MAY 1989

If you've searched for ways to write a help-wanted classified that will bring in the kind of responsible, conscientious candidates you'd like to interview, you might want to take your cue from Steve Kantor.

Kantor, president of Gnossos Software, in Washington, D.C., wrote an ad recently that brought five times more responses than the newspaper had told him to expect -- about 175 in all -- and turned up five finalists he would have been more than happy to hire.

The ad began, "Small entrepreneurial firm seeks sharp liberal arts grad. Vision, ethics, personality required." Kantor claims many of the candidates cited "ethics" as the reason they answered the ad.

To narrow down the overwhelming response, Kantor sent a congratulations-on-being-selected-for-consideration letter to the top 20% of the applicants and asked them to answer these questions in another letter: "What are your greatest strengths? What are your weaknesses? What did you like and hate most about your most recent work experience? Describe the political, social, and economic impact of PCs." (Kantor says he was "half kidding" with the last question, and he was looking for respondents who answered in kind.)

"This way, I can screen out people who don't have drive and ambition," says Kantor, who ended up interviewing about 20 final candidates by phone. "I can get a feel for people without being influenced by their physical appearance, and it gives applicants a chance to be thoughtful about their responses. Plus, I save loads of time and energy."