Questionnaire performance appraisal If you are reading this and you are in the business of retaining search firms on occasion to recruit high-impact individuals, I have a suggestion for you that will pay big dividends during your next search, in ways you least expect. The suggestion involves the preparation of a job-specific electronic narrative questionnaire. I have been using this valuable tool for many years. The number of questions typically ranges from 10 to 12. Several of them are experiential in nature and designed to surface past actions and outcomes. For example: "Tell us about a time when you were required to do X, What was the situation leading up to it? What did you personally do? How did it turn out? What did you learn from the experience?" This line of questioning is nothing new, but it is not a common practice for search firms to have their candidates document the answers to advance questions and provide their clients with completed questionnaires for every candidate submitted. Here are the advantages to using such a tool: Everyone gets asked the same questions thus making it easier to compare them. Nothing is edited in their responses. The recruiter and staff are able to use them to better qualify their candidates. The candidates take the opportunity much more seriously when they know that all of their competitors are doing this. The clients have a tool that helps very busy people better sort through a slate of candidates and prepare for their interviews. Recruiters and clients alike can see how effectively the candidates write and how they focus on what is really important in various job-related scenarios. It is my practice never to alter a word of this document. In the past that has provided my clients with some very unexpected and telling information about a candidate. It is not uncommon for a client to steer away from an otherwise sterling candidate on the basis of a less than adequate questionnaire. The questionnaire demonstrates one's writing ability. Senior executives have to communicate in writing a great deal. If they are poor writers they must rely on help from their staffs. Executive position specifications often state that one of the essential qualifications is, "Excellent writing and speaking skills." Yet few employers verify this skill. The use of an on-line candidate questionnaire will demonstrate the writing component of this skill or lack thereof. This is why it is essential not to edit the document. Clients need to see what they are getting. I have seen them wince at poor writing skills and hire the person anyway for his/her otherwise sterling capabilities. But at least they get to see the problem in advance of the hire rather than find out after the fact that their otherwise excellent candidate is a poor writer. If the recruiters you retain do not use such a tool (few if any do) then insist that they do so. Develop a dozen good questions that you know your decision makers would like to see answered in advance of an interview. Provide them to the recruiter with instructions that every candidate will need to have completed one or they will not be considered. Insist that the questionnaires remain unaltered. To the recruiter this new questionnaire requirement is extra work. So be it. Many of them will see the value of this tool after you insist they use it and will make it an everyday practice thereafter. If you use this tool as part of your next executive search you will be glad you did. http://performanceappraisalebooks.info/ : Over 200 ebooks, templates, forms for performance appraisal.