Last November, Concentra Corp., a fast-growing software developer in Burlington, Mass., needed to fill 11 positions as quickly as possible. Human-resources manager Pauline DeMaio suggested an open house -- a strategy that would allow managers to meet candidates face-to-face in a relatively low-pressure atmosphere. "It really saved management a lot of time," says DeMaio. "About 100 people showed up, and we filled four jobs." She attributes the evening's success to the time and effort that went into planning it. For instance:

· To ensure absolute accuracy of job descriptions, managers reviewed the open-house advertisement before it was placed in the Boston Globe and revised the language as needed.

· Managers were coached in advance on polite rejection.

· The company's founder and two board members were present at the open house, giving candidates the message that the job openings were a top priority.

· Two rÉsumÉs were collected from each candidate -- one for DeMaio to keep on file for future reference and one for the appropriate manager to refer to while interviewing.

· To avoid any obvious preferential treatment, everyone who showed up was guaranteed a 10-minute interview.

· Managers were instructed to give all candidates equal time. Good prospects were asked to come back for a second interview .
Candidates were given the opportunity to watch a product demonstration -- after they were interviewed. "We didn't want them to spend the interview time asking questions about the product," says DeMaio.
To maintain goodwill in the community, DeMaio sent everyone who attended the open house a thank-you note .
Twelve candidates were asked to return for more in-depth interviews, and four were hired. DeMaio also has a stack of rÉsumÉs that she can comb through as the company grows.