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Using CAPTCHA in the physical world

27. August 2009 by Dave Hawes 0 Comments

One thing that I have had to do over the last year is to hire people to help build by websites. Anyone that has been in the hiring position will know the pain that follows placing an advert… the deluge of CV’s which are generally very poor quality. I was discussing recently with some colleagues the filtering technique for applicants I use which has been very successful for me. It was pointed out to me that I was essentially implementing a CAPTCHA system – but in the physical rather than virtual world.

The idea is simple, just create a simple task which makes the applicant think and spend a little bit of time on, just to show they are not just carpet bombing jobs with their CV. I generally choose the task to match the job.

For example:

1) If I’m looking for a web developer I might ask them to list 3 websites they like and why and / or write 150 words on an Internet trend they find interesting.

2) If I’m looking for someone to talk to customers I have setup a voicemail box and ask them to call it and read out a simple set passage.

What has been my success? Applicant numbers were well down but I’ve have a high percentage of hires from the people I interview. I am still looking for a MS Access developer after 6 weeks but I am not wasting my time going through sub-standard CV’s or having awkward interviews where the person is clearly not up to the job. I still find it amazing that people submit CV’s and expect me to give then a job worth 10’s of 1000’s of pounds even though they cannot be bothered to complete a simple task for me.

I’m sure people can dream up their own small tests just to make sure that the person applying has properly read the job description and really does want the job – rather than the robotic mass submitting that seems to go on.

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