After the disasterous last hire, I am trying not to repeat history.  However, I am afraid I am being too critical as well.

Of 30 resumes received so far, 2 are making the cut, barely.  I received one this morning from a just graduated student (college) that looked great until I started reading it closely.

There are huge gaps in the work history & are not explained soley by full time school.  Also, candidate refers to jobs (in covering letter & accomplishments) not listed.

Assuming I interview him anyway, what effective questions can I ask to get the work history? Also, can you suggest reasons why he wouldn't want to list jobs, particularly because he has listed things like server, sales associate etc.

mgoblue0970's picture

> There are huge gaps in the work history & are not explained soley by full time school.  Also,
> candidate refers to jobs (in covering letter & accomplishments) not listed.

Just for curiosity's sake, why is a gap in work history bad?  It seems like there's this automatic notion that if work history has any gaps in it, that equals a bad candidate.  I'm not saying you automatically think this way, but in my humble opinion, that is a horribly outdated notion in and of itself.

Using myself as an example, I got laid off once (when tech got hit hard and my company at the time lost 80% of its business -- why that happened is a whole other thread though) and I decided to have some elective surgery, that I had been putting off, at the time. I figured the time was right and it wouldn't be an impact to an employer.  I had foot and ankle surgery where 2 tendons were repaired, 1 ligament repaired, 1 ligament replaced and two bones repaired.  Even though it was only my foot, and not something like open heart surgery, I was out of commission for 6 months.

But now I have a 6 month gap in my history; which to some recruiters, sticks out like a sore thumb.  I really don't care as if someone is gonna fuss about my gap, then it's probably not a good job anyway.  I'd just hate to see you dismiss a good candidate because of a screening process that may or may not reflect the realities of our contemporary world or is fair to the candidate.

> Also, can you suggest reasons why he wouldn't want to list jobs

In my humble opinion, I don't have time to waste on such notions (e.g., gaps = fail) often found in books written by academics.  I focus solely on the content of the resume instead.  Besides, a lot of these gaps are perfectly explainable but it's against the law to ask about them (i.e., my surgery, maternity leave, military duty, yada, yada, yada). 

Also, what if the gap could be explained by other experience but isn't on the resume in the first place out of consideration for keeping the resume from becoming a book or the resume is explicitly tailored to your job req???  Yes, I know there are strategies one can leverage when facing such issues but hopefully you know what I'm getting at here.

For every interview, I have a handful of questions that I ask to everyone, mostly to glean how they think and can they appreciate my org's culture and then I tailor a handful of questions to their resume to make sure they aren't bulls**ting me.  For example, I'm in tech, and if someone mentions XML on their resume, I'll ask them what is the difference between valid and well formed XML.  I'll follow that up with how would I go about verifying valid XML.  There are several different methods one could use to answer the second part... and these questions are hardly trivia, and I get insight into how they think & their experience. 

That's what I spend the time on, not worrying about gaps.  Is asking custom tailored questions more time consuming and therefore more expensive than cursory screening methods?  Sure.  But I kind of lean towards W. E. Deming's principles and think that most folks have a perfectly reasonable explanation for such things.  I can figure out what's really going with them in the interview... and for the 1 or 2 basket cases I have ended up interviewing over the course of my career, I wasn't shy about ending the interview after a few minutes.  As with everything, your mileage may vary though... I just wanted to provide something for you to think about.