- Where did you find the candidate?
Referrals from your own top employees are the best bet. If your hiring manager found the applicant at a job fair, be skeptical. Great players aren't hawking their resumé at job fairs; they're working.
- Who did the interviewing?
Don't rely solely on the opinion of the hiring manager. Make sure she has involved some of the employees who will work directly with this person. They'll have the best sense of whether the candidate will fit in.
- Why is the candidate leaving his or her current job?
This can be tough to draw out of some candidates--after all, they don't want to talk themselves out of a job. But you need to know what saps their motivation. Maybe they feel undervalued or hate traveling. Try to understand what will make them eager to come to work on Monday morning.
- Is the candidate coming from a competitor?
This is a two-for-one special: a talented new employee with inside knowledge of a rival's operations. Recruiting is a prime way to gather intelligence on competitors, such as how much they pay people and what business plans they have under way.
- Is the candidate connected?
Candidates who are at the top of their games will be on a first-name basis with other top people in the industry. Ask a candidate to recommend three of the best people at his or her current workplace to come in for interviews. Noncompete agreements can thwart such efforts, however, so be sure to ask if the candidate has signed one with his current employer, notes Margaretta Noonan, executive vice president of Hudson Highland Group (NASDAQ:HHGP), a global staffing firm in New York City.
- Could the candidate do my job?
No one likes to think he or she is replaceable, but smart bosses hire people with potential, and that's especially critical at a company in growth mode. A manager who has your interests in mind will recruit someone with the chops to eventually move into a more senior role. You should also ask if the candidate demonstrates leadership skills and decision-making abilities.
- The candidate graduated from college, right?
Beware of the word attended on a resumé. Last year, ADP Screening and Selection Services found that about half of the 330,000 people it ran background checks on lied about their education or work experience. Hire an outside firm if necessary to vet candidates. If there's an unexplained gap on a resumé, find out why.
- How long has this job been open?
If the answer is a month or more, consider putting someone else in charge of hiring. The best people on the job market are scooped up in days, notes John Sullivan, a consultant and professor of management at San Francisco State University. If it takes too long, you may be getting benchwarmers, not first-string players.