© A. Kavtreva, TRIZ-RI Group


(abridged version)

Much has already been written about the procedures for employment, but sometimes the more you read, the more you are left with questions. The most frequent of which are: how not to give in to the first (often misleading) impression, which the Candidate makes; how to be insured from inadequate Candidates, how not to get carried away by new-fangled tests with strange questions and not scare with strange questions and not scare the normal specialists etc.

In this article, will be considered the errors which are permitted during an interview and also there will be a range of recommendations to avoid them…


(or neglecting the primacy of technology)

Any process in a company (including "employment") is defined by the technology of the business. The lower the level of technology, the more seriously the employees need to make decisions by themselves and the sharper the demand for higher qualification.


  • "In shop "X", the salesperson decides HIMSELF, whether to board the customer or not (guided by past experience). Unfortunately, it is terrible for many salespeople. It is difficult to count the number of coarse "no" in response to a kind "May I help You?". The Employer of the same shop "X" sometimes tongue-lashes his staff, saying that they "have to board", but does not train them to do so correctly (I.E NOT GIVING THE TECHNOLOGY TO WORK WITH CUSTOMERS). Accordingly, when a vacancy is closed, it is necessary to look for an active, ambitious and resourceful Candidate for the salesperson position".
  • In company "Y", a manager of sales decides HIMSELF, how frequently to visit a Client. Visits and phone calls are postponed when promotions and free deliveries are constantly requested "on the other side of the line". The Employer does not say how to react to such requests (I.E. HE DOES NOT GIVE A STANDARD PROPOSITION ON PROMOTIONS AND POSSIBILITIES FOR DELIVERY), but looks for managers who are "persistent, result-oriented, flexible thinking and who have a good knowledge of pricing".
  • An agent at a real-estate agency "ДУБЛЬ и В" "W" or "DOUBLE and B" hates the first and the last floors because Clients do not like them. The roof does not leak so often, but the potential tenant stubbornly refuses to believe that and much more. The Employer does not explain how to move these floors (I.E. HE DOES NOT GIVE THE TECHNOLOGY OF ANSWERS TO TYPICAL OBJECTIONS), but he demands quick realization, but mainly, he looks for agents on the market "who have the ability to listen and understand people, who can quickly react to different situations, who are persistent ".

The given examples convey a common "mutation": hard enough, sometimes controversial, the situation is often delegated to less qualified employees. But if, even the directors of the company do not know (alas, quite often, from experience), how to solve difficult problems, then are they in their rights to expect initiative from subordinate employees?

Lets compare two situations in the employment of salespeople in a shop "Household goods".


The manager explains the "bottlenecks" to the Candidate for the position of salesperson, in the work with Clients:

Let’s suppose, the Client has difficulties in choosing one bouquet of "dry" flowers from the several ones he liked (to decorate his flat). You should subtly give a criteria of choice: "The flowers are usually bought according to the colors of the curtains". The hand of the customer will involuntarily move towards one bouquet. The choice is made".

By giving this and other examples, the manager gives the applicant time to get acquainted with the characteristics of several goods in the shop.

Then, he shall ask him to come to the floor and help him (By using the same method "give criteria") in choosing different goods (he acts the role of the Customer).


The manager carries out an evaluating interview on the topic "initiative, ingenuity, sociability, creativity" of the salesperson (read: "genius") in the following way: "You see that a Customer is "having a hard time" with two bouquets. What do you do?"

Of course, the salesperson will swear to do everything in his power to sell the product. He should just start working and get acquainted with the specificity of the goods. And then as easily, break his promise…

These assertions about the primacy of technology do not detract from the significant personal qualities of the candidates. It’s better when they are present than absent. This, however, is about the fact that you cannot replace the lack of management technology with "personal qualities".

In this context, each manager will choose his model of behavior.

Model А.
"I do not understand the process, I do not want to understand it either and that is why I hand it over to someone who takes initiatives, an intelligent, professional and creative … (continue this list) employee. Where can I find such an employee?"

Model B.
"I understand that it is difficult to set up a management technology, but I shall try to do it. And accordingly formulate requirements for a potential employee of the company".

We shall be interested in Model B. Because following the Model А leads to the situation when:

  • It becomes excessively difficult to find an adequate replacement for a quitting employee. And if we ever happen to find one, it is inevitable for the Director to be independent on the specialist.
  • The rates of growth of salaries become prohibitively high (they give in to the shortage in skilled professionals on the labor market or the demand for a “genius” employee).
  • The retirement of an employee greatly destabilize the work of the company. The employee knows and uses this information. (That is why, in the majority of cases "specially prized" staff members are not under a condition of control. No one has real control over them.)
  • The employees in a vacant position work well in the beginning but then “get lost”, “rest on our necks”.
  • The employees are “saturated”, but the excessive amount of their work does not seem to give spikes in productivity.
  • Despite the numerous employee replacements, the listed problems repeat over and over.

As a result there is a breakdown in management.


In order to answer to questions like: "Are the demands towards employees not superfluous?", "Isn’t the Director trying to explain himself for running away from a whole stratum, far from recruiting problems?" –It is useful to concretize the demands towards the specialists.

For example, if there is a need for "knowledge of accounting basic"” in the application for a vacancy of manager of sales, we shall ask the following question: "WHY would a manager of sales require knowledge in "accounting basics?"

This "wish" is emotionally understood, but it only interests us with a professional point of view. That is why, we shall concretize, in which specific situations and for solving which problems specifically, accounting basics are required and which knowledge is specifically required:

А) if we are talking about managers for the sales of accounting software, then maybe, the demand is rational. Then it is essential to list, what the potential employee needs to know (The forms of standard primary documentations and the monthly/quarterly reports) and have know-how in (standard wiring, posting to accounts, Balance Sheet, etc.).

Б) If we are talking about managers of wholesale companies specializing in the sales of construction and repair materials and we mean that the manager will have to issue invoices, shipping lists, fill in expense reports and travel vouchers, then, is it worth to formulate the claim as a "knowledge in accounting basics"?

In this case it is more useful to reformulate this item as "ownership document of the transaction" (billing, accounting prepay, preparing acts of completion)". Maybe, it makes sense to set aside a few hours to train a new employee to fill in documents and actually reduce this demand?

Process similarly with the other large-scale statements: Knowledge in marketing, economics etc.

Sometimes it happens that, it is difficult for the director to tell the potential employee, what he means by some demands/qualities (which components it consists of). This means that the activities of the employee recruited, will not be transparent. Thereby "mining the future." When the demands are not understood by a specific "worker, the results will not be verifiable. It is essential to have the will to make an effort and try to specify what is meant (and not slip into a search for an "ideal individual").

It is particularly important to decipher the requirements in the application and not in personal sense. Because it is obvious that, for example, "communicability" of an Applicant "at tea" can strongly differ from his "communicability" at work with a Client.


  • Instead of using the epithet "Careful" (for a secretary) we write: "Someone who does not make mistakes when transferring information from one document to another in bulk (more than 100 different sources per day). Someone who can impose documents, in the Word program, into the needed format and fill in documents".
  • Instead of using the demand for "Written literacy" (for a manager working with VIP-Clients) we write: "Someone who does not make apparent mistakes in letters/propositions to the Client, including vocabulary and syntax, can only make errors in difficult punctuations".
  • Instead of the demand for "Loves people" (for a sales-consultant) we write: "Someone with an absence of arrogance (a voice without claim, does not show the stereotype that everyone here "owes" him"). Who does not try to manipulate other people, belittling them and reproach them for their ignorance. Someone who does not consider people around as less intelligent than him (this also includes knowledge of the goods and services). And who is ready to explain, train and inform the customers about the characteristics of the goods in a friendly and patient way".
  • Instead of using the epithet "Plodding" (for a manager recruiting participants in a training) we write: "Someone who makes 150-200 calls a day".
  • Instead of the demand for "An analytical mind" (for the same position) we write: "Someone who recognizes the main types of proposed objections during the course of discussion with the potential participants of the training, defines the stereotypes formed; who chooses the best combinations of arguments, directed towards the elimination of objections". (The transcripts of the clauses 4 and 5 were sent by V. Levdikov from Simferopol.)
  • Instead of using the epithet "Attentive" (for a pharmacist) we write:
  • During the search and creation of documents he makes no errors in gathering the required information (names, numbers, dosage of the medicament);
  • Is able to find the required goods in due time, according to standards when working with goods;
  • Can pay attention to different objects at the same time (at the same time finds the required medicament in the computer database without error and contacts the Client). (The transcripts of this clause were sent by U. Saiko from Samara.)


(or testing ripped from the context)

The potential employee is not proposed work as an exercise (test) but a game which does not have any relation to the real activity…

In order to check the "ingenuity, tact and the ability to inspire confidence" of a candidate for salesperson, he is proposed to come out to the corridor during the interview and meet with a hitherto unknown employee of the company.

The experience of the Author on the training of staff in different companies in various cities show that: sometimes we can find really good salespeople who are shy to board and distract a person with a POINTLESS acquaintance, but who would gladly tell a potential Client about the characteristics of the goods…

A participant for the position of director of a PR department is being tested for: "organizing abilities, ability to think creatively and unconventionally, honesty, straightforwardness, and decency". The following test is being proposed for that purpose (the test is real, the author did not name it): "Your friend is on the bus-stop with a beautiful girl and an old woman. You arrive in a beautiful sport car and at the same moment the old woman has a heart attack! What do You do?"

Of course, any applicant who wants to please the employee will answer that he shall carry the woman to hospital and the friend and the girl might help him. Or he might do it on his own. And what did we learn from that?

In order to test the attention and honesty of a candidate for the position of "waiter-barman it is better to develop a task which is closer to the real activity involved, than counting different sequences of scattered black and red circles (EXAMPLE from a real test).

Abstract models can be built where it is not possible to make a real test. Here is the analogy: a scientist has to research on the chromosome of an elephant; it is not very comfortable to "interact" with an elephant and it can also be costly, that is why we use a model subject - "a Drosophila fly", and later the data corresponding to the initial test subject is entered. However if it would have been easy to work with an elephant, then the latter should have been used and not the fly…


It is advisable not to forget that many like to play, some like to help, and unfortunately only a few work stably and qualitatively.

It is important to ensure that the task is closer to the given activity, when it is given to test and not just entertain the applicant and let him have a thrill. In most cases, it is possible to find a real task and in such a way make the testing process "transparent" for the recruiting manager and director.

It is very important for people to work really and for it to be difficult for them. You can intentionally propose boring and difficult exercises to the Candidate if that is what he is expected to perform at the job. Because, even the work of a Clown at the circus is first of all, a routine rehearsal on tricks that he developed, on whooping and practice exercises with animals and creation of cue response to viewers.

Best of all, is to create "active" problems/exercises, using situations:

  • Typical, painstaking, daily (especially those employees try to avoid);
  • During which conflicts can occur;
  • Which happen at the "borders" between sections;
  • Which happen at specific "bottle-necks" (when fulfilling duty);
  • … etc.

The aim of the assessing manager is to elaborate on the exercise to the maximum and prevent what is known as "second level laziness" (the author of this terminology – S.V.Sychev) in the applicant. I.e. prevent him from:

  • Discussing the exercise for a long time and unproductively;
  • Replacing one exercise with another;
  • Doing an easier and more comfortable action (for example, discuss how it is actually done, tell stories, change the conditions, blaming the situation as unspecific etc.). For example, an actor who has not learnt his text will tend to argue with the director about his “usual” visions about the plays, and a lazy director will replace his own work with incantations and spells about "team work" …

In other words, it is unacceptable to allow the applicant to get away from the activity.


Vacant position: The director of an advertising department (advertising director).

Estimated work place: a shop dealing in plumbing.

The manager (recruiting):
- You come to work tomorrow. The shop is on a street with the largest market in town selling construction and repair materials. Despite the fact that the market is “boiling” with a crowd, there are only a FEW people in the shop. Please describe how You will evaluate this situation. What are the possible advertising and non-advertising reasons? How do you suppose to get out of this situation? You action-plan for the day? A week? A month? A quarter?

The advertising director (applicant):
- You should give me some details... I just came in.

The Manager:
- Please, ask me Your professional questions. What information do you require?
The advertising director:
- Well, I’ll try to get things straight...

The Manager:
- Please, get things straight. What will be your algorithm? Ask me questions.
The advertising director:
- I would go to the shop and have a look...

The Manager:
- What would You like to see there, first?

The advertising director:
- Maybe the prices are too high...

The Manager:
- You ask me. I shall answer. The prices are low. What would be Your next question?


The Manager:
- Please, think about it and prepare a written list of necessary information for You, as well as a list of questions which You would like to ask me, and come back to me (in a few moments).

When there is an excess of fitting candidates (when it is difficult to choose), we can ask the applicant to do a "complicated" (unobvious, intensive, not very pleasant, etc.) exercise in a short time frame. In this case we model the "peak" ("loaded") situation.

Warning! When using this method, the person is NOT subjected to psychologically difficult conditions (he is NOT offended, we do NOT lose balance by asking improper questions etc.), he just falls into some limited "work" parameter of a situation.

(In the examples) below, pay attention to the situation with a solution "exercises with complications" (a terminology of I. Vikentiev) and the evaluation of this solution are transparent for the Jobseekers and the one recruiting and the one applying for the job.


Vacant position: leading specialist for the buying department.
Estimated work place: hardware store.

The Manager (recruiting):
- You have already seen our shop. Let’s suppose You start working. Imagine that the shop is just opening and there are no goods yet. We have USD 150 000. It is necessary to order the goods properly, range them the best way possible, avoidd making mistakes with the choice and avoid gathering up an "illiquid" store. I am interested in the sequence of Your actions, just list them. I will play the role of a "computer" and I shall answer any question You might have. Let’s begin…EXAMPLE

Vacant position: administrator of a computer network.

Estimated work place: a consulting company which has its own internet-project.

The Manager (recruiting):
- We have an emergency. The incoming traffic for the last two days has amounted to 2 gigabytes (for a standard traffic of 100 kilobytes). The company pays for incoming traffic. What are the possible causes of this incident? Your actions? List them…

Warning! When using this method, there is NO aim to find any particular solution. There is another aim: evaluate the behavior model of the Jobseeker in a really difficult (yet professionally comprehensible for him) situation. What will he do? Will he try to avoid a solution? Will he think? Will he start to grizzle? Will he try to defend himself? Or maybe something else?...

Because it is easier to work with people who do not cause problems, or quickly solve problems. It is difficult to work with people who either generate or "enhance" the problems...The applicant can do the following when fulfilling a complicated exercise:

а) not know the solution – it is NOT a problem, he should just state the algorithm of his actions;
б) err – it is also NOT a problem for difficult and non-obvious exercises.
(If he ponders over the solution in the right way, we can try setting another example together.)
в) self-justify and get away from the answer – it is a good reason to get rid of the Jobseeker.


(the test is limited to an interview, and the decision is based on "experience and intuition", on behavior and "external signs" of the applicant)

Fact: many applicants for a vacant position are well versed in the "recruiting process". Only a lazy person will not read the article on the modal subject about recruitment before applying for an interview. Almost everyone has long started collecting certificates; take part wherever possible. Most know how to say the correct words in interviews about "perspective" and "team spirit", "get excited" automatically about difficult problems or at the possibility to "overcome hardships", immediately show readiness "to bring what has been started to an end", show optimism and quite unexpectedly tell about his own achievements of not long ago.

Many applicants can easily "look calmly right into the eyes". Many have been taught the techniques to answer to psychological tests and know exactly how to answer correctly to insane questions of “stray psychologists”: "My father often…", "If I had a normal life…", "My secret desire is…", "I loved to cut off the heads of dragonflies when I was a child…" (All the illustrated questions, are unfortunately, real.)

And it is already rare to find someone who does not know how to greet properly and how to dress properly. And they are well aware that they should bring a pen and a handkerchief to an interview. It is possible to learn some methods of self-presentation from other applicants.

However, the employer has another target – not to give in to the first impression, and find a hardworking employee who would be fit for a specific job. We are all people (even the most insightful).


The probability of erroneously making a decision is drastically reduced with a written test. The method about which we are talking about is code named "Through the paper".

A written exercise – is something obvious and widely used. It is less obvious to check for activity with the help of it. Manipulations tend to fall apart, gloss and presentation skills tend to fade and diplomas and certificates lose their magical effect when it is necessary to perform a complex written work (and not fill in a cool test) laboriously, step by step.

The author noticed on many occasions, when performing written exercises, that when the very appealing and solid on “the surface” applicant, turns into a school-kid, namely:

  • Leaves the work unfinished;
  • Does not give it on time;
  • Does not fill it attentively;
  • Runs after the recruiting manager with the request to answer orally (under the following pretext "written thinking is not characteristic", "personal auditory abilities", "a huge amount of ideas in the mind", "uneasy feeling" etc.);
  • Rushes to hand over, without completing, without rechecking, etc.

A very hardworking and responsible employee was working as the senior salesman in a supermarket dealing in decorative and building materials. Everything was arranged on shelves in his section. He loved his work as a salesman and fulfilled it with pleasure, ignoring his colleagues when they called him to smoke during working hours.

The Director of the supermarket noticed him and invited him to take part in the challenge to become the administrator of the salesroom. In order to test the salesman, he was sent to the neighboring section to make a list of paired articles (those which are often bought together, for example paint with a roller etc.). For that he could ask for any required information, analyze reports etc., in order to propose ways to increase sales afterwards.

The salesman refused to write. He explained it in the following way: his colleagues working in this sector "know better" and they probably already did what they could (i.e. he "covered" for them). In addition, the salesman started to say the Client already "knows" what he has to buy and will always find the article if he "really needs it". It was obvious that the salesman was not fit for the position of administrator.

A very active young woman applied for the position of manager of an advertising department. She made a very pleasant impression at the interview with her energy and cheerfulness. Her written test assignment comprised of three exercises. She replied modestly to the assignment and for each exercise she wrote a note that she has many ideas but she will only tell about them when she is recruited. Until the final decision was taken, she repeatedly called the staff manager in view of meeting up with him and talking "openly". In such a way, a potential employee who is used to manipulating his colleagues and the management, lost his "instrument" when tested "through the paper" and felt uncomfortable.

Vacant position: Professional of the advertising department.
Estimated working place: shop dealing in construction and decorative materials.

THE TASK of the Candidate:
"You sell linoleum, and Your competitors sell parquet flooring. They have similar prices. It is considered (though it might not be true), that parquet floors are better. You should write two small texts to “detune” linoleum from parquet flooring (length 2-3 paragraphs): one – for offices, another - for individual Clients".

Please compare the written answers of the Applicants, who looked absolutely similar on the surface, answered similarly and had the same comparable experience.


1. For offices:

"Please tell me, what is on the floor in your office and I will guess the number of visitors You have".

2. For individual Clients:

"Do You like the sickening and pungent smell of mastic?
What about the compulsive, but monotonous chirping of a Scraping Machine?
Or maybe the comfortable, very cozy hum of a vacuum cleaner?
Oh, you are such a cleanliness freak that you prefer wet cleaning …
I agree, the prices are the same – but expenses are different.
By the way, where did you buy Your linoleum?"


1. For offices:

"When You choose a material for the floor of Your office, You keep in mind beauty and quality. The optimum choice in this case is linoleum-flooring. Among other floor coverings, linoleum differ with its strength, resistance of the patterns and excellent heat and sound insulation, and thanks to the variety of patterns and color shades, linoleum easily fits into any office design.

When You choose office linoleum, You can rest assured that Your office will remain clean every day, the floor will not creak and the chair legs will not scratch the floor, spilled coffee will be easily wept away without leaving behind any stain, and that within a year, You will not have to retouch the floor. You are choosing economical and with a long lifetime.

Linoleum from company "Х" – is the best choice for Your business."

2. For individual Clients:

"A parquet floor which is not afraid of humidity? A carpet which does not need to be vacuum-cleaned? Linoleum – This is a good choice for Your house.
Our new floors do not require too much expense for placing and do not require annual sanding and lacquering. Their beauty and the gloss of their patterns do not fade away, they do not get scratched and they are resistant to any stains. The multilayers of the linoleum provide resistance to deformation, heat insulation properties keep warm in winter and cold in summer, and sound insulation properties provide You with peace… as well as Your neighbors below.
There is always a large choice of linoleum for You in shop "Х".


In the first case, the candidate understands the target audience but also shows disrespect to the Client. The Client is playing the role of a "pawn". The texts are written "well, but not enough". The assignment meant to be written in 2-3 paragraphs has been reduced to one, and the problem has not been solved.

The second candidate understands the target groups and professionally uses their stereotypes.
The texts are written soundly and are readable, though a bit bulky. The advertising cliché - "huge selection", "the best solution for your home," etc. are well broadcasted.

I we had to choose between two people, it would be easier to train the second one (by professionally limit the use of “excessive sentences”), than to instill diligence into the first one.

WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS are given in those cases, and to those candidates whose work will not be related to the writing of anything. It is considered that some people are not gifted with written discourse. It is not about how the person writes. It is more difficult to write than to talk (especially on the topics of work). What is IMPORTANT is how much effort the candidate is going to show. The laziness of a person is more discernable on paper and his “readiness to leave problems”.


(not considering the fact that when performing the assignment, the tested subject not only thinks but also tries to GUESS the position of the Employer (more often when showing initiative) in any situation)

A promoter is given an assignment: "Let’s suppose that You came to work with Your partner. The flow of Clients is too low to cover Your target on contacts. Explain how You will come out of this situation. (We are checking for: "self-confidence, responsibility, composure and activity".)

This assignment does not allow us to check the candidate “through activity”. It is very unlikely that the person will answer that he will not undertake any action. Most likely, he will ask whether he or his partner can change places with a more crowded one. Does he have contact with the management to tell them about the problem? Who has calculated the flow? Or what are the instructions to be followed in such a situation? His answer will depend on his idea about the behavior model “guessed” for the given Employer. I.e. he will guess, what is preferred here: "lack of INITIATIVE" or "the presence of INITIATIVE (that is, fulfilling the assignment no matter what, even when overriding the instructions)"? As soon as the employer says anything about “being initiative”, the “required” answer will be found. What will the recruiting manager find out then in such a situation?

(extract from the article of the expert Ekaterina Semenova from the magazine “Raschet” "Do You feel that something is wrong with your head?" (№ 6, 2002.)

"One of the employees of our edition remembered, how a few years ago, after finishing university, he and many of his friends were applying for a job for the very first time. They had to face the Oxford test almost everywhere. Even the smartest and best former students failed the test when answering honestly. Until one of them found the required algorithm. When answering to the test, he imagined himself as an energetic careerist, aiming exclusively towards work. He answered negatively to all questions about compassion towards animals, social fairness and worry about wars in hot zones. And of course that he did not have any health problem. The test was passed successfully. Later this method was tested in various occasions and not once has it failed".


When testing, it is necessary to tell the prerogatives in the beginning, in relation to the discussed problem, and only then, you should give the assignment. This will help the recruiting manager to prove that he is not trying to check the personality of the candidate in a "cunning" way, in the first place. It is essential to set real assignments and avoid playing the game "guess the prerogatives of the employer". When there is a wish to test the candidate for initiative "/" self-doing" (or a similar quality), it is necessary to describe how they should be shown. Afterwards an assignment on the real activity is given.

It is really important for salespeople to show initiative in discussing with customers. If such an initiative is not shown, the Client will enter the shop, look around and exit without buying anything. However the salespeople often “spoil” the first contact with an effort to “serve immediately”. They ask: "What would You like to buy?", "How can I help You?" etc. On the other hand, when the employer sees that the salesman behaves inertly after a failed attempt, looks for more energetic (those who can start a conversation with the customer with their “cunningness and shrewdness"). That is why there is a desire to rest the applicant for this “activity and shrewdness”. During an interview, when a potential salesman understands what the employer values, he will attempt to convince the latter that “it is in his best interests” to approach the Customer.

For a more instrumental testing, it is better show the salesman a specific method, for example, start a conversation with the customer with an unobvious and important property of the item (without unnecessary introductory phrases):

  • "Look: here there are two layers. When you exchange the item, it is easy to remove the top layer and the second layer will be a good basis for new ones".
  • "Please note: it is easy to unglue (about the adhesive film "Fridola"). It is possible to glue again within 8 hours, so it is easy to correct any error made".

When testing the salesperson, he should be given time to study the specifics of easy items, and only then give the assignment to get off a “difficult” situation, more specifically enter a conversation competently. (The recruiting manager plays the role of a Customer.)

More details about the method - see here.


(The task has a global importance ("grand-swing") or on the contrary, a very local/insignificant one)

A too large task can frighten the candidate, since he is not working in the company yet (it is just a competition), and a very "small" one will not offer a proper test for the applicant for the job position (or it will require many "small" assignments).

EXAMPLE "large-scale" assignment:
"Please develop an advertising campaign for our company".

EXAMPLE "large-scale" assignment:
"We are expanding the sales of services about office security. Find 2 large Clients for our company".

EXAMPLE insignificant assignment:
"Which font would be best for this ad: "Arial Narrow" or "Verdana"? Please choose and explain your choice.


You should not give assignments, where the results can be useful for the company (or the company will be suspected for the fact that the company wants to use "the ideas of the applicants for free"). It should be clear that it is a test for the candidate and not the “narrowing" of information and/or the use of free work force. Examples from different spheres of business or personal events from your own business can be used as assignments – in order for them not to be considered as something other than a test.

pecial attention should be taken for those candidates who are excessively "concerned" about the matter. In most cases, it is not about only talent but also about quarrelsomeness.


Lengthy (time consuming) assignments should be segmented into shorter ones and the hardest of the short ones should be proposed. If specifics are required to complete the assignment, then let the applicant describe clear and detailed algorithms about completing the assignment. Such a procedure allows us to understand, whether the candidate knows what he is expected to do and how he shall do it. Very often, in such cases, the recruiting manager understands that the sign of equivalence between "boasting" and "skills" is not always appropriate.


If the recruiting manager knows any method/professional cunningness or solved the problem, he should not expect an answer from the candidate, which would match his to 100%, moreover if no instrument has been given to solve the problem.

For example, it is expected from a candidate for the job position of manager of press advertising, that when filling for an advert about the "Sladosti" LTD, of size 6 х 4 cm, containing the following: "The organization sells sugar (in packets of 30 kg). The prices are low. Purchase 2 packets – and get free delivery. Tel. ХХХХХХ", he should guess, when writing the ad, to change the word "organization" to the name of the company, and "low prices" – to a specific amount.

But, firstly, the candidate might not know, whether it is so important to include the name of the company when purchasing sugar or may be, this could be useless information. Most likely, he may think that the unfitting name "Sladosti" LTD of the wholesaler can be an additional reason to narrow the target group. Secondly, not everyone will guess that in the range of goods of "Sladosti" LTD – there is one sort of sugar for the same price since not much would fit in an advert of the size 6 х 4 cm.


If the field in which the candidate is being tested is not strictly formalized/of one type, then it is important to listen to the argumentation after getting a very good answer from the test. Before assigning any task, it is advisable to answer the following question in your mind: "If the CANDIDATE answers "А", what will be the conclusions made from that? And if he answers "В" – then which ones?" If the conclusions are clear to the recruiting manager, not similar or even more, contradictory, then, should this kind of task be given at all?

After conversing with the director of a potential operator of a marking typography machine, it was found out that, when the machine stopped (due to break-down) the workers were often idle (when the director was absent). The director would have liked the worker to show some initiative and try to find the reason for the breakdown himself (or, at least, call the specialist from the repair-office). The situation with the breakdown was described in the test assignment with an aim to get the correct answer.
The recruiting manager was in a dilemma when “unfitting components for the competition” were often found in the candidate’s answers: "In case of a breakdown, I shall never override my status (try to repair etc.) and shall wait for my director, as stated in the instructions ". Later it was found out that the operators were fined for any handiwork at his previous workplace. It was considered that a good employee is one who does only the job which is in his competences. The task had to be changed".

We can often hear the objection: But the candidate IS TRYING HARD during recruitment.
How to ensure that his best abilities will not remain within the competition frame but also be seen during work?

You should remember error № 1 and set the new employee in the process in such a way that it is impossible/unprofitable to work incorrectly. (Analogy: even the best quality food get bad, if they are not kept in the proper conditions and not handled correctly. And what we call a man who, instead of buying a refrigerator, chases fresh meat on farm market with such "qualities" that will not allow him to rot for the hot summer on the balcony). In other words, now it is already important for the director to do it in such a way that the potential energy of the new employee (the presence of which was tested), changed into kinetic energy after all.

The author is thankful to:
S. Sychev, I. Vikentiev, N. Shvets, G. Vladimirova, G. Sokolv ("TRIZ-CHANCE" systems) for their help on the matter,
as well as to all the colleagues who took an active part in the testing of the material:
Nikolai Vladimirovich Tipatov, the Manager of staff in the hope depot " SBS-Farmatsiya" (wholesale medical supplies), Kharkov, Tatiana Alexandrovna Lezhnyov, the director of the advertising consulting "Expert", Tver, Dmitry Savelyev, head of the International Center for Distance Learning KURSY.RU, Dubinin Nadia,
marketer at the Information Office "Gory" OJSC (sale and maintenance of legal reference system "ConsultantPlus"), Moscow, Bahanova Lyudmila, the staff manager GC at "TV Service", Ivanovo, Akhmetzyanova Enzhe, Blashenkova Vera, Moscow , Verba Anna Vorona Vitaly Kramatorsk (Ukraine), Ivanova Constantine, Kostromina Dilara, Levdikov Vladimir, Simferopol, Malysheva Anna, Padashulya Alena, Saiko Ulyana, Samara, Tomilova Igor, Khoroshkina Elena, Riga, Chemodanova Ekaterina, Ulyanovsk.


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