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Team Talk: Secrets for realtors to master the 15-minute interview

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In my previous Team Talk column, I shared what should go into an effective job post. This week we’ll discuss how to review applications and filter candidates.

Depending on where you source candidates, the process will be different. For example, Craigslist or Kijiji candidate applications will come via email, whereas Indeed candidates can be managed through the website’s interface. My strong preference is to use a job-specific site to avoid one-on-one communication with the candidates and the ability to remain somewhat anonymous while still in the filtering stage.  

If you are hiring for an assistant and need someone organized, detailed and attentive, putting a very defined application process in place can be helpful. 

For example, you could ask for a resume in PDF and a separate cover letter that answers a specific question like, why do you want to work in an administrative role? These small but meaningful and detailed tasks can be a great filter for you. 

If someone can’t take the time to follow a basic set of instructions when applying for the job, it’s unlikely they will be able to do so once they’re offered that job. 

“Many job hunters are just looking for a job. They will apply for any job available, including the one you’re hiring for.”


Next, I suggest you review some basic information in the applications. A cursory review of education, experience, historical job positions, and their current location will quickly narrow your focus to a few possible candidates. 

Many job hunters are just looking for a job. They will apply for any job available, including the one you’re hiring for. I like to pay particular attention to where people live. If someone’s life gets consumed by a difficult commute for an entry-level job, you will struggle to keep them with you for a long period of time.

Removing the candidates who are just applying for a job from the application process will save you from getting bogged down.

When it’s evident that two to five potential candidates have the right experience and live in the right location, you can start setting up appointments.


The 15-minute interview


Before I meet with any potential candidates in person, I like to set up a video call or phone interview at a pre-determined time for a maximum of 15 minutes. I typically schedule these calls back-to-back, so I can’t possibly stay on any one call too long. And ideally, you do this early in the morning. My preference is to see how people respond to a 7:30 am or 8 am interview.  

Are they awake, prepared and “with it”?

At the same time, you need to recognize that people applying for the job have other commitments, so it might only be possible for them to talk with you after their current job is finished for the day or they have dealt with their family commitments.   

The whole point of the 15-minute interview is for you to have a quick conversation and get a feel for who someone is. I like to keep the questions light and easy:

  • Tell me about yourself!
  • Why did you apply for this job?  
  • What do you do in your spare time?


The goal is not to make a decision to hire someone, but you can often tell very quickly if the person you are talking to is someone you don’t want to hire. If this is the case, you can end the conversation and move on without wasting more time.   

After the 15-minute interviews, you should have your list down to one or two potential candidates that you can bring in for an in-person interview.  

Next week, in part two, we will review the format of an in-person interview, the things to look for and the questions you should ask.

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