Few CEOs, even those from the fastest-growing companies, feel they hire well. That explains the standing-room-only attendance at a hiring seminar during the Inc. 500 conference last May. The presenters, Ed Ryan, principal of MPR, a personnel consulting service in Chicago, and Drew Conway, CEO of the Registry, a Newton, Mass., provider of contract workers, shared plenty of good tips. One of their best: job interviews should be audiotaped.

Ryan maintains that candidates answer more thoughtfully -- and more honestly -- when they know you're recording every word. Conway claims taping has improved his own interviewing techniques. He began to notice how much talking he did instead of listening, and he learned to ask open-ended questions, which elicit more than yes or no responses. He also trained himself to ask for examples.

The law prohibits taping people without their knowledge, so ask interviewees' permission first. Explain that you want an error-free backup to your notes. It may disconcert candidates at first, but after three questions they usually forget the tape is running. Ryan asks to tape every potential recruit who comes into his offices. Out of hundreds of candidates, only one or two have refused.

It's imperative that you treat all applicants the same to protect yourself against claims of discrimination; if you tape one final interview, you must tape them all. Indeed, the tapes may actually protect you from unfounded claims of discrimination in hiring by providing proof of equal treatment.

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