Landing the Perfect Job Applicant Requires Seasoned Piloting Skills


When we owned Barefoot Cellars and were recognized for our success, we had our excellent staff to thank. So, it is not surprising that people ask us how we found such good people. Probably the most stressful part of hiring is, as Forrest Gump’s mom said, “You never know what you’re going to get!” Hiring anxiety is well founded.

Suddenly you are faced with the loss of productivity caused by the vacancy and the urgency to get a suitable replacement. The advertising and vetting process can last weeks. There’s also the knowledge that whomever you hire will operate at 50% capacity for some unknown period of time, and so will the person who trains them. Then there’s the fear that the new hire might not work out at all – and the process will start all over again.

Is there a way to mitigate some of this cost in time, nerves, and dollars? After years of struggling with this critical challenge, we finally honed in on a successful hiring process.

Typically, we would start by running an ad, posting a job on the web, or using the services of a human resources agency. The first responses were usually a plethora of well-polished and professionally composed resumes, accompanied by glowing cover letters. The red light went on right there, because we weren’t seeing how the person presents himself. And, in any company that sells something, it’s essential to know.

Here, then, is our secret to (more) success in that hair- pulling hiring process: The 7 Steps to Hire by Wire:

1. Standard Take Off. After you have advertised and received your first batch of resumes, begin the standard vetting process. Identify the shortlist of candidates from their listed skill set, experience, and cover letter.

2. Set the Course. Check the references of the top candidates and settle on the prospects you would like to interview by phone.

3. Cruising Altitude. Call up the top candidates and give a short, standard phone interview. Ask the crucial questions.

4. CHANGE COURSE! Explain to them that the position they are interviewing for is not stand-alone, but is one of a team player. Tell them who your customers are, the products or services you provide, how your company makes money, and why this job is essential to the process.

5. Request Permission to Land. Ask them to, on one page only, summarize what you have said, how they are qualified to help the company achieve its goals, and ask them to email it to you by 5PM the following day. This gives them an opportunity to show you that they understand the job, have good comprehension and retention skills, can organize and communicate in writing, and can meet deadlines.

6. Control Tower. You will be amazed at what comes in! During a recent job interview process, we found few applicants wrote in complete, succinct sentences, comprehended what was said, stayed to one page, and met the deadline. And every applicant was a college grad with a well-written resume!

7. Cleared for Landing. Now you can clearly see who you should bring in for an in-person interview. You can learn a ton about an applicant using this email-me-back method.

This may not apply to every job, but we’ve found it provides us with qualified candidates, and saves us time and money. Put into practice, these 7 steps will help you navigate through the glare of the shining resumes. Using the phone and email prevents you from flying blind, and allows you to hire by wire.



About Michael Houlihan & Bonnie Harvey

Starting in a laundry room with no money or industry knowledge, they built the iconic Best-Selling Barefoot Wine Brand - without advertising. In 2005, they monetized their brand equity and now offer proven business principles and real world experience. Visit our YouTube Channel →

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