those questions probably isn’t somebody you want on your team anyway.


  • How long has our company been in business?

  • How many staff do we employ?

  • Which industry award did we win recently?

2. Be Demanding

For every gig Van Halen did there was a clause in his contract that said “There will be no brown M&Ms in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.”

This wasn’t just because Van Halen was a star with a massive ego and an irrational dislike for brown M&Ms. This was actually a serious, sometimes lifesaving tactic. Van Halen’s shows were huge affairs involve tonnes of electrical equipment and heavy, potentially dangerous stage set ups. For everyone to be safe, Van Halen had to be sure that every single part of the contract had been read and adhered to. If nobody had been paying enough attention to spot the brown M&Ms clause, there could be much more serious lapses in attention elsewhere.

The same is true of your job application process. By asking for silly, even random seeming information or presentation format, you’re making sure that your applicants are paying attention to your requirements rather than sending you yet another mass mailed CV.

Ask for applicants’ favourite colours, or tell them to paste their CV into the body of an email rather than attaching the document. These hoops will seem arbitrary and annoying, but at least you will know that the people who manage to jump through them are genuinely interested in working for you.


  • What was your first pet’s name?

  • All applicants must use 11 point Calibri for their font.

3. Keep It Brief

As well as making sure you’ve got applications from the sort of people who are interested in working for you rather than “anyone who will take them”, you also want to make cutting through those swathes of CV as easy as possible. To do this you want to ask for two things from your applicants during your recruitment drive. First, ask for a cover letter, a short letter from the applicant explaining why they’re the best fit for this position. Secondly, ask that the CVs themselves are only a single page. In this way not only are you making sure your applicants can follow instructions, you’re also putting the pressure on the applicant to give you the most relevant information as quickly as possible, making it far easier to see which applicants stand out.


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