Think you have problems finding good people? In 1998, Roger Mody, CEO of Signal Corp., described unemployment in hisindustry (information technology services) as "practically nonexistent." Yet Signal, an Inc. 500 company based inFairfax, Va., grew from $4.2 million in sales and 58 employees in 1992 to sales of $146 million and 1,325 employees by theend of 1998. The company's explosive growth occurred despite a tight labor market during that period. Instead of letting thelabor market stunt his company's growth, however, Mody developed new strategies to interview and hire more efficiently.His methods include:

  • Interview during off hours. Signal began conducting most job interviews before or after work hours or on weekends,because those times are more convenient for many job candidates. "When people interview during work hours, they'reusually stressed because they're not where they're supposed to be," Mody observes. Signal does, however, accommodatecandidates who prefer to interview during the day.
  • Stagger human resources shifts. With an unconventional interviewing schedule, Mody realized that Signal'shuman resources people could not work conventional hours, so the company runs staggered human resources shifts. SomeHR people start at 7 a.m., and a second shift starts later in the morning. The result: Thirteen hours of HR coverage each day."If we want to make a job applicant an offer at 8 p.m., we have the staff available to do it," Mody says. "That scheduling alsohelps us take care of our West Coast employees."
  • Use high level people to conduct interviews. "We want to attract the kind of new employees our customers will thinkhighly of," Mody explains. "But the pace of our recruiting is so rapid that we don't have the luxury of putting candidatesthrough three levels of screening." Mody's solution: He gets the company's operating vice presidents involved in the earlystages of the interview process. Having them conduct the first interview is a considerable time-saver, Mody says. "Theyknow exactly what they're looking for," he observes. "They go right for the jugular and ask tough technical questions."
  • Establish internal recruiting deadlines. Mody discovered that his company wasn't making recruiting decisions as quickly assome of his competitors. "If it took us two weeks to get back to the candidates, they were gone," he recalls. So Signalestablished a recruiting timeframe, and managers aim to adhere to it. For example, when a Signal manager receives a ré sumé in response to an opening, he or she has a day and a half to decide whether to schedule an interview.
  • Look at candidates' long-term potential. "Even if we don't hire folks now, we want them to have a favorable opinion of ourcompany should they go on to acquire the necessary skills," Mody says. So Signal tries to respect candidates' time. Beforesomeone arrives for an interview, Signal employees fill out any information they already know on the application form -- suchas name and address. "It's a small gesture of respect," he notes. "But you can't imagine the number of candidates who respondto it with positive comments."