No one wants to waste time interviewing job candidates who won't pan out. Four chief executives of growing companies shared with us some of the more inventive screens they apply to résumés:

· Steve Rosenbaum, president of Broadcast News Networks, a producer and distributor of TV programming, says he "once hired someone based on the fact that he had unicycled across the United States." True, producers don't usually need great unicycling skills, but Rosenbaum was impressed that the man had "gone out on a limb" to put that bit of information in his résumé. "As a CEO of a creative company, I look for pieces of paper that reflect spirit and energy," he says.

· "We do a blind ad and have applicants send their résumés to a post-office box," says Kathy Ericksen, president of Capsco, a Sunnyvale, Calif., electronics distributor. Promising candidates are first interviewed over the phone; everyone is asked the same eight questions, which, says Ericksen, "are extremely characterological." Examples: "Whom do you consider to be the most successful person you've ever known?" Ericksen would rather hear "my dad" than "Mahatma Gandhi." "In the past have you been criticized for your work, and if so, how did you respond?" Defensive candidates are in trouble. The interviews are taped and reviewed by managers.

· "We're looking for people who develop relationships quickly, are committed to being the best, or have the ability to empathize," says David Blumenthal, president of Flash Creative Management, an information-technology company. One candidate's résumé noted that he was on his university's all-league basketball team. "What's your free-throw- shooting percentage?" asked Blumenthal. "Ninety-five percent" was the answer. "The only way you can really excel at foul shots is to practice," says Blumenthal. "And that demonstrated to us the applicant's commitment to being the best." Blumenthal hired him.

· Gary Hirshberg, CEO of Stonyfield Farms, a yogurt manufacturer, says that because his company is relatively unstructured, he looks for people who are self-starters. Stonyfield's public- relations manager previously had her own PR shop, and the company's vice-president of operations once started a hardware business. "He had a completely conventional dairy-industry résumé, and if it were not for that hardware stint, he would have been lost in the pile," says Hirshberg.