Experts Share Tips to Identify, Hire Best Job Candidates

Hiring employees in the credit and collection industry today has become a delicate balance of making sure the candidate demonstrates that he or she is hungry for the position while also not taking too long to extend a job offer, or risk the candidate taking a job somewhere else.

The days of scheduling three or four rounds of interviews a week or so apart is not the best way to hire new employees, especially those who are likely to be in high demand, agreed a panel of collection agency executives during a webinar earlier this month that discussed how to hire the best employees and was sponsored by Peak Revenue Learning.

“What we’re finding is by the time we run the ad and if I don’t interview them and make a job offer within about a week-and-a-half to two weeks, by the time I’m offering a job, I’m losing people like they’ve already found other jobs, especially my best candidates,” said Kelly Parsons-O’Brien of Pacific Credit Services. “So we really had to reduce that timeframe. Now, from the time they apply to the time of their interview, we make it usually about three or four days, and then we try to give them a job offer about three or four days after that.”

One step that can help accelerate the hiring process is to conduct a phone interview to screen candidates and weed out the ones that immediately do not sound like they would be a good fit. When an applicant submits a resume or job application, the agency sends out an email, inviting the applicant to call in for a quick phone interview. People who call for the phone interview are then more likely to show up for an actual in-person interview, the panelists said. And that initial screening can help identify candidates faster.

Collection agencies also need to have long memories when it comes to remembering who has applied for jobs in the past. If a candidate was not interviewed the last time he or she applied for a job posted by the agency, then there is likely no reason to interview the applicant this time, too, said Irene Hoheusle, a vice president at Account Recovery Specialists.

“We will keep applications on file for quite a while” Hoheusle said. “I live in Kansas. Our pool is a little bit smaller than some bigger cities. So we often get the same people applying over and over and over again. We keep things on record so that we can figure out if they have applied before. And if we’ve already seen them than we’re not even going to bother interviewing. So we don’t waste our time so much.”

Everyone has heard the stories about students who have gone online to research and copy answers for tests and reports. Job candidates can do that as well. There are tons of articles out there that offer insights to help candidates provide the “best” answers to the standard and popular interview questions, which means hiring managers need to do their research and use unconventional questions when screening potential candidates. Hoheusle likes to pose a riddle to candidates to see how they think and handle out-of-the-box situations. She draws a square on a piece of paper and then divides the square into 16 smaller boxes. She then asks the candidate to count how many boxes are on the square. Many will count the 16 smaller boxes and report that as their answer without seeing that there are larger squares that can be counted, too.

“They don’t see that there are like 30 squares altogether,” Hoheusle said. “Even after they say 16 and we ask them if they want a second chance, a lot of people don’t change their answer. It might not be the reason we don’t hire someone, but it does raise a red flag.”

It is important for companies to recognize talent, even if it might not be a perfect fit for the job they are looking to fill. Identifying someone who would be a great addition to a team sometimes means putting the candidate into another opportunity.

“It’s not unlike that famous business book “Good to Great”, where they talk about finding the higher quality candidate, and you’ll find a place for them,” said Jay Gonsalves of Action Collection Agency of Boston. “We’ve seen that happen more often than not where they just know there’s good fit, but there are other opportunities from the company would be better for. It seems to work for all of us much in the same way.”

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